[Editor: if you’re using a crop sensor camera, a 35mm lens will give you a similar focal length to a 50mm lens on full frame. Affordable options here include the Canon 35mm f/2 IS or the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G] Tip #23
The silent shutter is also a winner, once the baby is asleep it’s great to know that there won’t be any heavy shutter clunks to disturb them.
Another set-up I like to do is with the flokati rugs, the baby is all curled up in womb-like pose and I shoot from above looking straight down. With the X-T1’s tilt screen, I stand next to the baby and using a light weight wrist strap, hold my camera directly overhead using the screen to frame the image. Before I moved to Fujifilm I had to use a small step to stand on to be able to compose the same image with my DSLR, it was heavy to hold and I never felt that standing on something near the baby was the safest way of working, so I’m delighted now that the X-T1 lets me work around this easily.
Are you planning to photograph the parents as well as the newborn, and any siblings? Will there be any other family members present – grandparents are often in the wings, for example.
Capturing these moments is a great privilege, and if any kind of portrait session deserves to be nailed, it’s the newborn photography session!
Bear in mind that some newborns have a natural tendency to turn their heads more to one side than the other – it’s easier to move the baby around if you find they keep ending up looking away from you.
If a newborn is irritated by hunger, you’ll never get them settled – let the baby feed till they’ve had enough, and you’ll have a much easier job on your hands.
My favourite lens for newborns is the Canon EF 100m f/2.8L – the close-up details from this lens are beautiful (and it’s also great as a portrait lens).
When posing babies on my beanbag set-up I need to stay within close proximity to them so that I am always within arms reach if they were to stir or startle when in a pose. My favourite lens for these images is the 16-55mm as it enables me to get full body shots and also closer crops all whilst staying right next to the subject. I will sometimes use my 35mm too, as I love the extra shallow depth of field I can get when shooting wide open, it helps the blanket backdrops naturally fade off without having to manipulate it in photoshop after.
The more you photograph newborns, the more you’ll get a sense of how you want to go about this.
Don’t try to move the baby until they’re in a deep sleep – when their bodies have become very still and their breathing is deeper. If you move a newborn in a light sleep, they’ll wake up!
I hope you find these newborn photography tips helpful – see what works for you and don’t be afraid to experiment.
I ask parents to take their watches off beforehand, as it’s so distracting having a big watch in the shot if you go for a close-up of a newborn lying in the parents’ arms. You don’t want to do this in the moment as a watch will usually leave a mark for a good few minutes till the skin settles.
I encourage all parents to feature in one way or another, even if it’s just their arms being in shot holding their baby. When that little newborn is an adult, it’ll mean so much to them to have photographs which also show their parents.
When selecting a camera for newborn photography, choose as quiet a shutter as you can – a noisy shutter close to a newborn’s face is likely to wake and startle them.
Bear in mind the hormone crash that mums will go through on day 4 or 5 after the baby is born, and the fact that newborns will often suffer from baby acne and digestive issues from week 2 for a couple of weeks, and will often launch into cluster feeding from days 11 onward as they prepare for a growth spurt.
This guest post on newborn photography tips is by award winning family portrait photographer Louise Downham.
For group shots with a newborn, a 50mm lens such as the affordable Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM (or Nikon 50mm f/1.8G) is a good choice, as even if the family’s home is small you’ll usually manage to fit the whole family in.
And of course, if you have an illness, postpone the session – the baby’s health is the top priority here.
As with any portrait session, the most important element is preparation – feeling comfortable with your game plan and with your clients will go a long way to making sure you capture those precious moments beautifully.
When including older siblings within a newborn shoot I have found the X-T1 to be less intimidating and intrusive to my young clients. It’s not big and menacing like large DSLRs and using live view means I can keep eye contact with them too which makes for a much more relaxed image.
