Newborn photography is one of a kind. This is because babies only hold their newborn features within the first two weeks of life!
These seven tips will help you set up your new newborn photography business. Follow these and you’ll be sure to give your clients the best experience.
At home shoots allow you to photograph the family more authentically.
1. Will You Have a Studio or Be Mobile
You can do newborn photography in a studio space or within the client’s home. Some photographers offer both.
When you’re getting started in newborn portraits, this should be your first step. Determine which option fits your style and business model.
Studio spaces can give you more flexibility with scheduling. And enough space to keep all of your props and accessories.
It can also house any newborn specific wardrobe like wraps, head ware, bows, blankets, etc.
Studios allow you to choose the perfect backgrounds.
A studio space also means you can set up studio lighting that is safe for newborns. You control all the elements that help make the newborn portrait experience run smoother. And everything will be within easy reach. No need to carry equipment to and fro.
In turn, having a mobile newborn photography business is great for lifestyle portrait photographers. You’ll be documenting the newborn in their home.
This gives you flexibility to set up your props and accessories. But also to take the time to document the family in their daily routine.
In home setups like this can be simple and easy to transport to clients’ homes. Use a boppy billow with a sheet or blanket to get a posing pillow set up quickly.
Taking the newborn portraits in the home is also good for your clients. Families will feel more comfortable in their own space with all the things they need for their newborn baby.
This is especially true for siblings of the newborn. They can nap or play in their rooms while you take the portraits of the baby alone.
This baby was posed near a big light source in the home on a boppy pillow and two different blankets for backgrounds.
2. Must Haves for Any Newborn Portrait Session
Newborn photography doesn’t take much to get started. If you are looking to begin as an in-home newborn portrait photographer, you can use what the clients already have. This way, you can build a low budget setup.
Use a sofa cushion, various blankets for backgrounds, and a boppy pillow. This way, you have an easy and quick in-home setup.
Swaddling helps keep baby comfortable during the portrait session.
Place your setup close to a large light source, like a big window or sliding glass door. Don’t place the newborn too close or in direct sunlight as this can wake or bother them.
Other items that are good to have on hand for any session are posing pillows and blankets for various background choices. A small electric heater to warm up the room and a white noise app or machine are also useful.
The white noise app plays sounds that the newborn takes comfort in hearing. Wombs sounds like a loud vacuum. White noise is also useful in getting a baby to fall asleep.
As your business grows, you can add other props. You can use posing baskets, headbands, or wraps for swaddling the newborn. And an exercise ball to help bounce the baby to sleep.
Make sure that all your materials for the newborn sessions are sanitized before and after each session. Use organic or baby-safe cleansers.
3. Get to Know Your Client: The Newborn
This should really be tip number one. You need to first and foremost know how to handle a newborn. You will need to know what a newborn needs throughout their portrait session.
For example, a newborn feeds every two to three hours if not more. After feedings, a baby needs to be burped.
After that, either the parents keep them awake or they fall asleep again. You’ll have to be comfortable both with a nursing mother and a mother who bottle feeds.
If you have a studio, buy a comfortable chair. The mother can feed, rock, and have time with the baby during the portrait session. This will avoid any disruptions in the baby’s schedule.
Always keep the parents close by. Never let a baby be posed alone if they are not laying down. Keep hands close to hold baby’s head, arms, or back in place. You’ll edit this out later.
Be aware that the baby may relieve themselves on set. Have dog training pads on hand. Or use a mattress protector on your posing pillow to avoid stains and bacteria.
The more experience you have with newborns, the more comfortable you will be. If you are not comfortable handling newborns, be honest and upfront with your clients. Tell them that they will be the ones posing and handling the baby during the session.
Be aware that germs spread easily and can affect a newborn baby. You’ll need to sanitise the area as well as your hands and equipment. Do this before and after each session.
You can never wash your hands enough with baby-safe soap. Trust me.
4. Learn How to Pose Babies Before You Start Your Business
Posing babies is difficult. They like to be swaddled or wrapped in a ball for comfort. This is where you can purchase swaddles and accessories for the newborn portrait sessions. These are specifically made for babies.
For example, Bella Baby Love by Ana Brandt has many items that help with swaddling, posing, and dressing the baby.
They are made for newborn babies. And they make posing easier and better.
A posing pillow, or boppy pillow, will help to prop the baby higher. Or you can have them lay deep into the pillow for curled up posing.
To hold poses, you may need mom or dad to help. They can hold baby in place. Later, you can retouch hands or people out and have a clean final image.
A posing pillow won’t fit in accessories like buckets, baskets, and suitcases. Use plush blankets or towels to hold the baby up in a comfortable position.
5. How to Keep Baby Safe During the Shoot
It is really important to know what you need to do to keep a baby safe during a newborn portrait session.
Never use a heating pad underneath a baby. This can lead to second degree burns since newborn baby skin is sensitive.
A floor heater is best at a safe distance. Shut it off during the session and only used before the baby arrives to warm the room.
Mom’s hands were retouched out of the photo on the left. Keeping babies safe is really important especially when you go outside.
Never pose a baby without an extra pair of hands either holding the baby or next to the baby’s body at all times.
Are you planning on doing newborn poses in accessories like a baby hanging from a branch? Have a safety pillow underneath, and do not hang the branch high. This means less than a foot off the ground!
Also always have hands holding the baby even in the hanging branch.
You can photograph a setup without the baby. And later you can retouch the final image and edit the helping hands or people out of the photo.
Support the baby’s neck and head at all times. Newborn babies don’t have control of their heads and cannot hold them up. You’ll need to be careful when handling a baby and holding the back of their neck.
They are also very fragile and unpredictable in movements. Keep this in mind when photographing them.
If you’re not comfortable posing babies, you can have the parents pose and handle the newborn.
Keep a clean set and wash your hands and clothing with baby safe soap and detergent before your session. This is very important. It will keep germs from getting on the baby and keep allergic reactions to a minimum.
6. Keep Samples of Prints or Albums on Hand
This is important when starting your newborn photography business.
Samples can include three to five high ticket items. For example, enlarged framed prints, keepsake albums, or baby plans for the first year.
Include any item that you wish your clients to purchase following your session.
Send your clients the pricing information before you have your session. This way they can begin thinking about how much they want to invest on their photographs.
If you have a pre-consultation meeting with them, show them the samples then. If not, show them the samples during the newborn session.
Samples will help your clients to envision their photos in print. Have an extra pricing sheet available for them to take home after the session. This will keep the products fresh in their minds.
7. Have a Referral Program in Place
Having a referral program for clients will help your newborn photography business grow.
A referral program can offer incentives to current clients. They’ll pass your name along to other families who are looking for newborn portraits.
You can offer low ticket items or high ticket items depending on how many people they refer.
If someone refers 1-5 people, you can give them a free print for each person they sent. When they reach 5 people, a nice gift would be an 8×8 gallery wrap of their favorite image.
Another nice incentive for current clients is that for every subsequent session, they receive a page in an album.
This will help kickstart your newborn photography business and gain more returning clients year after year. Never underestimate the power of word of mouth.
Starting a newborn portrait photography business can be a gratifying experience. You’re capturing a newborn baby during their first days of life.
As magical as it is, it is also very important to keep these tips handy. This way you can make sure that your business is a success.
A note from Josh, ExpertPhotography's Photographer-In-Chief:
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