February 15, 2023

How to Capture Magical Sibling + Family Photos at Your Newborn Session

I'm not above bribery, but first...

During your entire pregnancy, your older children were so excited about their soon-to-be sibling, but come newborn photo session day, what will happen if they don't want anything to do with the new baby? What if your spicy 3-year-old just refuses to sit still? Or your slightly cranky 7-going-on-17-year-old doesn't want to smile? No worries! I have a few tricks up my sleeve to try my best to make sure you get that adorably sweet sibling shot.

  1. Attention span: toddlers and little kids have notoriously short attention spans, so I always start newborn photo sessions with family and sibling shots first, while we still have a bit of control. After the sibling and family poses, the siblings are free to stick around and watch the newborn-only part of the session, or if you think they'll be bored silly, they can head out with dad (or a designated sitter) for chicken nuggets til the session's over.
  2. Make it fun: I know you're not sleeping well and you're exhausted and it was a huge hassle to get everyone out the door on time, and the toddlers are toddlering, but don't get upset/stressed, or worse, yell. I'm going to try my best to make the session fun for the siblings, so we can get some genuine giggles and smiles for photos, and it's a lot more difficult if they can sense your stress. It's okay! Let's roll with it.
  3. Keep clicking! Sometimes — more often than I'd like to admit, actually — the magic happens when I set my camera down. So my rule during the sibling portion of a newborn photo session? DO NOT SET THE CAMERA DOWN! Keep clicking!
  4. Bribery: I'm not above bribing an older sibling (four and up) to be an enthusiastic participant in photos. It works! And it can even work with younger siblings, who, let's be honest, will do just about anything for M&Ms or jellybeans.
  5. Compromise (and composite): Every once in a while, I meet a sibling (usually a toddler) who just can't be bribed, cajoled, or begged into sitting next to or with their newborn counterpart. In these cases, I'll try one last-ditch effort: photographing the sibling then adding the newborn in PhotoShop. For example, I'll sit the sibling down with a bucket full of Hotwheels to get their attention, then later, photograph the newborn inside that bucket, then just finesse the two photos together. If your main goal is to get a super-sweet sibling photo, it may come down to what's basically the newborn photographer's Hail Mary pass. It works though!