If you’ve ever been curious about how photographers manage to create such perfect images of sleeping babies, this is for you. Stephanie Cotta created this video and several others as part of a series for posing and working with newborns:
During this session, Cotta photographed a few different poses and let us see her process and techniques.
One of several things to keep in mind is that a sleeping baby is much easier to pose and photograph than one who is awake. Cotta uses white noise as a lullaby to keep the baby from waking. You should also turn off your camera’s focus confirm beep. Most new cameras have a silent mode that reduces the burst speeds but is much quieter. If you’re working with a mirrorless system, just turn off any sounds and you’re set.
Keep the Environment Clean
It’s important that the environment in which you will be working is squeaky clean. Newborns’ immune systems are still in development. Always have clean blankets on hand and wash your hands well before handling the baby.
As Cotta handles the infant, you notice that there is no hard pressure or sudden motions—everything happens quite slowly and gently, and she never touches the baby’s back. Make sure you always support the newborn’s head while repositioning. Young newborns have two soft spots on their heads, called fontanelles; don’t apply any pressure there, as the skull still forming.
Use the Same Blanket
Cotta suggests photographing multiple poses and props on each blanket that you use during your shoot. This way, parents have matching sets to choose from when they order their pictures.
Plan a long photo session whenever you’re working with babies. Getting a baby into a particular pose takes time and patience. Also allow extra time for feeding, cleaning up messes, and soothing the baby back to sleep.
Being a newborn photographer requires a vast amount of knowledge about babies, of course. The photography is the easier part here. If you don’t feel sure enough about some aspect of handling or photographing newborns, then don’t do it. There are many courses available for new parents than you can sign up for if you want to pursue that line of work. If you’re already a parent, you’re probably comfortable working with babies. However, it wouldn’t hurt to grab a book or two as a refresher.
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