Newborn Photography Tips
I consider shooting a newborn photography session to be a privilege … an opportunity to share the most intimate moments between parent and child. And after working with a wide number and variety of clients, I can say that the opportunity to capture innocence in its purest form never ceases to inspire my work and touch me in unexpected ways.
If you, like many photographers, are facing anxiety at the beginning your newborn photography journey, rest assured that your leap into this incredible artform need not be problematic. Through the years, I’ve developed a plethora of tricks that allow me to get the most out of every newborn portrait session, and I’m happy to share them with you today.
Planning a Newborn Session
In an ideal world, you would want to have your newborn photo session planned before the mother gives birth. This gives you enough time to schedule a day and time for your shoot. Remember, most babies are easier to pose during the first 5 to 10 days because they are still very sleepy.
Make sure you have a list of preparation instructions ready for your client so that your newborn session will run as smoothly as possible. You may find that your list continuously evolves, but here are a few valuable points to consider when starting off:
Encourage the parents to make sure baby has a full belly if possible. It is much easier to photographer a happy, satisfied infant.
Make sure the temperature of your studio is around 85 degrees, especially if you’re planning on using little to no infant clothing. If you are planning to use clothing, avoid anything that’s tight or needs to be pulled over the baby’s head.
Ask parents to try to keep baby awake for at least an hour before the shoot so he or she can sleep easily.
Ask breastfeeding moms to skip spicy foods the day leading up to the shoot to avoid baby belly aches.
These behind the scene photographs were taken by the mothers. Once I walked away from the baby, the mom was right there with her child at all times.
Don’t wait until the clients have arrived to start picking your props. Not only does this waste valuable shooting time, it makes you seem unprepared. Take time before your shoot to create a vision, and select your props accordingly. And, most importantly, the safety of your subject is ALWAYS your number one priority. Remember that many of the most creative (and precarious) infant shots are actually composite photos, and that every effort should always be made to ensure the baby is completely safe 100% of the time.
This very special prop was the mother’s wedding dress. Composite image. Edited using Newborn Necessities by MCP Actions
Although some photographers believe that planning can inhibit inspiration, creating a strategic shooting plan can help you get all the looks you want to capture and alleviate stress for both you and your clients. Accepting the simple fact that babies don’t always cooperate will give you the perspective (and patience) you need to capture honest and beautiful images your clients will cherish forever.
Photo Editing Workflow
As you gain more experience working with newborns, it’s important to develop an editing workflow that delivers vision. Using editing tools like Photoshop actions can help you define your photographic style, streamline your workflow, and give you the cohesive look you want across multiple sessions. I personally use Newborn Necessities by MCP Actions, and recommend them for both beginner and seasoned photographers alike. (I bought the set 5 years ago and still use it for all my photographs, not just newborn.)
This series of images were all edited using the Newborn Necessities set by MCP Actions. You can see the progression of options I offered the client by using the “Under the Blanket” action to darken different portions of the photograph.
Remember, it should be easy for your future clients to know your style based on your portfolio, so make sure you’re promoting your newborn photography on your website and social media. As your client base grows, so will your opportunities for exposure and the possibility of referrals.
Loving What You Do
Lastly, the most important piece of advice I can give you is take time to be in the moment before, during, and after your shoot. Enjoy the new life and love you’re surrounded by and remember that inspiration is all around you each and every day!