Talk in a way that shows their baby means almost as much to you as he does them. Ask them lots of questions about their baby, and life since his arrival. New parents can talk all day about their baby, so showing he interests you will really endear you to them. Use emotive language on your site and Facebook page. Rather than saying “I like doing baby shoots” say “I simply adore capturing images of beautiful, squishy babies!”
Have a plan, seek permission for everything that you want to do, and make sure the parents are onboard. Let them know if you wish to use flash or natural light, what areas in the house you are interested in shooting in, whether you need towels and blankets, and that these things might get soiled during the shoot. The more you engage them, the more keen they will be to help you out during the shoot. Ask if they are comfortable with nude baby shots, or if they wish to keep the baby dressed throughout the shoot. Asking and letting them know beforehand will make the shoot much more manageable once you’re there and ready to shoot.
All professional photography involves a multitude of skills and newborn photography is no different, with one very important exception. It is the only area of photography that involves the photographer being completely responsible for the safety and welfare of the subject – the baby. As a newborn photographer you will hold, comfort, soothe, pose, wrap, and often even feed and clean up after your subject, even with the parents present.
For every stage of a baby’s life, they reach milestones, which are gems in their baby history. For newborns, the most unique bits for me are the tiny flakes on their skin, their newborn pimples, the wrinkles on their arms and legs, how small they are when you fold them into a fetal position, and their ability to sleep through anything. Read up on your baby age milestones and understand what are the important bits of their story. As they grow up, these things can be their propensity to put everything in their mouth, sitting on their own, belly crawls, crawling up on their hands and knees, the first teeth, first step, and so forth.
Among the many different photo shoots one can do, I’ve always considered newborn photography as one of the most challenging. Having great equipment and great technical know-how is never enough. For me, this is the genre of photography where the human touch is most important.
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The short answer is yes. It doesn’t matter how skilled you are at photography, because the skills required to be safe and of a good standard as a newborn photographer are really very different than anything you have done before. If you decide to become a wedding photographer with no training, the worst that may happen is you let down a couple on their big day. As bad as that could be, no one will get hurt.
So in summary, I would suggest you take your time setting up as a newborn photographer. Research good training, and consider that in this area especially, you get what you pay for.
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Keep it simple. Training will show you the basic equipment you’ll need, like beanbag and backdrop stand, as well as a small selection of throws, hats, headbands, and wraps. The most important area for your development as a newborn photographer will be developing safe handling of the baby in your early months. The confidence in posing takes time, and that is where your focus should be, not on having all the props and the biggest selection of hats. What will set you apart as a top newborn photographer will never be the amazing set up you design – it will be how good your posing is, and how comfortable your baby looks in the images.
Word of mouth is one of the best marketing tools in this genre. Mums talk, and will recommend you if they came away feeling that their baby was safe, respected and adored. The testimonials that will get you more bookings will not be the ones where mum says the pictures are good, but rather the ones where she gushes about how lovely the experience was while with you.
So that covers not doing a session too late, but you need to know why doing it too early isn’t good either. Newborns don’t usually look their best after birth, and it can take time for their faces to settle. Also, feeding needs to be established because until a baby is feeding well, he won’t sleep well. My advice would be don’t do a session under 5 days of age.
You are selling emotions. That is really the bottom line with newborns. The parents are melting with wonder and love at their new baby, and emotions are running their lives completely. If you can build a relationship with your clients that taps into their emotions, and leaves them feeling that you can truly relate to them and their baby, they will be more inclined to not only book you, but trust you.
While you have a plan, be ready to mix them around or chuck them out of the window if necessary. For these sessions, I will usually advise clients to book at least 2 hours of the photographer’s time. That way, there is ample time to settle baby down when s/he’s feeling agitated, to feed when hungry (and boy, these little munchters get hungry very frequently), and clean up when the little (expected) accidents happen. As a photographer, you need to manage the mood in your set, both that of the baby’s and the parents. A stiff shoot plan won’t help you if your subjects are not relaxed. Don’t forget to put yourself on your clients’ shoes and understand how they feel. From there, you can sort out what will help them calm down and enjoy the session with you.
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The average session is 3-4 hours, and you will soon realize why when you have done a couple of your own. The session is taken up by everything BUT taking photos. When I do a session my camera is in my hand for less than ten minutes the entire time. The session will involve settling, cuddling, reading baby, soothing for sleep, and gentle posing. They baby runs the show, of that there is little question, and as each baby is different, so is each session. Try to rush it and clock watch, and you’ll put yourself under huge pressure, and babies pick up on stress, which could cause you to have an unsettled baby on your hands. As a general rule, most newborn specialists will do just one session a day.
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I hope these help. And when all else fails, just remember to tap into your softer side and put yourself in your clients’ shoes. Newborn photography is a quiet celebration of human life and the ties that bind.
Before the shoot, ask permission to use some props you’ve been itching to try out. It will be good to ask the mommy and daddy if there are sentimental items (i.e. gifts from grandparents or childhood stuff) that they’d wish to incorporate into the shoot. This will get the parents involved, make the shoot more meaningful for them and more fun for you.
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Everyone’s excited about the new baby! Other than shots of the whole family with baby, make sure to get a shot of baby with mommy, and a shot of baby with daddy. For bigger families, a shot of the elder sibling with the new baby is a classic heart-warmer, and is something that every parent finds precious. When you’re managing two little ones, there will be lots of patience required as usually, one will feel fussy while the other one feels cooperative. Make sure to engage the elder child and make them feel that this is just a game instead of a task. Shoot in burst mode, and wait for the perfect moment when they are connected.
Newborns are delicate and must be handled correctly. They can suffer circulation problems, are poor at regulating their temperature, and cannot tell you when they are feeling uncomfortable, which means they are relying on you to take care of them at all times. The correct training will teach you safe handling techniques, how to spot signs of baby not being happy for many reasons, as well as general safety and other important areas.
Sleep isn’t the only issue that dictates though. Newborns are gorgeously squishy, floppy and bendy under ten days old, which, coupled with being sound asleep, makes them perfect for gently posing into those adorable positions parents love. Much after two weeks and they begin to gain muscle tone, which means they lose the flexibility that makes such posing possible.
If you have children, you may well remember that newborns sleep a lot, at least through the day, and seem able to sleep through pretty much anything too. But that changes really quickly, and by week three babies are waking more easily, and spending more time awake each day. You cannot pose a baby that is awake, so a sleeping newborn is what you need, meaning you need to aim for under two weeks, and under ten days is even better.
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Here are a few simple tips to make the most out of a newborn session:
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So having decided it’s for you, you’ll have a huge number of questions. Here I aim to answer some of the biggest, and most important ones.
7 Tips for Photographing Newborns without Becoming … 5 years ago
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It is because of this difference that it is so specialized, and requires the right set of skills. Not having those skills is about more than the risk of poor images – someone’s safety is at stake.
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Look after the parents when they are with you. Provide drinks and snacks, and comfortable seating. Mum will be sore and they are both likely to be exhausted.
These little ones are growing everyday. Highlight how tiny s/he is at this given point in time, and use stuff around the house as reference points on how much the little ones has grown. It can be something as straight forward as a measuring tape, or it can be something more playful like a teddy bear, a bowl, a basket, or daddy’s hands.
6. Once you’ve covered the ‘organic’ shots, play around with the set, props and wardrobe.