Newborns…. well they are tiny humans that will secure the future of our race. They are cute and wonderful I agree. But, when it comes to taking pictures of them, it gets a little tricky. While it is easy to take landscape pictures or any other kind of pictures, taking pictures of a newborn baby is a whole different thing. It is difficult to pose them. This is mostly done when they are asleep. After professional newborn photography and baby photography in general, taking pictures of kids becomes a little easier. But as for starters handling babies is quite difficult.
Now lets first get this out of the way. What is the age limit of a newborn?
Many people get this wrong, and they are usually not specifically newborn photographers. Newborns are usually babies from birth up to one month of age. Everything above one month of age is an infant, and they are much harder to photograph because they move a lot.
With this out of the way, we can get started.
Table of Content
Professional Newborn Photography Tips
We are going to go over all of the steps that you need for newborn photography. We suggest you don’t stress out and just take it easy. Being a baby photographer isn’t the easiest job. But it is worth it for the end result and seeing a happy family.
1. Newborn Safety Goes Over Everything
When handling such a fragile little human, you need to put safety first. Keep in mind that newborns are not like adults. Their bones are still growing, and the lightest fall can make them brake. Not to mention that if they are asleep, the lightest sound can wake them up. This leads to unnecessary stress for the newborn baby, parents and you. Take into consideration the time you are going to lose because they need to calm the baby down.
How to achieve newborn safety?
There are a lot of things that you can do to achieve that. When it comes to handling babies and in our case newborns just use your common sense. We grown-ups, we have an instinct when it comes to babies. Use it, especially if you are a female. The instinct will lead you on its own. Everything in your studio needs to be built around the safety of the baby. Keep the baby as close to the ground as possible and keep the temperature in the room higher than normal. Put it in a nice blanket and make it feel safe. This will allow the newborn to be calm during the whole photoshoot.
This way you will achieve the ultimate safety for any newborn baby.
2. You Don’t Need an Expensive Photography Gear
How do you take newborn pictures like a professional? Well, you might be surprised but you can get precious newborn pictures without any expensive gear. All you need for achieving a good picture is a camera, some creativity, and the right camera angles. Even babies have some angles that they look adorable in and some that are not so good for them.
Study the pictures that are already out there. For beginners recreating a picture isn’t something you need to be ashamed of. As you go, you will learn what angles are the best but for starters just do what everyone is doing. If it’s working out, then stick to it for now.
Later as you go, you can invest in a better camera body, a lens, and a tripod. For now, all you need is a working space and a decent camera. You can use books or shelves as a tripod for now. If it works why not?
3. Comfort is the Key
We all love to be comfortable, wrapped in a blanket and warm. For babies, it’s no different. When taking pictures of newborns, the main look that everyone goes for are sleeping pictures and happy awake pictures. If you keep your baby comfortable during the whole photoshoot, the risk of it crying or being fussy are lowered.
How do you keep a newborn comfortable you ask?
Make sure there are lots of soft blankets around it, this way there are no hard surfaces. The room temperature should be higher than average. Since babies are not used to cold environments like adults are, they will most likely cry if the temperature is below their body temperature. So, if you have colder hands, try wearing gloves if handling the baby.
Use heating pads under the blankets to keep the blankets warm. This all should assure that the baby feels comfortable and happy.
What is a newborn and what is a child? You need to make a difference between it if you are a newborn photographer or a child photographer. The newborn photography field starts and ends within the first 14 days of birth. This is the time the newborn is looked at like a newborn. The longest you can go is up to one month. Later on, it is an infant not a newborn. That is where your timeframe as a newborn photographer ends. So, use it as much as you can.
5. Basic Posing for Newborns
Before starting to experiment with different poses and picture ideas, try getting the basics under control. First, you need to get the basics of the camera right in order to know what is lacking and what you need to buy.
Doing newborn baby pictures in a basket, a sofa or a small bed is good for starters. The newborn baby is just lying there and all you need to do is take a picture of it.
Get a gallery full of pictures of baby’s that are on the internet and recreate one by one. It will give you a feeling as to how to handle newborn babies. Later on, experiment however much you want. But for now, keep to the basic things.
This step is only applied when you are sure that you can handle the basics. Later on, get creative. Use different props in the picture and use a photo editing program. This way your picture gets a story to it. Instead of just having the newborn baby to lay in a basket, with knowing how to edit you can make the basket be in a forest or next to a river or surrounded by animals. I mean you can get creative with this.
Photo editing programs will be your best friend. So, invest in a good program that you are sure you can use for the long run.
Take a color wheel and only put colors that are either a contrasting color or a complimentary color compared to the colors that the baby has on it. This way you will make the baby look peaceful in harmony or standing out because of the contrast.
