I am an on-location photographer and most of my work is done in the great outdoors. Who says you can’t take a new baby outside, too?
8. In the beginning, don’t be overly hard on yourself! Practice, practice, practice! Either practice for free on friend’s babies or pick a very reasonable portfolio building price to begin with. Tell your clients you are portfolio building to get more experience & that your prices will increase in the near future, then you aren’t blind siding them down the road if they re-book. If you have been up front with them then they can’t be upset! Everyone has to start somewhere. I look back at my images from the past & cringe. Instead of getting down by that, I try to rejoice in the fact that it shows GROWTH!
Photographing your own newborn can be challenging but also so very rewarding.
I always ask for them to take me on a tour of the house so that I can find good light. Tell them what you will bring. I try to make each session special by buying something new. I ask the parent what style of hats they love so I can buy one in a style they will like. Some new parents are more protective than others, so ask if they have any requests or things that might make them uncomfortable.
A Guide to Newborn Photography – Preparation, … 3 years ago
Related: 11 pictures to take of your baby in the first month
10 Newborn Photography Tips for the On-location Photographer
– 5 tips that changed my newborn photography – 10 tips for photographing your baby – Newborn photography tips: Finding the beauty in your client’s home
A pull back from a recent session & you can find another pull back on my blog – Newborn Session Pullback
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When I had Gabriel, I would shoot for a short period of time using just one or two setups every other day or so. Not only did this keep everything low stress, but it allowed me to capture the subtle changes as Gabriel changed over his first few weeks of life.
The third trick probably goes without saying but make sure baby has a nice, full belly and is not hungry during your shoot.
The alternative is to crank up the thermostat in your house while you are shooting. Luckily, Gabriel was born during the summer in Arizona, so I didn’t need to do anything other than head to my garage. It was like an oven!
Don’t forget to document all of those sweet little details that make your baby unique! That little upturned nose, her rosebud lips, his crinkly little chin, those tiny toes and fingers – these are all things that you will not want to forget as your baby grows.
Experiment and have fun! When I was shooting Gabriel’s newborn photos, I kept my macro lens sitting on the table next to me so I could easily swap out lenses and snag some macro shots during each of our ‘mini shoots.’ I found this to be much easier than trying to get them all at once. If you have an extra camera body, you could leave your macro attached to it to easily grab those macro images as you go.
First off let me start by saying there is no one way to photograph newborns. That is the cool thing about it. You can add your own personal flare & make your style your own. These are just tips I have learned through my experiences. If you have tips you’d like to share that I either don’t know about or have forgotten to include here, I’d LOVE to hear about them!
7. Evolve your style as you go! I have always liked the more raw take on newborn photos where I use a lot of the baby’s environment in the pictures (the home or outside) but recently I also started adding a few studio-ish (well….mobile fake studio since I am on location!) pictures to each session for a change. I think it is fun to keep it fresh & give your client’s galleries variety. You can still add your personal spin to everything while also adding a touch of “new” to your “usual.”
-be creative & use the baby’s home, outside, etc for pictures so that the client has variety in their gallery -be YOU but keep it fresh!
3. Walk them around, sooth them & be calm. If they already have a full belly, it might be better to try to calm them yourself rather than the parent because if they are with their mom they will keep wanting to eat! You can buy a white noise machine or just download an app on your phone. Sometimes heat is all it takes to knock out an almost-asleep baby. I bring a space heater along with me to help them be even more comfortable.
