If you’re wondering how to work as a baby photographer, you’ll need to know that there are a few steps and requirements you’ll need to fill before you can start. Working with babies can be fun and rewarding, but you’ll need to make sure you have the proper training to be successful in the baby photography business.
How can you get started working as a baby photographer? To get started working as a baby photographer, you’ll need proper photography training, adequate training in newborn or infant care, and a comfortable photography studio.
My only interaction with a baby photographer was right after my son was born when we were visited by the hospital photographer. And if I recall correctly, this person was a contracted hire. Since there isn’t much information on the Internet today that covers how you can become a baby photographer, I've done quite a bit of research for you with some backup since I'm a father. Check out the information below on how to get started as a baby photographer.
Working as a Newborn Photographer
If you want to get clients for newborn photography, you’ll need first to meet the necessary qualifications to become a newborn photographer. Like most genres of photography, becoming a newborn photographer involves a bevy of skills you’ll need to achieve through training.
Also, when you’re considering starting a newborn photography business, you’ll have to factor in the welfare of your subject. So, you need to make parents feel very comfortable that you know how to handle their babies. Remember, as a newborn photographer, you’ll potentially be holding, comforting, soothing, wrapping, and even cleaning up after the baby. And you’ll be doing these things with the parents present.
At the hospital, the photographer did not touch our baby. We simply followed their directions and moved our son as necessary. Not to mention, the hospital is already prepped for newborn comfort since all they do in the delivery ward is deliver babies.
Since you will most likely not get a gig at a hospital, let's review the specialized requirements.
Newborn photography is very specialized because newborns and infants require special care when taking pictures. So, you’ll also need to have some training in how to handle newborns. If you don’t have the necessary skills, you might create a poor image that involves more than just snapping a shot on a camera.
Do Newborn Photographers Need Training?
Yes, newborn photographers do need specialized training. Even if you are skilled at photography, you’ll need to have adequate training to ensure you can safely take care of newborns. Taking pictures of newborns will be different than anything you’ve done before, and requires a lot of safety, care, and concern on the part of the photographer. It also involves a bevy of patience.
A big part of working with newborns, is working with new parents. As a new parent, the photographer we worked with did a good job communicating with us and thus, brought the anxiety down, at least for me anyway. I was a little bit on edge up until that point.
Now, let’s compare the concept of newborn photography to a different form of photography—wedding photography. When taking pictures at a wedding, what’s the worst thing that could happen? You are letting down the couple on their big day. While that’s a troubling thought, now think about the worst thing that could go wrong when taking pictures of a newborn.
Newborn babies are very fragile, and you need to know how to handle them during a photoshoot to become a productive and successful newborn photographer. Many things could go wrong when you are taking pictures of a newborn, and you’ll need to know how to handle newborns to avoid any potential problems.
For example, newborns can experience poor circulation problems and have problems regulating their temperature. However, a baby can’t tell you when it’s cold, so you’ll know need to know how to check on its comfort level. That means you need to be able to take care of the baby you are taking pictures of with ease.
Because handling babies is such a huge responsibility, you’ll need to embark on the right training so that you know how to handle the baby safely. You’ll also learn how to spot signs of the baby not being happy while learning how to figure out what the reason is for the baby’s unhappiness. You’ll also learn a lot about general newborn safety.
As you get better in working with newborns, you'll be able to do a better job with the parents as well. Let me stress this again – making the parents comfortable is extremely important!
How Long Do Newborn Sessions Take?
Newborn sessions aren’t short, so you’ll need to set aside some time to do your newborn photoshoot. I recommend booking at least three to four hours per photoshoot. While that may sound like a long time compared to other photography sessions, you’ll realize why you need to set aside so much time once you’ve completed a few photo sessions with newborns.
Trust me; once you start your newborn photo session, you may find that everything, but photos seems to be happening during the photo session. You probably won’t even have your camera in your hand for very long. You’ll be spending a lot of time handling the baby and conning it into posing.
So, while you are trying to pose the baby, you’ll have to take your time since the baby runs the show. You’ll need to cuddle, soothe the baby, and get it into a gentle posing position. Also, all babies are different, so you’ll find that all sessions are different.
Don’t try to rush your session or watch the clock when you are in the middle of taking pictures. If you do those things, you’ll wind up feeling very pressured and short on time. That will make you stressed out, and babies can sense stress. A baby sensing stress can become unsettled, making the session even more difficult.
How Old Should a Newborn Be for Its First Session?
If you’ve ever had a baby yourself, then you probably know that newborns sleep often. That’s especially true during the day. Also, when a newborn baby is tired, it can seemingly sleep through just about anything. However, that ability to sleep well changes quickly.
Typically, by the third week of their lives, babies are waking up far more quickly. They start spending more time awake daily. It’s difficult to pose a baby that is awake, so you want to take pictures of a sleeping newborn. That means you want the baby to be under two weeks old.
However, sleep isn’t the only thing that dictates how your session will proceed. You need to remember that newborns are floppy when they are less than ten days old. So, if you can get them to sleep soundly, they’ll be easy to pose into positions that their parents will appreciate.
After babies are older than two weeks, they start getting muscle tone. That muscle tone causes the babies to lose their flexibility, making them a little more difficult to pose.
So, you know you won’t want to do a session with a newborn too late in the game. However, doing a meeting when it’s too early for the baby is also problematic. You don’t want to take pictures right after birth since newborns don’t typically look their best at that point. Newborns need a little time for their faces to settle before you take pictures of them.
