More and more people are choosing to have a photoshoot of their newborn. Some studios have even specialised in doing only lifestyle-like shoots with newborns. Are you interested in getting into newborn photography? Then be prepared for a number of challenges. A baby is very fragile, doesn't care about your work schedule and is not the easiest to 'transport'. So, how can you make a beautiful photo series that the parents will be proud of?
Choose your setting
If you have a studio, it would be easy to schedule the photo shoot there. However, in most cases the parents will prefer to take the photos in the comfort of their own home. The baby will feel most at ease in a familiar environment, and the parents will be able to respond to the needs of their little one. One convient thing about newborn babies is that they can't walk or crawl around yet. They won't run away upon seeing your camera, and you can take your time finding the right set-up. Always make sure that your set-up is safe, and give some thought to the background. A wall that's painted in a nice colour could work well, but you could also bring your own background sheets. You will create the best photos if you know where you'll be working, because that will allow you to adjust your concept to the available environment. Therefore, it never hurts to make an appointment for getting to know the parents and the setting ahead of the shoot.
One of the most important elements that you need to control for newborn photography is the light. Babies have a particularly soft skin, that's often very light in colour. It's one of the reasons that newborn shoots are perfect for high-exposure, almost high key photos. It fits the innocence of this new life. To that end, make sure that you have ample light available. A large window can work wonders, but you can also bring your own lights. If you do, make sure the light is soft. Harsh shadows don't fit the soft shapes of your subject. Additionally, you have to be gentle with the sensitive eyes of the baby. Don't place the lamps too far away and soften continuous lights with an umbrella, softbox or, if need be, with thin white sheets.
Almost any camera is suitable for newborn photography and you can play around with the lenses. A portretlens such as an 85mm on a full frame, or a 50mm on a crop camera are popular choices. Go for a large aperture, the softness of the background will make your subject stand out. However, make sure that your depth of field is not too short. You want both of the baby's eyes to be focused, and they will usually not be within the same focus distance. After all, you are working with unique angles because your subject will most probably be lying down. Many photographers specialised in newborn photography therefore choose to work with at least f/2.8.
Getting a baby to pose
You could choose to photograph the baby in its natural pose: a sleeping baby is already adorable on its own. This allows you to easily make close-ups of its tiny hands and feet.
Usually, the parents want to have some posed photos too. Finding the right poses is one of the bigger challenges of determining a proper set-up. It goes without saying that you should make sure that the baby can't fall over or down in any way.
A much-used pose is the fetal position, with the baby all curled up. It's easy to lie the baby down in this pose, especially when it's (almost) asleep. It's easiest within 10 days after they are born ─ a true newborn ─ because babies don't usually stretch their arms and legs when they are that young.
If you are proficient in Photoshop, you could also shoot the baby in more exciting positions with the help of an assistent. They can support the baby while you take multiple photos. If their hands are in a different position every time you take a new photo, you can combine and average the images into one afterwards. This way, you can make it look like the baby is sitting up, or supporting its head with its hand. If you have a black background and surface, you can even make it look like the baby is floating.
If you decide to get into newborn photography, you have to know how to keep a cool head. Not only are you working with a fresh new mini person, but also with new parents, who will likely not have slept all too well and who are going through an intense period in their lives (even if this isn't their first baby). Patience is therefore highly important! Even if things aren't going as you planned. In the end, that will allow you to give the parents the best photos possible.