9. Editing a newborn session takes time but there are things you can do to speed up the process & to cut down on editing time. -shoot in manual & start with proper exposure -use a grey card for custom white balance, an expodisc or a light meter for more accurate white balance & skin tones -instead of CWB, learn Kelvin & take advantage of better skin tones straight out of camera Read this article by Sarah Wilkerson to begin learning: Color by Kelvins: Aa Better Approach to White Balance -place your subject in good light
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When I first started newborn photography, I didn’t think it was for me. I wanted it to be but it just wasn’t feeling natural & was much harder than I thought. At first I thought they would be the easiest subjects I had ever captured…they are tiny, bendy, sleepy & can’t run away! But then I realized that they aren’t necessarily easier than other subjects, just different. As it turns out there are some tricks to it that make it more enjoyable & more fun! I was excited when Courtney asked me to post this, because I feel like newborn photography is coming together so much more than it was in the beginning – I enjoy it now & I ‘d love to share what I have learned with you! Still some newborn sessions are harder than others but I’d love to share what I have learned with you.
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2. Don’t rush….patience is the key. When I first started, I had photographer friends tell me that they were in & out of a newborn session within an hour or two. I wanted to cry because I was staying at people’s houses 3-5 hours. I didn’t know what I was doing wrong. I was beat down & discouraged. Now with more experience, I still spend a ton of time at newborn sessions. And it doesn’t bother me anymore because now I know what to expect & I go into it knowing it will be a long session.
In addition to these three things, I have found that most babies (including my own) are much more cooperative and ‘lazy’ in the morning hours than in the afternoon and evening hours. Try to do your shooting between breakfast and lunch, and I think you will agree that this is the best time for most babies.
I know firsthand how difficult it can be having photos taken of yourself, but please, hand your camera to someone else – your husband, an older child, or a friend – and get a few pictures of yourself with your new baby. No one cares that you still need to lose your pregnancy weight, or that you are tired, and don’t feel that you are looking your best – just do it.
-remember, you have to start somewhere! -don’t be hard on yourself in the beginning (rejoice in small triumphs) but as you go challenge yourself to get to the next level
If sitters, walkers, and crawlers aren’t happy being contained, your next best bet is to just roll with it. Don’t push things, or you’ll likely to end up with a baby in tears, and nobody wants that at a photo session.
When it comes to newborns, you’ll find that they settle best when they’re very warm. This means that if you want to photograph a baby outdoors, you will typically be more successful if you begin indoors. Inside, swaddle the baby up tightly. Keep in mind that babies like to be warm, so you may want to leave them in pyjamas under the swaddle. Then rock them while playing white noise or making sushing sounds until they are nice and sleepy. Next, lay the baby in a basket or bowl that has been lined with a fluffy blanket and let them settle. Once the baby has settled in, carry the whole thing outdoors.
Learn the EXACT techniques that I use everyday to photograph my kids. Stop feeling frustrated with your DSLR. Let me help you with this FREE webclass.
What am I doing with all of Gabriel’s newborn images? I am making an epic baby album for him, of course. I cannot wait to order it and have it in my hands! There is NO substitute for the actual finished product for you and your family to enjoy.
This goes without saying, but please make sure your baby’s safety is the number 1 priority while you are taking his or her photos. If you are trying a more difficult pose or working with props, have someone there to help you and to spot baby.
You do not need any fancy studio equipment to get this right. Almost all of the photos I took of Gabriel were done either in my garage or in front of one of my living room windows utilizing natural light.
10. Here are some things I bring to a newborn session (I wish I had a picture of my dinky little SUV all packed up….it’s ridiculous! I look like I am going out of the country for a year!) -hats/wraps/cocoons -coordinating blankets or backdrops (lots of them because you never know how many will get peed on!) -camera & back up camera -grey card, expodisc, or light meter -my main go to newborn lenses are: Nikon 105mm f/2.8G ED-IF AF-S VR Micro-Nikkor Lens, Nikon AF-S 50mm f/1.4G SIC SW Prime Nikkor Lens for Nikon Digital SLR Cameras, 85mm 1.4G, Nikon 24-70mm f/2.8G ED AF-S Nikkor Wide Angle Zoom Lens -bean bag from ShootBaby (tip, buy it stuffed…stuffing them is a nightmare) -baskets & any other props I see fit (ie: suitcase) -space heater, white noise app on phone -swaddle blankets to help with certain poses (to place under the baby & blanket) -softbox &flash in case it’s a poorly lit house, although I prefer natural light –CowboyStudio Photography Backdrop Supporting System with 9 Feet Updated Crossbar and Case backdrop stand -reflector or white science board to reflect light back onto the subject if necessary -clips from Lowe’s (featured in pull back) -backdrop stand -hhmmm….I am sure I’m forgetting something!
