1. Safety is and always should be your number one priority.
2. Always have a spotter with you. You can have an assistant or a parent help you spot.
3. Wash your hands before you touch the baby. If you touch your face or your nose or rub your eyes in the middle of the shoot, wash your hands again before touching the baby.
4. When putting the newborn in a basket or box, just in case they may move, weight the basket down so it can’t tip over.
5. Never put a baby in a glass object!
6. Be prepared for accidents. They are going to happen. It’s important to wash all of your props you used in between shoots too, even if the newborn didn’t have an accident.
7. Some babies just don’t like some poses. Follow the baby’s cue if they don’t seem to want to get into a pose. Some poses may also cut off circulation in a baby’s arms and legs.
8. Keep your studio warmer than usual. A space heater is great for this, but check regularly to ensure that it’s not too hot or too close to the baby.
9. To keep baby happy and sleeping throughout the shoot have mom feed the baby when they first arrive at the studio. Your studio is a new and different place and the process of feeding will help the baby relax and trust they are safe there.
10. Use a noise machine to mimic the types of noises a baby may hear in the womb. I have a whitenoise on my phone and won’t hesitate to turn it on ocean waves and tuck it in behind the baby to get them to relax for a photo.
11. Keep them awake before arriving to the studio. Asking parents to do this can sometimes be difficult, it does disrupt the baby’s routine, but having the baby be awake and stimulated before they arrive will make them more tired and more likely to sleep through the shoot. If your clients might have trouble with this, suggest giving the baby a bath.
12. Photograph between 5 and 12 days old. The amounts you may hear on the internet may vary, but those first 2 weeks of life are going to be the easiest time to do newborn photos.
13. If you’re relaxed, they’re relaxed and the parents are relaxed too. A calm environment can do wonders for an upset baby.
14. Have towels and an easy hamper in the studio. I use towels in between shots for wrapping the baby up and in case there are any accidents. Towels usually absorb a bit better. When we do have accidents or right after we’re done using a blanket it all goes into the hamper so I can take it home and wash it at the end of the day.
15. Always support a baby’s neck when you are moving or lifting them. If you are nervous about it or you know the parents are, ask for their help in moving the baby while you change out props.
16. Keep photographing the in-between moments. While your assistant is setting up the next prop, or before you do if you work alone, snap a few of mom holding the baby in between changes. These moments can be tender and beautiful and are wonderful to add to the portfolio at the end.
17. Don’t try to do too many poses, background changes or props. Pick 3 to 5 set ups for each newborn shoot.
18. I usually schedule photos for the first thing in the morning and may adjust by an hour or so depending on what the parents feeding schedule is. First thing in the morning your babies are more likely to be tired. I try to pick a time that the baby would be feeding when they arrive so that next feeding can be done at the studio.
19. Let the parents watch. I set up a couple of chairs right next to where I’m working. They can watch, jump in if I need a spotter, or relax with some coffee if they’d like. They’re less likely to hover over what you do and be worrisome if they are sitting down and have a place to be.
20. Most importantly, follow the newborn’s cues. If they just don’t seem comfy in a pose, don’t do it. If they seem upset, feed them, comfort them, and hold them.
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