Need some tips for photographing newborns? Newborn photography is a rewarding niche, but, photographing the newborn comes with its own set of problems. Here are some tips that will help you capture that special image parents will treasure for a lifetime:
Understand the Parents’ Expectations
Talk to the parents so you can understand their expectations. It is important to understand what they want so you can prepare them for the shoot. Posed/studio shots are usually done within the first two weeks of life when the baby is more amenable to being posed. They often involve a long session with numerous breaks and several props. You want to make sure you bring things like bean bags for posing the baby, and swaddling blankets for that special look. Lifestyle shots are done within the first 6 weeks of life and involve getting more natural images. These are more spontaneous shots of the baby, the family, and the home, and can involve more than one session.
Light and Location
Lighting is so important for newborn photography. You don’t want to get the angle wrong and have the baby look like something scary. Soft diffused light can really show baby’s tender skin and create that angel-like appearance, but if you go outdoors (and you should if the weather permits), you have to work with the natural light. Whatever the light source you have, it’s important that it be angled so that it doesn’t shine upward under the newborn’s face. Location is another important consideration. Indoor shots give you more control over the light, but outdoor images bring out the natural beauty of the newborn and give you many more creative possibilities.
Keep Baby Happy
One of the best tips for photographing newborns is keep baby happy! One way to keep baby happy is to make sure the location is warm. You might even bring a space heater to warm up any spot where you want to shoot. A hungry baby will become very cranky very quickly. Have mom feed the baby before you begin the shoot, and if it goes on for a while, take a snack break to keep the baby full. That will also likely necessitate a diaper change! Soothing sounds can also keep the newborn calm. Many photographers use white noise to soothe the baby, but there are also apps that play a number of soothing sounds. Another tip is to schedule the shoot in the morning. Newborns are often more awake in the afternoon or evening, so a morning shoot can work better for posing them.
Don’t forget to take photos of the little hands and feet, the upturned nose, or the beautiful eyelashes on the sleeping eye. These are the little treasures that parents will love. For this, you’ll likely need a macro lens so you can get every little wrinkle on baby’s toes.
Include the Family
There is nothing more touching than a newborn sleeping with dad or mom or a picture of baby’s tiny hand on top of dad’s. It’s the connection between them that really shows the love. Likewise, a brother or sister lovingly interacting with the newborn can bring tears to your eyes. But, if you’re involving the family, you’ve got to prepare appropriately. Toddlers will need toys to keep them occupied as you shoot, and you’ll need to get the parents prepped for their shots as well. Getting shots of the family together will create those lasting memories and is well worth the effort. These tips will help you get those special images that evoke the innocence, the purity, and the love that newborns epitomize. By understanding expectations, preparing for variable lighting and different locations, keeping baby happy, photographing those details, and including the family, you can get those intimate photographs that the parents will treasure for a lifetime. If you may like to learn more from professional photographers, here are some recommended newborn photography courses:
Catherine Gaither is a professional bioarchaeologist. She has traveled the world photographing archaeological sites and artifacts, and studying human physical remains. She has written numerous professional publications. She continues to work as a forensic consultant and author.