No More Wrangling Cats , Achieve Those Sibling Shots


Sibling shots are some of the post popular among parents and maybe the most dreaded by newborn photographers.  It’s not that we don’t want to photograph that new baby and their older siblings together,  just sometimes, it’s a lot more difficult than it seems.  A lot of times when a new baby comes home jealousy starts in and younger aged siblings want nothing to do with baby, let alone taking a picture with them.  At that point  it often can feel like we are wrangling cats just to get ONE “ok” image of the newest siblings together.

I’m suggesting, let’s stop being good at wrangling siblings but be good at connecting with kids and setting up the shot for success.  With a few tips for set up and go-to poses based on age and ability, your sibling shots can be memorable and cherished by parents for years to come.

Tips For Sibling Shots:

1) Start in the morning when everyone is fresh. Since newborns aren’t typically on a schedule the first few weeks, adjust your session time around the siblings nap schedule if they are of nap age or school schedule if they are of school age. I’ve found 10am to be a good starting time.

2) Begin with sibling shots first. Kids typically have the attention span of their age, if they are 2yrs old, then you have about 2 minutes to hold their attention, OR LESS.  By starting off with siblings together with baby, they won’t have to wait around until the end when crankiness can set in. I’ll typically start with a floor pose laying the siblings on a flokati rug and baby swaddled.

3) Do some research prior.  Find out what the siblings are into, do they like trucks, Iron Man, princess dresses, or their favorite song to sing. This will be put to good use later.

5) TALK to them. Talk about their favorite things, sing a song, be silly and just take a minute to get to know and interact with them. While you’ll talking to them, ease your way into the pose or set up, this will help keep the attention on them and not making it all about the baby.  Plus this helps with natural smiles, laughs and interactions.  Most children do NOT like to feel pressured into performing for a picture. Make it play and fun not a performance for them.

6)  Ask mom and dad NOT to help.  This will depend on the age and your set up. However, I’ll ask my parents to step out of the room for just a bit so I can work with the sibling and baby. Parents have great intentions but sometimes it can get overwhelming when there are too many people in the room and the siblings feel they are being asked to perform.

7) Bring a tickle stick or attention grabber.  Here are a few items I love to bring and use for sibling shots, clown noses, pet toys that squeak, maracas, those long house dusters on a stick,  and cat toys.  Use them to grab their attention or if you have one of those duster or feather sticks they are perfect for reaching out to tickle under the chin to get some real laughs.

8) Have personal space. Some kiddos just don’t like to be touched or in close proximity of strangers, especially a stranger with a big camera in their faces.  Feel out the childs sense of personal space and keep your distance if they need. If they only want mom or dad, then allow one parent in the room to work with the child.  Sometimes mom and dad are their security blankets and since their world just got turned upside down with this new baby, be understanding and patient.

9) Bribery… we all say we won’t go there but sometimes it’s just the ticket to work.  Bribery is my last resort during a session but clear it with mom and dad first on what you are bartering for especially if it is food. Stickers are pretty awesome as a special treat and most kids are willing to do A LOT for a sticker!

 Now that we have some actions and tips for setting up  your sibling shots during your newborn session, lets take a look at some simple go-to posed set ups. Pick one or two to perfect and nail. Remember you don’t have to do 5 poses or set ups, use your angles, change wraps or bonnets on baby to add variety.

Floor pose: Great for younger or older siblings, lots of variety


Side by side pose: Perfect for siblings that need just that little bit of space between


Lap pose: Wonderful for older siblings that are able to hold baby but not yet in their arms


Wrapped in arms pose:  Terrific for siblings who like to snuggle and are safely able to hold baby, posed or unposed


I hope some of these posed sibling ideas and set up tips helps you to go into your next newborn session with siblings, having a few more tools and tricks up your sleeve.

Happy Snapping,

malia b

As a former smalia battilanachool teacher, and now a full time newborn portrait photographer, Malia has combined her love of children and teaching to help others spark their passion in their own newborn photography journey. She believes emotional connection makes for influential newborn portraiture and that anyone seeking that, can find it.  Malia lives in sunny Phoenix, Arizona with her most supportive husband and her 3 fun-loving children. As the owner of Malia B Photography, she photographs the cutest babies in the Valley of the Sun.

And, if you want to learn more about newborn photography I’ve love to see you in my Newborn Beginnings course THIS Fall. You’ll get encouragement, support and of course lots of play and practice. Visit the newborn course pages for more detailed information on each course : Click here: Newborn Beginnings &  Click here: Newborn Flare Courses


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Malia Battilana


It’s an honor to be photographing the world’s newest little human beings. It takes that special touch, patience and a pure love. She believes emotional connection makes for influential newborn portraiture and that anyone seeking that, can find it.

Malia lives in sunny Phoenix, Arizona with her most supportive husband and her 3 fun-loving children. As the owner of Malia B Photography, she photographs the cutest babies in the Valley of the Sun.