Newborn Session Tips for Clients & Photographers

Oh, newborns. Sweet, squishy little things that make us weak in the knees. They are a lot of fun to photograph but they are also a lot of work. I’ve written up some tips for both clients AND photographers to help your sessions go a little smoother. At the top of this post you’ll find the client tips, and if you scroll down you’ll find some tips for aspiring newborn photographers.

For Clients:

Before the session:

1. Find a photographer you love and book them in advance. Newborn sessions are best done in the first 5 – 10 days, so you don’t want to wait until the last minute to book yours.
2. If you have anything extremely important or sentimental you’d like to include, set it aside and mention it to your photographer so they can plan accordingly.
3. Make a note of the area in your home with the best light. Large windows and French doors are great spaces. Make sure the space is relatively cleared (get help!).
4. Pick out any clothing for yourself if you’re doing family shots. Basics are better.

Day of the session:
1. Turn up the heat! Warm babies are happy, sleepy babies. 80 degrees, or even higher. The rule is if YOU (and me) are sweating, then it’s the right temperature.
2. Get baby undressed except for a loose diaper and wrap them up in a blanket to keep them snuggly. You want to do this for two reasons. First off, there’s no better way to wake up a baby than undress them. Second, it prevents any elastic marks on their skin.
3. Start feeding the baby about twenty minutes before your session. Full bellies also help babies sleep. Please be prepared to feed the baby DURING the session as well. Every baby is different and some need a little extra while shooting.
4. Relax, sit close by and enjoy watching your sweet little baby during their first session.

For Photographers:

1. Make sure YOU are well rested, fed and hydrated. Newborn sessions are hard and hot work. Also, wear something cool and comfortable.
2. Set up all your blankets/throws on top of each other with a puppy pee pad in between each one. Why? Because if baby pees, it doesn’t soak through your entire stack, and all you have to do is throw the peed one on over to the back of your backdrop stand. Easy.
3. Angle your set up at about a 45 to 70 degree angle from the window. Make sure baby’s forehead is pointed toward the light, and not their chin. Why not straight toward the light source? Because you want to add some directionality in your lighting for a more pleasing photograph.
4. Have all your props (headbands, hats, wraps) that Mom & Dad want to use lined up at the beginning of the session so it flows smoothly.
5. Make sure you wash your hands and/or use hand sanitizer before you get started.
6. Take your time! Sometimes it takes a while to get baby to settle down and get really sleepy. Often, starting with a wrapped pose is a good way to get them to really settle down.
7. Never ever force a baby into a pose. Some babies just don’t like certain poses. The sleepier they are, the easier they will be to mold and bend. If they’re NOT sleepy make sure they have a full belly, no gas bubbles and they’re warm enough.
8. Here’s the MOST important tip. Safety should always be #1. Please do not attempt to balance baby’s head in their hands without support. Do not place babies on small surfaces without someone’s hand spotting them. Do not hang babies. All of these type of shots should be COMPOSITE SHOTS. This means you take several photos and mesh them together in post production. You never know when a newborn will startle and make a sudden movement and there is no shot worth possibly harming a baby. If a client wants something you are not comfortable with, please be up front and honest and find a solution that works for both of you.

So, what do I bring to a newborn session anyway? My newborn poser (a large, puck style one), a backdrop stand with multiple clamps, blankets/backdrops, puppy pee pads, wraps, hats, headbands, a space heater, my phone with a white noise app on it, plus various baskets and bags to carry it all in. Gear wise I bring my camera (5d MkII) plus my 50mm 1.4, 100mm 2.8 macro and 28mm 1.8, although I normally only use the 50mm plus the 100mm for detail shots. I also bring a small light stand (Cheetah mini), a softbox and a flash (580 exII) plus remote triggers for homes that don’t have the right kind of light to use available lighting. Always compare prepared, even if you don’t THINK you’ll need it.

I hope these tips have been helpful and if you have some basic questions, feel free to ask me on my facebook page!

Leave A Comment