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Newborn photography is attractive for many reasons. The subject is amazing, proud moms are so glad to have you, and the cuteness factor is practically immeasurable. Yet, even given these advantages, newborn photography can attract flies to the proverbial creative ointment. Here are five tips to make newborn shoots easier and your subject a little happier.
Follow a consistent shot sequence: Set up photographic space for shots with mom/dad and child and do those first. For many of these, such as photos of feet, hands, or over the shoulder shots of mom holding her baby, it is not imperative the baby is asleep. In fact, most newborns tend to close their eyes when held anyway. Next, do shots that include the baby wrapped, or wearing a diaper cover. Finally, take shots of a nude baby. Nude shots are last because there will be soiling of whatever the baby is posed on. This is just part of newborn photography.
Encourage the baby to sleep: Newborns sleep a lot. Usually. But being in a different environment so soon in their young life can keep them awake. When newborns do not sleep, shots can be disappointing, especially for newborns aged 14 days or younger. Thus, be sure mom feeds the baby at the studio, not before. This encourages “milk drunkenness” and gets the baby nice and sleepy. Next, download an app of soothing sounds. Apps like Baby Sleep Instant can help. Just slip the phone near the baby or under a blanket.
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Be safe: Obviously, no photograph of a newborn is worth risking injury! So be sure to use that camera strap (you know, the one most photographers ignore), and place the camera around your neck, especially when standing over the baby. Second, keep mom close by on the set at all times. No matter how much care is taken posing newborns, they can move out of a safe or comfortable position quickly. Having mom inches away during shots greatly reduces risk, and makes the baby feel more comfortable. It will usually make mom feel more comfortable too!
Have a plan for siblings: Inevitably, a client will ask if they can “add” their other children into the photographs. Be sure to have a plan for this and to discuss your policies in advance. Every photographer will have varying attitudes about this, but here are some things to consider when creating yours.
- Think about whether siblings are able to wait around comfortably in your studio while photos are made without them. Often, siblings tire very quickly of all attention going to the newborn. They can become ornery and difficult to manage.
- Think about the sets and/or props that will be used for photos of newborn and others. How much effort is it to change? How much extra time will it take? How much will you have to fiddle with the lighting to get the look you want?
Clothing: Have clothes for newborn and sibling clients to wear in-studio. No matter what a photographer may say in a consultation about “avoid white” or “no stripes”, clients will come with the baby and dreadful onesies they think are “adorable”. (Think about future studio samples and your portfolio. Do you really want Dora the Explorer apparel represented in your work?) To be fair, most children’s clothing that clients have access to is nothing but typography-ridden graphic nightmares. Thus, planning and buying well in advance is needed. Try Zulily to find more photographic hats, diaper covers, and toddler wear that will look good 20 years from now as well as maintain the look you want in your work. While this is definitely an investment, the final products produced will pay for it in post session sales.