A Guide to newborn photography for the new photographer or the seasoned photographer just new to newborn photo sessions – how to prepare, how to pose and Post processing.
So first off, everyone has to start somewhere and since I get many people asking me the "how to" on newborn photo sessions, here is a breakdown of what is what. In my opinion, newborn photography is the most difficult photographic genre, but the most rewarding in. It is me for me at least! I’ve photographed exhausting and stressful weddings, but nothing compares to the process and execution of a newborn photography session. In newborn photography, the more you prepare for your newborn photo session, the more successful your newborn photo session will be.
I’ve compiled a complete list of “how to’s” when it comes to newborn photography. My tips include insightful methods including: how to prepare parents for their newborn photo session; how to prepare your studio for a newborn photo session; how to pose baby in those adorable sleepy curly newborn poses; and best practices for newborn photo safety.
I love working with newborn babies and would have loved someone to tell me exactly what I needed to buy and what I need to do to create a successful newborn portrait studio business. I’m going to tell you what you need, from my experience, to have a smooth and successful newborn photo session. Starting from the top:
START WITH A 12 DAY OLD OR YOUNGER NUMBER WHEN AT ALL POSSIBLE
If your parents book early, before the baby is born, you will be able to fit them in your schedule. Sometimes parents don’t call until after their baby is already 12 days or older, you can still do their newborn session and chances are that if you follow your preparation thoroughly, you will be able to achieve gorgeous newborn photos for you client. Best case scenario is a newborn baby 12 days or newer.
KEEP IT CLEAN!
· Wash your hands! Take every possible precaution so that you do not spread germs. Newborn have delicate immune systems and we must protect those newborn in our care.
· Keep it clean! Make sure your studio space is clean. Get those paper shoes covers so that parents can slip them on without having to take their shoes off. This will keep your floors clean and safe for those precious newborns.
· Pee and poo – Let’s face it, pee and poo are going to happen and when it does you need to be prepared. Have a bucket or crate with oxi clean, bleach wipe ups and paper towels. When baby poo’s, be prepared with as little fuss as possible to clean it up. Best solution for getting poo out of backdrops is Oxi Clean. Directions are on the bottle!
· The best laundry soap for newborn items is a natural one without dyes. Dreft or All Free & Clear are perfect choices
· The best way to wash newborn items is the delicate or hand-wash setting on your washing machine
· Hang dry everything as most newborn knits and blankets will shrink or ball up.
Protect your newborn backdrops with puppy pads. Put them between your layers so that if baby pees, it doesn’t soak through every layer. Costco has the best deal!
CREATE A WOMB-LIKE ENVIORNMENT
· Your environment should be between 82-85 degrees. If you are not sweating, it’s not warm enough. You are mimicking the womb so it’s need to be warm. You can use a space heater, let parents know so they can dress in layers.
· Create white noise, the sound will mask all the normal sounds in the room like shutter sounds and parents walking and shuffling props, it’s soothing for baby and it’s an invaluable step to newborn photo session preparation. You can use a phone and there are a number of free apps but the best one is Sound Sleeper, you can get it from the Itunes store or Google apps
· Gather all your props, blankets, backdrops, beanies, bows, baskets so that you are looking for these things during your session. The more prepared you are the easier your session will be.
· Start with a swaddled newborn. Newborn babies are used to be swaddled and are comforted by this. Swaddling will help the newborn sleep, once soundly asleep, you will be able to unwrap baby for those adorable little naked poses.
PREPARE YOUR PARENTS
Parents come in for their newborn session and they are excited and worried and exhausted. They’ve just had a baby, they overly tired and beaming with pride. I offer my clients bottled water and easy snacks such as trail mix or granola bars or fresh fruit. Almost every parent enjoys the snacks that I provide. Nursing moms need the extra energy and often times, dads just forget to eat. The more comfortable the parents are, the easier your job will be. Let your parents know:
· Inform parents that Newborn safety is your number 1 concern, the more comfortable parents are, the less they tend to “hover”. A hovering parent can impede your workflow.
· Inform parents to feed their baby 3 hours before their newborn photo session time so that their newborn baby is hungry and ready to eat when they arrive at your studio. A full tummy will be a happy baby and provide the best start to you newborn photo session.
· Inform parents to gently slough off dry skin with a warm wet washcloth. Then apply a baby lotion like Aquaphor. This will help with the flakey skin and your post processing editing will be much easier.
· Opening and constant communicate with newborn parents before, during and after your session – I can’t stress this one enough.
For photographers just starting out with newborn photography or parents wanting a DIY newborn photo session, the first thing to remember about newborn posing is if looks impossible, it is probably a composite.This means that the pose you see if probably 2 or 3 photos put together in Photoshop. For newborn posing, safety must come first.
This newborn photo of the "The Newborn Froggy" pose is made from taking three photos with your camera in the same position and putting them together usings layers in Photoshop.
NOTE: Some babies can not go into this position. Take cues from the newborn, if she is uncomfortable, she will cry, squirm and show discomfort! STOP!
I baby is not fully asleep, this pose will not work. STOP!
If you are not comfortable working with newborns, STOP! It is probaby better to a lifestyle session where baby is posed in natural positions.
Lifestyle posing will be easier, this mean place the baby down, support her head and make sure that you do not shoot up the nose. Up the nose is not an attractive look for anyone, including a newborn baby. For those who want to try those super cute, curly newborn poses, here is where to start.
· Start with a basket, line it with blankets and set aside. Next dress the newborn in diaper cover, then wrap baby snuggly in stretch wrap. Place snuggly wrapped baby in basket. Prop baby’s head with folded cloth diapers. Take a few shots of newborn in the wrap, once you have those, you can start to unwrap baby for a different look. Once completely unwrapped, you will have the diaper cover for a different look. Add bonnets and headbands to create even more different looks. Make sure you get all angles, move baby slightly for different looks and do be afraid to come in close for the precious newborn photo details.
· Some popular poses are done a newborn beanbag. I use one at every session, but for moms at home or new photographers, this can be pricey. You can achieve a similar look by using a couch cushion. Pad it well with a fleece blanket and make sure that the fabric or backdrop that you use is pulled tightly to reduce wrinkles. They will alleviate the post processing nightmare of getting rid of wrinkles.
· There are a ton of guides on the internet to show you very specifics of newborn poses. Review them first before you ever try this on your own.
EDITING YOUR PHOTOS
· Your clients choose your because they liked what they saw on your website! Be sure to be consistent and show what you want to sell.
· As far as retouching, less is better. I clean up newborn flakey skin but I leave the newborn navel stump and those adorable strawberry white spots on their little noses.
· Join facebook groups, search Photoshop groups, these members are happy to help!
· Most of all, keep it simple! Your newborn photos will shine, baby will be the center of attention and your newborn parents will be thrilled with their newborn photo session.