Having a successful newborn photography session isn’t about creating the perfect gallery. Instead, it is about creating a session where everyone is comfortable, happy and the baby is safe and loved. You want the parents to leave the session feeling joy. I not only want this for each and every one of my own clients, but for every newborn photographer.
*This post contains affiliate links, thank you in advance for supporting Click it up a Notch.
Improve Your Newborn photography
1. Have confidence in your newborn baby photography
You may be thinking “but doesn’t that only come with experience??” To a point, yes, but so much can also be achieved through watching videos, studying poses, taking classes, and asking questions.
Watch experienced newborn photographers videos
I gained so much confidence before my very first session by watching a video of a well-known photographer working with a newborn. Just seeing how she handled the baby opened my eyes to what was possible. You will pick up a number of soothing techniques that will prove to be so helpful.
2. Communicate session details with your clients
I can’t emphasis enough how important this is. Your goal for the newborn photography shoot is the same as theirs, but they don’t often know what it takes to accomplish that goal.
Communication is key
Right from the point of their first inquiry, inform them of your approach to your sessions. Likely, this information is readily available on your website or blog. But personally sending them details about the age range you prefer for the newborn, where the session will take place, the length of the session, environment temperature, and more. Sharing your hope for the parents during the session, starts your trek toward accomplishing the shared goal on the right foot.
Create a solid contract
You should also have a solid contract in place. A day or so before the session, send reminders for what the parents can do to prepare for their experience. Share what they can to to ensure it is the best experience possible.
It’s important to explain why you suggest these things … why is a pacifier helpful at the session? Why should the baby be given a very full feeding right before?
A well informed client is a trusting, relaxed client and that goes a long way toward a successful session.
3. The Beanbag and blankets you use help with your newborn photos
I started out working with a teardrop shaped beanbag that I cinched on the bottom with a rubber band. But ever since I purchased a puck-style beanbag and filled it with a couple extra bags of bean my posing has become so much easier.
Invest in a flat puck-style beanbag for newborn photography
The wide, flat work area lends itself perfectly to newborn posing. It helps to see the baby well and working more easily with their legs, arms and face. This is better than battling with them sinking into a too-soft, too-small, beanbag.
Layer your blankets on your beanbag
I have learned how much I benefit from layering many blankets on my beanbag in the order I want to use them. You will benefit during the session from doing this. It makes the transition from one blanket to the next extremely quick and fluid.
Roll cloth diapers to help with posing
In addition, when stuffing rolled up cloth diapers under the blanket to properly pose the baby, it really helps to stuff them all the way under the bottom blanket for a very smooth, not lumpy, look. In between those blankets? Lay down a potty pad! And lastly regarding blankets … thick, textured blankets are just so much easier to work with in post-processing because they are not as prone to wrinkles.
4. Light & angle matters
When I first began photographing newborns one of the very first errors I made was how I used natural light. I was prepped with the blankets and heat and lessons on posing, but I faced the beanbag and baby right at the window! What resulted were flat-light, very one-dimensional looking images.
Angle the baby to create soft shadows
Angling the beanbag set-up and positioning the baby at an angle to the light source creates soft shadows which add critical depth to an attractive portrait.
Also, I most often keep the baby’s head toward the light, to achieve shadowing I prefer in my newborn baby photography sessions. Depending on the size of the window, intensity of light and distance of the window to floor, I generally keep my beanbag around 3 feet from the window and my set-up at about a 60 degree angle to the window.
5. Heat … shhhhhh … hold … oh my!
We all know that heating the space you’re working in is a good idea … I have my space heater going the whole time and if I’m not sweating, I know the baby isn’t warm enough.
Consider a heating pad
But I’ve also found that warming the spot on the beanbag where they will be posed is incredibly helpful too, particularly on the first blanket I’m working with. A heating pad works great for this!
Use SHHHHH or a white noise machine
To sooth the baby while posing, I have found that a very loud ‘SHHHHHH’ goes a long way! I hold my warm hands firmly on their body, often one on their head and the other on their tush, and say ‘SHHHHH’ in their ear.
Sometimes I have to raise my ‘SHHHH’ to an awkwardly loud volume, but it helps greatly in calming when they start to stir.
Use your hands to help hold the pose
When you mold the baby into a pose you don’t just get them there and then snap the shot. You will keep your hands on them as you feel them relax into the position. During this time you may be shushing into their ear, while still adjusting the pose slightly or smoothing a blanket with a free hand.
But whether it is a finger that keeps wanting to curl under or a foot that wants to pop out, holding the newborn in place will comfort them a great deal and bring the pose into perfection.
Swaddling during your newborn photography session will help the baby not only feel comfortable but helps to hold the pose as well.
I hope that some (or all!) of these tips will help you toward your goal of successful newborn photography sessions, as much as they’ve helped me!
Don’t forget there are so many different types of ways to photograph newborns. Another popular option is to create a lifestyle newborn photography session.