Newborn baby photography is a very specialized topic of portraiture. If the baby is your own or belongs to a close friend or family member, you may be looking to grab a few snaps and need a few tips. Or, you may be a professional photographer looking to make a foray into the newborn market. Whatever the case may be, newborn photography can be both challenging and rewarding. Safety must always be the primary consideration, and poses take special care and attention. Many photographers find that one of the most challenging facets of this sort of photography is dealing with new parents. And while there are not many equipment requirements, you’ll want to be a master of using natural light and off-camera lighting setups.
There are two different kinds of sessions for new babies. There are posed infant images, which involve moving the baby around to the best position to create poses like the froggy pose or the taco. The photographer specializing in baby images knows how to achieve this pose without waking the baby, but it depends on their age. Babies less than nine days old are easier to pose without waking them. The infants are often posed in a natural state so that their squishy baby rolls can melt hearts. There are other types of sessions involving the rest of the family, like siblings and the new parents. Those are usually not as posed since they involve the family. In Newborn Lifestyle Sessions, the babies can be a few weeks old and still be considered infant sessions. The photographer’s style will dictate whether there are numerous props or a natural background with simple fabrics and colours to show off the baby.
As parents, we realize that you are placing an enormous amount of trust in us. Mike and I have over 35 years of combined Neonatal Intensive Care Unit (NICU) experience. As Board Registered Respiratory Therapists and our training in the NICU units taught us ALWAYS to put safety first! We always have an assistant/spotter for every posed newborn session. Who’s only responsibility is to ensure the safety of your little one. We take great pride in being experts in baby safety, posing and handling newborns. Our studio is also meticulously cleaned and sanitized after each session, and both Mike and I are up to date on all vaccines, including the Whooping cough vaccine (Pertussis Vaccine (Tdap). Check out our extensive list of Wedding Photographers in Melbourne to help capture your special moments.
When you are looking for a professional newborn photographer, make sure they specialize in newborn photography. Ask them how many newborn sessions they do a month or year. We feel a photographer specializing in the art of newborn photography should do at least 1-2 newborn sessions a week to stay competent in the art. Our studio performs over 300 newborn sessions a year (average of 5 newborns a week). We also strive to keep our newborn photography pricing very competitive to fit every type of budget. We offer a safe environment to capture beautiful newborn portraits. So you forever remember their delicate eyelashes, dewy skin, and curly womb poses.
What Is The Best Age For A Newborn Session?
If you have children, you may well remember that newborns sleep a lot, at least through the day, and seem able to sleep through pretty much anything too. But that changes quickly, and by week three, babies are waking more easily and spending more time awake each day. You cannot pose a baby that is awake, so a sleeping newborn is what you need, meaning you need to aim for under two weeks, and under ten days is even better.
Sleep isn’t the only issue that dictates, though. Newborns are gorgeously squishy, floppy and bendy under ten days old, which, coupled with sound asleep, makes them perfect for gently posing into those adorable positions parents love. Much after two weeks, they begin to gain muscle tone, which means they lose the flexibility that makes such posing possible.
So that covers not doing a session too late, but you need to know why doing it too early isn’t good either. Newborns don’t usually look their best after birth, and it can take time for their faces to settle. Also, feeding needs to be established because until a baby is feeding well, he won’t sleep well. My advice would be don’t do a session under five days of age.
How Do I Market Newborn Photography?
You are selling emotions. That is the bottom line with newborns. The parents are melting with wonder and love at their new baby, and emotions are running their lives completely. If you can build a relationship with your clients that taps into their feelings and leaves them feeling that you can genuinely relate to them and their baby, they will be more inclined to not only book you but trust you.
Talk in a way that shows their baby means almost as much to you as he does them. Ask them lots of questions about their baby and life since his arrival. New parents can talk all day about their baby, showing he interests you will endear you to them. Use emotive language on your site and Facebook page. Rather than saying, “I like doing baby shoots,” say, “I simply adore capturing images of beautiful, squishy babies!”
Look after the parents when they are with you. Provide drinks and snacks and comfortable seating. Mum will be sore, and they are both likely to be exhausted.
Word of mouth is one of the best marketing tools in this genre. Mums talk and will recommend you if they came away feeling that their baby was safe, respected and adored. The testimonials that will get you more bookings will not be where mum says the pictures are good, but rather the ones where she gushes about how lovely the experience was while with you.
