Welcoming a precious new baby into the family is one of the most beautiful and amazing moments in any parent’s life—and getting to capture and immortalize that moment for them can be one of the most rewarding feelings in the world.
If you’ve been looking to get into newborn photography, here are the must-have items you will need to get started:
Professional DSLR Camera
Let’s start with the first and most obvious must-have item: a professional DSLR camera. Any camera you feel comfortable with will suffice, but preferably something that falls somewhere between the midrange to high-end spectrum, with a bigger sensor that can capture clean, high-quality images without needing to use a flash. You can read our comparison of some mid-level Canon and Nikon cameras for more help in choosing.
Lenses: Prime and Macro
A standard lens is fine, but if you want to have a few extra options on hand, a prime lens is ideal for newborn photography, as it usually has larger apertures (which is helpful, again, in avoiding the use of flash) while still remaining fairly compact in size. With the prime lens, you get sharper, higher-quality images with less visible aberrations.
Apart from the prime lens, a macro is also a must-have in every newborn photographer’s kit. It is essential for taking extremely close, high-quality shots of the baby’s fingers, toes, eyelashes, lips, and all the other tiny details that parents would want to have captured during their newborn’s session.
There has been much debate on whether it is safe to use flashes and full studio lights on infants, so most photographers prefer to err on the side of caution and use natural light. Due to this, you will need a pop-up reflector and an optional light stand and reflector holder if you cannot get an assistant to hold it up for you.
If natural light is unavailable and artificial studio lighting is your only option, soft boxes are your next best option. They can help create the kind of soft, diffused lighting that can more closely mimic natural light.
Backdrops and Backdrop Stand
For a newborn photo session, having a backdrop (and of course, a backdrop stand) is essential. You can start with a few different backdrops, using a mix of solids and patterns. You can also use soft blankets, which you can attach to the stand using clamps.
Bed, Beanbag, Couch, etc.
Clearly, you will need to have somewhere to put your tiny subjects while you photograph them. This can be anything soft, where the baby will be comfortable and safe. You can use a small bed, a couch, an armchair, beanbag, ottoman, or whatever will work best for your needs.
- PoseBaby Pro Newborn Photography Posing Beans
- Sunmig Newborn Baby Photography Butterfly Posing Pillow Basket Filler
- 4 PC Newborn Baby Photography Basket Filler
When it comes to newborn sessions, photography props are a great way to add some interesting elements to your photos—particularly since your model won’t be doing much posing! Make sure to have some of the usual newborn props such as fluffy blankets, baskets, stuffed animals, adorable hats, baby-sized angel wings, and other cute costumes and headbands.
White Noise Machine
Photographing a sleeping baby is a breeze. But what about when it starts to cry? Babies can be quite unpredictable, and being a newborn photographer means knowing how to deal with a fussy, crying baby. You will need something that can help calm them, and many photographers advise using a white noise machine for this. However, those can be expensive, so if you are on a budget, you can also download a white noise app on your smartphone.
And if that doesn’t work, just play some calming music!
Space Heater / Heating Pads
Because babies don’t usually wear anything during these sessions, you will need something to keep them warm. Instead of turning up the heat in the entire room, invest in a small space heater or some heating pads (or both) to help keep your little model warm in its posing area.
Basic Cleaning Items
If you will be photographing the baby without any clothes or a diaper on, expect to encounter some accidents (of the messy kind) during your session! Prepare for the inevitable by stocking up on baby wipes, paper towels, or any other baby-safe cleaning items. You may also want to stock up on puppy potty pads, which you can place under the mom or dad while they pose with their baby to catch any poop or pee. The pads can help make clean-up quicker and easier!
Once you have all the important items and equipment that you need, it’s all a matter of educating yourself about the proper ways to handle newborn infants and how to ensure a safe and comfortable experience and environment for them (and their parents) during their session.
Learn more about everything you need to get started: studio setup, marketing, props, and more in the Newborn Photography Bootcamp Class at CreativeLive.
The Business Stuff
Whenever you are dealing with clients, it is important to clearly outline expectations for the newborn photo shoot. A written agreement is a great way to protect your business and ultimately leads to a satisfied client since expectations are clearly set up front.
The LawTog offers a Newborn Photography Essential Bundle with a lawyer drafted contract and releases tailored to newborn photography. Similar to insurance, it’s not something you tend to think about until you need it.
Other Considerations for Newborn Photography
Another big consideration to make is whether you will be working from your own studio or you will be mobile. Which of these best fits your lifestyle and business model? With your own studio space, you will have more in the way of flexibility with your scheduling. You will also have more than enough space to store all your props and supplies.
With a studio space, you also have to set up newborn safe studio lighting, you will have everything you need within easy reach for newborn pictures, and you won’t have to transport it or carry it around like you would if you offered mobile services.
On the other hand, mobile newborn photography might be a good move for a lifestyle portrait photographer because you will have the unique opportunity of taking photographs of the child in their home and capturing them in those everyday moments.
While it doesn’t really take too much to start a career in newborn photography, you still want to have this list of must-haves to make the experience and transition a bit smoother for everyone – including your newborn photo subjects.
Sofa cushions, blankets, and a boppy pillow are staples for any newborn photo shoot. It also allows a quick and easy setup if you are mobile and the photo shoot is at the home of the child. It is a simple, easy to accomplish, low budget setup for a newborn photography session.
Get to Know Your Client
This is one of the biggest and most helpful things you can do when starting your newborn photography career. Learn how to handle a newborn. This way, you will know what they need as you move through your photo shoot.
If you have a studio setup, you should consider purchasing a comfy armchair so the mother can feed the baby comfortably between takes.
Now that you know what items are must-haves whether you are starting a photography business in a studio or you are going mobile, you will be better prepared to handle the clients that begin flowing in hoping to schedule a newborn photo shoot with a professional photographer.
Once you are an expert when it comes to newborn photography, you can then begin to consider branching out and doing a maternity photo shoot as well!
Tips for Beginners
Also, check out this helpful infographic for some helpful, basic tips on newborn photography beginners: