Designed for use with most digital SLRs (there’s a version of Lensbaby Composers, available at Adorama, in each brand’s mount), this funky lens system will let you create distinctive images that will stand out. Besides from the fact that it’s got “baby” in its name, the Lensbaby Composer is fantastic for selective focus and zooming in on baby and turning the background and out of focus areas into smooth, wonderful blurs that really bring you right in on the baby’s eyes and face. Additionally, the soft-focus Optic, which is part of the Optic Swap System, provides a diffused crispness and glow to the baby’s skintones. The Creative Aperture disks can be fun for themed photographs, especially around the holidays. Use a heart for Valentine’s day, stars for Christmas, etc. Baby photos with Lensbaby can be a lot of fun.
Babies and a fast prime (single-focal-length) lens are a great combination, because a wider-aperture lens gives you much more light-gathering power. Often an f/1.4 lens is expensive. But if you sacrifice a tiny bit of light and accept an f/1.8, you can find a normal-range lens that won’t break the bank. (Learn more about the difference by reading 50mm Lens Shoot-Out: f/1.8 or f/1.4? at the Adorama Learning Center.) Why get a fast non-zooming lens? A couple of reasons: Beautiful background blur will soften up even the busiest nursery background while you really focus in on baby’s face and eyes, and at f/1.8, you can shoot in low light, up to 3 stops faster than a typical kit 18-55mm zoom lens will allow. In practical terms, this means you can shoot at 1/80 sec with the fast prime, instead of an un-holdable 1/8 second with the slower zoom lens.
We also recommend to avoid shiny blankets that have strong sheen-like appearances as they reflect a lot of light and can create distracting hotspots in your images. Pillows (Price varies) Small pillows are useful for posing and propping up newborns. Although most people will have regular-sized pillows around the house, they may not have these small pillows, so be sure to have a few of them for your kit. Bean Bags or Posing Cushion (Price varies) In addition to pillows, bean bags and posing cushions are wonderful little posing tools. If you don’t have any bean bags or cushions, pillows, blankets or even bath towels will also work. Bean bags are the most versatile because you can mold them into different shapes to support the newborn’s pose. Bean bags and posing cushions aren’t a must, but they will definitely allow you a bit more creativity and flexibility in posing. A great place to visit is BellaBun.com. Foam wedges ($29.87) Foam wedges are a great little posing modifier because they are firm yet soft and easy to insert when you just need to slightly modify a pose. Having a 1-2 Foam wedges aren’t a must, but they can definitely help out in modifying a pose when needed. Again, small pillows, towels and other objects can also be used in place of a wedge, they don’t always provide enough support. Ankle Weights ($16.88) When you are posing a newborn inside of a bucket, basket or other container, it is imperative that you weigh down the container so it doesn’t tip over. Although just about any type of weight will work, we love using love using ankle weights because they are fairly inexpensive, are covered in fabric, and can lay flat in the base of the container.
As a Natural Light newborn photographer, my lighting is always assisted by amazing reflectors to make sure I don’t get harsh shadows on the side of the newborn’s face and body where the falloff starts. My favorite when shooting at my studio is – 42×72 scrim jim. This reflector system can stand on its on and will mimic a “second natural light source” to fill up those unnecessary shadows. My favorite when shooting on location is a Westcott 40″ round reflector with a portable reflector bracket. They are easy to fold, carry and won’t add much to the load of equipment you will be carrying to your client’s home.
To make sure you catch the image the way you want, the 5D Mark III has borrowed from it’s big brother (the Canon 1DX) the 61 points on its AF system and the firmware with a much more customizable AF configuration.
(The X2 16GB version is available from Adorama for $89.95) Eye-Fi SD cards have built-in WiFi transmitters. Let’s be honest: when you’ve got a little one in the house, you’re busy and you forget things. An Eye-Fi Pro Card is a fantastic way to make sure your shots are automatically transferred from your camera to your computer. Pick a folder on your hard drive, setup your Eye-Fi Card and it will automatically transmit your still shots and video from your camera to your computer. You can even send photos directly from your camera to your favorite online printing site, such as AdoramaPix.
This is a wonderfully inexpensive setup for anyone who is ready to move beyond snapshots and set up a studio for baby photos and general family portraiture. At an Adorama price of $144.95, you can buy two of these kits and you’re ready to start a well-equipped travelling portrait studio!
Our favorite source when purchasing newborn props is Beautifulphotoprops.com. They have a wonderful selection of safe props and clothing specifically designed for newborn photography. Beautiful Photo Props is also invaluable for ideas and inspiration because with most of their items, they give you professional examples of what photographs look like using the respective item.
I also really love the Canon 5D Mark III. One of my favorite things about this camera is the SILENT SHUTTER, sometimes you will need the silence when photographing babies that are not too sleepy. It makes the job that much easier when the baby isn’t afraid of the camera. The larger 3.2’’ sensor will help you make sure those detail shots (eyelashes, hands, feet, lips) are sharp enough without having a huge disappointment when enlarging on the computer later.
Props – Anything can create a history. Your baby’s first teddy bear, first shoes, books, glasses, baskets and decoration that are hanging around your place, just remember to fill or cover the prop with towels or blankets to avoid your baby’s skin touching the rough surfaces of props.
When it comes to lighting for newborn, you really don’t need much more than a very nice window light. Although you can use studio strobes, we generally do not use strobes for newborns because they can be extra sensitive to the flashes. Instead, we prefer to use soft (and free) window light.
At around $1,600, the Canon 50mm f/1.2L is a fairly pricey prime lens, but its performance is worth the investment. Of course, the Canon 50mm f/1.4 also makes a good alternative, and at $339, you can pocket the $1300 difference. Canon Macro 100mm f/2.8L ($1,049) Because newborn photography can involve close up details of tiny hands and feet, it is also a good idea to invest in a macro lens. The Canon Macro 100mm f/2.8L not only provides excellent images throughout its aperture range, but it also has Image Stabilization (IS) to minimize camera shake.
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Additional research for this article by Jack Howard and Mason Resnick
You need a soft and firm surface to lay your baby on, a traditional beanbag will allow you to move your baby comfortably when creating some beautiful poses. Make sure your beanbag is almost full; you can also use clamps to tighten the extra fabric of the beanbag on the bottom to mimic a full beanbag.
Newborn photography is a fun and rewarding field of photography that also does not require a lot of photographic gear. Generally, all you need is a decent camera, a couple of prime lenses, and beautiful window light.
These things fold up and can be carried anywhere conveniently. The silver side adds neutral fill light while the gold side adds warm fill light. This reflector can be used to bounce light into your little subject’s face. Exclusively available at Adorama, the Flashpoint 22-inch Silver/Gold reflector costs only $9.95.
The higher ISO with low noise is perfect when shooting on location – parents always exaggerate on how much natural light is available at their location, and with this camera I feel comfortable using higher ISO without the fear of producing an image with distracting noise.
Most professional newborn photographers use couch throws as a beanbag background, you can use any regular size blanket and stretch it on or behind the beanbag or prop. Use clamps and chairs to stretch the fabric, it’s best to have it as wrinkle free as possible to avoid distraction from your baby. If you are a handyman or have a handy husband, you can construct a background stand with PVC pipes found at your local home improvement store, or get a flashpoint background system that will need no work, affordable and folds for easy storage.
The good news is that this means that you really do not need to invest in a lot of photographic accessories. In fact, the only really “must-have” item on our list is the pop-up reflector.
Lensbaby Composer with Double-Glass Optic, Soft-Focus Optic and Creative Aperture kit
If you are a new parent or are looking for a great photographic gift for friends or family with a new arrival, here are some gift ideas that won’t break the bank but will help you make better baby pictures.
As for lenses, because a newborn is generally not moving around too much, we usually recommend using prime lenses and macro lenses because they can produce higher image quality and shallower depth of field than using zoom lens.
The Canon 70D is a great camera. It produces amazing quality image that fosters your creativity without breaking the bank. This camera has a weather sealed body so after taking breathtaking photos of your newborn indoors, it also allows you to continue to shoot outdoors even after it started to drizzle. There is no need to run back indoors. But, it is not waterproof so don’t let the kids take it in the pool.
Keep in mind that if you are on a budget and you have a creative bug, you can make your own props which are completely unique to you and your style. But, again, you do need plenty of time and you also need to be quite good at crafting. Blankets, Cloth, and Backdrop (Price varies) Textured and decorative blankets are a newborn photographer’s best friend because they are going to be the base or foundation for most of your shots. The key is to have a variety of textures and colors.
Baby’s safety should be your #1 priority, so I carry at least eight adjustable clamps to stretch the beanbag blanket and clamp it on the background system.
A good place to purchase several blankets and cloth is your local fabric store. For any accessories or cloth that are going to be worn or be in direct contact with the newborn we like to go to boutique newborn clothing shops that specialize in newborn props simply because we don’t have to worry about the materials being safe.
We generally leave the Heating pad on the lowest setting as a newborn’s skin can burn easily, and it is better to err on the side of cool/warm as opposed to warm/hot. Also, be sure to keep the Heating pad underneath the padded cloth layers and never in direct contact with the baby’s skin. Cotton or Microfiber Gloves ($22.95) For those of you that have cold or clammy hands during a shoot, we highly recommend that you get a set of Cotton or Microfiber Gloves. Nike’s thin microfiber running gloves have capacitive finger tips, which meant that you can still use a touch device such as an iPhone, iPad or android device.
Newborn photography can be a tricky task; those little babies often only offer you a split second to capture the perfect image. The right gear can really make a difference when trying to capture those early moments.
In this guide we will touch base on the camera gear that we recommend, as well as useful accessories and props that can help you have a great newborn photo session.
In addition to the photography gear and newborn accessories, there are posing tools and props that can further add to the production value of your shoots. Many of these items can be substituted with items found around the house, but if you are shooting newborn as a profession, it is a good idea to invest in these tools and props.
Wescott 301 Photo Basics 40” 5-in-1 Reflector ($39.90) A pop-up reflector such as the Wescott 301 Photo Basics 40” 5-in-1 Reflector is very useful when it comes to working with natural light. It is very cost effective and easy to carry around when folded up. We typically use the semi-translucent white interior fabric to diffuse the light and also the white cover to bounce a fill light and open up the shadows. Light stand and Reflector holder ($31.99 + $59.95) Although it is preferable to have an assistant hold your reflector for you, there may be times where you will be working by yourself. This is where a Light stand and a Reflector holder are useful to have. The Reflector holder simply attaches to the Light stand and then holds the pop-up reflector in place.
To learn more about Carlos and his work visit the sites below: www.carlpuentes.com Facebook Instagram Google +
Additionally, be sure to have spare blankets in the case that one or two of your blankets become unusable due to baby mess.
As for lenses I like the Canon 50mm 1.8 or 50mm 1.4. The Canon 50mm 1.8 is the best cost-benefit lens for the photo enthusiast parent, delivering a very artsy image with beautiful soft bokeh. It also allows you to use to shoot in low light conditions with great speed, perfect to photograph your newborn in the nursery without having to blast those horrible light bulbs that produces weird color temperature images (adjustable at white balance). You will not believe you paid $100 for this professional lens.
Here is a short list of accessories that come in extremely handy during newborn photography sessions. They will not only help your shoot run smoother, but more importantly they will keep the mess to a minimum.