An obvious benefit I felt when swapping to Fujifilm was the improved practicality, after a day of shooting my wrists, arms and back really thank me for the weight difference. I certainly couldn’t have entertained the idea of shooting as freely as I do know, sometimes one handed and frequently over the top of my tiny model.
Spend a few minutes chatting with the parents before you get started on the day, to help them relax and feel comfortable around you – calming any of their nerves will really help you take the best photographs.
Try to keep speaking around the newborn, so they get used to your voice and it doesn’t startle them to hear a stranger so close to them. Keep your voice low and calm, newborns are very sensitive to noise.
Get some experience with newborns first before photographing one – they’re quite different to young babies, and need a lot more attention!
New parents can be completely consumed with amazement at their newborn – you may not be offered a drink for hours! Take a bottle of water with you just in case as your concentration levels will start to dip if you get thirsty.
I bought an X100S in 2013 which I intended to use as a personal camera for photographs of my children as my DSLR was just too big to carry around daily. I fell utterly in love with both the look and feel of the X100S and also with the files it produced. I soon concluded that I need to progress to Fujifilm for my client work, so I sold my existing DSLR camera and lenses and bought an X-T1 for the studio, it has the same Fujifilm feel, and again, wonderful files. Once I started using the X-T1 for client work I found it really came into it’s own, so many of it’s design features helped make my sessions run smoother.
If a baby is starting to fall asleep, wait a minute or two so they fall asleep properly – even on silent mode, a clicking shutter can be enough to disturb that snooze.
Photographing newborns has to be one of my all time favourites. I absolutely love seeing a family in its first weeks, the complete adoration the parents feel and their amazement that they’ve created a tiny little human.
Consider how old the newborn will be at the time of the newborn portrait session. Studio photographers often want the baby in the first week, but for home sessions the first two weeks is generally fine.
Responding to the newborn during the portrait session Tip #9
X-T1 X100s 35mm f/1.4 16-55mm 2.8 60mm 2.4 macro 56 mm1.2 50-140mm f/2.8
I’d recommend that you get as much experience with newborns as you can to increase your understanding of how a newborn might react to certain situations. There’s also reams of information on newborn development available online – spending time absorbing these articles is time very well spent.
Over the years, I’ve developed a set of tricks that help me get the most out of a newborn portrait session, and here they are.
First things first – always, always, always wash your hands before handling a newborn – they’re so vulnerable to germs and illness, you want to be as clean as possible just in case.
If you’ve spent time around a new baby, the constant nappy changes and feeds won’t come as a surprise – and you won’t be panicking that all the time is being used up with bodily needs, you’ll have seen how there’s a window of calm after all the excitement – that’s the moment you’re waiting for to really start photographing in.
To help babies settle I often keep my hand on them so they still feel some contact, at around 6-12 days old they aren’t use to being left alone yet, and this is where the X-T1 makes a massive difference to the way I work. It is light enough that even with the 16-55mm lens, I can shoot steadily with one hand, only removing my other hand from the baby just before I take the shot.
[Editor: if you’re using a crop sensor camera, a 50mm lens will give you a similar focal length to an 85mm lens on full frame. Affordable options here include the Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM or Nikon 50mm f/1.8G.] Tip #22
[Related posts: Tips on photographing children and the best cameras for kids] Newborn Photography Tips for a Baby Photoshoot
I genuinely do think my little X-T1 combined with the great line up of lenses are the perfect match for my little clients.
If you’re leaning towards more lifestyle photography, a wider lens like a 35mm is great as you’ll get more of the interior in without too much distortion – just don’t photograph people at the edges of the shot or they’ll look enormous.
I learnt many of these tips for photographing newborns the hard way – on the job! I’ve photographed over a thousand children now and am very in tune with babies’ moods and habits, which really helps keep a session calm.
Newborns are also sensitive to touch, and temperature – make sure your hands are warm before you touch a newborn, or you’ll startle them and quite likely make them cry.
