When I first started out on my journey in photography I had no idea that I could shoot lifestyle with newborns and children. Like most of us do, I went out and bought some baskets, some cloth for a “backdrop” and a few other props. I see all these other photographers rocking baskets, bows, blankets, and I assumed that’s what people want.
I was already honing my lifestyle craft with families, seniors, brides, and miscellaneous events. Mudpie Photography’s motto is “organic moments” and I had nothing but intentions of a journalistic approach for my photography style.
Upon styling a newborn session last year, I asked myself “What am I DOING here? I am going against my grain to try and fit into a mold created by the masses.” While I enjoy looking at styled images of sleeping newborns in costume or appearing as though they are holding their own head up with the use of proficient Photoshop work, the emotions and stories captured in lifestyle photography images are what make my heart sing! So I stand comfortably and proudly on “side B” of the spectrum.
Having fun and “feeling” something when you shoot is critical in my book- unless you want to lead yourself down the path to burn-out in a flash. So, I shook off the “have to’s” and started to approach newborns the same way I approached my other lifestyle sessions. I began shooting with the same end goal–natural, candid moments of baby and family that literally looked like a ‘peek’ into their lives.
Here are a few tips to shoot lifestyle with newborns (even if you are, in fact, the master of newborn session styling!):
My numero uno priority. Flash can startle newborns, but it can also take away from the spontaneity and natural tone of the shoot.
While most photographers may put their camera down for a rest or review images while baby is being fed, soothed or changed, these are actually my favorite times to shoot! Capture these very details. Whether the baby is crying, yawning or sleeping peaceful, they are all precious stages of the newborn days. Talk about lifestyle photos in their purest form! The day-to-day of baby life. Nothing is more beautiful or tells the true story of a newborn more than these moments, in my book.
Don’t neglect to photograph and capture the one place parents see their baby a lot–the crib. Full sweeping photos of nurseries with baby in the crib or a “through the slats” (my personal fave) perspective is a beautiful way to tell a newborn story. Crib life is fleeting. Capture it.
A great way to get all of the family interacting with baby is by photographing them on the master bed. It’s big enough to accommodate everyone, it’s an intimate place, and usually has great light. It also means that every session will be unique since every home looks different than the other.
Everyone loves to capture those little toes, feet, ears etc. And rightfully so! The newborn yumminess comes and goes in a blink. Try however, to shoot these photos from different angles as you have baby on the bed or in their boppy
The simple change of an angle and a shallow depth of field can allow for these detail shots to be done anywhere, so you don’t necessarily need a black back drop. I’ve done them even on changing tables. Don’t limit yourself.
There are many different ways to capture newborns. Please don’t put yourself in a box or feel you have to emulate what is going on in the industry. Find your own vision of how you want to photograph newborns and start snapping.
Don’t Let Comparison Steal Your Joy
Shoot from the heart and don’t worry about what other photographers are doing. Your images will speak to you if you let intuition guide you.
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