Newborn photography is one of the most rewarding types of photography there is. Capturing the innocence and beauty of a new life is a joy that cannot be described in words. But it can also be challenging, especially when it comes to getting the perfect shot. Here are nine common mistakes that photographers make with baby newborn photography, and how to avoid them.
1. Baby Newborn Photography: Not Having Enough Knowledge
The first mistake to avoid is not doing your research about newborns. Newborns require special attention and care. This involves room temperature, sleep schedules, feeding times, and handling.
Knowing what newborns need, you can be prepared ahead of time. You’ll know how to condition your studio or where you’re photographing the baby. This will help you get images that your clients will love.
Get familiar with handling newborns. They need support in their necks and head as they aren’t able to hold them up themselves.
If you’re uncomfortable with handling a newborn or aren’t familiar, make sure that the parents do all of the handling for you.
2. Using Heating Pads and Heaters
No matter what anyone else says, heating pads are a big mistake in newborn photography! Newborn skin is very thin and very sensitive. They are even sensitive to natural direct sunlight.
A heating pad used under a newborn can burn the baby if it is left for too long. If you do use a heating pad, make sure that you place the heating pad in the posing spot before you place a baby. Take the heating pad out when you do pose the baby in that spot.
A space heater is a great tool to heat up the space of the session. The newborn will feel comfortable and you’ll avoid having any accidents.
A space heater that blows hot air can also burn a baby. Don’t keep it too close to where the newborn will be posed.
Best bet would be to heat the space where you will be having the session before your clients even arrive. This way you can make sure the space is warm and safe.
3. Not Scheduling Enough Time for the Session
Newborns have a certain feeding and sleeping schedule. Add in diaper changing and rocking to sleep, and newborn sessions can run for over 2 hours or more.
Make sure to schedule enough time to photograph the newborn. And allow time for your clients to take care of feedings, sleeping, and changes while they are at the session.
This also will help you get more referrals. Your clients will appreciate that you knew what their newborns needed and added time for that during the session.
If you’re photographing in a studio, make sure to have all of your props ready to go. Set up ahead of time so that when your clients arrive you can photograph the newborn quickly without wasting time.
If you’re photographing your clients in their home, choose one location with the best light to set up. This way you’re not moving around the home with the newborn in tow.
4. Not Preparing Your Client for the Newborn Session
Make sure that you walk your clients through the whole process of a newborn session.
Explain to them the time, the best locations, what kind of lighting you use. Include even the fact that babies will have accidents when they are cold or simply because it was time for them to have a diaper change.
Walking your clients through the experience will help them to prepare ahead of time. They’ll bring all the things that they need for the session.
This means that they can prepare wardrobe, props, and even what they should bring to the studio or have ready at home, like diapers, bottles, etc.
Some clients have a clear idea of what they want as far as the session goes. You can help them get an even better experience by walking them through a typical newborn session.
Other clients may not know what they want. This is where you can guide them to find the right lighting, setup, and look for their session.
Helping your clients prepare as best as they can will make the session go smoothly and take less time.
5. Not Having a Basic Newborn Setup
Depending on the style of your photography, having the right newborn setup doesn’t have to be expensive.
There are a few things that you will need in order to create beautiful images of newborn babies.
You’ll need some fabric. White usually works the best, or a dark or cream color. About two yards is great. Make sure the texture is something you’d like to photograph and isn’t scratchy.
Fabric works to create those beautiful seamless backgrounds. You can use them anywhere, from couches, beds, carpeted or cushioned floors, or on a rug.
A poppy pillow or styling pillow to help prop up the baby is also useful. Place it underneath the fabric and make sure that you have it on a stable surface.
Plastic bags or some kind of mattress protector to place underneath the fabric just in case the newborn has an accident. This is very likely to occur!
Plastic bags can protect against messes getting bigger or leaking through onto your clients’ beds or couches.
6. Using Harsh Lighting
Harsh lights can cause babies to squint or become uncomforatble. You can also wake up a baby with stark harsh lighting. Soft lighting is the best.
If you’re using artificial lighting, consider using a soft box or diffuser of some kind. This will soften the light.
If you’re using a flash, try bouncing the light off of the ceiling or wall. This way the flash doesn’t go off in the baby’s face.
Also, try using a diffuser on your flash to make the light softer. Plus, with a diffuser, you’re more likely to get even lighting than if you used flash directly.
With natural light, place the newborn perpendicular to the light or window. This way, you get some depth to the photos with shadows. And you can avoid blocking the light by standing in front of the newborn while taking photos.
If the window has a translucent curtain, use it so that the light can be a bit softer. You can also use a translucent reflector to diffuse the light.
Be very careful to not place the newborn in direct sunlight. The skin of a newborn baby is very sensitive. Sunlight can cause damage.
7. Not Thinking of the Final image During the Session
Newborns don’t pose exactly how a photographer would want them to. This is because they can’t hold their heads up and well, they’re babies.
In order to capture the newborn with their head upright, feet in correct positions, or hands, sometimes mom or dad will need to offer a helping hand.
When this occurs, you’ll get photos with mom and dad’s arm and hands in them.
Keeping in mind the final images, make sure to take photos of the set. Later, you can photoshop the clean background in.
This can help you to envision what the final image will look like. You can ask mom or dad to be on the left set versus the right, if that is what works for the final image in mind.
This also goes for hiding diapers, covering mom or dad while they are posing with the baby, or images where the background fades into the dark.
Visualize the final image so that you can take the right photos to acheive the desired outcome.
8. Not Using a White Noise Machine or App
Newborns have just spent the last 9 months in a very noisy womb. It is a very common misconception that newborns need quiet to sleep.
Having a white noise machine or app on your smartphone can help the newborn to relax. They might even fall asleep faster during the session.
It also helps the newborn to tune out what is happening around them with lights and props. Choose a white noise machine or app that offers different sounds. You can find one that the newborn likes and will relax to.
White noise can also help set the tone during the session. It can be relaxing to listen to for everyone involved. Along with a nice warm room, the newborn is likely to fall fast asleep.
9. Only Taking Pictures of Sleeping Newborns
Sleeping newborns do make for easier sessions. But not all newborns are likely to be alseep the whole time. Photographing them while they are wide awake also creates really touching photos for parents.
It might be hard to get their attention as newborns don’t have a lot of control over their eyes just yet. But using something close to their face can get their attention.
While the baby is awake is a perfect moment to capture mom or dad holding baby close to their faces. Have the parents interact with the baby.
You can also include siblings in these shots. They are more dynamic since the children will be able to look into the baby’s eyes.
Take time to get some lifestyle photos of the whole family during the session. Whether you’re in a studio or in their home, capturing the parents feeding or changing the baby makes for very sweet moments during the first few days.
Include these in the final images. The parents will appreciate having real moments too and not just posed photos.
Newborn photography can be really gratifying. You’re capturing a baby’s first few days in a big new world.
Make sure that you know how to handle a baby and all the things you need to have a successful newborn photo session.
Your clients will love the experience and the photos even more! Good luck!