When I did my first newborn I was SCARED TO DEATH. No seriously. It was awful. But I was extremely fortunate enough to photography my girlfriends son so she was very understanding and went with the flow. However, after getting the first one under my belt, they don't get easier, I just approach them differently.
Go into the session with confidence. Seriously. I mean that goes with any session. If your confidence is not there, the pictures will reflect that (I recently had it happen at a portrait party and I can tell you it definitely reflects in your final work).
I know going into each newborn session that (a) Mom & Dad will be extremely nervous if it is there first born. You need to explain in detail what will happen, and how the day will unfold. They should be versed on your style of shooting, but just remind her that you will be taking off the babies diaper for some "hiney in the air" shots as I like to call them. Make both Mom and Dad comfortable. (b) If it is their second, third, fourth child, all the same rules apply as in (a). :)
The equipment I bring on a Newborn session is as follows:
1. A small heater
2. Bean Bag
4. Towels/Changing pads for any accidents
5. Backdrop stand
6. Blankets, backdrops
7. Props (bowls, baskets, etc)
8. A softbox (I usually don't use it, but if there is not enough available light I break it out).
- It is extremely important to use a heater during a newborn session. The baby never, ever wants to be cold. I will use a heater even during the summer. So crank the heater up to high .. so that you’re sweating. When you start sweating then you know the baby is comfortable.
- Patience. Patience. And then more patience. I explain to the parents when they book that the best time for squishy newborn photos is from day 5-10. I try never to shoot a newborn over ten days old because that is when they become aware, and they won't be in a deep sleep when you are trying to pose them. Really explain to the parents that a sleepy newborn will result in amazing images. You will run across the client that wants their newborn awake, and when that happens I explain to them that their photos will most likely result in very little eye contact with the camera, or even cross eyed photos because they just don't have the ability to focus.
Oh, and the baby will most likely eat, want to eat, need to be changed, snuggled, etc while you are there. Newborns have their own timetable and needs. Use that time to get some cute shots of Mom holding them. You can get creative too, because majority of the Moms I have photographed, do not want to be in the picture. So I just take them holding the baby in their arms or snap a picture while the baby is resting on their shoulder.
Explain to the parents that the set up may seem weird (I just had a newborn baby girl in a basket on the floor in the kitchen), but the shots will end up looking unique and beautiful. However, go into the shoot with only three or four ideas. If you bring more than you need you will end up bringing way to many props/backdrops and actually cause yourself to possible become way to indecisive when setting up shots. (trust me on this. hahaha).
And because I promised, below is a pullback shot of a newborn session I had on Wednesday of this week. I had GREAT natural light and did not need to use any artificial light at all. I only used one of my reflectors (but I typically bring both of them when doing a newborn to fill in any shadows I see.
Here is cute shot from this session:
There is a wonderful Flickr group that shows nothing but pull back shots for baby sessions. Check it out if you get a chance.
Newborn sessions are wonderful and I am not claiming to be an expert.. But so far this has worked for me.. and I know when I was starint out I used to search high and low for someone to say, just breath. :) You have to make sure you have plenty of time to dedicate to each session because you never know how the day will unfold. But in the end, the result of presenting the final photographs to the parents is something so wonderful and a great way to start a lasting relationship with them.
Please email me or leave me a comment if you have any additional questions!! :)