Photographing newborns is a joyous occasion and one that photographers shouldn’t take for granted. There are few things more special than capturing the beauty of a new bundle of joy that has recently entered the world. For all their volatility and unpredictable nature, newborns present photographers an incredible challenge. But with this challenge, photographers can be sure to push their skills to the limits. If you’re thinking about improving your newborn photography skills, consider these tips.
Patience and Confidence are Necessities
So you’re probably thinking that babies aren’t able to identify confidence in a photographer. Regardless of whether they can or not, the more important aspect is that you’re able to connect with the baby in an emotional manner. A manner which brings out their happiness, or one which can soothe their worries. This is one of the hardest aspects in life for a parent, yet alone a photographer.
But with some toy props, visual stimuli, funny faces or noises, and a wealth of patience, there will be periods where you will have continuous attention from the newborn. And it’s these moments, before the unpredictability sets in, that you need to capitalise upon. As such, you may want to use a continuous setting here to keep shooting rapidly. The job is slightly easier with early newborns less than a couple weeks old, more often than not they’ll be in a sleepy subdued state.
Prepare in Advance
It’s best to rely on natural lighting when it comes to shooting newborns. This is because of the softer look it affords the subject, rather than artificial lighting which can look harsh – not to mention, the bright light of a flash can be the source of distraction and nuisance to a baby.
On the other side of things, keep plenty of clothing, blankets, a heater, props, accessories and even nappies on hand for those unfortunate moments. It’s much easier to work with a baby through consistent engagement, as opposed to a stop start approach while you fiddle around looking for things.
Tailor the Setting and Environment
As we highlighted in our intro, newborns may be notoriously unpredictable. With that said, it’s beneficial to line up certain things in your favour. For starters, a morning shoot is usually better, as the baby will have been sleeping beforehand and is unlikely to be as tired as they would in the late afternoon.
You’ll also want to ask the newborn’s parents to feed the baby beforehand, as obviously it should be a bit easier to work with them if they’re not screaming for food. Last but not least, as newborn shoots often involve light layers of clothing, turn up the room temperature just that little bit more so the newborn is not in discomfort. For newborns older than a couple weeks, keep the session to a maximum of a couple hours.
Minimising Complexity Isn’t a Bad Approach
The sole focus of a newborn photo should be the beautiful baby at the centre of the shoot. Once you start to incorporate dynamic backgrounds, or too much other stimuli, you may start to loosen the viewer’s emotional engagement with the baby. Basic white or grey backgrounds, and even black and white close-ups are simple, but there’s little doubt where the focal point of the photo will be.
Of course however, this should not be confused with quirky costumes and small props, which while ‘distracting’, do so in a beautiful way that adds personality to a shoot. Another neat way to showcase their behaviour is by capturing them while doing something, or with their parents and any potential siblings.
Covering more than just newborns, check out our specialist baby photographers listed on the site.