Thank you so much for this post! I too am trying to “learn” newborn photography, just did a shoot of my friend’s 10 month old daughter (they turned out beautiful!), but the little one month boy was another story! I am shooting another one month old little girl tomorrow, hopefully I will learn from my mistakes I made today! I am doing the pictures for free to learn, but this is so hard! I wish I knew what I was doing wrong, or do I just need to practice? Any tips would be greatly appreciated! Oh, I was raised in San Diego, my whole family is there, will be visiting for Christmas this year. Will be there for 2 weeks to pack up my mom and move her! Maybe I can get in on a photo session??? Hopefully I will have it figured out by then!
One more piece of advice that someone gave me on my own wedding day. ‘Things will Go Wrong – But They Can be the Best Parts of the Day’. In every wedding that I’ve participated in something tends to go wrong with the day. The best man can’t find the ring, the rain pours down just as the ceremony ends, the groom forgets to do up his fly, the flower girl decides to sit down in the middle of the aisle or the bride can’t remember her vows….
One of my biggest mistakes, when I was starting out, was that I brought all my props/wraps/blankets/headbands to every single session. When I got set up, I would have a mini panic attack because I had no idea where I should start. Now I plan 3-4 different setups (based on the client’s preferences and expectations) and that’s all. I am often inspired by something the client owns as well, such as a blanket knitted by Grandma or something else that’s special to mom and dad, so it is not uncommon for me to not even use everything I bring.
"Cai took our family photos. We had very specific requirements, such as outdoor photoshoot at the location we wanted. He was able to accommodate every request we had and our timeline. He is very responsive and I never had to wait long for a reply from him. Cai had spent some time on the location, even before we got there, to familiarize himself with the place. He spent an hour with us, taking his time and creating unhurried atmosphere. Cai is very artistic and worked with us on creatively positioning our family members so that we looked our best. He encouraged us to use our props and to have fun. Our two boys, who normally despise taking pictures, for the very first time were amused and entertained with the entire process! The finished photos were wonderful, but we wanted more drama, so Cai had edited them to add more mood and drama and they are breathtaking now! We believe we got rather lucky finding such talented photographer! We absolutely recommend Cai and will use his services again!"
The ability to bounce a flash or to diffuse it is key. You’ll find that in many churches that light is very low. If you’re allowed to use a flash (and some churches don’t allow it) think about whether bouncing the flash will work (remember if you bounce off a colored surface it will add a colored cast to the picture) or whether you might want to buy a flash diffuser to soften the light. If you can’t use a flash you’ll need to either use a fast lens at wide apertures and/or bump up the ISO. A lens with image stabilization might also help. Learn more about Using Flash Diffusers and Reflectors.
We’ve always had photos taken when the kids were newborns, but this is the first time we’ve taken them where I knew they wouldn’t be missing someone - the first time our family has been whole & complete and it’s seriously the BEST feeling! I’m SO happy with how they turned out - I love that each of the kids is captured so well through these and I will seriously treasure them FOREVER. Now, can I please just have the largest canvas available in every single one? #shameless
The worst thing a parent can do to their child at their portrait session is to grit through their teeth “You better smile or else…” Really, they will listen to me MUCH better than they will listen to you (don’t take that personally). Plan on letting me take over and teasing them into smiling. Trust me–I have been there with my kids gritting my teeth and it DOESN’T work! And please don’t be embarrassed with less than 100% cooperation, I’m sorta used to it…I do this a lot and I don’t think anything about your parenting methods–most kids don’t want to be told what to do. I try to make it fun for them.
I know many portrait & wedding photographers love to shoot wide open at f/1.2 & f/1.4. However, with newborn photography, many of the baby poses can have extreme angles and you often will have better luck with your depth of field and sharpness by shooting around f/2 & f/2.2. Remember, it will be rare that the baby’s eyes are on the same plane of focus all the time and by closing down my aperture a bit from wide open I get that little bit extra of depth of field that is often needed.
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.
“The best thing you can do for your couples is to allow them to be awkward at first. I think a lot of couples see the images of our clients in these poses and moments and think that they will never be like that or look like that. But what most of them forget is that it took time to get these. They didn’t see the build-up to these moments or the silly, awkward moments before or after the image we chose to share.”
If your wedding is large, you might request — or your photographer may recommend — a photographer's assistant or additional photographer. If your guest list is very long, you'll want more than one camera to document those magic moments and important guests. Even for small weddings, a photographer's assistant may be needed to handle extra equipment, set up lighting, and ensure your photographer is primed to take those perfect shots. If your wedding takes place at sunset or you have requested a certain aesthetic, such as an editorial style, a wedding photographer may also need an assistant to ensure styling and proper lighting. Adding a second photographer may increase the cost based on an hourly rate, while the photographer's assistant is typically paid at an hourly rate that is lower than that of the principal photographer. In general, extra hands on deck mean a higher cost.
If the baby has older siblings, I try to make the sibling shots my very first priority and then let them go play while we finish the session. Toddlers simply don’t have the attention span to sit quietly and wait for you to call on them for their picture so get their poses done first while they are curious and excited about your visit. By the time the session is over, they are usually open to participating again and that is when I try to get some lifestyle sibling shots. If they don’t want to participate, I’ve found promises of ice cream & candy have magical powers! (as long as that’s ok with Mom & Dad).
Your portrait session should be a reflection of your family. Before our session we will have a phone or in person consultation so we can discuss your expectations, ideas, and goals for our session. Preparation and communication are the keys to a successful portrait session, so make sure to share all your ideas and concerns with me during our consultation or on your questionnaire!
A lot of shots that you see of babies in Flickr are quite amazing in how smooth and perfect they make them look. The reality is that many babies are not quite so ‘perfect’ (however much their parents think they are). Little scratches, sleep in the eyes, snotty noses, dried milk around the mouth, blotchy skin, birth marks and bumps etc are common for all babies.
From a professional photographer stand point, I second what a lot of people have said already. Try looking on Craigslist to see if there are any photographers that are just starting out. I know that I brought in a lot of business from Craigslist, and charged very little while I was portfolio building. This is especially great for maternity photos....
You made a good point to advise your client to choose the best clothing they feel comfortable wearing in a photo session. It is recommended to use neutral colors and soft fabric especially if there are children included. Also, you may want to suggest adding some additional accessories such as sunglasses, cowboy hats or even headbands. This should make the photo session very interesting and light. I would make sure to keep this in mind if we ever have one in our family. Thanks.
…hoping to inspire your clients in their choices of clothing and accessories, make sure that the work you are displaying portrays the kind of look that meshes with your style. Offer to help select clothing and even go the extra step to assist in shopping for new pieces or outfits. Many times I’ll arrive at a client’s home and they’ll have put together several options for looks for the kids or family, and then I can assist in making the final decisions. Another quick option is to just have them email you a few quick iPhone shots of the outfits they are considering so you can lend a little guidance. And feel free to point them to this post for pointers and examples!