Few styles of portrait photography are as tricky as newborn photos — the unpredictable infant is always in charge! The best way to ensure a successful photo shoot is to work with a local newborn photographer within the first two weeks of the baby’s life. Some photographers even work with hospitals to offer newborn sessions within a day of the baby’s birth. But newborn photographers usually recommend scheduling a shoot during the baby’s first two weeks of life, while the baby is still sleepy and relatively cooperative, especially for posed or studio shots. During this time, babies are easier to swaddle in blankets and dress in hats or headbands, and, because they often nap or nurse, can be staged with various props or be cuddled by their parents. For casual photos, most newborn photographers recommend shooting within the first six weeks of a baby’s life. Lifestyle portrait photography is more flexible and doesn’t require the baby to cooperate with multiple poses or props.
Clothing is the most important element of a photograph. I welcome multiple wardrobe changes during my photo sessions. I generally recommend dressier, layered, non-matching clothing as it adds more depth and character to the photograph. An easy way to achieve this look is to add, scarves, leg warmers, boots, big costume jewelry, jackets, glasses, hats, etc. It is important to keep in mind that photographs will appear more fluent with low contrasting colors. This includes not only your clothing but also the location, background, lighting and surroundings. Please click here for our “What to Wear Guide”.
Swaddling a baby is the easiest way to pose her for newborn photos at home. Simple wrap her up tight and lay her down on a pretty blanket of piece of fabric. I usually save swaddled photos for the end of the photoshoot, when the baby has woken up. Newborns love to be swaddled and will usually stay pretty calm if they’re wrapped tight enough (check out this post on swaddling if you don’t know how).
A photographer who’s charging for their work should consistently create excellent photos that are similar to each other in style. Most photographers either have a website or a Facebook page, so take some time to browse their portfolio. Ideally, their portfolio will include lots of different families, in different settings, to show that the quality of their work is consistent.
M. Bradbury Photography is a Frisco-based custom photographer focusing on newborn, baby, and child photography. Head photographer Melissa Bradbury has over 10 years of experience in photographing newborns, infants, children, and expectant mothers. She offers comfy seats, snacks, and drinks for parents during newborn photo sessions. Clients praise Melissa for her ability to capture every special moment beautifully.
While the main focus of your wedding portrait session will be you and your spouse, you will probably want photos of your wedding party and families, too. Most photographers provide a “suggested formals list” of portrait groupings that you can refer to and edit based on your needs. While your parents may try to insist take formal portraits with all of your distant relatives, remember that the more portraits you take, the more time you will spend away from your big day. Try to keep your formal portraits to a minimum (Jasmine suggests 15 groupings for family portraits) and include only your wedding party, immediate family members, and perhaps a few special relatives.
As I said, there is a photographer for all likings and likings for all styles of photographers. The biggest mistake you can make is to treat a photographer only as a service provider. Photography is NOT the same from one professional to another and the result can be completely different. Photography is art. So check the photographer’s work, their style, how they express and how their work makes you feel. Imagine your family having those kind of pictures. Remember that these photos are what you will keep forever, throughout your life and probably in the next generations. If you really want to have this photographer for your family, go ahead.
Take a look at their blog and galleries. Are they consistent in all that I mentioned above: proper exposure, correct white balance, focus, and lighting? Ask for view a full gallery so you can see what type of variety you would get in a session and that all the images are consistent and flow nicely. You want to make sure that ALL of their images are high quality with exposure, white balance, focus and lighting. Below is an example of a full family session gallery. I typically give 25-30 images in a family session. You can see below that there are images of mom, dad, and baby. They are in several different poses. There are images of just baby, mom and baby, and dad and baby.
Just as important as getting some light in the eyes is having it come from a good direction. We’ve established overhead isn’t good direction, neither is straight from camera. So turning on your built-in pop flash isn’t going to give you good light. Neither is sticking a speedlight on top. Light direct from the camera angle flattens the subject, that is not what you want. You want the light to come from the side more, 30-45 degrees from camera is a good starting point. To learn more about this read my article on the 6 Lighting Patterns Every Photographer Should Know.
If you are doing the session in the client’s home, posed newborn sessions require nearly the same amount of prep as a wedding. You need quite a bit of “stuff” and it is easy to forget something so I make sure to pack the night before and use a checklist so I don’t forget anything (I’m a mom with a very limited memory). To make your life a bit easier, I’ve made a print ready checklist you can use which is included in the newborn photography toolkit – one of the FREE limited time bonuses included in our online Newborn Photography Workshop.
Think about it: Your photographer doesn't automatically know that your wedding photo list would include a shot of your mom with all her sisters, or that you want a photo with all the cousins. Consider this wedding photo list a family portrait checklist for your photographer. By providing this wedding photo list before the big day, your photographer will be able to plan out the portrait timing, and which family wedding photos to take when. Not sure who to include in your wedding family photo list? We've done the hard work for you!