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.
- 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.
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