Today we have an awesome blog post from photographer Kelli Etheridge. She’s a master at newborn photography and shares her top tips for getting beautiful shots of newborns and children.
1. Patience – This is the single most important ingredient in a newborn session. Be prepared to spend more time than you expect; don’t schedule sessions close together. You will likely need to take regular breaks for feedings, diaper changes and calming the baby. Parents can feel a lot of pressure at a portrait session; they are always sleep deprived with a new baby at home, therefore it is essential that you create a peaceful, unrushed environment for them. Baby will feel the parents’ energy, so creating a comfortable space is equally as important to parents and babies.
2. Incorporate Personal Elements – have parents bring items that have personal meaning; this helps to tell the story of their family and creates unique images for them. Meet with them in advance and brainstorm together to come up with some ideas. Items can be things from their occupations, hobbies, heritage, baby’s room, or the season. I’ve had parents bring riding saddles, guitars, flowers that were in mom and dad’s wedding, baby booties from mom or dad’s infancy, family heirloom blankets or hand-made blankets from friends/family, and more.
3. Making them comfortable – keep the room warm, or have heaters close to baby. Some babies like to be swaddled, while others prefer to be free. White noise machines or quiet music may help put baby at ease as well. Skin to skin is always comforting to baby so I will often try this if baby is difficult to settle.
4. Be prepared – You will need different supplies/props, etc. in a newborn session than for a regular portrait session. Make sure you have baby wipes, hand sanitizer, towels, and extra blankets/fabric. Make sure parents bring a change of clothes as well; newborns pee often.
Other little tricks for newborns:
When they are almost asleep you can run your finger down the bridge of their nose to close their eyes. If baby is awake you can use the rooting reflex to have them turn their heads in the direction you choose. Just stroke their cheek lightly on the side you want them to turn.
5. Be sure to get close-ups – Capturing the tiny, delicate features of a newborn is important because it is such an ephemeral stage. Pull out that macro lens and make sure you get close-ups of all their little features – hands, feet, bum and face. Use items for scale to show just how small baby is – parents’ hands or feet, and other items that help to emphasize their diminutive size.