10 Tips For Photographing Your Own Newborn
The newborn days are so precious yet so fleeting. As photographers, we can appreciate how quickly these days go by and how important it is to capture all of the sweet details of our new babies while they are still little.
While some may opt to hire a professional to photograph their baby, some of us are excited at the prospect of capturing our baby’s first days ourselves. My 10th child, Gabriel, was born on June 24th of this year, and I was determined to get some fantastic photos of him myself.
I would love to share some tips and ideas with you to help you create beautiful images of your baby and make this experience an enjoyable and stress-free one for both of you.
One of the benefits of photographing your newborn is that time is on your side. Unlike shooting a newborn session for a client and having a 3-4 hour window to work and create a varied gallery, you have days – weeks even – at your disposal.
Remember that you just had a baby! You need to take time to rest and recover from the childbirth experience, so please do not rush and try to do everything in one day. I have learned the hard way that this will end in exhaustion and frustration.
When I had Gabriel, I would shoot for a short period using just one or two setups every other day. Not only did this keep everything low stress, but it allowed me to capture the subtle changes as Gabriel changed over his first few weeks of life.
Contrary to what you may have heard about the first two weeks being the best time to photograph a newborn, it is possible to photograph older babies in the ‘newborn style’ as well. I was still capturing Gabriel’s newborn photos when he was over a month old.
Remember, time is on your side! Take it easy, and don’t overdo it. If you pace yourself, you can capture a fantastic variety of images of your sweet new baby.
Lighting is everything.
One of the most common mistakes I see in newborn photography from pros and amateurs is improper lighting. If I had a dollar for every up-lit baby I saw floating around online, I’d be a wealthy woman.
Whether you’re photographing for a client or yourself, one thing that can make or break a photo is your lighting. Think about the most natural source of illumination we have – the sun.
It is in the sky above us. Therefore, seeing a person who is lit from below is very unnatural looking. It is so strange looking that it is often seen in horror movies or to depict something frightening. We do not want our baby to look like they belong in a horror flick!
You do not need any fancy studio equipment to get this right. Almost all of the photos I took of Gabriel were done either in my garage or in front of one of my living room windows utilizing natural light.
A good rule of thumb for nice soft shadows and highlights is to have your baby angled such that the light flows from the top of the baby’s head on down their body at approximately a 45-degree angle. Look for a soft shadow underneath the baby’s nose to verify that you have this right.
Feel free to experiment – for more dramatic lighting and shadows, as in the photo of my husband’s hands holding Gabriel in the image above, go for a more drastic angle. Have fun playing with different angles and perspectives, but do not, I repeat, do NOT up-light your baby!
Keep the baby happy, and you’ll be satisfied, too.
You can do a few simple things that will ensure a happy baby and a productive photo session. The first is to keep your shooting area warm – really warm. I have successfully used my quartz infrared space heater to heat our bedroom in the wintertime, but any small space heater will do.
The alternative is to crank up the thermostat in your house while you are shooting. Luckily, Gabriel was born during the summer in Arizona, so I didn’t need to do anything other than head to my garage. It was like an oven!
In addition to having a warm shooting area, white noise does wonder for keeping the baby asleep. I downloaded an app to my iPhone called ‘Sound Sleeper’, which has several soothing sounds that you can play for a baby while you are shooting. I would tuck my phone underneath the blanket I was shooting on, and it would keep Gabriel happy and snoozing!
The third trick probably goes without saying but make sure the baby has a nice, full belly and is not hungry during your shoot. Looking for a Wedding Photo Company? Look no further. Boutique Events Group has compiled an ultimate list of wedding photo companies to help you choose.
In addition to these three things, I have found that most babies (including my own) are much more cooperative and ‘lazy’ in the morning hours than in the afternoon and evening hours. Try to do your shooting between breakfast and lunch, and I think you will agree that this is the best time for most babies.
Keep that baby safe.
Please make sure your baby’s safety is the number 1 priority while taking his or her photos. If you are trying a more challenging pose or working with props, have someone there to help you and spot the baby.
My newborn photography style is simple and organic with more natural posing, which was not an issue for me. If you need help from someone, make sure that you ask for it. My husband has been an excellent spotter in the rare times that I’ve needed one. Remember that many of the more brutal looking poses and setups are composite images and not created from a single image.
