Newborn photography is a great way to earn some money with your camera and since it appears to be a growing market, what with more and more first time parents requesting professional photos of their newborn children, and it can be very lucrative too.
Offering newborn photography services is all well and good but what exactly do you need for a newborn baby photoshoot? Well, please read on…………
Newborn baby photoshoot equipment – Camera
Arguably you can use any camera for a newborn baby photoshoot and I have captured some great newborn photos with a top end point and shoot (my Canon G1X), a mirrorless CSC camera (my Olympus EPL) and dslr (Canon 6d). Despite all of my cameras capturing shots I have been proud of (and also sold to happy parents) my go to camera for a newborn baby photoshoot is my dslr.
The dslr offers the ultimate in control (which is essential for newborn photography), has the best image quality (which keeps the parents happy) and is my go to camera of choice when asked to do a newborn baby photoshoot. The type of slr camera is entirely down to personal preference. I use a Canon 6d because I have only ever used Canon slr cameras and have invested a lot of money in the brand, I like how Canon cameras feel and I like the Canon interface, which is just so logical.
If you want to capture the best newborn photos I highly recommend using a slr camera.
Whenever I am asked to do a newborn baby photoshoot for a paying customer I make sure I take a second camera (another Canon 6d) as a backup in case I have issues with my primary camera. Nothing looks more unprofessional than having to stop a photoshoot because a vital piece of equipment fails.
Newborn baby photoshoot equipment – Lens
The best portrait lenses are typically 50mm – 85mm however I don’t find this the case for a newborn baby photoshoot. I often use a 50mm lens, however this is the longest I use as I typically shoot in the 24mm – 50mm range. Shooting at 24mm – 50mm means I have to get up close and personal to the newborn which results in engaging images.
I use two lenses for a newborn baby photoshoot, and these include the Canon 16mm – 35mm F4L IS and the Canon 50mm F1.8. Most of the time I use the 16 – 35, and this is definitely my go to lens when asked to photograph newborns. The F4L is small, light and unobtrusive. The image stabilisation technology works brilliantly for sharp handheld shots, giving me the freedom to move around the subject taking photos from different angles, many of which wouldn’t be possible setting the camera on a tripod.
The Canon 50mm F1.8 is another small and light lens that I like to use when I want a slightly softer photo. The Canon 50mm F1.8 is sharp stopped down a little, but if used wide open it is a little soft, and this softness is perfect for newborn photography.
Newborn baby photoshoot equipment – Lighting
Lighting is an important part of newborn photography and the lighting you use can make or break the photo. When dealing with newborns I find an off camera flash light combined with a hot shoe mounted speed light to provide a bit of fill flash perfect for a newborn baby photoshoot.
Up until very recently my off camera flash consisted of three speed lights ganged together (to see how to do this take a look at “How to gang three speed lights”) and I used them in ETTL mode to maximise the time I had available before the subject got disgruntled bringing the photoshoot to an end. Using the ganged speed lights in ETTL mode meant less time setting the flash power and more time moving around the subject capturing photos.
The off camera light is fired using the excellent Yongnuo 622C radio triggers (please check out “Review of the 622 flash triggers” to see just how good these inexpensive triggers are) and the speed lights I use are the awesome Godox Ving 860 (Check out “Review of the Godox Ving 860” to see just how much I rate these). The on-camera fill flash is a fourth Godox Ving 860.
I can honestly say that my three ganged speed light system worked exceptionally well, however when I saw the Godox Witstro AD360 (a single light with ETTL mode requiring just one flash trigger) which was smaller, quicker to set up and provided even more light I simply had to have one. The Witstro AD360 is a highly portable light I can move around the subject, placing it in a variety of locations for different types of shot, and since the Witstro has ETTL technology I don’t have to spend loads of time manually adjusting the power giving more shooting time.
Bare flash is harsh therefore you need something to diffuse and soften the light. Many people use soft boxes but a shoot through brolly works best with the Godox Witstro AD360, which suits me fine. Soft boxes are expensive whereas shoot through brollies are super cheap but super effective. I do use a small soft box for the on-camera fill flash to soften that light up a little too.
Newborn baby photoshoot equipment – Props
Even though I am a fan of props, if used in the right instances of course, when I am asked to do a newborn baby photoshoot I never take props with me. When it comes to photographing newborns I think any props used should be bespoke and having some kind of meaning to the baby and/or the parents, and my generic teddy bear, rattle or whatever simply won’t cut it.
Whenever I take photos of newborns I always ask the parents if they want to use any props in the photos, and then ask them to provide the props they want included. Using the cuddly toy that Aunty bought just after the birth or using the burp cloth the new parents bought together (and argued over in Mother Care) waiting for baby to arrive is going to be more memorable in the future.
In my experience it is best to never question any props parents want included during the newborn baby photoshoot as it is easy to cause offence, and you never want to do this. After all, the customer is always right, and whilst you may think a specific prop is hideous you must never show this and you must do all you can to make sure the photo the prop is used in is the best it can possibly be.
You don’t need a lot of equipment for a newborn baby photoshoot, and in reality you’ll find the least amount of equipment you carry the better. When taking photos of newborns it is important to get in, take the photos and get out as quick as possible so you don’t create too much of a bother and stress baby out, and carrying the minimal amount of gear will allow you to do this.
If you like the above and found it interesting or useful below are links to other newborn photography articles you may want to take a look at:-
If you are considering newborn photography but have not yet taken the plunge “Newborn baby photography services” is an article you may wish to check out to help you make the final decision.
“Capturing newborn baby pictures” is an article full of tips and tricks to help you capture the best newborn photos you can.
The choice of lens often determines how good a photo turns out to be, and this is the same with newborn photography. If you are struggling with what lenses to use for photographing newborn babies “The best lenses for newborn photography” may be something you want to take a look at.
Keen photographer addicted to cameras, lenses and everything photography related. Feel free to follow me in my photography ramblings, and if you have any thoughts, comments, queries or anything else to add I would love to hear from you.