Newborn photography is a relatively difficult type of shooting considering the fact that your models are two-week-old. Today we will find out how to capture the beautiful moment when your baby has not grown yet; I will share some relevant tips which will be useful for an amateurish as well as for a skillful shooter.
Newborn photography is one of the most difficult subtypes of the portrait photography where a photographer takes pictures of a baby younger than 2 months.
You should keep everything safe, choose the appropriate style of shooting, know how to pose baby, work with lighting, props, and accessories. The shooting process is usually up to 4-6 hours including short breaks.
Speaking about cameras, it is difficult to name the best camera for newborn photography, since you may use DSLRs as well as mirrorless models. I just want to point out their advantages.
DSLRs feature high ISO which allows shooting in poorly lit places. Moreover, you may easily change lenses if you work with a DSLR. A good example is Canon EOS 6D Mark II. The camera itself is a full-framed one and has a flip-out screen.
Mirrorless cameras are good because they are relatively quiet, so you won’t disturb a baby. However, these cameras cost a significant sum of money. If we consider the middle price range, I recommend Fujifilm X-T2. It features a good matrix and excellent focus.
Each camera is good in its own way and provides a great picture quality. It’s up to you to decide which one to choose.
When it comes to lighting, there is one of the main rules sticking to which you will 50 % increase your chances for success ‒ use the safe light. The thing is that newborns’ eyes are rather sensitive and react to almost any changes. That is why professional photographers strongly recommend not using various flashes and additional lightings. The best choice for baby photography is:
In case there is a big window in the house or apartment where the shooting takes place you may use it as the main light source. Natural light will add warm, realistic shades to your images.
If you just begin photographing newborns, start small. There is no need to spend much money on expensive props. Be creative and find interesting accessories and various cute things. There are many variants but I like:
One of the accessories that will give you many backgrounds is a cotton towel. Don’t forget that the prop material should be safe for a baby: wool, cotton, paper.
There is no need to think of color shades or reflecting tones that may somehow influence the skin color of a baby since it is easily corrected during image editing.
Correct planning of a newborn photo session is very important. You should learn from the parents as much as possible about the baby: how often he/she eats, sleeps, what the optimal room temperature is.
It is necessary to provide a continuous shooting without any distractions. For example, the baby begins to cry when you touch his/her head or your hands are too cold.
As a rule, during the first two-three weeks, the baby sleeps almost all the time. If you are lucky to capture the moment with open eyes and a smile, be sure that it will be one of the best shots.
The correct arrangement of props, as well as camera settings for baby photography, do not actually exist. Each image and each situation requires various accessories and camera settings, so I will just share some tips:
Using baby wraps and towels you may create an ideal setting for a child. Try using soft materials since baby skin is very sensitive.
Accessories like a cowboy hat or another one may be put nearby as a decoration. In such a way, you will add mystery to your newborn photos. Perhaps, you will also manage to convey the genre and interesting style.
ISO value of your camera should be low. It will help get the qualitative picture avoiding noise.
Use waterproof sheets to save your materials. Mind that you work with a baby who can’t control peeing.
Picture editing is one of the final tasks that you should cope with.
You may always address it to professional image retouchers, however, if you work on your own, you should mind some tips:
Avoid cold tones. The shade of baby skin should be warm. Use contrast and sharpness sliders to create smooth creamy shades.
Make color correction of separate zones. Having corrected the skin tone, pay attention to other decorative elements of your image.
Crop the image in a proper way. In general, the rule of thirds is applied, but the approach may be individual.
Adjust the white balance. Poorly adjusted white balance may confuse you during color correction and the final result will not be the one you expected.
The safety of a baby is the highest priority for the parents and for the shooter. You should mind all the precautions to avoid problems:
Put away all sharp and metal decorations, wash and disinfect your hands before the photo session.
Put the sand sacks to the bottom of buckets, don’t get distracted from the baby, keep an eye on him/her.
Maintain the optimal temperature in the room, don’t put the heater too close to the baby, ask parents about the baby’s reflexes.
Earrings, rings, necklaces or other jewelry should be put away. Babies are very sensitive and even the smallest microbe may be dangerous to them. Don’t forget to clean the equipment you work with. If you use baskets or buckets, put a sand sack to the bottom of it to soften the place where the baby lies.