Capture the tiny details.
Don’t forget to document all of those sweet little details that make your baby unique! That little upturned nose, her rosebud lips, his crinkly little chin, those tiny toes and fingers – these are all things that you will not want to forget as your baby grows.
If you have a macro lens, now would be the time to pull it out of your bag, dust it off, and put it to good use. Here are a few tips if you are having trouble getting the images you want from your macro lens.
Close down a bit – when you are working as close-up as you will need to do a macro shot, shooting wide open will give you a minimal depth of field. Unless that is what you are going for, try closing down to f/5.6 or even further.
In addition to closing down, take that lens out of autofocus and try using manual focus. I had much better results with my macro using a manual guide! Do not worry too much about your ISO. If you need to crank it up to avoid underexposing your images, do not be afraid of doing so.
Experiment and have fun! When I was shooting Gabriel’s newborn photos, I kept my macro lens sitting on the table next to me to swap out lenses easily and snag some macro shots during each of our ‘mini shoots.’ I found this to be much easier than trying to get them all at once. If you have an extra camera body, you could leave your macro attached to it to grab those macro images as you go quickly.
Some things to consider shooting with your macro lens: noses, lips, eyelashes, ears, toes, fingers, belly buttons, hair, and fuzzy shoulders. Those details will change so fast as your baby grows, and this is a beautiful way to preserve those memories.
Experiment with angles and perspectives.
Instead of rushing to change your setup or reposition your baby, try getting up and walking around your baby to see what unique angles you can photograph. Try walking behind your baby and shoot some pictures from the shady side – you may end up with an image you love! Exhaust all of your different angles and perspectives before moving on to a new pose or setup. This is an easy way to get variety out of a single pose.
Gabriel didn’t move an inch between these two shots, but look how different they are! The first was taken from the front as a nice close-up of his sweet little face and hands. In the second image, I walked around behind him, loved how the lighting looked and took another picture from that angle. It ended up being one of my favourites!
I am an on-location photographer, and most of my work is done in the great outdoors. Who says you can’t take a new baby outside, too?
Weather permitting, take your baby out of the studio and into nature – you can get some stunning and unique newborn photos this way. I got bored quickly and was definitely over blankets and beanbags, so my husband and I took a little drive and did a few images of Gabriel outside. They are some of my favourites!
Being outside in nature opens up a whole new realm of possibilities and creative freedom that you may not have shooting indoors. Bring along some simple props to place the baby in, and have fun! I have found that many babies tend to sleep more easily outside on a warm day than they would indoors in a studio setting.
Include your older children.
Some of the sweetest and most adorable photos you can take of your new baby will be the ones you get with his or her older siblings. I set out a task to get an image of Gabriel with each of his nine older brothers and sisters. I still have two to go, but I am getting there!
Older children may hold their new brother or sister, while simple laying down poses are perfect for younger children. This will make your older children feel unique and involved, which is always a bonus when there is a new baby in the house getting a lot of attention!
Get in the picture.
I know firsthand how difficult it can be to have photos taken of yourself, but please, hand your camera to someone else – your husband, an older child, or a friend – and get a few pictures of yourself with your new baby. No one cares that you still need to lose your pregnancy weight or that you are tired and don’t feel that you are looking your best – do it.
Trust me. This will be a priceless treasure for your new baby as he or she grows up.
As photographers, I think it’s safe to say that most of us are more comfortable being on the backside of the camera, but it is so vital for our children that we get in front of it once in a while, too. My 14-year-old daughter, Calista, took this image for me, and I love it!
Print those pictures out.
Please, for the love of all that is newborn photography, do not leave all of your beautiful newborn photos sitting on your hard drive. Print those babies out!
I feel a bit hypocritical telling you this, as I have been horrible about printing my images but do it. Do not wait to design the perfect wall display or to choose the perfect picture. If you see an excellent canvas sale going on, order something. You will love it – I promise! Looking for the best Wedding Photographer in Melbourne? Check out our ultimate list here.
What am I doing with all of Gabriel’s newborn images? I am making an epic baby album for him, of course. I cannot wait to order it and have it in my hands! There is NO substitute for the actual finished product for you and your family to enjoy.