So Much for the Baby Photo Shoot

Foreign Service LifePhotographyWashington, DC
November 2, 2011

Oh friends, it’s starting to become laughable how many things have not gone according to plan.  Of course, I’m still shedding a few tears over each miss but I expect that I’ll eventually get to laughing about it, right?

Pretty sure part of my problem is that I hold myself to insane standards.  That, when coupled with over-inflated expectations SPELLS DISASTER.  Let’s take the newborn photo shoot, for example.  I was dreaming of getting angelic shots like the one above from Etsy (note: that’s not Nia above).  I had spent hours acquiring the perfect props, found a photographer who was in the price range that we agreed on and got on her calendar.

I started to get anxious when I woke up in the middle of the night to check on Nick and Nia (it was his turn for the late night shift) and he told me she’d been fitful all night and hadn’t slept barely at all.  I remained optimistic, thinking this could go one of two ways – she would either be really sleepy (which is good for the photos) or she could be difficult.  Unfortunately it was closer to the latter.

I’m starting to realize that we have what I’d call a ‘touchy’ baby.  She has a good temperament, but is sensitive like her Mom and Dad.  Therefore, she doesn’t do well with low sleep or when she’s overstimulated.  She also is incredibly physically strong AND strong-willed.  That meant that every time we put her into a pose (while she was supposedly appearing to be asleep), she’d kick out of it before we got the shot.  The photographer said she’d never seen a newborn do that before (quite literally, she’d try to launch herself off of the beanbag chair – thank goodness I was on safety watch).

She also showed her dissatisfaction with the session by peeing and pooping on Nick and I EACH two times.  The photographer had the patience of an angel and kept trying for 4 hours to get some shots (note: this was the longest shoot she’d ever done).  Now mind you, it wasn’t like we were agitating her, she just never felt like cooperating and then just petered out and let us know she was done.  Honestly, it was sooo exhausting and hard for me to watch as a Mom (Nick abandoned ship hours earlier).  I’ll definitely think twice about doing this again with the next babe.  It’s just that I wanted so badly to have some quality images from this stage of her life.


Soooo, take a guess at the approximate number of images the Photographer told me to expect after 4 hours of shooting?  Ummmm, yeah, that would be 15.

Epic fail for Mommy?  We shall see when the pics come back…

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  1. Try not to blame yourself for things you cannot control. And if you have ANY energy left, use your photography skills and try again when she’s on a better mood.

    Maybe Nia has colic? One of my friends kids was hard for the first 3 months as all he did was cry bc he was in pain, then that phase went away and he turned out to be the perfect baby.

    But remember, there are so many things about kids you can control: Their education, their values, their nutrition, their upbringing. But newborns? Beyond your control. Do you best, but don’t beat yourself up if she is still finicky.

  2. eve says:

    I recently had a baby as well and just wanted to remind you of something that in those moments of frustration I always seem to forget….HORMONES! Still shifting and swirling and making you feel crazier than necessary. Take it easy on yourself lady!

  3. Lindsay says:

    Sounds like you have a strong willed little girl just like mine! That story sounds all too familiar and wouldn’t you know, the minute the photographer left, Reagan drifted off into a restful sleep and I was able to get my favorite picture of her. Sure it’s a little on the blurry side, but that’s the one we used on her announcement, on the wall, on her photo books, etc. Just keep your eyes open for a photographic moment in the next couple of days and maybe you can get one yourself without all the stress. And you’re a much better photographer than I am, so it probably won’t be blurry at all!!

    Thinking of you! I know how trying these first few weeks, months and years are, especially if you have a strong willed child like mine (book recommendation: The Spirited Child). It’s not easy, but you become a better person and parent because of it!! Will make #2 look like a breeze!

  4. Hanelene says:

    I just discovered your blog through Delhi Bound. Peru? I’m jealous :) We are heading out to our first post (Egypt) next year, and I’m frantically trying to prepare. We have a toddler boy and I’ll have our next little boy in February (fingers crossed.) I’m excited and terrified about expat life, so I’m always happy to see how other people do it!

