Looking at newborn portraiture, you might be under the (false) impression that it is easy. Newborns love to sleep, right? Just get them asleep and take some photos! While newborns DO love to sleep, it is usually in someones arms, swaddled, or rocking in something. What they do not love it being naked and told what pose they should be in and where they should put their hands and feet! When I tell clients newborn sessions generally take 3 - 4 hours, a lot of them are shocked. The session is essentially run by the baby. We need to allow for feedings (sometimes multiple), messes (usually multiple, especially if they are nudey!), and general fussiness. There are definitely tips and tricks that every photographer must learn to ensure a more successful newborn session. Here are some ways to ensure that you end up with beautiful newborn images!
Hire a Professional
Do you think that baby was left unattended sleeping on this guitar??
With the recent explosion of the digital camera market, and even smart phones that take amazing photos, why should you go with a pro?
A smart camera does not make a smart photographer. Just because your friend, co-worker, or relative may have a high-speed, high-quality digital camera, does not mean he/she is an amazing photographer. While good consumer equipment does help the average person up their photography game, a professional photographer brings an artistic vision, approach and creative eye that can’t be bought at the electronics store!
In addition, it takes years to learn how to properly and SAFELY pose a newborn. I am all for giving amateurs a try - in the right situation. We all started from somewhere, right? I do not think newborn photos is a good time to try out the neighbor who is just getting into photography. When not done properly, some of the poses can be dangerous if the photographer does not know what they are doing. I trained with multiple award winning international photographers, and even apprenticed under one for three years, until I knew all the safety precautions and correct ways to pose newborns.
Keep it toasty!
I’m talking balmy - 80+ degrees
For most of the session, we want baby asleep. Awake babies tend to cry, flail their limbs, and often just want to be held or eating. Their vision is still very underdeveloped, and it is common for them to go cross-eyed, which I imagine is not the image you were envisioning. An asleep baby allows us to pose him/her in those adorable cuddly poses only newborns can do. One of the ways to ensure baby is nice and sleepy is to turn the heat on in your house (if the session is in-home) to at least 80 degrees. Yes, you will be sweating, but baby will be happy, and more importantly, sleepy! A sleepy baby will allow for a much more seamless session.
Stay tuned for Part 2 later this week!