If you are new to newborn photography, it is easy to feel overwhelmed with the many moving parts. Or feel like a lot of time needs to be spent on one pose "perfecting" those little toes or getting the fingers "perfect." When I finally let go of "perfectionism" within newborn sessions is when I found freedom to create what I envisioned and finally relaxed.
When I first started photographing babies almost 8 years ago, I would enter the session and think, "I'm going to do this pose, and this set up, and use that new prop, and use that wrap, and those headbands, and do this artistic thing here, and do this amazing pose there..." I had a laundry list of things I wanted to execute. Thus, setting myself up for feeling like a failure when my client arrived and the baby was having NONE of what I had planned.
That's when the light went on. I was trying to conquer Mt Everest without a plan. Without first getting to know the little person I was getting ready to photograph. I talk about this in my newborn guide, The Art of Newborn Photography and how important it is to spend a little time at the beginning of the session learning what the baby likes and dislikes.
For example, is the baby easy going? Does he/she let me mold them and move their arms and legs without flailing? Does he like his tummy? Does she like to lay on her back? All of these elements are important to know and recognize when photographing a newborn. It is also important learn your OWN techniques, tricks, and things that you are comfortable doing during a newborn session.
There are poses I will NOT do because I am not comfortable with them or because I know they are not good for the baby. It is okay to also say NO to a suggested pose that a client presents. While yes, we all want to please our client and give them what they have asked, it is also important to know your comfort level and also what you're capable of doing. For me, complicated composites don't scare me. I enjoy them. HOWEVER, if I know it will not work or that I am not comfortable with a suggested pose, I am ready to say no. Because why? I know my limitations.
Incorporating parents and siblings is a must for me. In fact, if parents are on the fence on whether or not they want to be in photographs, I will always strongly encourage it. They images don't have to go on the wall and they don't even have to purchase the image. But 99.9% of the time, they thank me for encouraging them to participate in the shoot. It's always about "glamour" but about the connection and itty-bitty little baby resting in mommy and daddy's arms.
Here are a couple quick tips I recommend doing before your next newborn session:
1.) Plan and prepare, but ALWAYS have a backup plan. If baby doesn't like all of the props you've prepared that would have them on their tummy, make sure you have setups prepped and ready to go for something different.
2.) Go slow, don't feel rushed, and have SIMPLE poses prepared. Don't feel tempted or pressured to conquer to Mt Everest in your first newborn sessions. Have simple beautiful poses ready to go. If that means having lots of wraps ready, swaddling baby and doing beautiful poses where baby is in layers, do that.
3.) Don't forget the details! Filling a gallery doesn't mean have 20 different set-ups and props. It means planning and prepping and knowing what you need to get. For example, I love incorporating macro shots of baby's little details from their toes to the details of their lips and little fingers. If baby has a ton of hair, photograph the details. All of these images create an incredible wall collage for your client later and also adds images to their gallery.
I could keep going on all of the little simple tricks that I have learned over the years to create easy and smooth newborn sessions. For more information on my newborn mentoring opportunities, click here. Until then, happy shooting!