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How To Prepare For A Newborn Photo Session

How Do Photographers Prepare For A Newborn Photo Session?

To prepare for a newborn session is a lot of work. Like most successful newborn photographers out there, I had no idea how much work it actually is to prepare for a newborn photo session. It seemed  simple when I first got into this industry. How hard can it be to photograph a 6 to 7 pound little human?  I was shocked at the amount of education I had to have in basic photography skills, natural lighting, studio lighting, newborn safety, newborn development, image editing, troubleshooting technical problems, newborn posing and more. 

What I thought was a career I could prepare for and enter in about 3 months, took 18 months. It required  over 50 practice sessions and 400 hours in mentoring and shadowing in order to master the very basics I needed for this profession. And none of this covered any of the “business” side of things like marketing, customer service, consultations and the lot. Clients often ask what I do to prepare for a newborn session.

Example Day Before A Newborn Photo Session

Here is a list of the things that happen the day before to prepare for a  newborn photo session in my studio. I am fastidious about cleanliness, and all props and clothing get washed or wiped down after every use. And I am a planner. I like to have a plan, even if the baby doesn’t.

 I find that planning out poses and sets  helps the flow of the session. This is when I tend to get new and creative ideas for things to do with the particular client scheduled the next day for images. In nearly all of my sessions, I do at least one “experimental” shot. I try a new pose variation, or a new lighting scenario, just to keep things fresh for me and a little different for each client experience.

 

Studio Preparation

 

  • Wash and line dry,  appropriate fabrics to use on the posing bag.
  • Inspect posing bag backdrop stand to ensure all parts are safe and securely fastened.
  • Wash and line dry all wraps that may be used for the session. I usually have 10 to 15 wraps clean and ready to go during a session.
  • Unroll, wipe down, and secure to the floor all vinyl floor drops that may be used.
  • Hand wash and line dry all bonnets, hats, pants or rompers that may be be worn during the session by the baby.
  • Prepare props by wiping down, setting out coordinating textures and fabrics,  assembling supporting pillows and towels I will need and inserting weights for stability.
  • Steam or iron all backdrops  for the newborn prop shots, assemble second backdrop stand, hang one drop, and fold other alternates so they are ready to go.
  • Assemble posing bag layers and attach posing bag fabric to posing bag stand.
  • Decide what backdrop I am going to use for the family images with the baby. Steam and hang on ceiling backdrop system.
  • Inspect lights, replace batteries, adjust light modifiers as needed.
  • Based on age of the baby, strategize how best to maximize time and create pose order and shot list.
  • Basic studio cleaning and maintenance.

Client Preparation

About a week before the session, I spend time talking with clients. We go over things moms can do to prepare the baby. Decisions like color schemes, clothes, sentimental props etc. are discussed. Our studio provides a guide with a list of things they can do to better prepare.

There is no assistant in the studio with me.  In my view,  doing all the preparations myself helps me get in the zone for the session and  when I am editing the images I can say to myself, “Look. I created this. I made these images happen for this family”. And that is one of the reasons I love my job.

 

Katie is a maternity and newborn photographer in Los Angeles, 91042

 

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What To Bring To A Newborn Photo Session

What To Bring To A Newborn Photography Session

 

Newborn Photo Sessions: What To Bring and What To Leave At Home

As a newborn photographer in Los Angeles, I spend a lot of time with my clients explaining how to prepare for their newborn photo session. We devote a large part of that time  explaining what new parents should bring, and what they can leave at home. Here are the key items parents should bring to their newborn photography session.

Clothing

  1. Clothes For Parents: Be sure to talk to your photographer about what is best to wear their style of photography.  If your newborn photo session is held  in your home you will probably want to wear casual clothes.  If you are going to sit for a formal studio portrait, you may want to be more formal.  I always recommend parents bring long sleeved shirts in solid, neutral colors free from  design or logos. Avoid stripes and plaids. It is good to bring at least two possible shirts. One never knows what can happen during a session.  Lighting issues, baby fussiness, weather, accidents and spills can happen. So it is best to be over prepared and have a couple of options. Be sure to ask if the images will be full length. If so, your pants, socks and shoes all need to coordinate.
  2. Extra Clothes: There is a running joke in the industry about using something called “baby-led posing”. This assumes that it can be any other way! The fact is, everything is determined by the baby during a newborn photo session. We never know what may happen. Many poses and outfits require the baby not wear a diaper. So you can imagine that accidents are common in newborn photo studios. Bring a change of clothing so you do not have to sit in wet or soiled clothes. I always tell my clients that part of the “newborn photo experience” is getting peed or pooped on. It does not always happen, but it is not a rare occurrence either.
  3. Layers: Newborn photo studios are  warm for the comfort and safety of the baby. Wear and bring clothes that are adaptable.

Other Helpful Items

  1. Snacks: Depending on the type of session, newborn sessions can last as long as 4 hours. You have just had a baby. You are sleep deprived and exhausted. Staying hydrating and fed is critical.
  2. Pacifier: There are conflicting views on whether and when to use a pacifier.  But if you use a pacifier, it can really help get your baby zonked out. This means more safely and comfortably posed for the popular shots moms love.
  3. Bottles of Milk: Pumping breast milk, or using formula can be very convenient during a newborn photography session. Since babies eat about 30 CCs  every 3 hours, it is likely they will need to be fed at least once during the session. Having milk in a bottle makes things easy. The photographer can hold and feed the baby while still near the prop or posing bag. Or mom can feed without  having to nurse in studio. Keeping babies   in posing position helps photographers get more variety of images. We want to avoid  passing the baby around too much if we can.
  4. Baby’s Blanket: While your photographer’s studio will have receiving blankets on hand, there is nothing like the baby’s own. This helps the baby feel secure and at home in a new place.
  5. A Full Diaper Bag: This may seem obvious, but  be sure to pack lots of diapers, wipes, diaper rash paste, bottles, pacifier, clothes for going home in, booties and mittens etc. I always tell parents to pack the diaper bag the night before so you do not have to worry about forgetting to pack anything.  We all know it is difficult to get anywhere with a newborn, so anything you can do the night before will only make your session easier.

These are the main things that I tell clients to bring to their newborn photo session. Learn more about feeding newborns and what to expect during the first few weeks.

Katie is a maternity and newborn photographer in Los Ange
Newborn girl in white rustic bowl.
Newborn girl in pink wrap.
Newborn girl in potato sack pose. Cream headband