If you shoot from the top, don’t forget about the camera belt. The baby should be always under supervision. You should not leave him/her out of your sight even if there is an urgent need to go somewhere. Ask your assistant or parents to help.
Control the temperature and try to make the baby warm. He/she should not be too cold or too hot so make sure that the baby is fine.
A so-called “quiet noise” during the shooting will make the child sleep tighter and the possibility to awake the baby with a shutter snapping is very low.
Doctors say that children hear loud sounds in the womb. In such a way, you may switch on various sounds to calm the baby and make him/her relax. The last point is very important as absolute relaxation lets take excellent newborn photos.
Babies are very unpredictable that is why I prefer arranging newborn photography shootings in the mornings. During this time, the kids sleep tight and do not react to sounds. I think every parent will agree that their kids are more capricious in the evening.
You don’t need a huge photo studio with a big background to take great images from a distance. When you evaluate the final result, it is impossible to find the difference between images taken in the professional studio and those in the compact room.
Be creative and build a small studio, the baby does not need more. You will need:
Remember that parents trust you the most valuable images in their lives. That’s why communication is the most important tool. You may visit the clients before the shooting to see how they communicate with the baby, discuss images and show the accessories you use to make sure the baby is safe.
Well-chosen fabric material allows you to take beautiful photos. Light cotton wraps are the favorites in the newborn portraiture. It is for swaddling, so the baby is already used to it. They offer a tight cover to show the shape of a baby.
If you need inspiration, look through the newborn photos of your colleges or other professional shooters on Pinterest. Try to create unique content. It is possible if you use original photo session concepts.
It may be a challenging task to pose babies if it is your first experience. Move the baby slowly, be confident and never endanger the baby. Ask parents for help if necessary. Speaking about the main poses, you may put the baby on the back, side or belly.
Speaking about the problems that may arise in the process of shooting, we may distinguish many of them, but you should foresee all the possible situations and be prepared.
One of the most frequent and unpleasant problems is when the baby simply cries. Such situations are actually standard ones and require up to four-six hours to arrange everything. Moreover, you should keep calm since the child feels your emotions. If you are upset and begin to panic the reaction of the baby will be the same.
My tip: Be patient and keep calm. Try turning on a calm child melody.
Unfortunately, you can’t keep a baby without a diaper. The thing is that a baby is constantly peeing. Perhaps, it is not so important when parents provide decoration elements and accessories, but if these are your props mind that they will be spoiled.
My tip: Don’t take the diaper off, you will get a great newborn photo without any accidents.
Baby spots and skin redness are common problems which you are likely to face so be prepared to them. Fortunately, you may easily remove these defects using Photoshop.
My tip: Before correcting the newborn photos and removing any spots or redness using Photoshop, ask parents if they don’t mind.
It is not strange since babies to one month and more may always require food, be capricious creating the problem for the newborn photographer. You can’t influence it. The only way out is to put off the shooting and wait for several minutes.
My tip: Instead of having rest during the break, do some rearranging, check the camera settings, and make the next shot ideal for you.
When it comes to image editing you are likely to use Lightroom or Photoshop. How often do you simplify your life with various plug-ins? I have prepared several free presets, overlays, and actions for you to make image editing simplier.
This is a free Photoshop action perfectly suitable for newborn photography. This PS action makes the baby skin look soft and natural. Apply this tool if you want to soften the photo without losing important details.
This action is perfect when baby skin is red in the photo. The plug-in adds the natural tone to the baby skin in one mouse click. It also masks all red areas.
It is one of the best warm Lightroom presets ideally suitable for cute newborn portraits. You may easily apply it trying to create a cozy and pleasant atmosphere, highlight the tenderness of babies and positive emotions.
It is a universal Lightroom preset that may be applied both to girl and boy portraits. Being romantic and magic, the tool adds pink light to the picture. Use it when you shoot a baby sleeping and add some toys to make the shot really a fairy-tale one.
Having applied this preset, you will see small, colorful butterflies in the right top corner of the photo. All the butterflies are sharp, bright, and realistic.