2 CF card slots to ensure your card is immediately backed up, accidents happen and memory cards go bad, you don’t want to find out it’s corrupted without having a backup. Nothing is worse than having to tell a family you lost all the images of these once-in-a-lifetime moments.
So if you are frequently shooting newborns, you are better off getting a Space heater that can keep the newborn posing area comfortably warm Heating pads ($13.49) In addition to a Space heater, we typically use a Heating pad below the blanket that the newborn is resting on. It is also a good idea to have 1 or 2 Heating pads on hand to keep the posing area warm. Again, just like the Space heater, after you set up the Heating pads, be sure to test it out to make sure that it isn’t too warm for the baby’s skin.
When it comes to camera gear, just about any modern digital camera within your budget is capable for capturing beautiful newborn images. In fact, you can have an entire newborn session with only one camera and 2-3 lenses. Additionally, advanced pro functions such as sophisticated AF tracking and high burst rate are not as critical in newborn photography as it would be with other photography fields because typically the newborns between 7-14 days old do not move around as much.
Periodically stop to wash your hands, and use Hand sanitizer to kill bacteria each time prior to handling the newborn. One important note is to make sure you get “hypoallergenic” Hand sanitizer that is scent-free as newborns have very sensitive skin. Space heater ($32.99) Keeping a newborn warm is one of the most important parts of your shoot. In addition to the dangers of getting sick, your newborn will be unhappy and unwilling to sleep and pose if he or she is too cold. While turning up the heat in the entire room is an option, it can make everyone else in the room uncomfortable.
Direct Flash plus babies isn’t a great combination. You want to soften up the skin tones. Flash diffusers are the way to do this. For on-camera flash, Ken Kobre’s Lightscoop (Adorama price: $19.95, shown) or the Lumiquest Soft Screen, (Adorama price: $12.17) are fantastic ways to soften indoor light. If you have an external flash that fits on your camera’s hot shoe, check out the Flashpoint Q-series Diffuser Dome (Available exclusively at Adorama for $24.95-39.95) or Glow 16-Inch Pop Soft Box for Shoe Mount Flashes (Available exclusively at Adorama for $49.95)
When shooting toddlers or family shoots in the park you won’t miss a thing because of the 12 FPS. The 1DX is also the camera sports photographers use the most due to its speed, believe it or not toddlers sometimes are harder to catch than football players!
A close-up filter set – amazing to create those close up images of baby’s little toes without having to carry a big and pricey 100mm macro lens.
Canon 50mm 1.4 delivers better colors and contrast than its little brother (the 1.8). It’s faster and even more sensitive to light, this lens will help you create very artistic images of your newborn for your family to cherish.
In addition, whenever you are posing the newborn over layers of cloth, it is always a good idea to place a puppy pad underneath the first layer. That way if the baby does have an accident, then only one layer of cloth will be affected as the puppy pad will prevent it from soaking through multiple layers. Hand sanitizer ($9.99 for a 1 Liter) Newborns are very prone to catching colds and doctors even encourage parents to keep the newborn away from public places for 6-8 weeks. So, it is important you and your assistant keep yourselves clean and sanitized throughout the shoot.
Baby wipes ($10.97 for 448 wipes in a box) A box of Baby wipes is not a recommendation, but a must have. When it comes to having newborns around, it is not “if” they make a mess, but “when,” so be sure to have the wipes within arm’s reach during the shoot. Puppy pads ($20.33 for a pack of 50 pads) When posing for nude baby shots, we will often use the puppy pad under our newborn up until that last moment that we are ready to shoot. You can imagine how much mess it will help catch and prevent.
They are only around $23 bucks, so if you plan on doing a lot of newborn shoots and have cold hands, it is a great solution.
[Free Tutorial: Do You Know About These 4 Lightroom CC Features?] Camera and Lenses
For our entry level setup, we are going to keep it simple by using either a Sony NEX-5N or NEX-6 with a couple of prime lenses. Our higher end professional setup consists of a Canon 5D Mark III and 2-3 prime lenses.