If you have a macro lens, now would be the time to pull it out of your bag, dust it off, and put it to good use. If you are having trouble getting the images you want from your macro lens, here are a few tips.
Some of the sweetest and most endearing photos you can take of your new baby will be the ones you get with his or her older siblings. I set out a task for myself to get an image of Gabriel with each of his nine older brothers and sisters. I still have two to go, but I am getting there!
-put a blanket over the baby while posing to keep him/her comfortable -take the whole frame into account before snapping & make sure you like what you see (position of baby, smooth blanket, etc.)
One of the benefits of photographing your own newborn is that time is on your side. Unlike shooting a newborn session for a client and having a 3-4 hour window in which to work and create a varied gallery, you have days – weeks even – at your disposal.
There are a few simple things you can do that will ensure a happy baby and a productive photo session. The first is to keep your shooting area warm – really warm. I have successfully used my quartz infrared space heater that we use to heat our bedroom in the wintertime, but any small space heater will do.
In addition to having a warm shooting area, white noise does wonders for keeping baby asleep. I downloaded an app to my iPhone called ‘Sound Sleeper‘ which has a number of soothing sounds that you can play for baby while you are shooting. I would just tuck my phone underneath the blanket I was shooting on and it would keep Gabriel happy and snoozing!
I don’t let the website replace communication of course, but it’s good to have a place they can use as a resource to remind them of things like: – ideal timeline to keep in mind when contacting me to schedule the session once the baby is born -warm the house -keep the diaper loose -feed the baby before pictures
I feel a bit hypocritical telling you this, as I myself have been absolutely horrible about printing my own images, but just do it. Do not wait to design the perfect wall display, or to choose the perfect picture. If you see a good canvas sale going on, just order something. You will love it – I promise!
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Remember that you just had a baby! You need to take time for yourself to rest and recover from the childbirth experience, so please do not rush and try to do everything in one day. I have learned the hard way that this will end in exhaustion and frustration.
Now I charge more for a newborn session to compensate a bit for the extra time. It depends on how many different sets/hats you have planned for the baby as to how long you will take & I always seem to go in with a lot of ideas (temperament of the baby, whether they are going to have siblings or parents being photographed with them all go into account as well etc.).
Related: 6 ways to photograph a newborn after the first 10 days
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Even so, you will spend some time retouching scratches, dry skin, acne or correcting skin tones. -don’t overdo it…you want your baby to be smooth but natural (not fake) -skin tones are complicated but important…take the time to read up on it. Clickinmoms has great resources on this by Sarah Wilkerson. You should join! Or you can buy the book: Skin: The Complete Guide to Digitally Lighting, Photographing, and Retouching Faces and Bodies by Lee Varis -come up with some steps you always do & create your own action to speed up your flow!
The newborn days are so precious, yet so fleeting. As photographers, we can appreciate how quickly these days go by and how important it is to capture all of the sweet details of our new babies, while they are still little.
Related: Less is More: Mastering the Minimalist Style of Newborn Photography
Regardless of the scenario, I often find myself asking mom or dad to hold the baby during a few family portraits outdoors. Particularly if the family has expressed an interest in “lifestyle” or “candid” images, as nature can tend to feel less stuffy and conservative than an indoor studio setup.
Some things to consider shooting with your macro lens: noses, lips, eyelashes, ears, toes, fingers, belly buttons, hair, and fuzzy shoulders. Those details will change so fast as your baby grows and this is a wonderful way to preserve those memories.
