First Indoor Newborn Shoot

311Photo

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Hey, friends!

I am doing my first newborn shoot this weekend, and it will be indoors. I currently do not have any external flash or lighting equipment. My biggest concern is going to be lighting. Aside from staying close to windows and using natural light, how can I use the resources available to me to get the best photos?
I'll be shooting with a Canon EOS Rebel T2i DSLR. Any other tips anyone could give for indoor portraiture and/or newborn photography would be so greatly appreciated!! I've done a great deal of research on newborn shoots and have figured out the basics for the shoot itself (e.g. keep it warm, allot plenty of time, expect to be peed and pooped on, etc.), but my concerns are more about the environment (especially lighting), the settings to use on my camera, and post-processing (e.g. overlays in Photoshop elements, etc.).
Again, pretty much any advice would be greatly appreciated! This will be my first indoor portrait shoot as well as my first newborn shoot.
 

smoke665

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Have you considered, LED's in clamp on reflectors (Lowes, or Home Depot), relatively inexpensive, low heat, come in a 5k daylight color. Also, white poster board makes a good reflector for manipulating window light. We have an assortment of various types of cloth, from fake fur to velvet that we used for our granddaughter to lay on. She was "not" a happy camper though unless we laid her on her back in something that supported her, be it a box, basket, etc. with a pillow, or even used her car seat a few times. Laying her on her tummy was never an option with her!!!
 

NancyMoranG

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Welcome. Post some of your photos of practice sessions so that some of the experts can help you in the right direction. Also, maybe post in the Business/Professional area for help. There are some great newborn photograghers in that forum!
 

photo1x1.com

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First of all - big windows are just great, if you can get close to the window. But be aware that if the sun is shining and the window is facing towards the sun you should probably soften the light by placing some white piece of cloth (very thin and transparent though) between your baby and the window. Place the baby in the corner of a window and not in the middle - so that the most light will get to the side that faces the camera, I´ve attached a draft.
As suggested by smoke665, white poster board or styrofoam is probably the cheapest and most effective white reflector to bounce enough light back on the other side of the baby.

Use a large beanbag, or a biiiiiiiiiiiiiiig pile of blankets to place the baby on. That gives you the ability to foam the ground to your needs, especially with the beanbag.
And be prepared for everything as you say. From the baby sleeping all the time to crying all the time to cooperating like a pro ;). Don´t believe too much in what people say that babies can or can not do at a certain age - we´ve seen everything from awesome lethargic moods to almost competitve athletes at the age of 5-10 days ;).

If you need very good insights to newborn photography, take a look at creativelive.com - they have some awesome classes on that topic. But unfortunately they are pretty long and considering that the weekend is pretty close...

Good luck with the shooting and enjoy the process ;).

newborn_photography.jpg
 
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311Photo

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I so greatly appreciate all of your responses and input!! I'll definitely plan to get a white posterboard, white sheer piece of fabric, and the clamp on reflectors before Sunday! All such helpful input!!
Also going to take this over to the business/professional area for more input!
You guys are a tremendous help!
 

PersistentNomad

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Tell the parents to bring something for the baby to eat, be it momma's breast or a bottle or two for formula. Get that baby milk drunk! They tend to be much more cooperative when they have very full bellies.
 
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PersistentNomad, that's seems like the one thing I keep hearing over and over again - get that baby sleepy and full!! If I do nothing else right, I'll have that part down! :-D Hopefully that will yield an easy baby to work with so it will just all be on me!
 

vintagesnaps

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If this is a newborn, I wouldn't use bean bags (although I know people clip them to keep them more taut, but if it's something designed for older children then don't use it). The baby's head needs to be supported, you don't want them sinking down, and absolutely no chin on chest (baby can't yet lift the head to be able to breathe). Be aware of positioning, some videos show poses that seem inappropriate for newborns.

My background is 20+ years as an EI Specialist working with babies and toddlers with developmental delays. I'd think about letting the family handle and position the baby and you direct them and take the pictures. In my job we of course were trained and our agency was a resource and a support - as a photographer you're out there on your own so be aware of doing what's appropriate for the child's age and that you're working with someone else's child. If they aren't comfortable with a pose, it's their child and you need to respect that.

If you put the baby in any sort of flat basket etc. (which I wouldn't recommend anyway) it needs to be large enough for the baby to fit in it. No buckets with the baby's legs down in it and the head propped on the arms or flopped to one side - if you wouldn't put a newborn baby in it otherwise, don't do it for the sake of a picture. If you swaddle a baby you need to do it properly with room for the legs to move. (Go look up hip dysplasia if you want to know why.)

