Getting Started in Newborn Photography

Getting Started In Newborn Photography

Getting started in newborn photography is not as easy as it may seem at first. Looking at cute newborn photographs can be inspiring. And I am here to share with you some hints that may help you get the kind of images you want sooner. Newborn photography is one of the most difficult skills you will ever try to master. So, hang on to your hats and glasses! 

Newborn Safety

First, before you can do anything about learning how to photograph newborns, you have to do a lot of preparatory work. Having your own kids is a great place to start, but it is not enough because you will be handling and soothing other people’s kids. And to do this, takes a level of precision and consistency you may not use with your own. There are a few paths to learning newborn safety in posing and handling you can use to help you prepare. Newborn safety is the first step in getting started in newborn photography.

Newborn Specialist Training

1. Take a newborn care specialist training class. There are several online sites, such as Gentle Ventures. If you want, you can pass state exams and become certified. This kind of training offers a lot of information about babies for their first 8 months or so. Of course, you will be interested in the information about newborns under 4 weeks old. There is a lot to know about what newborns are like, what they can do, and how they behave. As a newborn photographer, you will need to keep an eye out for distress signals. While rare, babies do become ill and you will need to know when a baby is not feeling well. Crying is not always a symptom. 

Standardized Test

2. Pass a Test on Newborn Safety in Photography. Over the past couple of years, there has been an attempt to create some form of standardization in preparing photographers to pose newborns. One of these organizations is the American Association for Newborn Photography Safety They offer a brief training sequence and an exam. A test is a good way for getting started in newborn photography. It will show you what you know, and what you still need to learn.

Newborn Posing Classes

3. Take a Newborn Posing Class. Veterans and spear headers of the newborn photography movement like Kelly Brown offer training videos. There are many possible poses in newborn photography. Not every baby can do every one. And as a photographer, there will be some poses that you do not like to do. Learning what you are comfortable with is key so that you only manipulate babies in ways you feel confidant with.

How Can I Learn Newborn Photography?

Now that you are safety trained and knowledgeable about newborns, you can move on to actually learning the photography part.

There are three ways. (1) Apprentice with an established newborn photographer (2) Take video classes from places like Creative Live (3) Trial and error.

Mentoring With An Established Newborn Photographer

Most established photographers offer mentoring. It may not be listed on their website, but if you email them, most will agree to do it. Be prepared to invest considerably. It is not uncommon for mentors to charge a minimum of $2000 to shadow one of their sessions and spend 2 hours debriefing with them.  Many newborn photographers are competitive and have won several awards for their photos. In my experience, this is great, but there are a lot of excellent photographers out there who create gorgeous images and never won any awards. So find a style you like; one you want to try an emulate, and work with photographers who have that style.

Taking Video Courses on Newborn Photography

Video courses have the advantage that you can watch them over and over. And while they are not the same as in-person training, the have a clear place in your education. Take as many as you can find. You will end up watching parts of them over and over, especially as you gain experience, and have disappointing sessions. You will want to know where you went wrong, and what you can do better. So much information is crammed in a video, there is no way to absorb it all in one viewing.

Trial and Error

Trial and error is a great way to learn. But only if you have all the safety and health training you need first. Most importantly, NEVER TRY TO POSE A BABY IF YOU HAVE NOT BEEN TRAINED IN POSING SAFETY.  

Many photographers hold model calls to try and get babies to practice on. Personally, I always had a moral problem with this. When you are not very adept at your craft, and someone is thinking they are going to get great images, it is not very fair. Newborn photography is kind of a one chance only gig. By the time babies are 3 weeks, newborns  are getting too old  for certain poses. 

So either pay your models, or explain that your models may want to get photos from an experienced professional first, then let you practice on their baby a day or so later. Or do both. I can guarantee that your first 10 sessions will yield below average images. It is the nature of learning this craft. No one wants that for any mom.