I don’t generally consider myself a newborn photographer, but as my son was recently born, I thought I would take the opportunity. I don’t want this to just be a post showing off my new child, however, so I am going to explain a little about the process I went through and the messes I got into.
I am rather DIY in my photographic pursuits mostly due to budget reasons. So I used a set up that literally anyone can afford (or already own) and easily set up. The ‘studio’ was set up in my living room with a cheap 200 thread count black sheet set as the backdrop. I think I paid something like $10 at Walmart for the thing. The key is to control all of the light. I set up the sheet over a wide doorway from the living room to the kitchen and shut off all lights in the kitchen. I also shut off all lights in the living room after my own lights were set up. For the most part, I only used one light, a simple chicken heat lamp style reflector. I used a 300-Watt incandescent bulb and the reflector has a handy clamp on the back so I was able to put it almost anywhere. The thing is light enough to clamp onto a ceiling fan if you were so inclined, though I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it. Since we are remodeling our living room, I had a handy wall stud to clamp it to just behind, above, and to camera right. In front of this, I hung another sheet, this one white. This worked as a diffuser to soften the light so it wraps a little more around the photo subject and softens any shadows. Be careful with this set up as these sheets are probably not fire resistant and certainly not made for this. I kept my sheet about 18 inches away from the end of the bulb to allow for heat dissipation.
The only other light I used was a simple table lamp that I set on the floor camera left and on the plane of the subject. I took the lamp shade off to try get a harder shine on the right side of the subject, but it was a rather low wattage bulb, so it wouldn’t overpower anything. Since it is almost straight to the right of the subject and slightly behind, this prevented the light from wrapping around too much. Here is a simple light diagram of how everything was set up.
The camera set up was on a Canon 40D using a prime 50mm f/1.8 Lens.
As for the photo shoot, it went pretty well. Looking online for shot ideas I noticed that in probably 90% of the newborn photos the baby is asleep. This really helps for posing and the overall calm and peacefulness of the photographs. That wasn’t the case for our little baby. He was wide awake. At first he wasn’t very happy, but after eating a little he calmed down some more. We started by having his two year old brother hold him for a couple photos, and even though the older brother was a good sport, the lack of muscle in the newborn and lack of coordination in the two year old just weren’t working out.
The Dangerous Event of Newborn Photography
Then it was well past the brother’s bed time, so he went off to bed and we finished with just the newborn. We went the traditional route for newborn photos in his natural state. Of course this a bit more cold, so he wasn’t always super happy about it. One of us would have to calm him down for a while and it was impossible to pose him like so many cute sleeping photos I’ve seen. I would set up the camera and the shot, then hold the baby while my wife focused the camera and took the photo. I think I got peed on at least twice. Then it was her turn to hold him and I took a couple photos. My wife was peed on once and got spit up on once. He also pooped on the floor once. Luckily that time I was already holding him far away from me while taking a shot that it didn’t get on anyone. Despite those few set backs, it went quite well. I’d love to hear what you think. Did this inspire you to create your own photo shoot? Talk back in the comments below, and if you haven’t yet done so, you can subscribe here or in the left sidebar.
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