Shooting newborns can be quite a challenge if you have never done it before. The actual shoot can be pretty quick and peaceful, however, the preparation and wait can take much longer. There is not much you can do about the wait, but you can definitely go prepared. Here are some points to keep in mind when preparing for a newborn portrait photo shoot.
Plan the time but keep it flexible
When planning the shoot, speak to the parents about a suitable time. Make sure you arrive at the venue (either home or studio) a bit early so that you can set your equipment and props. This way by the time you are ready, the baby is well fed and settled and the parents are relatively relaxed. When shooting newborns, do not keep very strict timelines. Babies can be unpredictable with sleep and feeding and the shoot can take quite a bit longer than you had anticipated.
Have all your equipment on hand
It is best to have a checklist of all the stuff you would require when preparing for a newborn portrait photo shoot.
This would include your main and backup camera, extra lenses, a few blankets, whatever props you plan to use (baby beanbags, pillows, baskets, hats, boxes, etc.) and any other equipment you feel you might need. Pack everything beforehand and ensure you have not missed anything.
Newborns are extremely delicate and you need to ensure that all your equipment is placed safely. Check to see that all props are completely safe – no sharp edges, pins, rough fabrics, inflammable material, poorly balanced furniture, etc.
Communicate with the parents
Interact with the parents and understand what they want and explain what they can expect. Inform them about what they need to get and what you would be getting. Give them an idea as to the amount of time the shoot is likely to take and that there would be a couple of feeds and changes during the shoot. Check if they want to include anything specific in the portrait. Often items of sentimental value can be used such as an old blanket used by the mom or dad when they were newborns, or something made or gifted by a grandparent.
Once you are ready for the shoot, it may take some time to settle the newborn down. Be patient until the baby is comfortable. Take the awake shots before the baby goes to sleep or wait for him/her to wake up. For the sleeping shots make sure the baby is sound asleep before you place or pose them on the props. If the parents are fine with it, take some shots during feeds, you might get some wonderful natural newborn photographs.