Newborn babies are adorable tiny little treasures, and as a photographer of these little beauties, it’s your job to capture the magic of those first days of life for your clients to treasure forever! A newborn session is different from your typical session in many ways, babies require a lot of additional thought, care, and just the right conditions! If you want to get the most from your newborn photo session, here are some of the things you need to remember!
When to book them:
When to book your client’s newborn photos depends on what they’re looking for from these shots. If they’re looking for the classic snuggly little ball of wrinkled baby cuteness, you’ll want to book them between 5-14 days after birth. If they wish more eye contact and personality in their photos, you will want to wait a few months. The first year of a baby’s life is a time of rapid change and growth. For this reason, I recommend offering first-year photo packages. These packages include a photo session every three months for the first year of life to capture all of the ever-changing and always adorable stages of babyhood.
Where to take them:
Some clients prefer to bring their babies into your studio for their newborn photo session. However, it may be better for you to take their newborn shots in their own home in many cases. This way, the baby is in an environment that is already familiar to them. It also gives mom, dad, siblings, and pets the chance to relax in their own environment while setting up your shots. If you’re going to take photos in a client’s home, make sure you choose a spot with plenty of indirect, natural light. Direct sunlight will create harsh shadows in your pictures, and newborn portraits are all about softness.
Newborn babies cannot maintain their body temperature, so when taking pictures of baby au Naturelle, you must make sure that the environment is warm enough. I recommend keeping the space where your portraits take place at around 80º Fahrenheit to keep babies warm, cozy, and adorably sleepy for their session. The temperature is something that many clients don’t consider when coming to their newborn portrait session, so you will want to warn them ahead of time to dress accordingly.
You should schedule yourself at least two hours for a newborn photo session. Newborn babies can be unpredictable. They don’t always cooperate! You will have interruptions (diaper changes, feedings, etc.), so you will want to schedule yourself plenty of time to get the best shots.
Before your session:
Make sure that before the session begins, the baby is well fed! We’ve all seen that adorable “milk drunk” state that happens when newborns have a full tummy! You’ll want the baby to be as calm and content as possible, so you’ll want mama to feed the baby, as well as make sure there are additional bottles for (or ability to nurse) the baby when they start to get squirmy or fussy.
Nothing is cuter than a tiny baby face peeking out of a bundle of blankets! There are tons of beautiful and creative ways to swaddle a baby that photograph wonderfully. However, getting the baby into the swaddle can sometimes be tricky! I recommend starting with a simple swaddle on the bottom to get those wiggly arms and legs under control, then take a second blanket and create your more complicated swaddle on top of the simple one. You will also want to make sure that you have PLENTY of backup swaddling blankets; babies make a lot of messes!
For the same reasons as above, you’ll want to advise your client to bring backup outfits! If you provide the outfits for the photos, make sure that you have many different colors and styles to choose from so your clients have the best chance of getting that perfect photo that represents their style and their unique family!
Siblings and Pets:
When adding additional people or animals to the newborn photos, you’ll want to make sure that there is a comfortable place for the siblings or pets to hang out while you set up the shots. It can sometimes take a while to get the baby calm and in the correct position for a particular image. It will be much easier for you and your clients if you aren’t trying to wrangle siblings and pets while settling the baby. Instead, just have them come into the shot right when you’re ready to take the photo.
Don’t over plan it:
As I mentioned before, newborn babies can be unpredictable. They may get fussy, need a snack, need to be changed, plus a myriad of other needs that must be met. Try not to have your heart set on a specific pose or outfit because the baby may not be comfortable and won’t settle for the photo. Instead, ask your client about the details of their baby that they want you to capture. The tiny little fingers and toes, the adorable scrunchy-nosed look they get on their face when they’re asleep, or the small birthmark or freckle that just makes mom and dad swoon when they see it. These are the things that your client will treasure forever, so they are far more critical than that perfect pose or trendy outfit.
Go with the Flow:
When posing a baby, it’s not as simple as positioning their arms and legs where you want and snapping the picture. Many times you’ll need to coax the baby into a comfortable position, and that can take time. Move your baby into place slowly, hold their arms and legs how you want them and gently bounce or rock the baby until they settle into the pose and get back into that adorable snoozy state that you need. Make sure your hands are warm, so your touch doesn’t startle the baby– some photographers wear mittens to ensure warm hands. You may also want to advise the parents to bring a helper– grandma, aunt, close friend, etc. This way, you have a trusted adult on hand to help with holding and positioning while mom and dad are getting set up in the shot.