What a fun time I had photographing this St. Louis area family a few months ago. When photographing newborns it’s always a good idea to give yourself a lot of time and arrive prepared. We had our share of “accidents”, feedings, and diaper changes, so I was glad I had slotted a few hours for this shoot.

I always send an email to the parents letting them know what to expect. Parents have said this really helps and puts them at ease when they hand off their fresh newborn to a “stranger”.

Of all my clients, new parents require the most sensitivity. They are tired, sometimes hormonal, and almost always nervous about either the shoot, you, or how their baby will behave. (Or sometimes all three). It’s your job as a photographer to make them feel as comfortable as possible, as well as get the best photos you can. This takes patience and experience.

I try to start off by just hanging out with the family. I explore the house for the best light, while they get used to the idea that I have arrived to photograph their newborn. Then I talk to them for a bit about the baby, how it’s going, etc. This gives me sometime to gauge their personality and the normal expressions of their faces (assuming you are taking some photos with the parents). There is nothing like seeing a photo that doesn’t represent your personality at all, is there? Then I start shooting.

Newborns can’t really pose, so sometimes it’s waiting for them to make the cutest face, yawn, or open their eyes. Other times, I actually pose the child by setting them how I want, and holding them there for a few seconds until you feel them relax. For example, if you want a hand on a cheek, place the sleeping child’s hand there. Then keep you fingers on it for a few seconds until the baby relaxes. Let go, and shoot.

In my bag of tricks for newborn photo shoots:

  • heating pad (and extension cord)
  • towel
  • extra blankets
  • a waterproof crib mattress pad (This is great for folding under any blanket or material you are putting the baby on.)
  • a burp cloth (I usually ask the parent to led me one.)
  • trimmed nails (I don’t want to scratch the baby I am trying to photograph.)
  • quiet accessories (Not the time to wear the bangle bracelets or noisy earrings.)
  • warm hands (I try to warm up my hands before I hold the babies when they are undressed. This helps them stay asleep, or at least feel less uncomfortable if they are awake.)
  • a list of poses (Sometimes I actually write out a list, sometimes I have a list in my head. Sometimes mom or dad has provided some sort of a list, or ideas of what they want. And sometimes, you just have to go with the flow and what the parents are comfortable with.)