Babies are beautiful anyway, and you can use cute or pretty blankets, or sit a toy etc, nearby that the parents could bring along. Talk to the parents about what shots you/they want to get and have some in mind so you can use the time efficiently.
 

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If this is a newborn, I wouldn't use bean bags (although I know people clip them to keep them more taut, but if it's something designed for older children then don't use it). The baby's head needs to be supported, you don't want them sinking down, and absolutely no chin on chest (baby can't yet lift the head to be able to breathe). Be aware of positioning, some videos show poses that seem inappropriate for newborns.

My background is 20+ years as an EI Specialist working with babies and toddlers with developmental delays. I'd think about letting the family handle and position the baby and you direct them and take the pictures. In my job we of course were trained and our agency was a resource and a support - as a photographer you're out there on your own so be aware of doing what's appropriate for the child's age and that you're working with someone else's child. If they aren't comfortable with a pose, it's their child and you need to respect that.

If you put the baby in any sort of flat basket etc. (which I wouldn't recommend anyway) it needs to be large enough for the baby to fit in it. No buckets with the baby's legs down in it and the head propped on the arms or flopped to one side - if you wouldn't put a newborn baby in it otherwise, don't do it for the sake of a picture. If you swaddle a baby you need to do it properly with room for the legs to move. (Go look up hip dysplasia if you want to know why.)

Babies are beautiful anyway, and you can use cute or pretty blankets, or sit a toy etc, nearby that the parents could bring along. Talk to the parents about what shots you/they want to get and have some in mind so you can use the time efficiently.

Great advice, other Sharon ;)
Regarding bean bags - we use these kinds - so the larger ones, they are easy to form to give the kids head support. Would you consider these as inappropriate too, or are you referring to smaller ones?
I hear you in regard to inappropriate poses. Some pretty famous newborn photographers go way too far in my opinion. Sure those shots look awesome, but they shouldn´t be taken at the babies expense.
 
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If this is a newborn, I wouldn't use bean bags (although I know people clip them to keep them more taut, but if it's something designed for older children then don't use it). The baby's head needs to be supported, you don't want them sinking down, and absolutely no chin on chest (baby can't yet lift the head to be able to breathe). Be aware of positioning, some videos show poses that seem inappropriate for newborns.

My background is 20+ years as an EI Specialist working with babies and toddlers with developmental delays. I'd think about letting the family handle and position the baby and you direct them and take the pictures. In my job we of course were trained and our agency was a resource and a support - as a photographer you're out there on your own so be aware of doing what's appropriate for the child's age and that you're working with someone else's child. If they aren't comfortable with a pose, it's their child and you need to respect that.

If you put the baby in any sort of flat basket etc. (which I wouldn't recommend anyway) it needs to be large enough for the baby to fit in it. No buckets with the baby's legs down in it and the head propped on the arms or flopped to one side - if you wouldn't put a newborn baby in it otherwise, don't do it for the sake of a picture. If you swaddle a baby you need to do it properly with room for the legs to move. (Go look up hip dysplasia if you want to know why.)

Babies are beautiful anyway, and you can use cute or pretty blankets, or sit a toy etc, nearby that the parents could bring along. Talk to the parents about what shots you/they want to get and have some in mind so you can use the time efficiently.

This is great, much appreciated advice!
Although I did not get to read this response prior to the session, I feel much better having heard you say to follow the parent's lead on posing. My lack of experience in portraiture is one thing, but combined with my lack of knowledge of newborns (I've never had my own), I was very upfront with the parents and told them that I'd prefer that they handle the baby.
All that said, the shoot was just about an utter disaster. The baby did not sleep the entire time. It didn't help that, against my recommendations, the baby had been napping when I got there *eye roll*. I was there for 3.5 hours, and the baby not once fell asleep. So those cute "chin in hands" poses and the like that the mother requested were a no-go. This was a great learning experience for me, playing with my camera, lighting, and indoor photography. I am likely going to try to the Lightroom free trial for editing. I hopefully got a few shots that some pros can help me make presentable with some post-processing. Scared to post on this forum, though, after seeing so many other incredible shots that "beginners" have posted.
In any case, I found all of your advice tremendously helpful and, with lots more experience, could certainly see myself enjoying newborn shoots in the future.
 

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If this is a newborn, I wouldn't use bean bags (although I know people clip them to keep them more taut, but if it's something designed for older children then don't use it). The baby's head needs to be supported, you don't want them sinking down, and absolutely no chin on chest (baby can't yet lift the head to be able to breathe). Be aware of positioning, some videos show poses that seem inappropriate for newborns.

