It’s Newborn Week on Go{4}Pro

This week is entirely dedicated to those sweet little pink balls of perfection that have enough power in one itty bitty pinkie to keep a photographer in business all year round. Looking back through the archives, I realized that it was a year ago this week that I wrote a post about tips and trick for newborn photography, (you can read it here) how fitting that a year later we are dedicating a week to newborns on Go{4}Pro. I’ll have to admit that last years post didn’t get much of a reaction, okay that’s a huge understatement! It only got one comment. I won’t lie to you, it was discouraging so I didn’t take it much further. Hopefully this week will be worth a few more comments! The majority of what I have in store will be wisdom from incredible newborn photographers who have so much more to share than I! And I truly hope that you will find this entire week inspiring and fun, for today I’d like to share a few random things that I’ve learned and than turn it over for you to share your newborn images with all of us!

Who is “the newborn photographer”? Everyone has their own story on why they love or don’t love shooting any particular client type. For me, newborns are some of the hardest but also one of my favorite subjects to photograph. The reward when you get the ‘magic moment’ shot is incredible. I don’t know if any other subject makes it easier to create fine art than a brand new baby? I didn’t start newborn photography till my last little one was already past the infant stage. I’ll admit I wish badly I’d known than how to use a camera the why I do now. I’ve even though, maybe just one more – after all, think of all the practice time I’ll be able to get in! 🙂  Newborns take a lot of work. My average newborn session is typically almost 3 hours, but I’m also big on taking our time and making sure mom and dad are relaxed and enjoying the process. If baby doesn’t want to sleep, we wait and I explain all of this well before the session date! I also feel like newborns are a great place to focus for your business because there is no off season for birth – nope… Instead there are opportunities 365 day’s a year in thousands and thousands of hospitals all over the world just waiting to be shared. Every new parent is eager to remember each moment, jot down each milestone and capture every step. We as photographers have an awesome opportunity to tell the story of a life. That is an honor that I will never take lightly. My best advice to someone new to newborn photography would be to remember that  a new parent wants everything for their baby, and they probably need a little TLC themselves too, let all of your action through out your newborn division reflect that philosophy and you will do well.

The Carpet Bag... Mary Poppins was always ready for whatever might be needed. With a long reach into her bag she’d have just the thing to help the medicine go down. Likewise, we as photographers should also have ‘just the thing’ to help each newborn session go smoothly. Remember mom and dad are very new at this whole parenting thing, and baby pictures are a new foreign concept that they’ve only heard about. They will be looking to you for reassurance that things are going well and you’ll want to have an arsenal of tricks to ensure that things actually do – go well! Here’s what I suggest keeping in your magic carpet bag…

A Bean Bag. Having a bean bag really does make a world of difference for posing baby. Don’t feel like you have to purchase a really expensive one either. Wal-mart, Target and Amazon can give you what you need. Just as a side tip, you may want to look into a “pleather” beanbag so that the inevitable accidents don’t get absorbed into the bag.

Changing Pads. Without exception, the baby always takes care of business. My last newborn did his business about 5 times during the session so having those changing pads underneath blankets, on top of the bean bag and anywhere else you may need will come in very handy and be much more sanitary.

Space Heater. A space heater is a great opportunity to direct the warmth into one area and this way you’re not trying to sweat everyone else out of your studio. I always like to explain to parents that baby is use to the womb being about 98.4 degrees, so he will be most comfortable (especially) naked in a warm setting. If you are going into their home, suggest that they raise the temperature up to about 75 for the photo shoot. I always explain that we want to help baby stay comfortable and warm and I’ve never had a family disagree yet (although I have had dads stepping outside every 5 minutes trying to cool off and that’s why a space heater can be helpful).

Heating Pad. Using a heating bad is one of my very best tricks. I get it nice and warm and than unplug it and tuck it inside a basket or whatever prop I’m using to keep baby nice and comfortable… and sleepy!

Dryer. If possible, toss a few blankets in the dryer for just a couple minutes so that you can swaddle baby up and keep her nice and toasty.  Or, in between shots, drop that warm blanket over her to keep her from stirring while you get your next shot set up and ready.

White Noise. Noise in general will likely help your session go smoother. I find that if we can keep a steady conversation going, baby sleeps better and won’t get startled by my camera’s shutter. But a white noise maker can also be very helpful. You can find all kinds of options at your local Babies”R”Us. I use a free wave crasher app on my iPhone and just tuck it underneath the blankets.

Organic Baby Wipes and Organic Diapers. After all the accidents that are bound to happen, mom and dad just might realize that they didn’t pack quite enough for this adventure so by having your own stash you can reassure them that you’re not new to this. I suggest organic for two reasons. One it shows that you care and didn’t try to buy the cheapest kind (even if it’s the cheapest diapering your son this moment *a-hem*) and secondly, if they’re using organic they will appreciate that they don’t have to use a “regular” diaper. Most of my first time parents seem to use organic.

Prepare your Clients! I can’t stress this enough. If they are new parents, this is a whole new experience for them. They are likely feeling a little apprehensive about how this will all work. I think you should take two opportunities to prepare them, once before the session, either with an information pamphlet in your welcome kit or over the phone and a second time when you meet in person. Sit down for a few minutes, ask them about the birth story, get them a drink and let them know that baby is going to have accidents and that you’re ready for it. Prepare them by helping them understand what they can expect during your session. Why it’s best to photograph in the first 10 days of life, how you like to go about your session (i.e. baby first and than dad and last mom and mom & dad – this way baby doesn’t smell mom and wake up). And remind them to bring extra clothes in case accidents happen on them.

Wash your hands. As soon as my clients arrive into the studio, I make an obvious point of saying, ‘let me just go wash my hands’. I want them to know that I care about babies safety and that cleanliness is a priority. I also keep hand sanitizer near by and will typically sanitize my hands at least once during the session as well.

