This will be a two part post since there is soooooo much to talk about!I have received several emails and comments asking for tips on photographing newborns and babies. As this is my FAVORITE session to do I thought I could offer the few things that I have found make newborn sessions go smoothly.
The first key is to have your clients book their sessions as soon to the babies birth as possible. I know this is sort of out of your hands but it is a HUGE deal. If you are a preggy momma and want to have newborn's taken set a day NOW with a photographer. When booking newborns sessions most photographers understand the date needs to be somewhat malleable to work with the actual arrival of the star of the shoot :) I promise the younger the baby is the better your pictures will be!
When they are brand new they are soooo sleepy that once asleep, you will have no problem molding them into the cute positions that are so adorable. The other plus about completing the session early is that babies often won't have their baby acne yet that seems to set in around 6 weeks. Their skin will be peachy keen!
Pre-Shoot preparations: I am a firm believer that being overly prepared is what makes a successful shoot. Once i am contacted about a newborn shoot I set up a time to talk to the parents about their expectations for the shoot, what kind of pictures they love etc. If you don't know what you client wants it is pretty hard to give it to them :) Then we talk about location. Would they prefer to do it in their home so they can have some nursery shots and more candid shoots and they know the "germ" situation? You want them to feel as comfortable as possible. If the family doesn't mind I will do a little field trip and stop by their home a few days before and see what I will have to work with.
Or do they prefer a more classic studio look?
If they prefer a studio look I generally ask them to come to my house where I have a mini studio set up (I am so excited to share how easy and affordable it is to make your own little studio). For either location I make sure that an hour before the shoot the heat is CRANKED. I mean to where it is a bit uncomfortable for myself and the parents. If you are hot the baby will perfect! This is especially important is you want the minimal clothing shots
A cold baby is a sad baby. I also ask mommas to feed the baby about an hour before the shoot. This means they won't be hungry but they have hopefully already soiled their diaper. (This is a pretty big "hope" ha!) Since I am a natural light photographer I then have the parents watch for a few days and figure out when their apartment has the best light and that helps determine the photo shoot time. You should also be mindful of their schedule, although at this age that is basically, sleep, all day. I ask the parents to be mindful of what they are wearing as they often end up in shots. A black t-shirt makes for a lovely background.
Make sure you have SEVERAL blankets, rugs etc because you can count on "accidents". I also ask the parents to have any special blankets, outfits, heirlooms etc. they would like to be in a picture close at hand.
Props: (I will talk more about the background and support props in the next installment) Some parents LOVE them, some parents do not. I personally have a selection of hats, blankets, ties, bow ties etc. that I bring with me for the parents to look at and chose from if they like.
I only purchase washable items as they WILL be soiled at some point and I make it a point of washing everything in-between sessions. While I am an accessory fiend and LOVE anything over the top
I love the look of chunky knits next to a tiny baby:
I never push them on parents or rely on them for a good shot
The majority of my hand made props are from Etsy or I have commissioned a friend to make them (I have the patterns for the hanging baby pod and soft white baby pod that my friend made me featured above if anyone is interested?)
A few final things: I keep large bottle of hand santizer with me and ALWAYS wash my hands before holding the newborn. Then periodically use the hand sanitizer through out the shoot. I find if nothing else this makes the parents feel better. Now I know it helps that I have had three babies so I am comfortable holding them and moving them around but keep that in mind. Parents feel at ease when YOU as the photographer feel comfortable. Don't panic (at least not visibly ha!) Once you have done your first few sessions you will get a great feel for them and they become so much fun. Who wouldn't want to spend lots of time with these gorgeous wee ones?