I use Adorama’s Easy Access Belt mounted holder because most of the time you have to drop your camera during a newborn session to adjust poses or lighting. Depending on your shooting location you will be sitting your camera on the floor or table but with the belt holder you can easily lock your camera in your belt and keep your eyes on the newborn 100% of the time for safety.
Get the gear you need for starting a newborn photography business or capturing your own children’s special first moments.
I also like the Canon 35mm 1.4 (for cropped sensor cameras like Canon 7D MarkII) – it is sharp, smooth and gives you plenty of space to shoot when the best natural light location at the client’s home is that tight room in the back of the house with south facing windows.
Of course, full-frame camera bodies and lenses are more expensive than crop sensor cameras, and while the Canon 5D Mark III does offer a lot more features and functionality when compared to the Sony mirrorless cameras, in reality, the majority of these advanced functions are generally not necessary for newborn photography. So the highest cost will come from potentially better image quality and shallower depth of field. Canon 50mm f/1.2L ($1,619) The Canon 50mm f/1.2L prime lens is one of Canon’s most versatile professional prime lenses. With a very bright maximum aperture of f/1.2, you can easily create very shallow depth of field with soft and buttery backgrounds that help separate the subject from the background and give that “cinematic” or professional look.
Standard dumbbells or metal weights create uneven surfaces and have exposed metal which are very cool to the touch, both of which can cause the newborn discomfort.
If you want to check out our other camera recommendations, you can read our other photography gear guide.
The WiFi system allows you to set the camera on a tripod next to your newborn and use your iPad or smartphone to trigger the shutter and focus without touching the camera. It is great around the holidays or parties so YOU can get in the photos as well. The sensor captures rich details and texture to highlight those beautiful eyelashes on a newborn.
Just be sure to weigh down the Light stand with either a sand bag or something similar that way it does not tip over. Backdrop Stand ($69.95) We love working with a variety of patterned cloths to textured faux-wood backdrops for our shoots. With a Backdrop Stand, you simply clamp one end of the backdrop vertically unto the cross beam of a Backdrop Stand and lay the other half of the backdrop on the floor.
I love the image quality of prime lenses. My preferred lens for newborns is the Canon 50mm 1.2 for full frame cameras like 1DX and Mark III. The lens has amazing low light capability, arguably the sharpest lens at that, very pleasing bokeh to soften those wrinkles on your background blanket and it delivers amazing color and contrast to your image. Saves tons of time in Photoshop and that is always a plus. Very smooth and accurate focus and it’s relatively light for its size which helps a lot when carrying your equipment around. The lens has a very strong build to survive the drops that will most likely happen sooner or later.
With the ankle weights, all you have to do is place a couple ankle weights flat at the bottom of the container and cover it with a cloth.
And if you are planning on doing a lot of newborn shoots, there really is no reason to not have a Backdrop Stand to easily and quickly set up a backdrop wherever you like. Clamps ($8.69 for a pack of 6) Clamps are super cheap and will allow you to affix any type of cloth to your backdrop support stand. We recommend having 4-6 clamps with you. You can pick these up from a local hardware store, as well as from Amazon.
That is why we sat down with Newborn and Family photographer Carlos Cunha from Carl Puentes Photography’s – Famille Fine Art Boutique to get his insight and opinions on the perfect gear for both professionals and parents to get the best possible images of the new bundle of joy.
The Flashpoint Background Support System is easy to fold and carry. I like to stretch the blankets on the bean bag and a Flashpoint Weight Sandbag ensures sturdiness on your background and prevents accidents.
Most important thing to do is to just have fun with your kids and not worry too much about the technical side.
This 3-piece baby posing pillow system, at the Adorama price of $149.98, is especially designed for infant and baby photography, allowing you to reposition pillow parts for lying down and sitting up posing, depending on the age of the baby. It is soft and comfortable and if baby is happy and comfortable, you have a better chance of capturing your masterpiece.
