Newborn photography has exploded in the past few years. If you’re looking to be the next Anne Geddes, earn some extra revenue at your studio, or have a newborn of your own, you’ll be presented with some challenges. These small, fragile, little human beings spend most of their days wrapped tightly in a blanket and are not the most cooperative subject matter. Here are a few points to keep in mind when you’re trying to capture that ultimate newborn portrait.
Watch Your Angles
Some of the best angles for newborns are when you shoot in macro mode (this allows you to zoom in on body parts like little hands or feet). Using macro mode will also allow you to be unobtrusive during the shoot, especially if they’re sleeping. You’ll also be able to snap some great facial expressions as well. Try getting down on their level and shoot from low angles for a different perspective.
Shoot in Black and White
Newborns tend to have a pinkish or red tone to their skin and are prone to blotchiness. Shooting in black and white mode will help eliminate the distracting reddish cast. When shooting in monochrome think about contrast. Black and white backgrounds will be the most dramatic, and contrast in the lighting can also give an intense and beautiful effect. Black and white images are timeless and will also emphasize the baby’s features.
What You Will Need
When capturing moments of babies it is best if you keep the photo background really simple. A black muslin background will do the trick. You will also need several soft, warm blankets or fabric for the baby to cuddle up too. Make sure you have backups in case of any accidents.
Newborn’s eyes are sensitive to light so use indirect light when at all possible. Using natural light is easy during the summer and spring months however during the fall and winter you may need to use a fill flash. Be sure to diffuse the flash as much as possible.
According to Lisa Holloway of Clickin’ Moms, “A good rule of thumb for nice soft shadows and highlights is to have your baby angled such that the light flows from the top of baby’s head on down their body at approximately a 45 degree angle. Look for a soft shadow underneath baby’s nose to verify that you have this right.”
Set Up A Scene
Incorporate the Parents
Create a setting by having one or both of the parent’s cradle the baby in their arms. If they’re having an intimate moment with the baby on the sofa use propping such as flowers or a personal home accent. Try shooting over the parents’ shoulders to capture the their view of their newborn.
Choose Creative Propping
Newborns look adorable dressed up as animals, vegetables (think of the famous pea pod shots, here!) and even woodland creatures. Hats are especially welcome since the baby’s get cold easily and you’ll most likely be shooting them with out a blanket. There plenty of online prop stores that cater only to newborn photo props.
Capture The Details
Try to capture every tone, every wrinkle, every face expression. These are not only precious details but they are also compositionally pleasing. Small wrinkles in the skin can create a time of leading line that makes the subject appealing to the eye, small shadows create shapes that are interesting to look at, and little expressions help to convey an emotion (like being tired, or happy, or in awe).
As photographers, we can appreciate how quickly the days go by during a newborn’s first year and how important it is to capture all of the sweet details while they are still little. Remember to select backdrops and propping prior to the session, keep in mind to use diffused lighting and pay close attention to angles, detail and composition while shooting.