6 Tips for Getting Started in Newborn Photography

6 Tips for Getting Started in Newborn Photography

Newborn photography can be intimidating if you are just getting started. There are techniques that can make beginning newborn photography easier and create the proper atmosphere and opportunity for sessions. Stack the deck in your favor with these beginner tips.
1. Take a newborn safety class
…or at least look up some newborn safety tips online. Here are a few that are standard in the industry.
  • Never leave a newborn unattended in a prop — ever! An assistant or parent must always be “spotting” to make certain the newborn is in no danger of falling or rolling off of or out of something.
  • Never place your camera above a baby without having a camera strap around your neck. The worst thing in the world that could happen is to have your camera fall on a newborn baby’s head.
  • Never reuse your newborn items without sanitizing anything that has touched baby’s skin.
  • The amazing baby in hands shots that you see are all done on beanbags. Never dangle a baby on dad’s arm.
  • Take off your rings if they are a potential scratching hazard while working with your newborn.
  • Do not climb on anything above baby at all. Choose an appropriate focal distance so that there is no danger of falling on the newborn.
  • Newborns slip easily into poses that are comfortable for them and resist poses that are not. It is important to never force a newborn into any pose for any reason.
2. Get comfortable with being hot, sweaty and potentially pooped on
Newborns love warmth and require an external temperature control as their bodies have not yet learned to regulate their temperature. A controlled environment is essential for success in a newborn session. The level of warmth a newborn enjoys leaves us hot and sticky. A balmy 78 degrees is a great place to start.
If you work with parents to get any nakey shots of the baby, there is always a chance that someone will get pooped or peed on — a very good chance. Be okay with that or keep your newborn diapered. Motherhood comes with enough guilt, no need to have a mom feeling bad that her baby pooped on you or your props.
3. Get a fast 50mm equivalent
Staying close to the baby in a newborn session is important. A fast 50mm equivalent lens allows you to get all the details and overview shots without leaving baby alone or in any danger. An f/1.2 or f/1.8 aperture gets you details like eyelashes and little, perfect lips and allows everything else fall out of focus beautifully.
4. Give yourself plenty of time
Newborn photography requires an abundance of patience. Although your regular family sessions may only last one hour, a newborn session needs a three-hour space of time. It will almost never take that long to actually photograph the newborn, however, it could take an hour or better before baby falls into a deep sleep. In three hours you’re assured to get sleep at some point. Most newborns are easier to get to that sleepy time during a morning session as opposed to evenings.
5. Get a white noise maker app
The best way to keep a newborn sleeping is with white noise. There are so many great apps available to keep baby in a nice deep sleep. My personal favorite is the White Noise Lite app, available for free on both iOS and Android.
6. Use lots of props
No, not cute little newborn props, although those are fine too. I mean small pillows, towels or cloth diapers help to keep newborn knees, elbows, bums or heads propped up just right for the cutest, sweetest poses.
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