Contrary to what you may have heard about the first two weeks being the best time to photograph a newborn, it is very possible to photograph older babies in the ‘newborn style’ as well. I was still capturing Gabriel’s newborn photos when he was over a month old.
Whether you’re photographing for a client or for yourself, one of the things that can make or break a photo is your lighting. Think about the most natural source of lighting we have – the sun.
When dealing with dappled light through trees, I sometimes position mom or dad strategically just out of frame so that they block any light that may fall on baby’s face or body.
Even if you experience a baby that won’t settle outdoors in a basket or bowl, keep in mind that being held in mom or dad’s arms may be an entirely different story. Sometimes babies just want to be held. Don’t be afraid to experiment with both scenarios until you discover what works best for each individual baby and family.
A good rule of thumb for nice soft shadows and highlights is to have your baby angled such that the light flows from the top of baby’s head on down their body at approximately a 45 degree angle. Look for a soft shadow underneath baby’s nose to verify that you have this right.
Gabriel didn’t move an inch between these two shots, but look how different they are! The first was taken from the front as a nice close-up of his sweet little face and hands. In the second image, I walked around behind him, loved how the lighting looked, and took another picture from that angle. It ended up being one of my favorites!
Instead of rushing to change your setup or reposition your baby, try getting up and walking around your baby to see what unique angles you can photograph. Try walking behind your baby and shoot some pictures from the shadowed side – you may end up with an image that you love! Exhaust all of your different angles and perspectives before moving on to a new pose or setup. This is an easy way to get variety out of a single pose.
I usually start by laying a quilt or blanket down on the ground. Some babies will not crawl off the blanket because they hate how the grass feels on their bare hands and feet. This is typically not a solution that lasts for the duration of the session without causing frustration, but can sometimes buy you a few stationary minutes. Other than the blanket trick, I have used galvanized wash tubs, old crates, toddler sized chairs, and wagons, to help contain older babies outdoors.
Older children may be able to hold their new brother or sister, while simple laying down poses are perfect for younger children. This will make your older children feel special and involved as well, which is always a bonus when there is a new baby in the house getting a lot of attention!
One of the most common mistakes I see in newborn photography from pros and amateurs alike is improper lighting. If I had a dollar for every up-lit baby I saw floating around online, I’d be a very rich woman.
If you primarily shoot on location, you’ll find that not all families have a great space for family portraits indoors. Sometimes the physical shape or size of the room isn’t particularly conducive to a group portrait, or the decor doesn’t quite match the desired aesthetic. Sometimes families just have beautiful outdoor spaces that I love to showcase.
-are all of the important parts in focus? -is the backdrop nice & creamy?
More and more, I’m discovering that I love to photograph both newborns and young babies outdoors. Yes, I often take even 5-10 day old little babies outside for at least part of their session. If you’d like to give it a try as well, here are five simple tips to help get you started while also keeping the little guys and gals safe.
4. Posing takes lots of patience as well. Occasionally you can get away with photographing them exactly how they fall when you set them down, but the more complicated newborn poses take time. Sometimes certain poses take me 15 minutes to get exactly how I want it! I always want to make sure I can see their little hands & feet – that they aren’t hidden under the blanket. I want to also make sure their head is turned toward the camera enough to & lifted enough that it is not hidden in the bean bag or blanket.
5. There is a big difference between copying other photographers & studying the art of newborn photography to prepare for a session when you are just starting out. It is fun to study the work of people you admire to get ideas & think to yourself – how did they get THAT shot? You can also watch YouTube videos to watch how photographers achieve certain poses. Then it’s a challenge to try to recreate it while putting your own spin on it! It helps so much in the beginning to study the work of others. The more time you put into this, the better you will be! If you need to lift up certain areas of the baby’s body, try using rolled up swaddle blankets or small towels under the blanket, above the bean bag. There’s a great article on this by Megan Cieloha on Click It Up a Notch And also Clickinmoms – Inspiration vs. Imitation.