Plan your color combinations ahead before buying props. This way you will be saved hours and hours of shopping around. Unless that is what you want, then go for it.
But the easiest way is to have a plan on paper ahead and then buy everything that goes with it. What you also need to assure this is that your colors don’t go off. Since everything is planned ahead you will get the look you are going for in no time.
When you consider all the bright colors attached to your baby’s room and surroundings, it borders on sensory overload – for your camera. This is where the age-old trick of dumbing down your photos to black and white can offer some incredibly artistic results. The story of your newborn will take on a whole new look.
However, if you find yourself in a situation where you can’t use it because it is raining or something like that. Try to have a small softbox around at all time. This will give you the same effect and it will not blind the baby and irritate it.
This is where you really need to show your patience. A newborn has its own time schedule, so you need to work around it. Not the other way around.
When it gets fussy, just wait it out and let it calm down. If it ends up crying let it calm down on its own with his or her parents. Don’t rush it. Once it is calmed down working with it will be a piece of cake.
Take into account that your photoshoot duration will depend on the number of the babies clothing changes and eating schedule as well. So, you really need to be patient.
10. Client Expectation
Before even starting a photoshoot ask your client does he or she want to see natural pictures or pictures where the newborn baby is posing. Knowing this answer will help you plan the photoshoot. If the client wants to see lifestyle pictures, then all you really need is a comfy bed/sofa and the baby with lots of pillows.
On the other hand, creating posed pictures will lead you to picture editing. We get that there are times when that absolutely perfect shot of your newborn will be further enhanced with the tweaking power of a photo program.
It’s not a reflection on your photographic skills, either. After all, you did take the photo. A little airbrushing here and there can always make that great photo of your baby that much better. And really, if you are going to send copies to family, don’t you want the best possible photo available to share?
So, then all you need to do it to take the picture of the baby and put it in any scenario the parent wants. This, of course, takes a little more postproduction then just taking a lifestyle picture. But keep in mind that the client is a king so treat him that way.
11. Be Prepared
Depending on where you are doing your session you need to be prepared. If it’s let’s say outside of your studio, be sure to bring everything that you might need. And let me tell you, you need lots of stuff. It is very easy to forget about it all. Maybe even make a list for shooting outside of your studio. This way you won’t forget anything.
One way to also always be prepared is to pack the night before. This way even if you end up remembering something you can add it in the morning before the session. This will ensure that you are as prepared as you can be.
Newborns have an interesting daily schedule. It usually involves feeding, a lot of sleeping, crying and well, pooping. However, there are times when your newborn will suddenly stop crying or pooping and start giggling, smiling or laughing. These are the moments you will want to collect on your memory card as much as possible.
If the newborn wakes up and decides to smile or is just generally happy, then let it take over. Make the baby control the situation of the session and let it lead you. Like I said earlier you can’t control babies. As a newborn photographer, you need to be aware that you are not important at all. The baby will dictate your tempo in the session. So, you need to step back and let it do that.
Let the newborn baby move and stretch where it wants. All babies have perfect wonderful moments and we as photographers need to do our best to capture it. So, don’t stress over having the perfect pose.
13. Macro Lens Time
In case you haven’t noticed quite yet, your newborn child has tiny parts. This is where you can capitalize on the money spent on macro accessories. Imagine the shots you’ll be able to get of teeny-tiny fingers, feet, eyes, noses and maybe even fingerprints. Macros shots are a great way to enhance your newborn photography portfolio.
You need to capture every detail on a perfect human being such as a newborn baby. You will achieve this when the baby is at sleep so put your macro lens on. Capture that perfect little face of his in that peaceful moment as it is. These kinds of pictures are perfect for any album and gallery to have. Since they capture the innocents of life as it is.
14. Mother-Baby Pictures
Why not get a mother next to her most precious gift of life?
Some mothers might be shy to get in front of the camera, but you need to encourage them. It is hard, but it is also important. Having a mother-baby bond in the picture is magical. Mothers always show their love for the baby.
They take pictures of their babies constantly to have everything on the tape. So why not give them some rest and let them be the focus of the picture with the baby. It is something every mother needs to have in their album.
When working with moms and babies you need to be flexible. Take pictures of them holding the baby or rocking the baby when it is crying. Everything that looks natural you can use for your advantage. So, let the mother handle the newborn baby as she would every day. Take some lifestyle photos and just keep it up. You never know what photo could turn out to be really good.
Nermin Grahovic is a photography enthusiast and photography blogger based in Europe. His images are fun, creative and exciting and his love for travel makes its way into most of his images. Some of his favorite photography genres are portraits, street, landscape, and industrial photography.
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