2. Backdrop board. I have a couple DIY backdrop boards that I made for about $10 each (full instructions in this post). I stand one up against the backs of two of my kitchen chairs. The backdrop boards can be used alone for a solid colored background, or can be used to drape blankets from for more background options. The background should be angled so it faces the right or left side of the window, not the middle of it, as you can see in the photo above. This will allow the baby’s head to be a little closer to the window than her feet, allowing the light to hit her forehead first, causing gentle shadows just under her nose and chin. If you don’t have a backdrop board, stand two kitchen chairs backwards here anyway so you can drape a blanket from them. If you use a backdrop board it must be secured with clamps to the chairs it stands in front of to assure it will not fall over.
The National Association of Professional Child Photographers (NAPCP) recognizes the accomplishments and creative excellence of its child photographer members. Image competitions reward talent with medallions, priority listing on our directory, press coverage, titles and professional recognition. The distinguished title of Photographer of the Year for NAPCP is the highest award, showcasing outstanding achievement in our International Image Competitions.
Let’s discuss the option involving profession photographer in more detail. First, you or your family will set up an appointment either at the studio or at your house or other location. You can expect that most professional photographers will have the proper equipment along with software programs used to subsequently edit, provide proofs, and print photographs. Just as important, their people skills should make subjects comfortable in front of the camera and posing people to look their best is a skill by itself. Regardless, you should consider your own family and their ages and the portrait you are trying to achieve along with the background. You should also understand the package you will receive and if you want larger size prints and the total costs involved for the preparation, shooting and photographs. If you use this alternative, you should check with the photographer to confirm if you have the right to have the photos later done at some point in an oil painting since some photographers may retain ownership of the photo set.
While I had visions of taking lots of ‘cute’ shots of Xavier in his first week I found that what actually happened was that the first week of his life ended up being more like a documentary shoot. The focus of my shots ended up being of a lot of ‘firsts’. First moment with Mum, first bath, first time on the scales (he was just under 9 pounds), first outfit, first manicure (he had long nails from day one), first time meeting grandparents etc. I ended up taking a picture of him with every visitor that came (these will make nice gifts) and decided to leave the ‘cute’ shots until when we got back home and he’d settled a little more.
Most people recommend holding a newborn photo shoot within the first ten days of your baby’s life. When babies are this young they are generally very sleepy, which is a good thing for photos. Why? Because a sleeping baby isn’t crying, doesn’t have crossed eyes, doesn’t have a huge pacifier in her mouth, and isn’t flailing her arms about uncontrollably (all of which happen quite regularly when she’s awake). Sleeping newborns look sweet and peaceful, while awake newborns can look a little awkward. If you start your photoshoot while the baby is asleep you can get lots of sweet sleepy pictures, and then a few more when she wakes up.
If there are small children or babies involved make sure to get their attention. It even helps to have an assistant, tell them to bring Grandma along or a friend to help out. But what always happens is you get the kids all looking and smiling, and what are the parents doing? Looking at the kids! Oops again! I always tell the parents, “no matter what keep looking at me as I make a total fool of myself, do NOT look at your child”.
Photographers often want the bride and groom to stand in flower beds, near water, and in other unexpected places. Brides don't like to do it because they are worried about their dress getting dirty on the wedding day. A simple fix is for the photographer to bring a white sheet that the bride can step on to protect the dress. The sheet is then tucked under the dress and nobody knows! (Thanks Stacey Knight)
Once you’ve taken 10-15 shots of the scene, figure out how you can change the setting without disturbing the baby. This picture below is from the same pose as the first photo in this post, but it looks very different. I unclamped the blanket the baby is laying on from the backdrop board, letting it fall behind her. Then I clamped pretty pink fabric to the backdrop board. Finally, I pull the edge of the blanket the baby is lying on up over her back to make it look like she’s tucked in bed. While I was making these changes the baby was snoozing away, staying perfectly posed. I got two very different looking sets of photos from one pose. This is a great way to maximize the baby pictures you get from your DIY photoshoot.
Consider COLOR: Most people look their best in certain colors (mine are green and orange). Although I love hiding in black clothes as much as the next guy, it tends to be a tough color for photographs. And again - you don't need to match. Pick a color tone (jewel tone) or pallette (pastels) - maybe even select 3-4 colors - and go from there. Pinterest has some great color ideas for family photos. Before you go out and buy anything - spend a bit of time with favorite items you already own. You probably have everything you need.
