By Kelly Wilson on | No Comments
Newborns are sweet and squishy and oh so cuddly, who could resist photographing them? You tell yourself, “It can’t be that hard, they just lay there!” But as you begin to prepare for the session, you realize just how challenging they can be and you start to panic and doubt yourself.
So now what?! I’ll walk you through this first session with a few tips and tricks, and with a little luck you will deliver beautiful photos to your client, and hopefully fall in love with newborn photography.
Your shooting space needs to be warm! I generally set the thermostat to 80 degrees shortly after the family arrives. This gives them time to adjust to the temperature rather than walking into a furnace right off the bat, it warms up slowly and they barely notice the temperature rising. Warmth will help eliminate splotchy skin, and will keep baby warm as you work through the session.
Have mom feed the baby, or top him off as soon as they arrive. This will help everyone settle in for the session, and baby will start out with a full tummy which should get your session off to a great start. I like to take this opportunity to ask mom if she would like a few nursing photos at some point during the session, what a lovely bond between mom and baby to capture!
If she is open to the idea, I pull her to the window and give her time to settle in with her baby, then I will snap a few shots from a distance, then come in closer. Use shadows to help hide sensitive areas, try shooting from above moms head or over her shoulder to capture the bond from her perspective, too!
Keep a noise maker handy, this will help lull baby to sleep and keep them from waking easily while you are working with them. I love this app for my iPhone! I set it to Red Noise, and then slip it under the blanket so it's near baby but out of the shot. Be sure you always set your phone to airplane mode to prevent a phone call from coming through and waking baby up!
Keep props, set ups and poses to a minimum for your first session - remember, simple is beautiful too! Although it may be hard to reign in all your exciting ideas, just remember that one or two beautifully photographed set ups are much better than five poorly shot set ups.
You don’t need a million newborn props to create stunning photos as the baby is the focus after all! Adopting the less is more strategy will relieve a lot of your stress, shorten your session, and perhaps most importantly, allow you to capture stunning images for your portfolio to land more clients.
Once you have a couple of sessions under your belt and are more comfortable working with newborns, you can then start experimenting with props or different poses once your work through your standard set of shots. Still not sure what set up to use for your first session? Try this! These poses are easy to achieve and you can get several images out of a single set up.
If you can, have mom snuggle in close and capture some photos of her with baby!
Here is another easy set up that will yield several images. Lay the baby in a basket, or on a rug, and wrap him/her up snug with only his face showing, then gently pull hands or feet out for a slightly different image. Next, remove the wrap and put on a hat/bonnet/headband, and finally, change out the flooring to give even more variety. You can also shoot from different angles to add more variety to your clients gallery.
If there are any siblings to incorporate into the photos, this is a great way to do so! Lay baby on a rug and have siblings snuggle up beside them. If big brother or sister is wiggly, try swaddling baby, this will help the older child hold on to the baby.
Always, always, always light from the head! Your light source should always be at the head of the baby. As you are posing baby, be mindful to place the top of their head toward the light. That way the light will shine down the baby from the top of the head toward the chin and give you that nice little butterfly shadow under the nose.
You always want an angled light rather than straight on, this will ensure you have nice depth in your images and prevent dark shadowing on baby's eyes.
What if baby won't sleep? Don't stress over it, use it to your advantage! Some of the set ups shown here are great for an alert (but calm) baby.
While I prefer most of my shots to be of the baby sleeping soundly, I usually try to take advantage of an alert baby by getting a few shots with their eyes open. Parents love these, often more than the sleeping images!
So don't worry if baby won't sleep, take advantage of that alertness and get some great images of those wide eyes. Be patient, they will fall asleep at some point!
For editing newborn images, Pretty Photoshop Actions has a wonderful Newborn Photoshop Actions set that includes absolutely everything you need to edit and deliver beautiful images to your clients. Natural color enhancements, blanket brushes, skin brushes, and soothing enhancers for jaundice and blotchy skin - they have everything covered! Here is a great tutorial of the Pretty Actions Luxe Newborn Collection that you can check out, your little clients will be super happy you did!
Even if things don't go as you planned, have fun with it. You have to start somewhere and everyone makes mistakes. If things go wrong, learn from them so you can improve the next time you photograph a newborn. And most importantly, enjoy it--it will be over before your know it!
Do you have any questions or comments about our Newborn Photography Tips? Leave us a comment below - we would LOVE to hear from you! And PLEASE SHARE our tutorial using the social sharing buttons - we really appreciate it!
Kelly is a hobbyist photographer located in Norman, OK specializing in newborn photography. When she is not busy shuttling her three children to gymnastics, tennis, and swimming lessons, she enjoys spending time photographing animals for the Central Oklahoma Humane Society.