When I started taking newborn portraits I thought it was going to be simple. I mean they dont move so you place them and then take your shots and good to go , oh how naive I was. Newborns are about the furthest thing from easy there is but the result and the smile you see on mamas face when they see the images you have created for them makes it all well worth it. The shortest newborn session I have ever had was my first I was there for probably about 45 min (i mean it was going to be easy right I didn’t need any more time than that!) and looking back now I am super lucky Little Man was such an amazing baby! Even though those photos didnt turn out exactly like I thought they would It was still an amazing learning experience and I had done it for a friend for free so no one was out any money, and honestly little mans mom loved them and still has several on her walls several years later. The photo to the right is one of the shots from that fateful session.
When that didn’t go as planned I realized I needed to do much more research and practice so I started offering to do it for free for friends and family when they had babies. My second try was a bit better but still did not really turn out the way I thought it would either. I tried a more styled set of shots with little Mr D which got me a bit closer to the style I was trying to achieve. again I got really lucky and the little one was super content and didn’t cry but I came to realize that all those cutsy poses are really only doable when baby is asleep and that newborn wraps are a must for awake babies. The photo to the right while cute is not very technically sound and I knew I could do better. So I hit the books again.
After doing even more reasearch and finding an absolutely adorable outfit at a little boutique in Portland called Camp Hollyhock I put out another model call for a newborn. By this time I realized it is best to do these sessions within 2 weeks of birth so I specified that I needed them to be 2 weeks old at the most. At this time I also learned that there were some things that mom needed to do before the session such as heat the room that we will be working in to 75-80 degrees, and make sure little one has a full tummy and is in something that is easy to remove or better yet just in a diaper. that way we can do some of the more stylized and posed shots as baby will be more likely to sleep at that time. Baby miss Ks mama was a champ and when I arrived she was fed and snoozing and the living room was toasty warm. This is when I decided that if I am not sweating its not warm enough for baby. Things went pretty smooth at this session even though getting her to sleep was a bit of a chore. The shots that I got on this session were again a bit better then the last and prove that as a photographer you can never stop learning. These shots were a bit better technically but still lacked what I was looking for stylistically and in the editing. Now that I knew what I needed to do and practice with on posing and my camera it was time to start working on my editing style.
The next session I again let mom know what to do and what to expect with the photos and at this point felt comfortable charging portfolio building prices. I asked mom to pick out one outfit and something she would like to use as a prop and then the rest I would bring with. Little Man Fords dad loved baseball so we got to use his ball and glove in the photos. This was also the first newborn session that I was able to incorporate sibling and family shots into. This brought a whole new set of problems as I had to figure out how to keep a 3 year old calm and interested while I got little brother set up. This time I did not get quite as lucky with a content baby he was fussy and made me work for it but in the end I was able to make him feel secure enough to fall asleep and mom even called me the baby whisperer. As you may have guessed after this session I again hit the books! this time studying ways to work siblings into the shots and ways to help keep young ones involved and engaged.
I used my next newborn session (the recipient was the winner of a contest on my Facebook page) I used to practice my editing so I stuck with poses that I had already practiced a bunch on (not to say that I was perfect at them by any means they were ones I knew I had a good chance to get good shots that the parents would love. At this point I had also started looking for a newborn Mentor and entered a contest to win a 2 week mentor ship from an amazing photographer in California (Jen Dunham Photography ). These newborn photos were actually taken outside so I did not do any of the naked baby photos and he was also a bit more fussy than any of my previous subjects. this session taught me that you may have a plan and a schedule but a newborn doesn’t really care.
I ended up winning the mentor ship from Jen Dunham and after a couple sessions with her and her looking over my work I had another model call. Then because I could not purchase all the props I wanted I made a bunch of tiebacks and purchased scarves to use as wraps then keeping what Jen had taught me and I feel I made a huge improvement. I then took the photos home and shared them with Jen so that she could give me CC on them and she pointed out several other things that I could improve on. As a new photographer I can say having someone who is seasoned look over your body of work is one of the most intimidating and helpful things that you can do and I highly recommend it. There are also groups that you can join on places like Facebook that bring photographers together and they all learn off each other and give each other CC. My favorite is Pure Constructive Critisism run by the girls of Pure Photography and Design (AKA Pure Actions for photographers). If you are an aspiring photographer I highly recommend getting a mentor even if you pay for that mentors time and joining at least a local photographers group.
Once my mentor ship came to an end I kept my sessions coming by offering discounts or contests to keep growing as a photographer and eventually was able to start charging full price for sessions and still receive bookings. Any time I get an Idea for a concept Ill do a model call as I do not think you should use your paying clients to practice on. I still do lots of research and spent countless hours tweeking my style until I felt it represented me and what I want to offer clients.
Wether you are an aspiring Photographer or have questions about your own Newborn Portraits please do not hesitate to contact me on my website.