10 Things Photographers Should Know About Shooting Newborn Sessions



It’s easy to scroll through Pinterest and get lots of ideas for your next client’s newborn session, but if you’re like a lot of photographers…they don’t always turn out Pinterest-worthy!


While people think newborns always are sleepy and peaceful, newborn photographers know that isn’t true. The trick to being a great newborn photographer is knowing how to handle newborns that aren’t sleeping for the entire session (but also how to get them to sleep when you need them to). The tips in this episode will help you achieve classic portraits for your clients (without the stress of crying babies)


Hey y’all, I’m Tavia Redburn and I’m the founder of The Beauty in Birth where I train photographers how to go full time. Today in this episode, I’m going to quickly share 10 things that all photographers should know about shooting newborn sessions! After a decade of photographing hundreds of newborns in the studio and location, I’ve learned a thing or two about what can make or break the session!


1. Prep The Client Before the Newborn Session

When the family is stressed, the baby feels that and then the photographer feels that. So the family being calm and confident is key to the success of the session. Prepare your clients for the session by laying out a timeline of what to expect, what to wear, what you provide, and what they need to provide. I do this with a Client Expectation Guide and a questionnaire with our CRM, Honeybook (link in the description for 50% HoneyBook or you can head on to thebeautyinbirth.com/honeybook).


2. Ideal Age for the Session

I used to say 5-10 days old, but now we shoot for 2-3 weeks old and here’s why:
In 2013, I had my daughter and I go to our newborn session when she was around 7 days old. You guys, it was too much – getting out of the house, taking her – it was a lot of work. And I thought, I don’t think there is that much difference between a 7-day old and a 14 or 18-day old.

So I tested it out with my clients and I actually came to prefer the 2-3-week old window because mom has time to adjust to having just had a baby, but they’re still in that newborn phase and they still look like a newborn vs waiting for 6-7 weeks old.

So I actually now prefer and tell my clients to choose the 2-3-week old time frame.


3. Feeding

My ideal scenerio is that the baby is fully fed about 30 minutes before arriving at the studio. Does it always happen that way? No. But that’s what I encourage my clients to do if they can.


4. Keep it Warm, and Yes – You’re Going to Sweat

We keep the studio at about 72-75 degrees. So it’s warm, but it’s not hot. We also use a heating pad under our layers of blankets to make the blankets the baby is laying on also warm, so we don’t have to be dripping with sweat!


5 They don’t have to sleep the whole time

We work so hard to get them to sleep, but parents often love the images with their eyes open. My ideal session has a mix of both eyes open and eyes closed, but of course it doesn’t always happen that way.


6 They don’t have to be nekkid the whole time (and they’ll sleep better when they’re not)

Sometimes we don’t get naked images at all, and that is just the way it goes. If baby doesn’t like to be naked, we’ll switch to a wrapped post that has their hands and feet out, so you can see more of their little bodies.


7 You need a session flow beforehand

Newborn sessions used to be like 4 hours. Parents don’t want that, I don’t want that and the baby definitely doesn’t want that. Because of the session flow that we have set up, we’re getting done with newborn sessions in 60-90 minutes these days with a full gallery of 50% baby alone and 50% family/siblings!

8 Pay attention to what the baby likes and doesn’t like: they’re all different

Some babies like to be on their tummy or back or upright. Some like to put their hands by their face or not. All babies have different preferences, so really pay attention to what position they feel settled in and what position they seem fussy about. And that takes pausing for a second, watching baby, and paying attention to what you’re doing.


9 Get an assistant who knows your flow

This helps speed up the process so she can be setting up the next scene or helping big sister get ready while I’m with the baby.


10 Keep a bottle and pacifier nearby

This is something we ask all parents to bring. Even if that parents often tell us that they don’t take a bottle or a pacifier, we ask them to bring those anyway just to see if it can help.


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