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The 7 Secrets of Newborn Photography (0-1 month)


The 7 Secrets of Newborn Photography (0-1 month)

The photo of a newborn baby, from birth to 1 month old, is a very special practice in child photography.

At first glance, it may seem very simple since this little piece does not move or move very little and it does not leak, does not balk at the sight of your camera.

And yet, as we will see in this article, taking pictures of newborn babies requires a great deal of attention and patience.

Photographing those first moments in our world is a great privilege.

You will be able to capture the wonder of the parents, the very first movements, the very first facial expressions that make up all the salt of the first days of his life.

1- Safety as the only safety!

A newborn baby is fragile, very fragile and no matter what picture you want to take, it must never be taken without the total safety of the child.

I insist on this point because we have all already seen pictures of the very talented Anne Geddes or other photographers showing newborns with their head on a balloon, in a hanging basket, in big boots?

Some are photo montages and others are made in the studio in a perfectly controlled environment to guarantee the safety of the child.

So don’t tempt the devil just to get the latest fashionable newborn photo on social networks.

I’m not a fan of this photography practice. I have absolutely nothing against it, on the contrary, but I do very little photo editing because I favour the natural. I try to capture a moment, an emotion, a moment of life.

That’s when I have the most fun and when I’m the most comfortable.

A few safety rules to never forget:

    Never leave a newborn unattended.

    Never be abrupt when handling a newborn.

    Avoid putting him/her in very uncomfortable and unnatural positions.

    Always have another person with you to intervene. You will be behind your camera, focused on your images and will not have time to intervene in an emergency. Place this person next to him or her for safety. I always tell the parents.

    Pay attention to the room temperature, especially if you’re taking his clothes off.

    Never use a flash. The light from the flash is very powerful and aggressive to the delicate eyes of this little one. Get as close as possible to a window to use natural light.

2- Get to know him

It is important to know at what time of day it is the most calm, the most peaceful.

Usually, the morning is the best time for this photo shoot.

But this is not an absolute rule, you can believe me!

On the other hand, there are some simple and very effective things that you should know:

    The newborn baby is very often soothed and calms with a full belly and a clean butt.

    I come back to the room temperature. He has just left a 37°C environment that he has known for 9 months, so even a room at 23-24°C is a fridge for him. Don’t be afraid to overheat the room especially if you undress him.

    Use music to soothe him or the famous “white noise” which is really very effective. You will easily find applications on smartphone simulating this type of sound.

3- The right positions

Of course, along with safety, the comfort of the newborn should be one of your priorities.

They spend almost all of their time lying on their back. It is therefore this position that will offer the most comfort and naturalness to your images.

You will only have to turn around him to vary the framing and the points of view. You will be able to position yourself above him to have his gaze, but also on the side to capture his profile.

The other position that will allow you to obtain strikingly natural images: his parents’ arms!!!

Here too, you will have the possibility to make very different pictures by rotating around them, guiding the parents to get the best possible natural light or the best framing.

It is also the perfect moment to immortalize the emotion that comes out of these exchanges between parents and baby.

Unfortunately, not everything goes as planned. Some babies are much easier models than others. And, what works with one may not necessarily work with another. Some need to be reassured in their parents’ arms, others like to lie in a diaper with a good, cozy blanket on top of them…

And for the moment, it won’t be up to you. In this type of photo shoot, baby’s comfort is an absolute necessity if you want to take good pictures.

He will let you know what to do and what not to do.

4- Simplicity

You’ve no doubt already noticed it in the photos in this article. I never use accessories other than those of his daily life (teddy, pacifier, bottle…) to take pictures of newborn babies.

I like simplicity. I like to highlight his personality, his daily environment.

And, if you have been following me since the beginning on my blog, you know that I am a fan of naturalness.

And, placing a baby in the middle of a huge floral arrangement is undoubtedly beautiful. But it’s the opposite of this natural and authentic side that I look for in my pictures.

Once again, the main subject is the baby and not this floral arrangement that must have taken hours to complete.

That’s why I always prefer a neutral setting by using a simple blanket or plain fabric to make my portraits of newborns.

You can even play with the texture of the fabric or the surface on which you place the baby. This will allow you to obtain very different renderings by adding contrasting textures.

5- The skin

Before sharing with you some ideas of photos to take, I wanted to come back to the skin treatment for newborn portraits.

This is one of the great difficulties of this exercise. The skin can be mottled, yellow in case of jaundice, covered with tiny acne pimples.

There is always the possibility of doing a major photo retouch in post-treatment. But it requires a great mastery of software and it is not necessarily given to everyone.

On the other hand, there are some good practices to use from the moment you take a picture to get a good rendering of the skin:

    Take care of your settings to get the perfect exposure. My article on skin tone exposure will certainly help you a lot.

    Natural light. Choose a natural light source by moving closer to a window for example. The goal is really to get the softest and most flattering light possible. If the sun comes in through the window, don’t hesitate to use the curtain or a white sheet to diffuse this harsh light from the sun.

    Black and white. This is a very good alternative if colours are difficult to recover. We don’t always think about it for newborn photos, but black and white really works very well. On the other hand, avoid pushing the contrasts too hard to keep the softness of his skin.

    I share with you my complete method to manage the contrast of a photo in my article “5 steps to manage the contrast of a photo”.

6- Calm, Observation, Listening and Patience

These are the 4 behaviours that you must absolutely adopt when taking pictures of children, and more particularly of newborn babies.

He doesn’t know what’s going on, doesn’t understand what you’re saying, let alone what you’re doing.

If you want this photo session to go well, it must take place at HIS Rhythm and not at yours.

Don’t think, “Okay, I’ll be 1:30-2:00 and that’s it.” You’re going to disappoint very quickly. When I do these shoots, I get stuck for a big half day or sometimes a whole day.

I’ve already stayed at my clients’ homes for 4-5 hours and only took pictures for 1-2 hours.

The child was not very well, he cried a lot and when we managed to calm him down, I only had 10-15min to take a few pictures. In this situation it is very important that you stay relaxed, calm, listening to the child and the parents.

You have to talk and exchange with the parents to reassure them. They may get annoyed and discouraged when they can’t take the pictures because their child cries a lot.

Be reassuring by telling them that you have all the time and that you will take all the time you need to give them beautiful pictures.

He’s the king, the master of ceremonies, the director who says “Action!!!

He’s hungry, so feed him and take some pictures of this moment.

He’s cold, so don’t insist. Get him dressed!!

The diaper is dirty. Change him!!!

He’s the one who decides what to do. It’s up to you to adapt, to turn around him if his sleep is light and you can’t handle him too much.

You have to be ready, on the alert as soon as you have a small opening to take pictures.

7- Ideas for newborn photos

The portraits, the moments of sharing, of emotion with his parents are obviously of great importance.

But don’t forget all these little details that characterize this newborn baby. These are the little things that will disappear very quickly and that the parents will be delighted to remember.

And for those who have not picked up the “Beginner Photographer Travel Kit” you will find a form below the article and on the side to request it. It contains 14 forms to remove the 5 frustrations of the Beginner Photographer.