As International Babywearing Week approaches I have been busy! One little treat in my week was a mini family photo session with Robin Katrick of Katrick Photography. Babywearing has been a huge part of our parenting journey, and it was so wonderful to really capture this part of our lives, especially to be able to share these images with my son when he's older. Babywearing has shaped the way I see myself as a mother, and it has completely changed my relationship with my body. I have always been prone to illness, and I have a joint disorder that has always left me feeling like my body is a bit of a lemon. Babywearing has given me the chance to grow stronger as my son has grown, ounce by ounce, and now that I carry my toddler on my back while carrying bags of groceries home, I feel like superwoman. Babywearing has helped me grow to trust and appreciate my body, opened up the world for my son and I to explore together, and given my husband a way to bond and wind down with our son before bedtime, among many other benefits. Knowing there are many families whose lives have been touched by babywearing in a similar way, I wanted to share some quick tips for capturing babywearing as part of your family photos.
I know many families (ours included if we didn't get a great discount from our photographer in trade for advertising/friend discount) may not be able to afford professional photos- you can do an amazing job with just your phone, a bluetooth remote, and a tripod that holds your phone (this is an affiliate link, if you buy this product I will get a small portion of the sale that helps support and keep Hey Jillian up and running.) That's how I take the majority of the video and photos I capture of my family. Don't feel like you can't have beautiful family photos without a professional, it's incredible what technology can do! There are tons of great apps for editing photos on your phone too, I love VSCO Cam and A Color Story.
1) Choose carriers and carries you are comfortable with.
I know from experience, it's seriously miserable to have planned to get some great babywearing pics, and then find out later your wrap job was terrible, or hurt yourself putting your child up on your back in a way you haven't before. Even if you feel like it's not the most glamorous option, a carry you know well will look more comfortable and natural, and that will shine through in your photos.
2) If you use a wrap or ring sling, plan for longer tails than usual.
Known as "glamour tails" extra long tails show of the beauty of your carrier, and look very fancy and elegant in photos. In my experience a simple carry with a wrap longer than needed that affords some extra long tails is almost always going to photograph better than a fancy finish. With ring slings, try a larger size than you might usually use. Either borrow one from a friend, your local lending library, or check out Soul's new sized ring sling options for an affordable new sling. I just ordered one in the beautiful rich Leaf cotton that I am planning to use for some holiday photos. (Full disclosure, I am a Soul Brand Ambassador, but this is my own opinion and I would make the same recommendations regardless of my affiliation.) For this shoot I used my base size wrap for a ruck tied tibetan for a few action shots, and then switched to a Hip Cross Carry with rings for our family portraits, which gave my long tails that look striking in the photos.
3) Dress with your carrier in mind.
In any family photos, it's best to keep prints to a minimum, and within a coordinated color range. In these photos we all dressed primarily in neutral solids, with the exception of my tights that I matched to one of the colors in my wrap. Other considerations are where straps and waistbands hit and how clothes lay under them, and whether any items have a tendency to ride up as you wear your carrier, on either you or your child. Also think about your background, for this shoot we were in front of mostly green, so we chose navy blue and tan for most of our clothes so we didn't disappear into the background, and a brightly colored, bold patterned wrap to bring a focal point to the photos and really highlight the babywearing aspect of them.
4) Have a list of shots that you want.
Many photographers aren't familiar with babywearing, and even if they are, only you know what aspects are really dear to you that you want to preserve forever. A little hand on your shoulder? Bare feet dangling? A hiking action shot to show all the places you go together while wearing? Having a list of what you really want to capture helps you help your photographer get the photos you really want. Especially if you are doing a mini session when time is of the essence, knowing what shots you want will be a relief to the photographer who will be able to make the best use of your time, instead of standing around going "uhhhhh, what would be good?" This goes for taking your own photos too; having a list will keep your organized and help you finish up the shoot before child meltdown occurs and everyone is sick of taking photos.
5) When it comes to light, trust your photographer.
I had envisioned lots of beautiful photos along the lake, but looking out to the west over the water in early evening would have resulted in a lot of silhouetted shots without much color or detail of our family. I told our photographer at the outset that I trusted her to help us choose the perfect backdrops, but also let her know I was hoping to get at least one shot with the water. She helped me find the perfect spot to get that one shot where she could capture both us and the lake, but then helped us take some really beautiful photos among the trees that I wouldn't have necessarily thought of. If you are taking your own pictures, set up your tripod, and take a few test shots to be sure you are going to get the light and detail you want.
I hope this helps you capture some amazing babywearing photos; if you have any you would like to share, head over to my babywearing facebook page, Pleats and Seats: Babywear with Flair, and share away, I would absolutely love to see them. Huge thanks to Dana McKeen, Advanced Babywearing Educator, for helping me come up with the tips for this article. Here's a few more amazing photos from this shoot, and if you're local to the Burlington area, give Robin a shout to set up your own incredible family shoot. For more inspiration, check out Britt Brown Marsh Photography and Beautiful People Portraiture by Kelly Lenza- they are both inspiring artists who capture babywearing better than anyone else out there (in my opinion.)
Wrap is Fennel Handwoven Cotton by Soul