I’d love to hear your tricks too! These are some of the basics that I could think of to get us started, but I’d love to hear what has worked and not worked for you… Or even just if one of these tips was particularly helpful.

Let’s not just share the tips, I’d love to see your newborn work as well! I thought we would start the week out by sharing our own images! I’ve set up a linky tool so that everyone can submit their current favorite newborn image. Can’t wait to see what you’re loving!

And tomorrow we are going to show some great props and be giving away several awesome newborn props!

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  1. Kristin says:

    I tried to upload a picture, but it’s not working… some SPAMHAUS thing? Regardless, great tips for a new photog… My hardest session to date was a newborn and I think I could have avoided a lot of the issues with these tips!!

  2. Amy Pinney says:

    Oh,Leah, this could NOT come at a better time!!! I recently made the decision to throw all of my photography eggs into the newborn basket. There isn’t a “newborn” photographer in my town (there are photographers in town who do them, but it’s not their *specialty*), and I absolutely *Adore* those kinds of images. I did my very first last Christmas, and while it went well considering, I’ve learned SO much about it since then and have been eager to try out the new things I’ve learned. I did a session 3 days ago with a 5 days new little boy who…..WOULD NOT GO TO SLEEP. Leah, I was heartbroken. His mom did EVERYTHING right… I didn’t get ANY of the shots I wanted (though I did get 16 pretty cute *wide awake* shots for the family to get, so not a complete bust…). The 2 times he did drift off I could NOT move him or he’d wake. I’m doing another shoot on Wednesday and hoping for a better sleeper! I will be GLUED to G4P this week! Thank youuuuu!!!!

    (p.s. feel free to check out a couple of the shots I did get here: http://www.amypinney.blogspot.com)

  3. Spanki Mills says:

    i LOVE what you had to say! for being so tiny, newborns are my BIGGEST challenge! i will take all the help i can get! 🙂 can’t wait to hear more!!!

  4. Adrienne says:

    Yay!!! I loooove newborns!! Thanks for all the tips Leah!

    I use puppy pee pads underneath the blankets so if we have an accident I just throw that one away and lay a new pad down. It works great! And sometimes I use a boppy or neck pillow on top of the bean bag to help prop the baby up some if I need it.

    And I’m totally addicted to Etsy for cute little newborn hats to use!!

  5. Spanki Mills says:

    me too with the upload problem…thought it was just me! 🙂

  6. Leah Remillet says:

    Hey Kristen! I’m so glad these are helping! I just added my very first linky (I know I can’t believe I’ve never done one either) but I wanted to see if I got errors and it worked so try again and see if you have luck. I just attached to my blog and grabbed the file from my web sized folder on my computer.
    Thanks for trying! 🙂

  7. Spanki Mills says:

    oops i posted 2! i didn’t see the first one finally got up, thought maybe it was just that pic… delete one if you want! sorry…wow, i am being extra needy this morning! okay i will leave you alone now!

  8. Morgan says:

    I am so excited for this week. Thanks for the great tips Leah. I have a space heater and it seriously works miracles. I never thought about a heating pad though. I’m sure it works great. I’ll just have to add that onto my list of things I want.

  9. stacey says:

    newborn tips are ALWAYS welcome!! thanks for rounding them up for us! looking forward to this weeks posts (as always!)

  10. Sandy says:

    This post is perfect timing for me! I have been primarily doing weddings, but I really want to photograph more newborns. Some things I have learned so far: Make sure your beanbag is nice and full so the baby doesn’t sink down too far. Use clamps to tighten up the bag if it seems too loose. Have a pair of nice diaper covers or nappy pants for both boys and girls; some parents don’t want the baby to go without a diaper, and so the pants will look much better. Use a baby doll first to show parents how your are going to pose the baby so that they understand how you want them to hold or position them.

    I can’t wait to see what tips everyone has to share!

  11. Angela says:

    Oh, newborns SCARE me!! Love your tips! I’ve never thought of the noise machine..maybe that would help calm the photographer too. ; )

  12. Megan says:

    I love that you are dedicating a week to newborn photography! Like you said – it’s definitely challenging but SO rewarding when you are able to get that “magic moment” shot. Newborns have definitely stretched me the most as a photographer. A couple of things I’ve learned this past year would be: 1. Its SO worth it to wait for baby to fall asleep. I used to feel like the parents were getting anxious so I would just begin working with the baby while awake – hardest. thing. ever. so I’ve learned to wait for the deep sleep. One baby actually took 45 minutes to fall asleep – so we swaddled him, took family pics and waited it out. Once he was in dreamland – he was a dream to work with! 2. If you travel to the client’s house, don’t be afraid to use mom’s furniture/decor for props. not only does it create super unique photos for your clients but it also captures “their style” – customizing their photos even more!

  13. Marla says:

    Good tips! Thanks. I take a little space heater when I go to a familiy’s home for a newborn session. I have parents tell me I’m a genius because of that! 🙂

  14. Kim Larsen says:

    Love all the tips, Leah! There are definitely things here that I hadn’t thought about, so thanks for sharing! BTW, are you in comment heaven yet? 🙂

  15. Carrie says:

    Yayyyyyy for newborn week! I’m loving all the tips and comments…I will definitely be putting them to use!

  16. Nani Myers says:

    Great Tips and I love your dedicating a week for newborn photography. Another great app for the iphone is is “Whitenoise.” It has all kinds of different whitenoise, i.e. conch shell, hair dryer, car ride, doppler ultrasound, heartbeat and much more. It also has a rattle on there for the lil bit older babies, and a timer! Great App! I think I paid 1.99 for it! Thanks Leah!

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