Tis the season for babies! Between my own son (due to arrive this May) and the babies my friends and family are expecting, I'm going to have LOTS of little loves to snuggle in the next few months. Featured above is baby Claire, the dainty, sleepy, and perfectly chubby-cheeked little girl of my friends Ryan and Cherith. I've been wanted to further develop my newborn photography style and skills, and Claire's arrival gave me the perfect opportunity to do so! Each time I photograph a newborn, I learn something new. Here are a few basic tips for a successful newborn session:
- At just about a week of age, Claire was still super sleepy and flexible. Aim to do newborn sessions within two weeks (one week is even more ideal) of baby's arrival. Obviously the needs of new moms, babies, and their families should come first! But I've found that the first week after baby's birth is generally a low-key time, besides newborn checkups and visits from close friends and family. Communicate with parents before baby is born when you'll want to do the newborn session. Tell them NOT to worry about cleaning their house! You can tidy up the area you want to use if need be after you arrive and scope out the best location.
- We turned the heat up so high I had to borrow a shirt from Claire's mom! Good thing she had plenty of maternity clothes on hand and was happy to lend me something to sweat in. Babies like it warm. There's nothing more pitiful than undressing a baby for photos to find that their hands and feet are ice cubes by the end of the session. Newborns are much more willing and able to relax and sleep if they're not cold, and it will need to be warmer than is comfortable for you (as the photographer unless you like working in the tropics) because they're more sensitive to cold and they'll likely be naked or barely clothed. As the photographer, dress accordingly! I have two small space heaters I bring to newborn sessions to help keep babies content and warm.
- Thankfully Claire was super sleepy during her session. Her mom nursed her right before I arrived, and I used a pacifier to help her settle before putting her into different poses. I moved and reposition Claire as often as needed to make such each shot was flattering. Even though I was nervous she would startle and we'd have to start over, I was willing to risk that over keeping her in pose that wasn't photographing well. I didn't want her lady parts exposed, I didn't want her face hidden by a blanket, and I didn't want her hands to look like they were claws. It's worth the time and effort it takes to make each shot lovely! Trust me. Awkward newborn photos are often a result of unflattering poses!
I'm not a seasoned expert with newborn photography, but the three basic tips above have helped me immensely and I hope they'll also help you, whether you're a photographer looking to get into newborn photography or a mom interested in taking portraits of her own baby. Check back soon for photos of the newborns I'll have the privilege of photographing and more tips on how to capture their adorable perfection!