NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY – JANINE GIANNINI
After being in the corporate world for many years, photography was a natural way to express my creative side again. I took numerous photography courses and took the plunge to follow my dream. My specialties include: Maternity, newborn, children, family, boudoir, sensual and nude photography. I also enjoy corporate events and product shoots.
Newborn photography is a special and beautiful shoot and it is an honour to record moments in the early weeks of a life that has just begun.
Newborn photography for me is about capturing innocence, beauty and the absolute love and trust between baby and parents. This unconditional and absolute love is so powerful and heart melting I cant help but love every minute of a newborn shoot.
Location and Timing
Newborn photography can be done both in a home setting or a studio, depending on the equipment you have as well as the parents wishes either setting can result in stunning images.
For a home setting it is best to find a room with good natural sun light that shines through a large window. Generally mid morning light would be the best time, offering a soft and rounded light. Mid afternoon light tends to be too harsh which can also create harsh shadows. Mid morning is usually a good time for mom and baby as well, as in the late afternoons mom and baby can tend to be tired and a little “niggly” after the days activities. Home settings offer the advantage of being in a familiar environment with all the necessities close at hand adding to a relaxed and calm atmosphere.
Regardless if the shoot is at home or a studio the room needs to be at an optimal temperature, especially when doing shots without clothes on. Newborns can get cold very easily very quickly, so it is advisable to heat the room before the shoot if necessary. I would suggest the room needs to be at least 25 degrees if not a little more for baby to be comfortable without clothes.
Newborn shoots need to work around the routine and needs of the baby. If the baby seems uncomfortable or is starting to niggle let mom hold and comfort the baby and if necessary feed baby before carrying on. It is important that the baby feels safe and comfortable to achieve those serene and loving images.
Tips on preparation and Props
When ever doing shoots of children, newborns included you must be prepared with your props, toiletries and spare clothes before hand. Give mom a list of things to bring along to the shoot or have ready if the shoot is at home.
Things to have on hand or ready in the studio
- Spare wet wipes
- Changing mat for nappy changes
- Waterproof sheets for under the blanket or cushions for the naked shots. These are easily available at the local chemist
- A few toweling nappies come in handy for any accidents
- A basket or similar and cushions to pose and lay baby on
- Pretty Soft fluffy towels, blankets or materials to lay baby on, white is very popular for newborn shoots
- Little wooly or crochet caps, a fluffy teddy bear, flowers or blocks to spell babies name could make lovely props for the shoot
- Have a little bell or rattle handy… a good way to get baby (and sometimes mom and dad) to look in your direction
Things for Mom and Dad to bring along or have ready
- Spare change of clothes
- If mom is not breast feeding be sure to have a spare bottle
- A special blanket, teddy bear, booties, caps or anything else that is sentimental or special to baby. A great way to make your shoot personal.
- A pacifier or dummy if it helps to keep baby content between shots
Lighting and Backgrounds
Natural light, especially mid morning sun is often a lovely soft light to use for your newborn shoot. Use sunlight through a large window. Although mid morning sun is softer and more flattering than harsh mid day sun it is sill a good idea to diffuse the light. If there are net curtains on the windows this is perfect or any similar type material or a white transparent parachute material will also work. This way you will create a very soft and even light.
Look out for any shadows or if one side of the face or composition needs a little more light use a silver or gold reflector to fill in shadows. A reflector is also a great way to fill in light under the eyes, minimizing any lines or dark circles under mom and dads eyes.
For a studio setting the lighting set up will vary depending on the look and feel as well as the background you are using. Two popular styles at the moment is a either a plain white or a plain black background.
When photographing mom, dad and baby together remember to have sufficient depth of field so that everyone is in focus. Use an aperture of between F8-F11 for sufficient depth of field. When photographing baby alone you can try shots with a shallow depth of field and focus more selectively and closely on specific features like the eyes, hands and feet.For a plain clean white back ground you will need a white backdrop. If you are using studio lights you will need to have flash lights on the background to create a pure white look. Light your composition with one or perhaps two lights at a 45 degree angle. Use a soft box to diffuse the light. The larger the soft box the softer and more even your light will be.
For the black backdrop with a shadowed effect you need to create a lighting set up with no light falling onto the background. Use one light onto your composition at about a 45 degree angle and a reflector to fill in any unwanted shadows.
Remember that when changing aperture you will need to adjust your expose accordingly, you can adjust your shutter speed to be slower or faster. Use a light meter or grey card reading to make sure you have correct exposure.
Posing and must have Images
For the shoot you will need to take a variety of images of baby on their own. Try a number of different poses or compositions. To vary your images try a few of the following: lay baby in a softly padded basket, on some cushions covered with a soft fluffy blanket, white always works well however soft pink for girls or blue for boys is a nice way to add a little colour.
A must have image that is only possible in the first few weeks of the babies life is to place baby on their tummy and curl them in to a fetus position. With the knees pulled in under the body and the ankles crossed. The arms and hands close under the head and chest. This type of pose is best done with no clothes in order to get the full effect of the position.
The options are really endless, cute outfits and caps can add easy variety to your shoot, and don’t forget that special teddy that was a present from mom and dad or granny, it’s a great was to personalise the shoots with babies own things.
Images of mom and dad with the baby are of course must have images as well. Guide mom and dad to hold baby in such a way that the baby’s face can be seen but allow them to also naturally kiss and cuddle their new bundle of joy. One usually wants portraits of people looking at the camera, however not all the images have to be this way. Capturing the loving interaction between the baby and parents and catching a stolen kiss and the loving and intimate gaze between the family is priceless.
Last but not least must have images are those of babies hands and feet. Take close up images so that the little nails and lines on the hands and feet are in clear detail. Using dads hands to cradle the feet or getting baby to hold moms finger will give lovely perspective showing just how tiny the hands and feet are.
Newborn shoots require a relaxed atmosphere and pace. These shoots are a lot of activity for a baby of this age. One needs to exercise patience and sensitivity in working around the babies needs. Where need be stop and let mom comfort, cuddle or feed baby are often key to the shoot. Encourage mom to gently talk to baby through out the shoot will help baby to feel content and secure.
As a photographer these shoots offer such satisfaction. When mom and dad see the final images they glow with love. You know these images will be treasured for a life time!
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