Taking baby pictures can be a fun and rewarding experience. However, it’s important to understand the basics of baby photography. This will help you take great photos and avoid putting the baby in danger.
Newborns are tiny and fragile. Photographing them requires a delicate touch. It also takes patience and time. This is why newborn photographers are trained.
Babies do a lot of uncontrollable things that parents love to see captured on film – gurgle, spit, laugh and cry, and cling to mommy’s breast. But there are also those wondrous little details that connect to a parent’s heart in the moment and will be treasured forever – big eyes, cute smiles, tiny fingers, round cheeks and soft skin.
When newborn photos are shot with natural light, the most important thing is to have plenty of soft, indirect lighting. Direct sunlight shining on a newborn can cause harsh light and hotspots on their face, which is not the desired effect. This can be solved by diffusing (or softening) the light coming from a window with a sheer curtain or other light-diffusing material.
Taking newborn photos in the early morning is ideal because babies tend to be at their jolliest and sleepy during this time. Make sure to follow any Style Guide or Client Closet that your photographer provides, and trust them to capture the sweet details of your baby’s hands, feet, pouty lips, hair and eyelashes that will be cherished forever!
Props and Outfits
Newborn photos should be about the baby, but that doesn’t mean you can’t add props for a little extra interest. You can use items from the family’s home, such as a favorite blanket, a basket or an heirloom toy. Flea markets and thrift stores can also be good sources of props – just make sure to sanitize anything you purchase.
Rugs are a popular newborn photography prop because they add color, texture and visual interest to an image. They can also help keep a newborn warm while you try different poses.
Bowls, crates and buckets are also great props because they serve to frame a newborn and add depth to the image. Soft hats and headbands are another way to create a theme or feeling within a newborn photoshoot. Bows and lace headbands for girls and turbans and bear hats for boys are a few examples. You can find a wide variety of these accessories at your local craft store.
The lighting that is present in a baby photo can make or break the image. The natural lighting that is present in the room will provide some shadows, but using a diffuser or reflector can soften those shadows and make an otherwise bland backdrop more interesting.
Newborns are on a very tight schedule of sleep-awake-feeding-crying cycles and it is best to plan your shoot accordingly. Get to know what the parents’ goals are for their newborn session and ask them to tell you about their babies sleep, awake, play and feeding times.
During your session, use a low aperture to blur the background and keep the focus on the baby. This will help you create a professional-quality photo with a crisp, sharp focus on the baby’s features. You can also experiment with backlighting (using a light aimed at the baby’s back or sides) to add a creative element to your images.
The background that is present in a baby photo is just as important as the outfits and props. Picking a backdrop that is a light color helps to ensure that the newborn and their outfits will stand out in the picture. Additionally, using a prop that has texture can add visual interest to the photograph.
Bridget from The DIY Playbook suggests positioning the baby headfirst so that the light flows down over their face, illuminating key features like the eyes, nose, lips and cheekbones. This technique will also help to avoid shadows on the face, which can be distracting in a portrait.
If you are planning on incorporating a digital backdrop into your newborn photos, be sure to plan ahead! Having the fluff layer & the newborn outfit positioned for the backdrop that you will be creating at the shooting stage will save time in Photoshop later on. This will help to ensure that your images look as realistic as possible.