Trying to pick up a few extra tips for your Newborn Photography? You may even be one of those brave souls looking to take photos of your own little one once you bring them home from the hospital! Here are a couple of tips on how to make the most of each pose and take a series of pictures from each pose before moving and repositioning your baby for the next shot. This is also especially helpful if your baby, like mine, is not the typical can-sleep-through-anything-babe that most newborn photographers seem to portray! Thankfully this skill isn’t limited to newborn photography but you can learn to tell a far greater story from any photo session of any age if you can get this down!
ALL IN THE PREPARATION
First up. I use natural light from a window, no indoor lights! You can use a large light reflector to fill in the shadows. If possible, have a couple of lenses on hand. I often switch between a couple of lenses (though if you only have one lens, don’t feel limited but use it as an opportunity to be as creative as you can!) You can then set your stage.
The key is to move around the spot where you will be laying the baby (if they are not already in place) and look through the viewfinder to see what is in the background. Get down to their level and move either side and even from behind. If you’re using a bed, readjust pillows, take down a painting hanging on the wall that’s distracting, pick up the laundry basket sitting on the bedside chair! Basically, make sure your canvas is clean, tidy and clutter free! No-one else needs to see your dirty laundry ;-) If you are using a sheet or blanket as your backdrop, pay attention to where the blanket meets the floor or the wall and try to extend it farther out, stretching out crinkles and creases (try using tape to secure it in place.) If you are familiar with photoshop there are ways to edit out smaller things. Inevitably I always spend a couple of minutes cleaning up a background, but do you really want to spend hours correcting a messy background rather than spending a few extra minutes prepping?
To start off, make sure you get a full shot of your babe on her blanket at their level, preferably from the front. You could then look to shoot from above at an angle, then directly from above, though take care of your own shadow falling into the frame and add more light if needed. I take the light reflector and move it around till I see the light bounce off the baby’s back. (Unless you have an assistant then you will need to get used to holding both a reflector and the camera whilst keeping it steady or invest in a tripod!) Have you thought about taking a picture from the top of the head? From the toes?
Then change lens to add some detailed shots and set your aperture wider (or as wide as it can go if using a kit lens. This is usually f/4.5.) Playing around with aperture and focal points are great fun and produces such interesting nuances. Focusing in on eyelashes from above is always a beautifully flattering shot. Walk around your baby to get different directions and angles as well as step in closer to focus on specific detail such as lips or hands. Something you will notice is that the light will change depending on your angle, you will achieve slightly more high key shots on the skin exposed to your light source and possibly lower key shots on the side with less light. This will also create some nice variations to your collection while retaining continuity. You could even think about putting a couple of images in black and white if you find a couple that are similar in angles (As seen above focusing in on the lips.)
SPOT THE DIFFERENCE
Unless you want to play Spot the Difference from your session, the trap to avoid is taking multiple shots that are almost exact replicas. Don’t misunderstand me here; while its ok to keep shooting to make sure you have the shot right, the aim is to keep one picture of each angle. Below is a great example of what not to do! My first ever attempt of photographing an infant younger than a few months was with my second child, Joshua, five years ago. I didn’t really have any idea what I was doing and though there are many things that could be criticized here (a few extra things noted below for starters!), lets just focus on the fact that I didn’t capture any other angle than these! No variety. No story. (Though always my sweet boy!) By the way, I promise this is not the same baby and yes, all three of our boys came out with a full head of dark hair!!
Learn to give yourself constructive criticism from a session. Don’t be discouraged when you realized you missed a shot or forgot about the background in this one or that one but take notes and take ONE thing to work on for the next time. I’ve said it before but we all have to start somewhere. Everyone can look back at previous work and see flaws, though I’m now starting to view it more as growth. :-)