Recently, I tried to take a baby outdoors on several occasions, and each time she woke up crying before I could get even a single shot. So with permission, I cut a few flowers and brought them inside, and photographed the baby inside with the flowers instead (see photo above). Just be flexible. If you can’t bring the newborn outside, consider ways to bring the outdoors in.
Close down a bit – when you are working as close-up as you will need to be to do a macro shot, shooting wide open will give you a very small depth of field. Unless that is what you are going for, try closing down to f/5.6 or even further.
In addition to closing down, take that lens out of auto focus and try using manual focus. I had much better results with my macro using manual focus! Do not worry too much about your ISO. If you need to crank it up to avoid underexposing your images, do not be afraid of doing so.
While some may opt to hire a professional to photograph their baby, some of us are excited at the prospect of capturing our baby’s first days ourselves. My 10th child, Gabriel, was born on June 24th of this year, and I was determined to get some amazing photos of him myself.
Expecting I will be there awhile, I bring snacks to recharge (sometimes I will lurk off to the bathroom to eat them while the mom is feeding her baby….ssshhh don’t tell ;). I always have a backup plan for someone to pick my son up from daycare so that I’m not stressed & watching the clock. Newborns can sense when you are on edge or in a hurry, so just plan to be there a while. Some babies are naturally calm while others are super alert. You have to wait those ones out to go to sleep. Sometimes it takes hours! I usually get the family shots done during this time while they are awake. Then if they’re still awake but content I’ll get some individual shots to show off their eyes.
7 Tips for Photographing Newborns without Becoming … 5 years ago
Sometimes, photographing babies outdoors can be a bit of a race against time, as any big gust of wind or loud noise can startle them awake. For best success, scout out a location that’s close to the house before you begin. Also, even in the most ideal situations, there are times when a baby just won’t stay settled outdoors. If you experience that, don’t sweat it, just move on.
These days go by so fast – before you know it, they’ll be heading off to school, learning to drive, getting married, and giving you grandbabies. I’m not even kidding! It seems like just yesterday I was bringing Clint home from the hospital, and now we are working on a driver’s license. It goes by in the blink of an eye!
–space heater –white noise machine or white noise app on smart phone -swaddle them
Trust me. This will be a priceless treasure for your new baby as he or she grows up.
Being outside in nature opens up a whole new realm of possibilities and creative freedom that you may not have shooting indoors. Bring along some simple props to place baby in and have fun! I have found that many babies tend to sleep more easily outside on a warm day than they would indoors in a studio setting.
1. Prep the parents first on what to expect. Explain to them fully how YOU operate – explain your time frame & why it is so much better to photograph babies when they are young. I usually say 3-9 days is the best time frame & I ask that they get in touch with me as soon as the baby is born (after keeping me up to date during their pregnancy as well). Block off time before & after their due date & tweak it as they get closer to the end. Tell them what will happen when you get there.
I would love to share with you some tips and ideas to help you create beautiful images of your own baby and to make this experience an enjoyable and stress-free one for the both of you.
It is in the sky above us. Therefore, seeing a person who is lit from below is very unnatural looking. It is so unnatural looking that it is often seen in horror movies or to depict something frightening. We definitely do not want our baby to look like they belong in a horror flick!
Do you have any other tips for photographing newborns or young babies outdoors? If so, please chime in the comments below.
As photographers, I think it’s safe to say that most of us are more comfortable being on the back side of the camera, but it is so important for our children that we get in front if it once in a while, too. 🙂 My 14-year-old daughter, Calista, took this image for me and I absolutely love it!
The pictures taken from your perspective, the mother who loves her baby like no other, are going to have a little something extra special about them. Just take it slow, and be sure to get a lot of rest. You just had a new baby. Enjoy your baby!
When using any of these props, please be safe. Use a spotter if necessary to prevent tumbles, and don’t be afraid to use composite images (combine two shots) if needed so that someone can have a hand on the baby at all times.
