Guide to photographing newborns
Photographing newborn babies takes a special kind of preparation, patience and technique – even as the parents of these little ones. I’ve always considered it to be one of the most challenging type of shoots, but when you get those beautiful shots – it can also be one of the most rewarding.
Here are a few simple tips on how to have a successful newborn photo shoot with your clients, or your own little bundles of joy:
Come armed with patience & time
Firstly, remember that newborns are only fresh and malleable for photos within about the first ten days of their lives. After that, they have learned to appreciate their space and awareness and won’t provide you with the same “newborn looking photos”.
When I schedule a newborn photoshoot, I tell mom and dad to plan on having me in their home for about two hours (sometimes longer). That way there is ample time to settle, and resettle baby down, stop for mini feeds, or change diapers. And when toddler-siblings are involved, breaks and snack time is often a necessity. As a photographer or momtographer, we must plan to have a nice relaxed atmosphere that isn’t rushed or uptight in order for everyone to feel comfortable and photo ready.
Make sure everyone is prepared
I always ask mom to have baby fed or topped up just before I arrive so that they are nice and milk drunk, and ready to sleep. You can follow this same process when you want to have have some fun with your own little one. When a fresh newborn has a full tummy, they are ready to drift off into the deep sleep that provides us with the opportunity to curl them up in to the positions that make for some fun, artistic photos.
Snap the “little” things
Newborns don’t stay “new” for very long. They grow at a rate that most parents can’t fathom. Constantly changing, learning and developing . Take the time to capture your clients, or child’s teeny tiny features and details every step of the way. My favourite details to capture in newborns are the flakey skin, tiny features and the little hair & wrinkles that seem to cover their backs and shoulders. These little things quickly change so it’s a precious keepsake to have photos of the early details that soon fade into “babyhood.”
As they grow and change, strive to snap the milestones and developments that occur so that you never forget how quickly they change. When they are young, take photos that capture their tiny size by putting them next to things that showcase this. And as they grow, focus on their determination as they learn to roll over, or their ability to make a giant mess as they learn to feed themselves, and giggles and stumbles as they take their first set of little steps.
Focus on the moments and turn them into memories
Some of the most amazing photos are those that capture the relationship between a parent and their newborn baby, or a sibling and their teeny little brother or sister. Turn on your camera, and flip it to burst mode. When a sibling or fellow parent or grand parent has that baby in their arms…get the camera ready and wait for that connection.
As the parent, I know you often leave yourself out of the memories. So if you can, hire a photographer a couple of times a year so that you can include yourself in these precious photos. Or, if it’s not feasible, pass the camera over to your spouse or partner, or even a child and give yourself over to the quiet moments that you enjoy with your little one.
Heat it up
The one thing that will make a warm, cooperative newborn into a cranky, cold one is a lack of heat. When I photograph babies I always bring a heating pad and a portable heater. This allows me to undress the baby and settle them into the positions I want to photograph them in, without disrupting their warm, cozy slumber. If these things aren’t available to you, crank up the thermostat and keep the room you are planning to photograph in a little toastier than normal. Trust me, it may feel warm, but your baby will appreciate it…and so will you when that tiny little ones stays asleep and pliable enough to get some fabulous shots.