My background is 20+ years as an EI Specialist working with babies and toddlers with developmental delays. I'd think about letting the family handle and position the baby and you direct them and take the pictures. In my job we of course were trained and our agency was a resource and a support - as a photographer you're out there on your own so be aware of doing what's appropriate for the child's age and that you're working with someone else's child. If they aren't comfortable with a pose, it's their child and you need to respect that.

If you put the baby in any sort of flat basket etc. (which I wouldn't recommend anyway) it needs to be large enough for the baby to fit in it. No buckets with the baby's legs down in it and the head propped on the arms or flopped to one side - if you wouldn't put a newborn baby in it otherwise, don't do it for the sake of a picture. If you swaddle a baby you need to do it properly with room for the legs to move. (Go look up hip dysplasia if you want to know why.)

Babies are beautiful anyway, and you can use cute or pretty blankets, or sit a toy etc, nearby that the parents could bring along. Talk to the parents about what shots you/they want to get and have some in mind so you can use the time efficiently.

This is great, much appreciated advice!
Although I did not get to read this response prior to the session, I feel much better having heard you say to follow the parent's lead on posing. My lack of experience in portraiture is one thing, but combined with my lack of knowledge of newborns (I've never had my own), I was very upfront with the parents and told them that I'd prefer that they handle the baby.
All that said, the shoot was just about an utter disaster. The baby did not sleep the entire time. It didn't help that, against my recommendations, the baby had been napping when I got there *eye roll*. I was there for 3.5 hours, and the baby not once fell asleep. So those cute "chin in hands" poses and the like that the mother requested were a no-go. This was a great learning experience for me, playing with my camera, lighting, and indoor photography. I am likely going to try to the Lightroom free trial for editing. I hopefully got a few shots that some pros can help me make presentable with some post-processing. Scared to post on this forum, though, after seeing so many other incredible shots that "beginners" have posted.
In any case, I found all of your advice tremendously helpful and, with lots more experience, could certainly see myself enjoying newborn shoots in the future.


Hi there, I was wondering how your edits turned out? I too am a beginner and just downloaded a free trial, except my computer is too old so now I need to upgrade. But I'm curious how your photos are turning out. I wouldn't be afraid to posts photos, everyone here is here to help and critique so we can better ourselves. Best of luck!
 
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Here are the highlights... I'll post these and some others on another forum for critiques, too. I am using lightroom with some free presets I've found on the web, and it is really making these photos come to life. For what it's worth, I'm quite proud of them! In fact, I feel like I'm cheating a bit with the lightroom presets but it also takes some pressure off of editing while I continue to learn and helps me get these back to the mom in a timely manner, again while I continue to learn.
Again, could not get the "posed" shots the mom wanted but I got a few.
If these don't upload I'll have to try a different method tomorrow..


bdc5e102d09c5057f726e15d1672daa6.jpg
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Congrats, Nr. 3&4 are great images.
Creating black and whites or using split toning often helps overcome noise - or even use noise to your advantage, giving it a vintage, intimate look. Very well done!
If anything, I´d crop Nr.4 a little tighter. You cropped mummys clothing left and right which is a little distracting to my eye. Cropping it closer would stop that and get a little more intimate with the baby. Especially if you want to print on canvas, it is wise to leave a little space between your objects and the corner of the frames. Canvas can be printed onto the sides too, and you need that space to be printed on either side (does that make sense? - you see english is not my first language ;)). I´d say this would give a nice 4x5 crop.
To be very honest 1 and 2 are merely snapshots, but nothing to worry about. If you don´t get the posed shots you plan, you have to do something. Sometimes it helps if you have a lens with really shallow depth (wide aperture) to make those snapshots look more interesting.

Nr.5 has some potential.
  • I´d try to get rid of that table leg and what seems to be a carpet on top left, and maybe also give it a tint (it would work better on the raw file though ;)).
  • If the black carpet was a big one, you could have tried to use that as a background, filling the complete frame by either moving it, or moving father and baby, for example by getting closer to the carpet.
    Finding the right background for these kind of shots is always key. Look out for something uniform that could fill the complete background of your frame.
  • If you have some cloth, make sure it always covers the nappies. That is something you need to take care of and if you don´t have an assistant, you could instruct the parents to keep an eye on, because that can easily happen and is somewhat distracting. Retouching it works sometimes, but not always.
Here´s my try ;), could be a tad brighter though.
143432ae3e8fea93c935c1c9ad595c12BW.jpg
 

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