Tips for Photographing Newborns by Pooja ChauhanAugust 21st, 2012
Pooja Chauhan’s love of photography began with travel and landscape images, but after she had her daughter Tia, her focus shifted to working with children and infants. Pooja loves working with families and her passion for photography is hard to miss in her beautiful and delicate portraits. Here she shares many of her methods and tricks for getting that unforgettable shot that will be forever cherished. You can visit Pooja’s Facebook page (and ‘Like’ it) to receive more tips and pointers.
The Comforting Hand: Tips for Photographing Newborns
I have always loved nature and travel photography, but I developed a love and passion for children’s photography when I had my daughter. I am especially passionate about newborn photography though. Why? I love being creative and I feel that newborn photography gives me the most opportunity to bring out my creativity. Those adorable squishy babies, attractive props, and various posing techniques… the possibilities are endless!
In this article I will share some ideas and tips on how I prepare for a newborn photo shoot, my posing workflow, what clients like, and some fun and creative ideas for DIY/low-cost props.
Let’s quickly cover the basics:
- Newborn babies like to stay warm and cozy, so keep the temperature at around 85-90 degrees fahrenheit. In the winter I also have a small, localized heater for extra warmth.
- When the baby is in the womb, it’s noisy, so they find comfort in loud, rhythmic sounds. Also, it’s good to do a lot of shushing to calm them. You can invest in a white noise machine or white noise iPhone app. I keep a small fan running during the entire session.
- I also stack up all my blankets so I can switch them immediately after a pose. This saves a lot of time.
- One great tip is to keep a waterproof pad right under the first blanket. In the event a newborn baby does its thing, you won’t have to wash all the blankets.
- I usually do natural light photography so I have the light source at a 45-degree angle instead of direct light.
- Always have the Mom feed the baby right before the session and then change the diaper immediately before starting.
Plan, Plan, Plan!
As with anything, the most important thing is coming up with a plan of action. The night before the photo shoot, I write down what poses, props and angles I want to do. Planning doesn’t take away from creativity; it just helps visualize the session and gives the photographer more confidence. Once the newborn arrives, you will get busy and absolutely overwhelmed if you don’t know what you’re going to do!
How Many Setups?
I usually plan for around six setups but I always give my clients at least four. Even if this means I have to go up to four hours to do so.
Newborn Posing Workflow
Have a structure. Every photographer has their own workflow, but here is mine, which works great for me. I always start with a wrapped up baby pose, which helps in getting the baby to sleep. I then move the baby onto its back and take some pictures before moving to the ‘bum in the air’ pose. I then do the taco pose, and finally I attempt the hand in chin pose.
We all know that in newborn photography moving the newborn a lot is a cardinal sin. So how do you get the most out of your sessions? Play with camera angles! Below is an example of two different poses from different angles; giving us a total of four images. They appear to be completely different pictures!
Macro shots of infants are to die for! My clients love to see those tiny toes, fingers and close-ups of the facial features. Definitely add them to the session.
Capture the connection that parents share with the newborn. As part of connecting, I also love to show the scale of the newborn. This is something parents will have a fun time remembering, “You were so small, your head fit in my palm!”
I can’t stress enough how important it is to keep the little ones safe. Always have the Mom or Dad in close proximity to the baby and learn how to do composites in Photoshop.
Props are a good investment but I have seen a lot of photographers going totally overboard with them. Challenge yourself by making your own props or using some low-cost items. I find it extremely rewarding when I am able to do photography without spending an arm and a leg. Here are a few ideas I have used. A poncho bought from Kohls on sale for $5 was used as a blanket. The headbands you see are homemade by my Mother and I. More ideas are below.
No Prop Pictures
And finally, believe it or not, the poses that parents like most are the ones that have no props at all. So definitely do give some prop-less poses.
After the Session
After the session, I take up to two weeks for post-processing. I give 20 processed images, a few black and white versions of some images, one birth announcement, and three collages. I also give a complimentary printout of the birth announcement on a CD cover, which adds an extra special touch to the entire experience.
Also, always remember that although newborn photography is a business, we are helping our clients build memories. We are giving our clients amazing pictures that they will never ever get an opportunity to take again. Sometimes my sessions go over the time I had planned for. Sometimes my clients request extra pictures, multiple edits, or birth announcements. I always accommodate their needs and go above and beyond to keep them happy. With this approach, I am happy to say that I’ve never had an unhappy client!
Hi-tech business analyst by profession,
Photographer by passion.