    Congrats on the new babe. Go easy on yourself, the first few months can be brutal, but it goes so much quicker than you can ever imagine.

  5. Sarah Novak says:

    Hi there- Thanks for commenting. Be sure and check out this Foreign Service Blogger who’s currently in Egypt. She’s wonderful!

  6. naomi says:

    I havent read the other comments, but be OH SO GLAD that you have a strong-willed child!! You will thank heavens for that later!! Talk to me off-line if you want to know more.

    Bless little Nia for keeping her parents on their toes!

  7. Nomads By Nature says:

    Sending you smiles and hugs. Enjoy the moments, even the frustrating ones. They all pass quickly. Looking forwards to the photo shoot results – and after seeing the shots that you took yourself, I bet you will find the perfect moment and snap a few awesome keepsakes yourself!

  8. Katie says:

    I can totally relate to the insane standards and it is SO incredibly hard when your emotions are out of control due to the hormones and crazy physical stress your body has undertaken. I promise it gets much much better and I also promise that you will learn to accept that life is sometimes better when it doesn’t go as planned…but I know it’s a hard lesson. Just enjoy every second with that precious little peanut and the photos, videos, etc, will happen when they happen. In the meantime, you’ll have memories to compensate for the lack of documentation. Sending love to you and your little girl!

  9. Cindy Prosor says:

    Remember Sarah, you never “fail” as a Mommy. You just continue to learn. Our “babies” are our best teachers.

  10. christine says:

    Sarah – There is no reason that you can’t take these photos yourself!! You can do a few each day when you and she both are a bit more rested/less stressed out. It becomes a fun diversion and gives you a bit of practice with your camera. You’re great with the camera – give it a “shot”!! ;)

  11. Amy Lemaniak says:

    I know how bummed you are that the photos didn’t go according to plan! I’m so sorry to hear they didn’t work out! But I know you will have a lot of wonderful photos of your little angel, so try not to worry too much.

    I wish I lived closer and could’ve done them with you! ((HUGS))

  12. Sara says:

    What you are describing is exactly why I take my own newborn photos at home. They aren’t high tech and the lighting isn’t perfect but at home I can turn up the heat, pick the perfect time right after nursing and after a nice big burp and poop for the photo shoot. We take a few shots here and there and don’t have to fret or get stressed. With all your great camera equipment and knowledge about light etc. I’m sure you could just as good of a job, maybe better than the “pro”. Plus Nia senses your agitation and at home she’d probably sense your calm.

    I also have had touchy babies, Bella fell in the extreme fussiness category and the culprit is always over-tiredness. Two rules in our house are #1 never wake a sleeping baby #2 respect the nap schedule. The better she sleeps the better the nights go-even at 3 weeks old this holds true. Over stimulation and over tired are always the reason for fussiness in my babies. It’s so hard Sarah! Keep at it. Spirited babies lead to strong spirited girls. Which is really what you want!!!

  13. Sarah Novak says:

    Thanks for those wonderful reminders Sara. There’s such a learning curve with this… :)

  14. Emma Craven says:

    Sarah!! Oh my! I just read about your newborn shoot. You did not fail at all. My goodness, I felt like such a bad mummy that I didn’t do a newborn shoot. We were all up for it before Jack was born; however the first few weeks (who am I kidding!! the first few months) wasn’t exactly smooth sailing – so we decided to put the shoot on the back burner. I give you massive points for actually doing it – good for you! :) It sounds like a lot of hard work, and hey! it all paid off – the images are fantastic! Nia looks like an absolute angel!! (even if she was a bit of a diva during the shoot! ;) tee hee!!) You are doing an AMAZING job Sarah…go super Mum!! :) xx

  15. Sarah Novak says:

    I’m glad I did it, even though it was painful. At least I have some shots for the Xmas card!

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