Last updated January 7th, 2021
A baby swaddled in an adorable bundle can bring that heart-melting feeling that even non-parents would ravish about. There’s nothing worth capturing than those precious first moments of your perfect little one. Newborn photography is a thing that every parent won’t want to miss for the world nowadays. Mobile phone cameras are handy, but how do you take charming photos that may land space in pages like ours?
Your camera setting, lighting, props and accessories, camera work, and editing skills have a lot to say in newborn photography. Proper timing for when your baby is in a great mood is also important. Newborns from birth to two weeks are easy to photograph since they tend to be asleep most of the time. But, it’s not always the same for all! So you should give a little window when reality does not meet your expectations. And above anything else, put your baby’s safety and comfort over great images.
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What to Expect in a Newborn Photoshoot
Baby photos are great when you look at the output. But little do we know what happens behind a newborn photoshoot scene. Babies are unpredictable and may pull faces or break into crying. These subtle things are also priceless not to frame. However, it may not be very nice of a theme for the entire photoshoot. So don’t expect it to always be perfect.
A newborn photography session with a professional shooter may take at least 2 to 4 hours. Throughout this duration, it is not mainly about pointing cameras and shooting. There can be feeding, pacifying, changing nappies, and cleaning drool in between. Not to mention the amount of time in switching poses or changing an outfit. You may need a whole bunch of assistants to get things going and done here!
Should You Hire a Pro or Should You DIY the Shoot?
Most of the unique images you see all over the internet are just the product of genius editing. Lying on a hanging hammock, head over crossed arms, and sitting positions are just a few examples of images that you should not try at home. These photos were taken in safe positions and altered in post-production. If you are planning to do a DIY shoot, you should abide by the safe baby positions for your baby’s safety.
Professional newborn photographers are not only experienced in generating adorable and Pinterest-worthy baby photos. They are also experts in the safe handling of babies during the session or calm them down for comfort. So if you can, we recommend that you hire one.
The Best Age for a Newborn Photoshoot
The baby’s age is directly related to the poses that you want to achieve. Most photographers favor taking pictures of babies from seven to ten days old. It is the “window time” photographers need for a newborn photoshoot.
The first two weeks of a baby’s life is devoted to eating and sleeping. He is also likely to recoil into the fetal position as he did in your tummy which makes an adorable pose for a photo op. Think about those curled-up poses, eyelash close-ups, and endearing snuggled bundles that you can get.
As they get older, babies tend to move a lot and are awake most of the time. They can now also be able to hold their head and make eye contact. Babies older than two weeks will begin to stretch their arms and legs. You may, or may not get that cuddly curled bundle for your newborn photos, but that’s alright. You can still get the best and charming shots but on a different approach.
How to Schedule a Newborn Photographer
You will find newborn photographers in your area wherever you may be. You can find plenty of them on the internet or through other parent’s recommendations. Photographers usually have a jam-packed schedule so you should book ahead of time – even before your delivery.
But how soon should you book one when you aren’t even sure when your baby would come out? Ideally, when you hit your second trimester, you can already start talking to your prospective photographer about this. Booking in advance will not only secure you a slot for a session, but it will also give you more time to communicate with each other about creative ideas and your expectations.
In most studio shoots, they will provide you with some props and accessories. But if you want to add something more personal and sentimental, you can bring some of your own. You can prepare grandma’s crocheted blanket, dad’s hobby item, or your hand-me-downs to add emotional value to the photo. If you want to shoot in your home, provide your location photographer with props or furniture that you want.
How to Prepare for a Photoshoot
A fussy baby is the last thing that you want for a photo no matter his age. You should aim for the time when the baby is sleepy, full, and calm. Here are some of the helpful tricks for taking that successful newborn photo.
- Keep your baby awake for at least an hour or two before the photo shoot.
- Feed him before the session. Keep a bottle handy if he is on formula.
- Bring a pacifier to calm him down when he gets fidgety.
- Give the baby a warm bath beforehand. Since newborns only need to be bathed three times a week, give one on the day of the photo session.
- Dress your baby with easy to remove clothes if you want an outfit change. But if possible, one clothing change is enough.
- Keep the room warm to keep the baby comfy especially when shooting him naked. Use space heaters or crank up your thermostat to a room temperature of 80°F.
- Play a white noise machine in the background to help put him to sleep. White noise helps mask other sounds in his environment.
Clothing Tips for Parents
With regards to clothing preferences, which one should you pick for your little one?
We mentioned earlier to keep outfit change to one. This is to avoid stressing the baby out. The aim is to capture your baby’s delicate and tiny features. That’s why you would notice most newborns are photographed naked and shoe-less. Keeping a baby underneath layers of clothing is unnecessary unless it is his little cocoon of a swaddle blanket.
Baby girls should not also be laden with accessories. Keep it minimal to make a striking composition. You will find that swaddling a baby does not only create a cute and sweet image of your little one. It is also one of the secrets in keeping babies happy during the photoshoot. Learn how to swaddle correctly and safely to keep him comfy throughout the session.
How about parents and family members joining the baby for a family portrait? What should they wear? What’s the nice color scheme to complement the newborn’s photoshoot?
We recommend keeping it neutral; so think about beige, creams, pastels, and warm tones. The white motif is also most common among families. But this is mostly your preference. You can talk to your photographer in advance for some clothing suggestions. Older siblings should avoid wearing fluffy dresses so as not to take the attention away from the newborn.
Tips for DIY Newborn Photoshoot
We’re with you in this: newborn photography can get a bit expensive. The expertise not just in creating quality images, but also in handling babies comes with a price. Aside from the photographer’s skills and time, you will also be paying for equipment and quality outputs. On average you may spend $100 to $300 per hour depending on the photographer’s expertise.
But if you don’t want to shell out that much, you can go ahead and do it yourself. One of its advantages is that you will have all the time to stage your photoshoot. You can even use your phone instead of a DSLR.
- Make use of natural light or window light. White light is also useful in mimicking these lightings.
- The light source should illuminate the baby’s head. You can play with shadows for depth.
- When shooting with a camera, use continuous shooting mode. If you have natural daylight, set your ISO at 100-400. Use a wide aperture lens with f/2.8-f/8 settings.
- Use the portrait mode or macro mode if taking it from a phone.
Newborn photoshoots are exciting ways to document your child’s first milestone. It depicts raw emotions that you can share with friends and relatives even from afar. Babies are easier to photograph but you need to limit the time in doing it to prevent stressing them out.
A good newborn photographer knows how to put these emotions together in a frame. If you want to hire one, pick up professionals who are trained both in shooting cameras and in handling babies. You can vouch for this in their online portfolio or through referrals.
Staging your baby’s photoshoot by yourself is also possible. With the right lighting and camera settings, you can get as close to the works of a pro. But, more than anything, always remember to keep your baby’s safety and comfort first. Learn when to stop and never force your newborn into a pose he doesn’t like. Small as he is, he is still the boss of this own little photoshoot.
Ann Marie is a licensed nurse in the Philippines. She had experiences in handling and assisting deliveries of newborns into the world. She also used to train in labor rooms and pediatric wards – helping soon-to-be mothers and little kids in the process. Though not a mother by nature but a mother by heart, Ann Marie loves to take care of her younger cousins as well as nephews and nieces during her free time.