Children are the most beautiful gifts and cherishing the beauty as innocent and raw as theirs is the goal of newborn photography. Professional photography is all about doing your best for clients and when it comes to parents being clients, it gets even more important to deliver perfect images, as children are the most important thing in their lives. Any photographer who has ever attempted to photograph children knows that the aspect of “unpredictability” with kids makes them a really tough subject to shoot perfectly and when it comes to newborns, the assignment of getting the perfect moment and posture becomes even more challenging. With so many things that can go wrong during the newborn photoshoot, preparation and careful planning is required to tackle all the uncertainties. In this article, we shall discuss a few techniques and tips that will help you take your newborn photography to the next level.
Well-being of their child is the number one priority for any parents and so it should be for the photographer. When it comes to shooting newborns, significant thought should be put into planning security and safety of the newborn to achieve a successful photographic event. Showing care and compassion for the newborn is one of the most important aspects of a good newborn photographer. No parent will ever be comfortable with a photographer taking pictures of their child if she is not careful with handling their piece of heart. Never place a child on anything sharp, pointed or potentially harmful. While these things sound obvious now, you’ll be surprised how many new photographer don’t consider them, especially if they don’t have children of their own. A lot of care is required when newborns are placed at high point. Spotters can be used to ensure child safety against any accidental falls. These spotters can then be removed in post editing.
Technically speaking, getting the perfect lighting for any photograph is the absolute number one necessity, but when it comes to shooting newborns, it become all the more important. The common mistake that most of the novice or amateur newborn photographers do is that they keep the light very straight and flat. What this does is that it makes the image very dull and uninteresting. Placing the newborn right in front of the light source makes the boring and unappealing. It creates lighting that is uni-directional and flat, hence resulting in a very average looking photograph. To overcome this issue, it is recommended to use angular lighting in the scene when photographing newborns. Try placing the newborn at an angle to the source of light, so that the soft produced from this angular light generate depth in the picture, making for an interesting and eye catching image. Softening the light is also a nice touch, using a small softbox would work best. All images in this post have been shot with a single softbox.
Additionally it’s recommended to avoid using strobe lights and just going with continuous lighting. Many people might think it’s because the strobes will bother the newborn, but in reality at that age children don’t react to light that strongly. The reason continuous lighting is better in newborn photography is because you can use wider apertures to achieve that soft dreamy look. This is where more expensive lenses with wider apertures such as f/2, f/1.8, f/1.4 come in handy. Of course you can still use strobes at such apertures if you add neutral density filter to your lens but that just complicates the matter.
Speaking of lighting, don’t forget that light produces heat, a lot of heat. Newborns are very sensitive to temperature changes. Typically they loose heat faster than adults so some additional warmth might actually be comfortable for the child, but make sure the lighting doesn’t create excessive heat that can harm the newborn.
Always try to be as creative as possible with newborns. The inherent innocence and beauty of children make them easy subject to be imaginative and experimental with. Using beautiful props and creative arrangements is something that clearly distinguishes an average newborn photographer from an amazing one. Having said that, beautiful props are an essential ingredient for mesmerizing newborn photographs, but it does not mean that one has to spend a fortune getting them. Scout the internet for deals or even look at second hand markets in your area. Plenty of parents hold sales or post stuff online when their child grows out of their favorite old toys and child accessories. Make sure you have some variation in your props and extras since its more than likely there will be some spillage (which is normal with small babies).
This one is important to coordinate with parents of the child first. Ask them what the child will be wearing during the shoot, will there be a dress change or what color are the props (if they insist on using theirs). Plan accordingly, but it is generally advised to chose soft and pleasant color pallets (unless parents request otherwise). If you’re going for a specific theme or using your own props for the shoot, ask the parents to dress the newborn in something matching. Once you start shooting newborns regularly you’ll most likely accumulate various clothing that you can then offer for parents for consideration.
A good newborn photographer always discusses with the parents about their family culture, favorites, habits and likings. It is always suggested to use props and creative arrangement that depicts the culture and likings of the family.
At what age should the newborn be photographed is yet another important aspect for good newborn photography. It is generally recommended to capture images of the child during the first two weeks after the birth. The reason for that is again all the unpredictability of the newborn photography. During the first two weeks the child is in his most inactive state and sleeps peacefully for most part of the day. Hence photographing children during this time gives the photographer bigger window of opportunity to make great newborn shots.
Food and Diaper Supplies
Always request the parents to bring along extra diapers and feeding arrangements. If the child becomes uncomfortable due to hunger or filthy diapers, it will be very difficult to improve the child’s mood and expressions.
It is recommended to use hand gloves while touching newborns during a shoot so that the newborn does not get disturbed. Cold hands can affect the mood of the newborn and hence can ruin the photo shoot.
Another way to keep the child comfortable is to choose relaxed clothes. Keep the diapers loose and use comfortable props. Apart from disturbing the child, doing the opposite can also cause rough mark on their soft skins.
Another key tip for great newborn photography is to keep the surrounding environment warm. It is advised to turn up the heat at the location of the shoot a couple of notches higher than normal, so as to keep the child cozy and comfortable. Cold environment can spoil the mood of the child and affect the whole photo shoot. You can heat up the room by using room heaters or warm fans. Warm water bottles can also be used to keep the child comfortable. Keeping the room temperature high is even more important if newborn is planned to be photographed without clothes. If the baby you’re shooting is a little bit older, say three to six months, keep the space at room temperature, somewhere between 68 and 72 degrees F (20–22.2° C).