Anne Geddes set the stage for newborn photography with her awe-inspiring images, opening a window into an entirely new world of newborn photography. From there, photographers such as Baby As Art and Kelley Ryden/Tracy Raver have set the modern stage for this unique way of posing babies. Now, newborn photographers are doing everything they can to learn how to pose and capture these artistic images of sleeping babies.
In these photographs, the baby looks so peaceful that the posing looks easy. The images are flawless and perfection is the key. However, quite a bit of work goes into these images. To hire a photographer of this kind, one should expect to pay premium prices. Many newborn photographers limit the number of clients they accept in order to provide the highest quality to each session, which results in the higher session fees and print prices. But similar to one’s wedding day, you only have one small window of opportunity to capture the first days of their life by showing off their small features and sleepiness in an artistic way. They’ll never be as small and cuddly as those first few days.
When I photograph these tiny miracles, the babies are less than ten days old. This is when they are still very sleepy and quite bendy, which allows me to carefully position them in a way to show their positions in the womb while keeping them comfortable and relaxed. The heat in the studio is kept at 85 degrees to keep their little naked bodies warm and baby is well fed so they sleep like, well, babies. But while most babies go right into certain poses, some babies need some time. I’ve spent 30 minutes working with a baby making sure that the end result is a perfectly captured pose.
One of the more addicting aspects of being a newborn photographer is looking for props. From hats, headbands, buckets, baskets, ties, and even tree stumps, I’m always looking for fun and creative ways to showcase my clients’ babies. It’s always exciting to try to incorporate the nursery colors into the props and fabrics or to put a particular hat on a newborn that fits his or her parents’ character. But as much fun as it is to put a little knit hat on a baby, it’s always great to show off a newborn with a full head of hair.
While I am posing a newborn, this is sometimes the first chance for the new parents to relax and maybe even doze off for a few minutes. Mom and Dad (more often the Dad) usually take advantage of the comfy couch and television while their little one is modeling for the camera. Moms tend to watch more of the session and are interested in the process.
A normal session generally lasts between and 3-4 hours with the parents getting 20-30 images on average. Occasionally I get the power sleeper who is zonked out the entire time (because they didn’t sleep at all the previous night) and we’re done in two hours. These are the sessions where the couch is a welcome sight to the sleep-deprived parents.
This type of newborn photography is growing very fast and is the new modern way to photograph babies in their first days. A Mom (or Dad) should plan ahead during the pregnancy and contact their favorite newborn photographer to ensure they have a spot on the photographer’s calendar. I book clients several months in advance by penciling in their due date. I ask the expecting mothers who are already penciled in to call me as soon as they have a caesarian date scheduled or soon after the baby is born to set an exact time for the session. It is sometimes difficult to squeeze in a new client who procrastinated or didn’t know about this type of photography until the baby has already arrived and is looking for a session in the next couple of days, but I do my best to fit them in.
When choosing a newborn photographer, take time to view the photographer’s portfolio on their website. Most photographers also have blogs that give potential clients and current clients a glimpse of their personality as well as some of their more recent work. Beyond looking for a particular style and price range that fits your budget, I feel it is important that the babies look comfortable and relaxed in the photographer’s showcased portfolio because the more calm and peaceful the babies look, the more you can expect that the photographer is experienced at handling newborns and making the session calm and peaceful for both the newborn and the parents. Another thing you can look for is the NAPCP (National Association of Professional Child Photographers) seal on a photographer’s website. The NAPCP promotes and supports the most talented and creative newborn and child photographers in the country. But above all else, take your newborn to a professional photographer who will capture the pure beauty and innocence of those first few days so that you can look back and cherish the images and memories for years. You won’t regret it.