Through not super common, celebrating siblings separated by at least 13 years is absolutely beautiful – and easy!
Just this past week I photographed a newborn session for proud parents Amanda and Ivan – and their teenage son, Brayden, joined us for photos too! As you can probably imagine, a teenage big brother with a newborn is quite different from a toddler big brother and a new baby! I photograph young children with tiny babies often, but it was a real treat to work with Brayden and his squishy, adorable step-sister Emma.
The flow of newborn sessions with teenage siblings
No matter how old children are, I tend to follow a family’s lead when deciding how to begin a newborn session. Some families want to begin with family shots first as those are usually the most important; for this session, Ivan needed to get to work pretty quickly, so I started with daddy-baby photos. This gave big brother Brayden a chance to watch me work with his dad, which was exactly what I wanted.
Typically everyone feels a little nervous and uncertain the first 20 minutes of every photo session; the great thing about newborn photos is, you worry a lot less about yourself when you’re snuggling with a sweet baby. I walked Ivan through all of the must-have posing for new dads and added in Amanda after a bit. Once I had a few couples shots, Brayden joined his dad and step-mom for family photos. By this time, he had been watching me photograph his father and step-mom long enough to know that I would tell him exactly what to do for each series of photos.
When it was time for Brayden to hold Emma for photos, I confirmed that he was comfortable standing while holding her. Certainly I know he’s old enough to hold a newborn while standing, but if he’s uncomfortable doing so, that’s going to show in his face. We started with family shots and then moved to a series of Brayden, his dad and his baby sister. I could tell these were some very proud moments for Ivan!
I made a purposeful decision to work with Brayden alongside his mom and step-dad first before having him take solo shots with Emma. I wanted to earn his trust and ensure he was comfortable with me before taking photos of just the two of them. That way he would be relaxed for the images I knew were most important to his dad and step-mom.
Posing teenagers and newborns
Basically, posing teenagers with newborns is no different from working with adults; I just confirm more often that the older sibling is perfectly comfortable with what I am asking them to do. You can’t assume that he or she is totally confident with every pose while holding a tiny baby, so asking them along the way if they’re doing ok ensures beautiful, relaxed photos free of awkwardness or panic if they feel unsteady or insecure.
When I’m working with older siblings, I tend to either demonstrate exactly how I want them to hold baby by doing it myself first, or physically assisting them with moving baby into the correct position. It never hurts to have another set of hands on a baby when changing positions, whether you’re working with brand new exhausted parents or a sibling.
Brayden was comfortable with a cradle hold while standing with Emma, but he didn’t want to try holding her out in front of him. This is exactly why I worked so hard to earn his trust in the beginning of the session; I would never want him to tell me he was fine holding his sister a different way if it didn’t feel right to him. Safety is more important that pretty photos!
The must-have photos of teenage siblings with newborns include:
– Cradle hold while standing, looking at the camera
– Cradle hold while standing, smiling at baby
– Seated while holding baby out in front, focus on sibling’s hands and baby’s head/hair
– Seated while holding baby out in front, smiling down at baby, sibling softly out of focus
– Seated while holding baby in cradle hold, smiling at camera
– Seated while holding baby in cradle hold, smiling at baby
– Seated while holding baby, photograped from both sides, sibling smiling down at baby
– Seated while holding baby, photographed from above, sibling smiling at baby (Live View makes this an easy shot)
Seated photos are always a safe bet
No matter what, seated photos are always a safe bet with a new baby. It’s easier to adjust baby’s position in your arms while in a chair, and overall there is less worry about something happening to baby. We got Brayden settled in the comfy gray chair in Emma’s nursery for another series of sweet sibling snuggles.
Hands down, having a chair in the nursery for newborn photos is a must. You add so much more variety to your photo gallery this way, and it gives you a break from standing. I was able to vary how Brayden held Emma while he was in the chair, and I assisted him with changing positions with his sister to make the transition smooth.
I also think seated photos are nice because I can shoot from the front, the sides and above without my client having to move much, if at all. You can see real joy in his face during this series of photos – as much joy as a 16-year-old boy will show while cuddling his newborn sister!
A joyful, peaceful in-home newborn photo session
A big advantage to working with older siblings is we usually make better time with the session flow; there isn’t any stopping to bribe a little one with Goldfish in exchange for a big smile, or taking a break to let the wiggles out. I had the majority of the session photographed within 45 minutes, when Emma needed a snuggle break with mama.
This was a great segway into working with just her; so far, we’d wrapped up family photos, couples photos, images of Brayden and a few of just Emma. I love these moments of connecting with first-time mamas. Amanda was amazed at every little detail of Emma – her tiny fingernails, her dark hair that curls when it’s wet and her precious pink lips. She’s two weeks into finally understanding the sacrificial love of a mama, and she’s savoring every moment.
Amanda shared with me not long after I arrived that Emma had spit up all over the first dress that Amanda intended to wear for the session, so she changed into the delicare floral print dress you see here. While I don’t know what that first dress looked like, I love how well this pink dress worked for these photos and I can’t imagine anything more beautiful. Amanda is radiant and joyful – the new mama glow is real!
Saving the best for last – photographing Emma!
Emma snoozed away for the last part of this sweet in-home newborn session, where I photographed just her while her mama watched! My favorites are two photos where Emma appears to be floating on clouds.
You’d never know that underneath the Moses basket is a simple pink fuzzy blanket from Target and the carpet in Emma’s nursery! She is peaceful and perfect, and the ethereal vibe from softening the colors under her was the icing on the cake for this series of photos. I can just imagine them hanging in her nursery – and they’ll certainly be on Amanda’s mind as Emma walks down the aisle one day!
A new adventure for this family of four!
I had to ask Brayden before I left – he’s two weeks into life as a big brother to Emma, and how many diapers has he changed?
A grand total of ZERO! What a lucky guy!
Ivan and Amanda are overjoyed to welcome Emma into their family, and I have no doubt that big brother Brayden will be her biggest fan and protector as she grows!