Baby Photography with Heidi Hope
Heidi Hope Photography's membership program documents baby's first year of life.
Inside Heidi Hope Photography’s studio in Pawtuxet Village, there’s a room filled with baby hats: knitted pastel caps in pinks and purples and blues and neutrals; some sporting bear ears, some with faux fur and lots with pom poms and ear flaps. The hats appear atop the heads of newborns within their first two weeks’ of life.
“Ideally, newborn sessions should be booked when you’re still pregnant. We like sleepy shots,” says Heidi Guerard, owner and director of Heidi Hope Photography. “Sleepiness is key and the reason we do it in those first two weeks is because they still have their days and nights mixed up.”
One of the closets at her studio is filled with elaborate props and backdrops including a carousel horse and winter wonderland-worthy trees. Guerard handpaints and designs all the scenery, and she owns a meticulous collection of photogenic toys, tutus, blankets and furniture.
Guerard and staff photographers focus on baby’s first year, but families continue to rely on the business as children grow. The former high school art and photography teacher recently launched the Baby’s First Year membership program that allows families to return to the studio every month for milestone photos. Guerard creates a custom blanket geared to the nursery theme and then the baby is laid down on the blanket from month to month to document growth and personality changes. “As a parent, that’s what I’d sign up for because I want those photos, but it’s just hard to do it yourself,” she says. Those who sign up save 50 percent on session fees, mini sessions and events, plus they get up to two high-resolution photos per month.
From first birthday cake smashes to holiday mini sessions for the whole family, Heidi Hope Photography preserves childhood by capturing natural moments on camera, rather than posed shots. “We get them engaged in an activity first so they’re genuinely having a good time,” she says. “And that’s what parents want because that’s the smile they see all the time.”
Helpful tips to consider before booking a newborn, child or family full session or mini session:
1. Scheduling shoots: The earlier that you book the better, says Guerard. “Christmas isn’t on your mind in August, but a lot of photographers are already running promotions early in the fall. Plan ahead and allow time for the processing of the images and ordering cards.”
2. Wardrobe rundown: Have all the outfits planned at least a week ahead of time. “I lay out what everyone is wearing and take a cell phone picture to see how the outfits flow,” she says. “Unless you are wearing matching pajamas, of course.”
3. Ease into it: Before a photo shoot, allow time for children to adjust to a new setting. “If you are going to somebody’s studio and it’s a long ride, get there ten to fifteen minutes early and get everyone used to the environment,” Guerard says. “We schedule sessions so we have time for them to get here and be in our lobby for a little while and have a snack or cookie.” You can also avoid mishaps like gooey fingerprints by getting dressed on the spot (after snack time, that is).
4. Siblings first: Heidi Hope shoots photos of siblings first and continues newborn sessions afterward. “Older siblings don’t last very long. So sometimes we’re done in five minutes with them, and then they can play in the lobby,” she says. “We’ll make a game out of it. Toddlers are always having fun and that avoids meltdowns, but if it happens, we take a break and try again. Nothing’s rushed.”
5. Mini sessions: Heidi Hope releases mini session dates on social media and through an email newsletter. “Holiday mini sessions are a great way to get the experience every year and updated photos at a more affordable price point,” she says. “Newborn and first birthdays are big milestones, but as your kids get older, this is a nice way to continue to get beautiful portraits.”