Note: If you’re new to Photoshop and/or Lightroom, you can also consider outsourcing your post-production and retouching to companies that specialize in editing newborn photos.
In newborn photography, you are generally going for two looks, peacefully sleeping or awake and happy. If the baby is uncomfortable, you run the risk of him or her being fussy, potentially crying, and overall causing a difficult time for everyone involved in the shoot. Consider wearing gloves if your hands are cold. Use Heating pads, and consider space heaters if the room is not nice and warm. For a full list of non-photographic accessories for Newborn Photography, see our Workshop.
Can you guess what two tools I used to correct these problems?
For more newborn photography tips and tutorials, please see our Newborn Photography Workshop, a full guide to baby and newborn photography, teaching posing, lighting, planning, and post production for newborn photography.
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It didn’t completely ruin the shot, but remember to take your time and be delicate with the baby and the props. Babies can sense when there is stress or tension. This is not high fashion, it should mellow and beautiful.
As always, I recommend doing a quick google image search for baby photographs to stir the creative juices. For babies it seems like the simpler the better. Unless you have a human sized flower or clam shell lying around, the baby is so new and perfect they can easily stand alone as the center of your photograph. Have fun with them and make sure the mom and dad know they have the cutest baby on earth.
Newborn photography can seem like a scary field of photography. It’s one thing to photograph landscapes or pose adults who take instruction, but working with something as fragile and unpredictable as a newborn baby can bring out the anxiety in even the most seasoned photographer. Here are a few newborn (baby) photography tips to get you started.
The last how-to article I did was on photographing expectant mothers. It only makes sense that we follow that up with how to photograph babies and an exploration of Baby Photography. Much of the setup information is the same, such as lighting and equipment, so if you need a refresher, read the previous post on photographing indoor maternity sessions.
Clean white towels ($4 each) pink ribbon ($2) some baby wipes (priceless)
You should be able to get amazing newborn and baby photography results with almost any camera and lens if you simply learn the proper lighting, creativity, and camera angles for newborn photography. Though a professional camera like a Canon 5K Mark III, a full frame camera, will give you better overall image quality than an advanced point and shoot camera like a Sony NEX, a camera like the Sony NEX will likely be sufficient for capturing great images of newborns. Below is a quick side-by-side showing images from the two cameras mentioned above with the Canon 5D Mark III image on the left and the Sony NEX image on the right. For more on this, be sure to check out our Newborn Photography Workshop.
Your magic window for Newborn Photography is within the first 14 days of birth. Newborns are easiest to work with during this time because they are sleeping for most of the day. They are also the most easy to adjust during this time-frame. Consider taking your baby’s photos after his or her umbilical cord has fallen off (which is typically after 5 days or so).
Creative props can be the difference between a professional photo and an amateur one. Newborn props don’t have to be expensive and you can find most of what you need at home or a local crafts stores. Other recommended locations are Beautiful Photo Props and Etsy. For ideas, consider incorporating the parents’ hobbies, their culture, their favorite colors, or their overall personalities. We came up with the concept below for Ellie because her mother used to live in Paris. For more inspiration and to see how this scene was shot, please see our Newborn Photography Workshop.
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If you said the dodge and burn tool, you’re wrong. I decided to go an even quicker route using the vignette tool and the devignette tool. By cranking the dark vignette to its maximum both in size and amount (I use Apple Aperture) it perfectly hid mom’s torso from the shot but kept the baby unaffected. By using the devignette tool it bleached out the edges of the white photo to lose unwanted shadows and tinges. Although not conventional, I find this worked great with just a few clicks.
With a little Photoshop magic, the images are merged and you have the composite image that you see in the first picture. (Above photos used with permission from Bree Franklin Photography).
A couple shots into this pose the baby decided she didn’t like her bedding and peed on the top layer of towels. Fortunatly she was laying on a large stack of replacements. Although I didn’t notice till the shoot was over, after mom lifted the baby and I rotated the top two towels, I wasn’t as precise in layering them back neatly.
We recommend planning your scenes using the website Kuler by Adobe. On there you’ll be able to find complementary and analogous color combinations that work well together. Being able to see the colors together visually prior to going out and looking for the props and backdrops will save you hours. On Kuler we arranged the pink and yellow combination you see in the left image below prior to searching for actual newborn props and accessories.
Tip 10. Learn Proper Post Production for Newborn Photography
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In the sample shots I showed here, there were a couple problems.
Tip 8. Use Window Light and reflectors for Newborn Photography
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More than likely, the shots you will be attempting to get will include cute baby buns, baby feet and baby bellies. All this clotheless shooting can quickly add up to a cold, cranky baby. You might want to invest in a small space heater to get a little extra heat in the baby’s direction. Be sure to turn the heat up to around 74 degrees about an hour before the shoot. If you are shooting in a clients home this will require prior planning but I would suggest bringing your space heater as well because baby is usually not used to hanging around in just a diaper.