Weather permitting, take your baby out of the studio and into nature – you can get some amazingly beautiful and unique newborn photos this way. I get bored easily and was definitely over blankets and beanbags, so my husband and I took a little drive and did a few images of Gabriel outside. They are definitely some of my favorites!
6. Play around with F-Stop. It’s fun to have the creamy backgrounds you achieve when shooting wide open but also make sure you have proper focus. Since newborns are immobile & sleepy it gives you time to look at the back of your camera to make sure you like your angle, the positioning of the baby & your focus. If you feel you can open up the f-stop even more – try it…play around!
Pictures on a computer screen are nice, but a huge 30×40 canvas hanging in the entryway of your home is even nicer. Trust me on this. 😉
Here is the first way I prep parents: newborn information page
Feel free to experiment – for more dramatic lighting and shadowing as in the photo of my husband’s hands holding Gabriel in the photo above, go for a more drastic angle. Have fun playing with different angles and perspectives, but do not, I repeat, do NOT up-light your baby!
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Whether you’re placing a baby in some vessel or having a parent hold them outdoors, it is really important to make sure that they’re shaded appropriately. Both newborns and older babies have very sensitive skin, and the last thing you want is for them to get a sunburn for the sake of some photos (it’s also better light for portraits). If you’re not able to find shade naturally available, some alternative options are a large umbrella (patio or beach umbrellas work well), or even a reflector held directly overhead.
-STUDY! -practice on your own or on friend’s babies until you are comfortable shooting manual, posing, choosing good light, & planning out/coordinating a newborn session
Please, for the love of all that is newborn photography, do not leave all of your beautiful newborn photos sitting on your hard drive. Print those babies out!
Born as a safe place for Founder Kendra Okolita and a small group of friends to talk photography, Clickin Moms has blossomed into a community of over 16,000 professional photographers, aspiring professionals, and women who are simply passionate about capturing the lives of their children.
Before you start snapping, just step back & take in the WHOLE FRAME – make sure you can see the baby, he/she looks comfortable & everything is just how you want it. I won’t take the shot unless the backdrop or blanket is wrinkle free. It is always easier to fix it before than after during editing.
When it comes to photographing babies under two years old (and newborns), most people immediately think of studios with elaborate backdrops and lots of available headbands, hats, and props. There’s nothing wrong with that type of photography for children, but if you don’t have access to a studio space of your own, you have to get a little creative.
Bringing a new baby into your family is one of life’s most amazing and wonderful moments!
Remember, time is on your side! Take it easy and don’t over-do it. If you pace yourself, you can capture an amazing variety of images of your sweet new baby.
At the first signs of frustration, transition to games or activities that will entertain the baby, then keep taking pictures. Many babies and early walkers love to hold hands and stand or walk, so let them. Have mom or dad pick up the baby overhead and play airplane. Play a game of chase. You’ll be surprised at the opportunities for candid images of the family having fun together, as well as the number of opportunities for images that have a portrait feel to them as well.
10 Things You Can Learn About Photography from Elliott Erwitt
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But you want the baby’s features to be in focus so pay attention to that, so you may need to close down. When shooting wide open, make sure the baby’s body, feet, hands etc. are all on the same plane so that you don’t end up with an in focus baby & out of focus limbs.
Mastering Manual Photography starts 7/30 with Marissa Gifford
When it comes to photographing older babies outdoors, there’s a sweet spot between sitting babies and crawling babies when outdoor photography is easiest. That said, you won’t always be working with the ideal developmental stage because all babies hit those stages at different ages. So, it’s best to be prepared with a few tricks up your sleeve to make photographing walkers and crawlers a little bit easier.
My newborn photography style is simple and organic with more natural posing, so this was not an issue for me. If you need help from someone, make sure that you ask for it. My husband has been an excellent spotter in the rare times that I’ve needed one. Remember that many of the more difficult looking poses and setups are actually composite images, and not created from a single image.