I curse Anne Geddes. I do. You know who Anne Geddes is, right? WHAT?! Well, if you don’t know her name, you certainly know her work. Take a gander:
A lot of folks love this stuff. Me, not so much. Hell, she’s sold 18 million books and 13 million calendars, so clearly, I must be in the minority on this one. I know I’m not supposed to snark about babies, and she’s just a mom doing her mom thing, but dammit, this gal has singlehandedly shaped the landscape of newborn photography. So even if I label this photo genre as a wee bit excessive, I give mad props to her ability to shape and promote an entire industry.
The Mary Tyler Family entered into that industry ourselves for the very first time a few weeks ago. Despite never having done formal portraits for Donna or Mary Tyler Son as newborns, when we adopted our newest little one, well, things are a little different this time around. It seemed like a very nice gift for Mary Tyler Baby’s Birth Mom. How could we not?
Cue the baby photographer!
We went with the same photographer who shot our adoption family video. I know, I know, a what? YES, we shot a family video on the advice of our adoption agency. Social media has changed things, folks, and adoption is not exempt from that. Long story short, the amazing woman who gave birth to Mary Tyler Baby found us through a Mary Tyler Mom reader who knew we were looking to adopt. After she saw our family video, well, she liked us and reached out. The rest of the story is still being written, but suffice it to say we are some lucky sons of guns over here.
The day of the shoot, the photographer called and asked us to turn the heat up. Way up. Way, way up. Like 88 degrees up (insert fan here). The reason being that naked babies are more comfortable in warmth. Honestly, naked anybody is more comfortable in warmth, right? So up the heat went, cause we are nothing if not obedient photo subjects.
When the photographer arrived, she came prepared with props. Not mad props, yo, photo props. This shoot was serious. There was a super cool bean bag, hats, blankets, etc. I had no idea. She looked around our home and decided the best light was in our playroom. We all tromped downstairs and I was grateful, as it’s always a few degrees cooler there.
Mary Tyler Baby was wrapped in a blanket and before I knew it, we were both in front of the camera. What the what? Honest to God, this was supposed to be a newborn thing. I had no earthly intention of being in front of the camera, as evidenced by my messy pulled back hair, total lack of make-up, and yoga pants. But our photographer liked what she saw when I was feeding Mary Tyler Baby and before you knew it I was glamour shooting it up with abandon.
Sigh. I really didn’t expect that. So tip number one, if you are getting newborn shots done, you best look photo ready yourself. At a bare minimum, brush your teeth.
Soon enough, after bottle and in the tropical climate of our playroom, Mary Tyler Baby was ready to rumble, newborn style. Things went swimmingly for a while. There was a favored blanket knit by a friend, there was a diaper, there was a sleeping baby. All was good.
Then shit got serious, literally and figuratively.
With the diaper off and a sweet little gnome knit hat on, Mary Tyler Baby was still pretty cooperative. Until the Anne Geddes poses started. Did you know that most newborn photo shoots occur right after baby is ten days old? There is a reason for that and it’s because it’s before the baby acne sets in at week two and babies are still pretty comatose in their first few days, pliable, if you will. You know, like play doh.
At twenty-three days old, Mary Tyler Baby was ancient for a newborn photo shoot. Like Kate Moss on a runway ancient. Twenty-three day old babies don’t want to be molded in the hands of a photographer or mom. Nosiree! Twenty-three day old babies want to be left the hell alone, unless you are feeding them, holding them, or changing them. This nonsense with knit hats and props? Oh, hell no.
So tip number two is to get that photographer in there early, or you best believe you will be charged extra for the airbrushing of unsightly blemishes and baby wrangler fees.
At this point I was half nervous about my undiapered baby on the photographer’s pure white blanket and half cracking up over the directions she was shouting at Mary Tyler Baby, “MOVE YOUR LEG TO COVER YOUR DINGLE!” I mean come on. COME ON! How can you not laugh at that?!
My nervousness won out, though, as I worried aloud about my baby’s fluids on this pristine white blanket. I was repeatedly reassured that Mary Tyler Baby could do nothing that had not already been done. Oh wait! Except shoot spit up out his nostrils, projectile style! Does your baby do that? My baby totally does that. It’s pretty cool, honestly, and gave the photographer a new story for her baby photographer arsenal. I could almost hear her say to her fellow baby photographers, “And then the kid shot milk out his damn nostrils!”
The clock was ticking. I needed to go pick up Mary Tyler Son at school and I had a naked baby that needed dressing and car seat harnessing, pronto. The photographer promised just one more shot. Mary Tyler Baby was deeply sleeping after some of the requisite close-ups of hands and feet that required no play doh manipulation of his little limbs, and she was getting some great shots.
And then it happened. The poop smelled round the world.
Would you believe my precious Mary Tyler Baby did exactly as I was worried he would do? That boy pooped, or more accurately gushed, a bright orange liquid poop all over that perfectly white Ralph Lauren blanket. Wow. It was disgusting and hilarious and so very orange all at the same time.
Poor baby. Poor photographer.
I sprang into action, grabbing Mary Tyler Baby in one hand, wrapping a blanket around his bits as I lifted him up, and with my free hand, I grabbed my iPhone and took a photo. Cause it was freaking hilarious and it demanded documentation and I could not stop laughing and the very game photographer plugged her nose with one hand and smeared orange poop with a burp cloth on her perfectly soiled fancy blanket with the other hand.
Poop happens, folks, especially when you have an undiapered newborn on a white blanket.
Within minutes my little one was dressed and harnessed and I had sprayed the shit, literally, out of that blanket. Moms are excellent multi-taskers. And when I got home from the school pick-up, I popped that pooped blanket right in the wash and an hour later it was as good as new, ready to be pooped on again by another little newborn of another little family full of hope and laughs and giggles and joy.
So tip number three is to have a lot of Shout it Out on hand, and apologies, and a camera within reach.
I never got those Anne Geddes style shots of my two oldest, and much as I have skoffed at them in the past, and despite knowing all the work that goes into those newborn photo shoots, I’ve gots to say that seeing Mary Tyler Baby, precious as precious can be, nestled all snug with a gnome cap on his head, manipulated as the image might be, Lordy, am I glad to have it. Cause ain’t no gnome as cute as my wee little gnome.
Bum Bul Bee Photo + Films, the woman owned business behind our newborn photo shoot, is right now having a holiday special through November 15. And, nope, I didn’t trade this mention for a free photo shoot. We paid full freight, cause they are that good.