Celebrating the power of photography – The Lesotho Photo Project
I’m a newborn and maternity photographer and trainer based in Lincolnshire and also in London, UK. I’m often asked why I recommend the Fujifilm X series for my newborn work so I’ve outlined the main reasons below.
For prop shots I usually use my 56mm or again the 16-55mm zoom. When I shoot against my wooden backdrop the 56mm at f/1.2 gives a wonderful separation between the baby and the backdrop and really makes them stand out. For these shots I do ask a parent to spot the baby for me and they are right next to them, just out of the frame, ready to hold the baby should they roll or startle. On these portraits I tend to use the tilt screen so that I can hold the camera just above the floor enabling me to capture the baby at their eye level which gives a really intimate feel to the images.
[Editor: Whilst newer dSLRs like the Canon 6d mark ii offer a silent shutter mode, using one of these mirrorless cameras with a completely inaudible electronic shutter is a much better option.] Tip #19
Tagged as: babies, Elli Cassidy, fuji x-t1, fujifilm, fujifilm x-t1, newborn, newborn baby photography, newborn photography
I prefer to photograph newborns 7 to 10 days after they’re born, when parents have had a chance to settle into their new life but the baby is still definitely in the newborn stage.
[Editor: affordable 35mm lens options for full frame cameras include the excellent Canon 35mm f/2 IS or the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G ED, reviewed by me here. If you shoot Fuji, check out these Fuji lenses to find the equivalent one for you.
] Baby Photography Tips | Final Words
I love that the settings I tend to change within a session are all easy to access, the ergonomics of the X-T1 have always felt ‘right’ to me, I can twist a dial without having to go hunting through menus. I spot focus and find the D-pad easy to use to toggle my focus points, and the auto white balance seems to do a fantastic job with tricky baby skin tones.
Cover the essentials – is there anything the parents are particularly looking for from their newborn portraits? Have they seen any photographs that they particularly liked?
Ask the parents what time of day would suit their emerging routine best. Newborns tend to be happier in the morning, so that’s usually a good time for their portrait session. Avoid their witching hour at all costs, towards the late afternoon – it can take hours to settle even the calmest newborn at the end of the day.
Guest post by family photographer Louise Downham | www.louiserosephotography.com
I use a Canon 5D mark iii which has an almost silent shutter – the difference between that and the noise of the Canon 5D markk ii‘s shutter is quite remarkable.
I follow the newborn’s lead – if they’re awake and settled, that’s when I suggest taking a family portrait. Different photographers approach this differently – many studio photographers, for example, request that the baby has an enormous feed beforehand to induce a big long sleep, for example.
Parents vary wildly as to whether they’d like more photographs of them all together as a new family, or mostly photographs of their newborn – some parents don’t even want to be photographed at all.
To view more of Elli’s newborn work, please click on any of the following links: minimemories.co.uk | Facebook | Twitter | Google+
A cheaper option for close-up shots is using an extension tube like this one with a 50mm lens – the results aren’t as gorgeous, but it does the job pretty well.
Certain shots are easiest when the baby is asleep: close-ups of their tiny toes, for example, are much easier when a baby is sound asleep than when their little legs are wriggling around.
[Editor: whilst Nikon doesn’t have an equivalent 100mm macro lens, the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 DI SP does a fine job – they also do a version for Canon here too.] Tip #20
Have in mind a loose shot list of the photographs you plan to take. Will you approach the newborn portrait session as a lifestyle session, or will you give the parents guidance and suggest certain poses or set-ups?
A more economical option for a portrait lens is the Canon 85mm f/1.8, or if you’re a Nikon shooter, the Nikon 85mm f/1.8.
You’ll likely end up in all sorts of strange positions getting just the right angle for a tiny newborn, so wear clothing that you’ll feel comfortable moving around in and stretching.
Make some suggestions as to what the parents might wear. New mums might prefer a loose T-shirt as it’s more flattering for baby weight than tight breastfeeding tops – word this suggestion carefully though, as no one’s more sensitive than a new mum!