As many candid snapshots and posed home photos we take, there is still the urge to go to the portrait studio for photographs. I suppose the people working at the mall, department and discount store photo studios can loosely be considered professional photographers, but really what do they have that we do not have at home? They do take photos all day, but most of them did not attend photography or art school or training.
The studio has the advantage of an assortment of backdrops with various colors and scenes. They have a high quality professional camera and a selection of chairs, props and other items to set the scene. And, they have an isolated environment. This can be one of the most important things since the photo studio is free of distractions.
On the other hand, there are disadvantages to trying to get pictures in a formal setting. Since you book an appointment and head to the studio, it is hard to time the pictures when baby is in a cooperative mood. Countless parents have had baby fall asleep in the car or stroller on the way to have pictures taken, only to wake up cranky and unwilling to be photographed. Also, since babies are unpredictable they may respond in unexpected ways to the photographer. One baby, who loved most strangers, would howl upon sighting a particular photographer at the mall studio. Another baby only liked male photographers.
It is a good idea to carry the outfit you want your baby to wear for the pictures, and dress her when you get there. Otherwise mishaps such as food spills, spit up and diaper leaks can cause wardrobe malfunctions. Even think about taking a second outfit in case one of these disasters occurs when you have already put your baby into the preferred clothing.
Even worse are the pictures with Santa or other characters. You've stood in line and you really had your heart set on taking the picture to put in with the holiday cards. But, if baby is unhappy, scared or angry, ask yourself if it is really worth it. It is just a photo and in the grand scheme of life, it simply does not matter. If you do want to use photos for a special occasion, make sure you allow yourself plenty of time for retries or to do the photo at home instead.
Finally, keep in mind that there will be days that it simply doesn't work out. As much of a hassle as it is, scoop up your baby, give her a snuggle and head home. Try again in a week or a month, because things change quickly in baby land.