Swaddling a baby is the easiest way to pose her for newborn photos at home. Simple wrap her up tight and lay her down on a pretty blanket of piece of fabric. I usually save swaddled photos for the end of the photoshoot, when the baby has woken up. Newborns love to be swaddled and will usually stay pretty calm if they’re wrapped tight enough (check out this post on swaddling if you don’t know how).
So you’re at a wedding. More than likely there are a few unmarried couples at the wedding. One idea is to display some photos from earlier in the day. You can take your own computer and make a quick slideshow of say 20 images to play during the evening. The couple get to see some sneak previews of what you have captured. Meanwhile, potential future couples have seen you in action and the results produced. Obviously ok this with the couple beforehand but it can be a win-win for everyone.
Be certain not to schedule your photo session around your child’s nap or bedtime. The best time for lighting is the two hours before sunset and after sunrise. If this is a bad time for your children, talk with your photographer. Good photographers will be able to shoot at any time of day by utilizing areas of open shade that will give your skin a beautiful hue and put a sparkle in your eyes. Don’t show up to a photo shoot on an empty stomach. I meet many families who come to a photo session with dinner scheduled at the end. If this is your plan, be sure to give everyone a healthy snack before the photo shoot.
Keep on the look out for those times in your baby’s life when he or she seems most settled and content. They may not smile yet but there are times in a daily routine which are better than others for photos. I find in Xavier’s day there are a couple of moments that are especially good. One is bath time (he loves it) and another is mid morning after he’s had half of a feed and when we let him have a little ‘play’ before finishing his feed off. These are times when we’re guaranteed to get wide open eyes and even a giggle or two.
DO be clear about what you're offering. "Make sure the couple knows that you're shooting as a favor and that you can't guarantee results," says New York City-based wedding pro Cappy Hotchkiss. "I've seen many friendships end over this." Limit expectations, and "don't get roped into doing a ton of large family groups. Explain that you will capture groups as they occur," adds the photographer. If it's going to take you months to deliver the photos, let the couple know in advance.
This comes up a lot, and I’m more than happy to talk through your ideas and offer suggestions. I LOVE coordinating outfits (take a look at my family portraits). My biggest suggestion is coordinate, not necessarily match. Pick 2 or 3 colors that you want to use, keeping in mind the room in your home that you want to display your wall portrait. If you have red walls, do you want to wear greens and have it look too “Christmas-y”? Do you want to wear orange and browns if your family room is teal and grey? I spend a lot of brain power in planning our outfits. But be yourself, and the personality will shine through. *Upon booking your session, I will email you a link with style and color boards with lots of ideas for what to wear, like this:
Please do whatever you can to keep the noise to a minimum during our session. Maintaining a calm environment is also a big key to a successful newborn shoot. I do have a white noise app that I will keep close to baby during the session to help soothe him or her. Babies love strong and rhythmic sound. Amazingly! that’s the sound the heard 24/7 in the uterus!
PORTRAIT PHOTOS: these are the traditional posed photos, shot in studios or outdoors. They are usually posed and have eye contact with the camera. You can find this kind of pictures if you search for family portraits. When it’s in a studio, you can shoot a single (or a few) photos, but it can be a complete essay as well. It is easily identified because they have scenarios or situations specially set up for the photos (traditional newborn photography is an example).
Newborn photography is our first love and passion. We love nothing more than to create timeless photos of what love has created. The newborn stage is such a precious and fleeting time in yours and your little one’s lives and to be a part of it is truly a privilege. Tiny details only stay tiny for a little while. That is why newborn photography requires a special kind of heart, one that can appreciate how special these moments are and understand the importance of treasuring them down to the last dimple.
Think about the primary reason you are doing the session and dress accordingly. For instance, if it’s for Christmas cards you might want to dress in wintry, seasonal clothing. For a gallery canvas in the living room, think about coordinating with the colors and feel of your decor. For the canvases I hung in my girls’ playroom I dressed them in twirly, pink dresses and they ran dancing through the sand on the beach, which meshed perfectly in the girly room that’s always filled with giggles and play.