Set up baby’s first photoshoot.
Everyone loves cute photos, and few things are cuter than a tiny baby. Newborn photography captures babies at their most peaceful and “aww!”-worthy moments. It can be one of the most rewarding assignments a professional photographer can have — but at the same time, working with subjects that can’t take direction means newborn studio sessions require planning and care. “You’ve got to have patience,” says photographer Natalie Buck. “It looks fun, but you have to be ready to get pooped on.
Try these newborn photography tips.
Newborn photography requires planning both on the part of the photographer and the parents. “I send my clients a prep guide and give them an idea of what’s going to happen during the session,” says Buck. Newborn sessions tend to be on the quicker side. Depending on how the baby is feeling, you may get a solid half hour or only ten good minutes. Be ready to work fast and make the most of the time when the baby is asleep, calm, or feeling good.
Make sure your photography studio is a good environment for a newborn. Babies like warm environments, so have a space heater ready regardless of the season. “I tell my clients who are doing at-home shots not to turn on the AC. Keep it at least 70 degrees,” says photographer Jaqueline Vega. “My studio is always nice and warm for a baby.”
Sleepy newborns are your friend. Unlike professional models, newborns do not take direction from photographers. The only way to make sure they won’t move during the shot is to take photos when they’re asleep. Swaddling them can help with that. “Once you wrap the baby, don’t unwrap them until you’re done with all of those poses,” says Vega. “If you take the wrap off, they’ll wake up.”
Natural light and tiny newborns often look great together, especially early in the day. “If you’re going to be shooting in the home and using natural light, I recommend shooting in the morning,” says Vega. “I usually like to start by 10am. That time allows for nice, bright natural light.”
Keep the little one safe and healthy.
A baby’s well-being is more important than anything else during the shoot. “It’s not just about knowing how to take photos. It’s also about safety,” says Buck. “You’ve got to know how to hold babies and pose them without hurting them.” To facilitate the best sessions, learn how to handle the baby and what to do if they wake up and cry.
Never leave the baby unattended during the shoot. “I always have a spotter. A parent within arm’s reach,” says Vega. A newborn photo might look like the baby is asleep alone on a cushion, but an adult always needs to be close.
Babies that are hungry or need a diaper change are part of the newborn photography game. Be ready when they cry out for their physical needs. After the shoot, launder and sanitize all the props and outfits you use to make sure they’re nice and clean for the next baby.
How to use costumes, props, and gear with newborns.
When gathering equipment for newborn photoshoots, start with the basics. “Every newborn photographer should have wraps,” says Vega. Skin-toned and neutral-colored wraps are good options to have on hand as they give you options that go well with whatever the parents choose to wear. Once you have a good collection of wraps and other basics like headbands, branch out. Many professional newborn photographers keep tiny costumes on hand to dress up their subjects as bunnies or teddy bears.
Regardless of how you dress the newborn, make sure you have something comfortable for the baby to rest on during the shoot like a bean bag, pillow, or cushion.
Often parents want shoots to be more individualized than simply showing their baby in a wrap. Parents may want the shoot to reflect their jobs, hobbies, or something about them. Having an array of props for that can be useful. “I have a lot of parents who want to do things related to their career. I’ve had doctors who put their baby in a little doctor outfit,” says Vega. “That’s why I carry a large range of things.” Communicate with clients so they can bring their own props if there's something specific they’d like to be shown or posed with the baby.
Post-production for baby photography.
After the shoot, be ready to work in Adobe Photoshop Lightroom and Photoshop to give the baby an even skin tone. You can edit out any marks on their skin. “A lot of newborns have blotchy skin, are dealing with jaundice, or have baby acne,” says Vega. “I always smooth their skin out.” This is especially true for close-ups of a baby, which can highlight an infant’s skin blemishes.
Post-production is an opportunity to use photo editing skills to put the baby in a fantastic or whimsical setting like outer space or a fairy forest. If you’re combining the newborn with a fun background, light and shoot the background the same way you did the baby, and make sure that shadows and lights all match. “If you just isolate the baby and put it on the background it doesn’t look real,” says Buck.
Newborns to newlyweds; shooting stages of life.
Newborn photography is more than cute, it’s a great opportunity for photographers to maintain long-term clients. Many families have walls of photos documenting the stages of life, from first dates to graduations, and being a professional photographer means that you can help document people’s lives and relationships. Engagement photos and wedding photography may only happen once — but if you have a good rapport with a couple, you could provide maternity shoots, newborn and family photography for holiday cards, graduation pictures, and more. Newborn photography is one more way that you can be there for your clients and help them commemorate the most important moments of their lives.
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