Friday, February 18, 2011

Crying is for babies--other babies

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?


  1. Those are great tips! I'm not a photographer (yet) but I LOVE taking pictures and would love to one day work as a photographer when I'm better at it.

    Your pictures are gorgeous! And that picture with the baby wearing the knitted/crocheted hat with ears, oh my goodness! That is the sweetest thing ever, I'm going to have to find a way to make or buy one of those when I have a baby. Can't wait for the second part!

  2. :( I so wished that you could take Colin's baby pics! We were pretty happy with the shots we got, but I would have loved the "Kelly" look! Miss you guys! Let's set up a phone date!!!

  3. That shot with the wedding rings around the toes - that is freakin awesome!

    My hospital actually has contracted out with a group of professional photographers to do the hospital photos. I can not tell you how AMAZING that was to have such wonderful pictures of my daughter so brand new!

  4. I would love a pattern for the coocoon!

  5. Thanks so much for the post, I have made it my mission to figure out my camera to get better shots, this will help.

    I also would love the patterns that you have. I was looking for one a while ago and gave up.

  6. Kelly, this is amazing! My sister is preggers and we've been crawling the internet to find tips so we can take pics of the baby. Amazing! Do you mind sending me those patterns? My sister is already making a laundry list of props for me to make and these will be perfect! Thanks for everything--love your blog.


  7. Gorgeous pictures and great tips!! Also looking forward to the second installment!

  8. love this! i love photographing newborns. one thing that i started doing is using puppy potty pads under the props that the baby is on. this way when the baby does have an accident it doesn't leak through onto something that the parents have to worry about cleaning up later.

    this is my first time commenting our your blog. love. i learned how to sew a couple years ago and have been wanting to start making my daughter's clothes. your blog is inspiring.

  9. I would love those patterns Kelly if that is possible, great photos, you are very good!

  10. THANK YOU THANK YOU for this post! I am having my second daughter in just 7 weeks and was planning on doing her newborn photos myself. These tips are super helpful and I can't wait to check back for more. Seriously, I can't thank you enough!

  11. Your pictures are beautiful! I am in the process of building up a portfolio so that I can start taking more pictures for people like this, so I found this post very helpful and cannot wait for the second installment!

    I would LOVE the patterns that you have for the two pods. :)

    One question: do you print your own photos at home (if so what sort of printing equipment do you use?) or do you have a site you use for printing? Thanks so much!

  12. If only you still lived in UT...I'd be booking a session right now. Any suggestions for great photographers in the area? We are on a college budget but I'd be willing to splurge a bit. :) I'm an amateur photographer but I'd love to have someone a little more experienced for these important moments.

  13. Also, I think a great thing when you're just starting out are diaper covers! That way, you get the "minimal clothing" look but don't have the added stress of yellow stains on all of your props and blankets. I just did my first few newborn sessions and decided I'd crochet my own props (which I'm now selling on etsy as well) but there are some seriously fun things on etsy. Just search for "newborn photo props" or something similar and there are tons of cute things and ideas for posing!

    Thanks for your blog. I don't comment much, but I read every post! You are a very talented woman, and an inspiration to many. :) I hope you know that!

  14. Hi Kelly! I love your blog and I've been following you for awhile, but I wanted to stop by and comment (I'm terrible about commenting, but I love to read) on this post. Just wanted to say thank you from a photography student who is working on growing her own business. I look forward to your posts every day :D

  15. thanks for the suggestions! with my next one I will know to schedule closer to when the baby is born!

    love your blog.. thanks for sharing.

  16. Great tips, I really enjoyed this post! Right now photography is mainly a hobby but I would love to eventually do it for money!


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