Introducing personal elements is part of what makes some of these creative props for newborns so great. However, guitars aren’t the most stable surfaces for newborns so a spotter is enlisted. With the camera on a tripod, the composition of the image does not shift. One photo is taken of just the guitar (left) and another picture is taken with the newborn on the guitar but with someone securely holding the baby in place (right).
Your post production for newborn photography will generally be more light and airy than other types of photography. Consider using fades, tasteful black and white effects. Also consider brushing up on advanced Photoshop techniques like Frequency Separation and other advanced retouching techniques.
When I took the baby’s diaper off, a quick cleaning was in order. Save yourself from staring at baby poop particles magnified at 10X in Photoshop as you try to do cleanup.
As mentioned above, the baby usually provides enough aesthetic appeal for most shots. Prop’s though, when tastefully used, are wonderful. They help convey perspective, size, fragility or add a hint of color to show whether it’s a boy or girl.
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Unless you are a very experienced shooter, the pictures may not look exactly how you envisioned straight out of the camera. Not to fear, post production is here.
Take a look at this adorable picture below of a newborn and a guitar.
Problem #1 Mom’s black sweater was plainly visible and I wanted the viewer to really only see the baby. Problem #2 In the white images, things weren’t lit exactly right. One side of the white wall behind the baby looked whiter and brighter than the other.
I wanted a near uniform whiteness.
For this session we wanted to create the popular “baby on a stack of ultra-soft, I wish I were small enough to sleep on towels too, cause that looks so comfortable” look. The list of what you need for this is short.
Though newborn photography may seem daunting at first, it’s like any other form of photography in that the more you practice the better you become. Take your time, be patient, and don’t second guess yourself. With the proper planning and research, some creative and personalized props, in addition to careful and safety-first execution, you should come away with at least a few good images on which to build your foundation. For more newborn photography tips and tutorials, please see our Newborn Photography Workshop, a full guide to baby and newborn photography, teaching posing, lighting, planning, and post production for newborn photography.
You certainly don’t need to get too fancy with the lighting. All you need is a large window for your main light and a Westcott 5 in 1 Reflector to help fill in some of your shadows. Below is a screenshot of the setup we often use.
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Safety should always come first when it comes to newborn and baby photography. The list can get quite extensive for tips on newborn safety, but in general, use your common sense. Never bring in any hard or sharp objects as props. Never place your newborn on high or unsteady surfaces without a spotter. And realize that some of your favorite photos of newborns are actually composites. Below is an example.
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Part 2 of our Newborn Photography Workshop covers post production and includes newborn photography presets.
Being creative is a large part of being a newborn photographer, but so is making sure you get the basic, must-have shots. You should always start with the basics and move towards the more advanced photos just in case the baby gets too fussy and you have to call off the shoot. Below are some of the basic shots you should get before introducing complex, time-consuming, and difficult photographs. For more info on Newborn Posing, please see our Newborn Workshop on DVD.
If you are a fan of Anne Geddes or an avid baby photo lover, it’s easy to set your expectations too high and overload your photo-session with so many “concept” shots that you end up with a big headache and little to show for it. Choose 2 or 3 poses only. If you nail those, take a break a try a couple more later.
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This can be rather tricky as all babies seem to be on their own schedule, especially cute photogenic newborns. Here are 3 things to be aware of.
7 Tips for Photographing Newborns without Becoming … 5 years ago
So any time you see a picture of a baby hanging from a branch or resting on a basketball or in any other precarious position, understand that the images should not be attempted without proper safety and composite techniques for newborn photography.
Your newborn baby has his or her own schedule. When they get fussy, be sure to take your time and wait it out. Sometimes you’ll spend 3-4 hours on a shoot with the baby crying the entire time and finally, in the last 20 minutes, you’ll get everything you need. It’s not going to be easy and be sure to plan sufficient time or the shoot. Your shoot duration will vary depending on the number of wardrobe changes and scene setups, but in general be flexible. If you’re doing this professionally, consider charging per session, per image, or per scene rather than charging per hour.
First, babies can loose the ” newborn baby curl” within about 10 days of birth. If your looking for that little rump to be up and the baby to be mold-able, try to shoot within this window. Second, coordinate with the mother beforehand and the two of you should plan the sleepiest time for the shoot.
The sleepier the better, and no one would have a better idea of when that is than mom. Third, before the mother comes with said sleepy baby, make sure she dresses him or her in something easy to take off without disturbing the baby.
Clothing that doesn’t have to go over the head is good or even bring the baby in a swaddler. You need to be able to undress the baby without losing the deep slumber. Don’t be afraid to have mom help you move and mold the baby.
With practice you will feel more comfortable with newborns and babies, but in the beginning advise mom on how she can help you position the baby and shoot away. 2. Don’t overload with ideas