Newborn Photography Training an Mentoring
San Diego Newborn Photographer
Newborn photography is such an incredible specialty. It takes tons of love, patience and dedication to the craft. In addition to that, newborn photography requires knowledge and experience in baby safety as well as posing, lighting techniques and workflow. Newborn photography training and mentoring is such an important first step in becoming a newborn photographer. As a newborn photography mentor in San Diego, CA, I am passionate about helping other photographers strengthen their ability and gain confidence in the art of safe and artistic newborn photography.
First and foremost, newborn safety should always be a photographer’s main priority. If you’re a fellow photographer looking to get into newborn photography, I always recommend taking a newborn photography workshop or one on one newborn photography mentoring session. YouTube has tons of videos that you can watch for hours, featuring some incredible newborn photographers. Those videos are great, but should be used as a supplement to your own in person newborn training and never as your only training. Why is that? Well, in person mentoring will allow you to experience everything from start to finish, it will give you the ability to understand how and why we pose babies in a certain manner, when to take a break, how to soothe baby, where to support their body parts to make sure our little subjects are not only comfortable but also safe from injury. Your newborn photography mentor will be able to show you, hands-on, how to properly handle and pose a newborn.
I always start my newborn photo sessions in a warm, comfortable studio. The temperature is set between 75-85 degrees so that baby can stay warm and comfortable during the unclothed posed portion of the session. Remember to account for swaddles, outfits and layers that can keep heat in – always turn the heater off or keep an eye on temperature if swaddling or dressing baby. They can’t tell you they’re too hot, so make sure to always consider the temperature under those layers!
I allow all of the time in the world at the beginning of the session for a full feed and proper burping and cuddling. Some babies will arrive in the studio completely content and ready to go, but I always encourage a feed to begin our session to make sure baby has a full belly, has been properly burped and is comfortable and happy. Some feedings may take 10 minutes, some may take 45 minutes – every baby is different and the main rule of thumb is to remember this is a baby-led session. Whatever baby needs, we will make sure baby gets. If it’s a feeding, a cuddle, soothing, rocking, etc – give baby what they need when they need it.
Workflow is important. Every photographer has their own general workflow they follow. For the most part, it can be followed successfully, and here is how! The secret to making sure you are able to get through most or all of your setups is simple – have a plan A and a plan B. For each setup, make sure you have the option for TWO separate plans. Plan A is for the sleepy baby, who is comfortably dozing off, ready to give you those sleepy poses. Plan B is for the newborn that is awake, unsettled or just not ready to dive into sleepy posing. Let’s take the beanbag for example: I love to start my sessions on the beanbag for those intricate, sleepy poses. My favorite is the froggy pose, hands down, but my newborns don’t always want to start with that pose, or are just not ready for it yet. So, what I do to prepare is to provide a plan A and plan B. Plan A is to move right into that froggy pose if baby is content, comfortable and ready for it. I have headbands and bonnets on hand to get a little bit of variety for this shot. But let’s say that I have this beautiful backdrop picked out, and matching headband and I am just so excited to photograph baby on this setup, but baby is wide awake and not ready for that pose yet? No problem! This is where plan B comes into play. In addition to the beautiful backdrop and headband I have laid out for baby, I have also prepared a couple of wraps. In this scenario, I would still be able to use the pretty backdrop, but will just wait on that froggy pose until later. For now, I will wrap baby up in that matching wrap, and get a bit of variety while I wait for baby to decide to take a nap (and use that time for sleepy poses). Using support pillows and posing pieces, I can create a ‘bowl’ for baby under that backdrop, and do a half swaddle – keeping fingers peeking through the top of the wrap, and exposing only the legs in a ‘criss-cross-applesauce’ position. If baby is awake, this is a nice, comfortable pose that works great to get some beautiful shots while baby is happily waiting for that snooze time. Bonus – when baby is safely swaddled and wide awake, try to aim for those eye contact shots – those are incredible to achieve! Another option while waiting on that sleepy pose, still working on plan B, is to drape another wrap or layer on top of baby and shoot from above. I love these shots too! Is baby finally content and snoozy enough now to go back to plan A (that froggy or sleepy pose)? Yes? Great! Now is the time. No? No worries, we have a plan A and B for all of the remaining setups, so if that intricate pose is not possible to achieve now, it will be soon. Just be patient and remember that baby is the one calling the shots, not you. You never want to force a baby into a position or make them pose if they are not ready for it. There are so many other options to achieve beautiful newborn photos while making sure your newborn is as comfortable and happy as possible.
Are you a photographer looking to train and mentor with me? I offer one on one newborn photography mentoring sessions in my baby photography studio in Santee (San Diego County) and I don’t have any restrictions on locality. Head over to my Newborn Mentoring for Photographers page for more information regarding newborn mentoring with me. If you’re expecting and are interested in a newborn photo shoot in San Diego, I’d love to chat!