Props (Price varies) Whether you use something that you found lying around the house or buy your props, props can add a lot of production value and interest to your photograph. Get creative, but remember to always be safe. Don’t use buckets or baskets that may have been used to store something that could potentially irritate the baby’s skin. Remember that the baby always comes first.
I am a big fan of the Canon 1DX. Love the sturdiness of the body and all of its features, extra joystick in the back to ensure you can access all the functions even when shooting in vertical mode. Also, it gives me a firmer grip when moving quickly to catch that little second of smile. You won’t miss that little second of smile with the super-fast autofocus on the Canon 1DX. Newborns smile while dreaming; usually the smile lasts only a few seconds, if you don’t focus fast enough you will miss the images that sells the most.
A few things you probably have at home that will help you create beautiful newborn photographs:
March 9, 2015baby portraiturebuying guidenewborn photographerphotography tips21980Views1Comment
The challenge you will probably face is how to pose the newborn and keep the mess to a minimum.
Use really simple lighting. The Flashpoint Reflector is great for minimizing dark shadows when photographing your baby in natural light. This is an affordable lighting solution that every photography enthusiast must own.
The Sony NEX-5N uses E-mount lenses that are made from a handful of manufacturers including Sony, Zeiss, and Sigma. Sony NEX-6 ($648 body only) As the next step up from the Sony NEX-5N, the Sony NEX-6 adds a built-in electronic viewfinder (EVF) and a second command dial for easier manual exposure changes. Additionally, the NEX-6 also has built-in Wifi for sharing the images with a smartphone or tablet. Sony E 50mm f/1.8 OSS ($298) The main benefit of the Sony 50mm f/1.8 prime lens is its bright f/1.8 maximum aperture which allows you to create a shallow depth of field and great bokeh. The lens is sharp even with the aperture wide open and its Optical SteadyShot (OSS) image stabilization makes it easier to shoot with slower shutter speed without having to increase the ISO. This is especially useful for newborn photography since you are generally hand-holding your camera and you may be shooting from a higher vantage point while standing on a chair or a small ladder.
The Sony 50mm f/1.8 on an NEX camera has a full-frame focal equivalent of 75mm, which is good for as a portrait lens. Sony E 35mm f/1.8 OSS ($448) The Sony E 35mm f/1.8 with its 52.5mm full-frame focal length equivalent is a great all-around lens for the Sony NEX system. Just like the 50mm lens, the 35mm’s bright f/1.8 maximum aperture can also create shallow depth of field and lovely bokeh. And just like the 50mm lens, the Sony 35mm has optical stabilization. Canon 5D Mark III ($3,349 body only) As a full-frame DSLR the Canon 5D Mark III is a great choice for newborn photography because how well it performs indoors and in higher ISO. Its 22.3 MP full-frame sensor will produce more detail and have better control over depth of field than the Sony NEX’s 16.1 MP crop sensors.
The Canon T5i is very affordable and still delivers very impressive image quality and a not too shabby 5 FPS to help you capture everything from newborn smiles to your toddler’s first dance moves. It is easy to carry, light and easy to learn the menus. This camera is a must have for every 1st time parent.
Sony NEX-5N ($548 body only) The Sony NEX-5N is one of the smallest mirrorless interchangeable lens cameras with an APS-C sensor. What this means is that you have a camera with really good image quality in a portable package. With the advancement of modern sensor technology, the NEX-5N‘s 16.1 MP APS-C sensor provides an image quality that is very comparable to full-frame sensor.
When there is not enough light, we have to rely on flash. The built-in flash on the top of the camera delivers very directional light. The Bowers SFD35C helps you minimize the harsh light of built-in flashes with a very decent output, 270 degree rotation and the capability of adding extra ETTL flashes for synchronized shooting.
You yourself have a young child at home, what gear would you recommend for parents who want to capture their own child’s first years?