Newborn photography can be very challenging, especially if you’re a beginner and don’t know much about photography and shooting techniques. Of course, every photographer, even a beginner, will have their own style of shooting, but we’ve included some newborn photography tips that can help you get the best shots possible.
Lifestyle or Posed Shots
With newborn photography, you usually will have a couple of different shot options: posed or lifestyle shots. A photographer should discuss both options with the parents before a photo shoot.
With posed photos, these are often done within the first couple of weeks of birth when the infant is very sleepy. For this type of session, the focus in on taking shots of the baby looking perfect and peaceful. The baby is often wrapped in a blanket. This type of shoot can last a few hours. Editing posed photos can take a lot of time because each of the images must go through the photo editing software individually in order to get a polished result.
Lifestyle shots are more casual. Some posing can be involved but the intention is often to capture the infant in a natural pose. These photos are usually taken at two to six weeks of age, with a shoot time of one to two hours. The photo shoot often takes place at the client’s home.
How to Prepare
If you’re doing the photo shoot in a client’s home, a posed session will require a lot of prep. You’ll need to bring along plenty of gear, so you’ll want to pack up your gear the night before in order to avoid forgetting an essential piece of equipment. Creating your own checklist can make your life a little easier.
Preparing a Client
The best way to ensure a successful photo shoot is to ensure your client is fully aware of what they can expect during a shoot. Email or give them a list of prep tips a week before the appointment to help them prepare. Most moms will feed their newborn while you’re unpacking your gear, which can help to save time. Request a few outfit options since there’s a chance a little one may spit up during a session.
Letting the Newborn Inspire
You can find inspiration anywhere. Before the appointment it’s a good idea to have some poses in mind, however, many photographers believe that the best images are ones that are unplanned. Try to focus on a child’s uniqueness, whether it’s an unruly cowlick or bright blue eyes. Do your best to highlight the infant’s beauty.
Allow the infant to stretch, yawn, and move. Babies often have sweet, perfect movements. Don’t stress over having the perfect pose for each shot.
When you’re posing the infant, make sure you open up their fists. This can be a bit of struggle, but when they have relaxed hands it makes the image look more peaceful.
Be Mindful of Angles
Most photographers love to shoot wide open, but with newborn photography, many of the infant’s poses come with extreme angles, so you’ll usually have more luck with sharpness and your depth of field. Keep in mind that it will be very rare that an infant’s eyes will be on the same plane of focus all the time. If you close down your aperture a little from wide open, you can get more depth of field.
Gimbals, such as the Varavon, Birdycam 2 can do wonders for your shooting technique and can help you take some beautiful lifestyle images.
To learn more about improving image quality, click here to read our guide on DSLR gimbals.
When it’s time for a Macro Lens
Aside from lifestyle and posed shots, macro work is pretty big. Photographers love to capture close up shots of an infant’s mouth, their toes, hands, etc.
This type of close up detail shot is a perfect addition to a baby book. The best time to get these types of images is when a baby is sleeping, because of the sensitive focus on a macro lens.
Encourage the Parents to Get in a Few Shots
Often, right after a new mom has a baby, the last thing she’s going to want to do is to get in front of a camera, but a shot of the mom and the newborn can make for an amazing image. Try to encourage mom or mom and dad to get in front of the camera, explaining how important it is, but if she adamantly refuses, let it go.
One of the biggest mistakes rookies make is bringing all of their props to every appointment. Instead of bringing every prop you own, plan on a few setups that should be based on the client’s preference.
If the newborn has a sibling you should make a sibling shot a priority right when you get there, then allow them to go play so you can finish the shoot. A toddler doesn’t have a very long attention span and can get restless pretty quickly. It’s much wiser to get this type of shot over sooner rather than later to keep everyone happy.
Working with newborns isn’t the easiest. If they’re having a bad day and seem fussy and restless, getting the perfect shot can be impossible. If the baby won’t settle down as you try to take some posed shots, switch to some lifestyle shots and continue with the shoot. You can even ask mom to swaddle the infant and try to get some eye contact. Be flexible and open during this time. Photo shoots don’t always go as planned and these types of lifestyle shots can end up being the best thing for the shoot.