How to Prepare for & Capture the Perfect Newborn & Baby Photos
One of the most popular niches of photography to participate in is newborn photography. A family’s experience of having a newborn is such a special occasion to capture with the perfect images.
Knowing how to prepare to capture these images is key to your success as a newborn photographer.
You will need to be sure to perfect the following areas of your photography: lighting, posing, backdrops, flooring, and props.
When photographing a newborn natural lighting is your best bet. This is when you use the light that naturally comes through a window. Depending upon how cloudy it is outside will help you choose which window to use. If it is super cloudy you can use a window with light directly shining through it because the clouds will naturally diffuse the light making it soft. If it is sunny however, you will want to look for more indirect light or for a window that has light coming in but don’t shoot directly in the light itself.
Positioning the baby in a 45 degree angle, with their heads facing the light will allow the light to fall over their face and throw soft shadow. This will make the most appealing image.
However, we all know babies are born during the dead of winter when we have more gloomy days than sunny ones or even sunny days where the lighting is too bright for a sensitive newborn. This is why light modifiers and even proper studio lights can be of help.
Studio light kits are a perfect start for shooting indoors no matter what the weather is like outdoors, but you will want to be sure to also have a softbox reflector to diffuse the light as well.
Lighting is only one of the areas that you will want to be sure and perfect. Another area is posing.
We all know that a newborn is beautiful no matter how he or she is posed. However, you will want to learn how to perfect the perfect pose. You will also want to consider the clients’ expectations. Some parents prefer a more lifestyle session rather than a posed session.
Posed sessions are best done within the first 2 weeks of birth when the baby is very sleepy and “mold-able”. You will want to focus to be on the baby and to only include blankets, wraps, hats and headbands.
Another option is a more lifestyle shoot, which is a more casual approach to newborn photography. In these shots there may be some posing but the idea is to capture more natural images of the baby in their home. These sessions can be done with babies up to 6 weeks old.
Whether your client chooses a posed or lifestyle shoot you will want to let the baby inspire you. Let the baby move, yawn and stretch. Babies have a natural ability to make wonderful, sweet moments without even trying.
A third area of newborn photography that you will want to work to perfect is the backdrop.
If you are just starting to build your collection of backdrops for newborn photography you will want to be sure to obtain five neutral backdrops to get you started. Mostly you are looking for gender neutral pieces, not necessarily just color wise. Don’t just consider white either, think of using ivory or cream as it has a tendency to warm the skin a little better. Grays are also another fantastic choice as grey is a beautiful compliment to skin and photographs well.
Once you have some neutral pieces next you’ll want to consider solid colors that are gender neutral, such as yellow, blue, brown, and tan. Finally, if your budget allows for more then go ahead and pick out some fun colors too or even patterns and textures.
Be sure that you have a portable backdrop stand that will allow you to take your backdrops on the go, especially because many newborn families will appreciate your coming to them instead of you having them come to you.
You can also add to your backdrop collection by using fabric, blankets, satin sheets, knitted or crocheted blankets and even curtains.
In addition to backdrops you may also want to consider flooring as well.
Eliminate the need to find the perfect location in a client’s home by bringing along your own floor drop.
Many backdrops often come with flooring as a package deal. A neutral wood floor is a perfect beginner flooring that will work well with all backdrops.
Finally, you will want to be sure and perfect the props that you will use for your newborn photo shoots.
Like backdrops props are a collection that you can build over time. Props do not have to be elaborate, in fact it is best to keep them simple. Shop for unique props that will truly make the shoot. You don’t want to compete with your subject, instead you want to focus on the tiny and delicate newborn, not the prop itself.
When choosing props always remember safety first. Props should always be free from harmful objects, sturdy, not too small and not glass.
There are a few must have items that we would like to suggest, these include:
Baby tutu and headbands for the sweet baby girls. These come in a variety of colors and will make darling images.
A plush posing hammock wraps the baby is subtle softness with its angora yarn cushion. You can also remove the cushion and use your own colorful blanket or draping instead.
A flower blanket is a beautiful textured addition to your prop collection. These come in a variety of colors.
These five areas of newborn photography are key for creating the perfect newborn shoot. Hit a homerun in these areas and you are sure to perfect the newborn shoot sooner than later.
In addition to gathering these important pieces, you will want to prepare your most important piece of a newborn photo shoot, the parents of the newborn, your clients. Giving instructions and information up front so that they are prepared will help you more than anything in the effort to have the perfect newborn photo shoot.
Tips to Prepare Your Clients for the Photo Shoot
Give them the following information up front, in the form of a checklist in order to ensure that your clients arrive at the session prepared, confident and relaxed. This will also help you to exceed their expectations, likely gaining you referrals to other newborn families.
The Checklist should include:
- Ideal time to photograph newborns (we suggest between 7-10 days after birth)
- Nursing moms food list
- Packing list for the shoot day
- List of items you will provide in the studio (wraps, props, etc.)
Most importantly remember to share with your clients that a newborn photo shoot takes time so they will likely want to set aside a good 4 hours in order for you to capture the perfect shots.
If you are able to secure all your tools, prepare your clients and take the time that is necessary you will be a winning photographer for your first newborn photo shoot. Good luck!