Also, the parents of the newborn need to have had enough time to start feeding the baby. If the baby isn’t eating well yet, he or she won’t sleep well again, either. So, wait until the baby is at least five days old. That way, the baby will be eating properly, and you’ve given him or her enough time for the face to settle.
I want to say our photographer came in later in the birthday but it was probably like day 2. I thought this was a tad fast. Some of the photos turned out really well and I didn't like, probably half of them. The images of the ones I like are vivid in my memory, down to the last detail. So, if you are interested in newborns younger than a week old and the parents are wanting your service, the 5 day mark doesn't have to be a hard rule.
How Do You Market Newborn Photography?
Marketing newborn photography means you are selling feelings and emotions, which is the rule of dealing with newborns. At this point, the parents are thrilled with love for their new baby, and they are running on emotions.
I alluded to this earlier about connecting with the parents and easing tensions.
You want to build a relationship with your clients by reaching and connecting with the emotions those parents are experiencing. By connecting with new parents emotionally, they’ll feel that you are relating to them and their baby. That makes them more likely to both book you and trust you when you complete your work.
When discussing your approach to photography with parents, you want to show to the parents that their baby means as much to you as he or she does to them. Make the conversation about the baby and ask plenty of questions about him or her.
Remember, new parents can talk for a long time about their newborns. If you show that you are interested, and you should be anyway, the parents will feel that you care. Try to use emotive language as well in your social media advertisements to add a connection to parents.
Also, when you meet with the parents, make sure you make them as comfortable as possible. If you have a studio, make sure they can sit down comfortably. Offer drinks and snacks when appropriate.
What Do Beginners Need?
If you’re a newbie to baby photography, then you’ll need to make sure you get your training and your necessary equipment. You’ll learn how to set-up and use your essential gear in practice, like backdrop stands, beanbags, hats, headbands, and wraps.
You’ll want to make sure you are receiving training so that you can handle newborns safely. That’s probably the most crucial part of your education as a newbie to newborn photography. You should also focus on developing a fantastic set-up and design to make yourself stand out among other newborn photographers.
Safely Handling Infants
Now that I've covered what you’ll need to think about to get started and obtain clients as a newborn photographer, the next important subject in your education is learning how to handle infants safely. I’ll cover the steps you’ll want to use when you are treating infants so that the experience is safe, fun, and healthy for everyone involved.
Step 1: Wash Your Hands Often
When you are handling babies, you’ll need to wash your hands often. By washing your hands, you’ll avoid spreading any diseases or infections to the baby.
- Make sure you wash your hands under the sink’s tap with clean, running water. Then apply soap and lather it. Once you’ve scrubbed, rinse your hands under warm, running water. Dry your hands with a clean towel or allow them to air dry. Never use a dirty cloth, or you’ll be defeating the purpose of avoiding the spread of diseases.
- If you can’t make it to the sink often, keep hand sanitizer around. Using hand sanitizer from time to time will help you cut back on bacteria when you can’t wash your hands. Keep in mind, however, that you’ll still need to wash your hands in the sink. Using hand sanitizer isn’t as effective at killing all kinds of bacteria compared to washing your hands in the sink.
Step 2: Make Sure the Room Is Warm
You’ll also want to make sure the room you use to take pictures of the baby stays warm. Remember, babies aren’t great at regulating their body temperature.
- Babies don’t have the best circulation developed in their bodies yet. So, you want the room to be toasty warm so that babies don’t get cold and cranky while you are snapping pictures.
- If you have a studio, keep a space heater or two set-ups in your studio area. How many space heaters you’ll want will depend on the room’s size.
- Keep in mind that when using safe heaters, you’ll want to make sure the baby stays a safe distance from the space heater area.
Step 3: Use Plenty of Props
When taking pictures of babies, you’ll also need to make sure you have plenty of props available to snap those adorable photos. Accessories are essential for any baby’s photoshoot. Parents love seeing cute props adorning their little ones and used to get creative pictures of their baby.
- Pillows make great props for all babies. They will help to support the baby if it was difficult for the baby to hold a pose, and cute pillows also make a beautiful and creative prop.
- Baskets are another great prop to use. You can fill baskets with soft, fluffy material or objects like blankets for cute accessories. You can also decorate baskets for your photoshoots however you see fit. Since you can creatively decorate baskets, that makes them a creative prop to work with when shooting babies. Also, baskets are quite durable.
- Blankets make another great prop for baby photoshoots. Blankets are soft and comfortable for the baby to lie on when you take pictures. Also, you can find blankets in all kinds of shapes, sizes, and materials. They are also great props because they are very affordable.
- Think about purchasing some poster board for your photoshoots, too. Poster board can be used to creatively write the baby’s name or age on as part of your photoshoot. Posters are popular props in baby photography because people who see the photo will know the name of the baby and its age immediately upon seeing the picture.
Step 4: Use a Spotter
When taking pictures of babies, you should also be prepared to use a spotter. When you are posing the baby, having somebody spot the baby can help. You won’t need to hire anybody extra to be a spotter; you can use mom or dad to help you out. Spotters help support and hold babies when they are in a pose.
- You can use mom or dad as spotters, and they are usually both happy to help.
- A spotter will usually hold up the baby’s head with a hand or fingers. They may also hold up a sling with the baby in it or hold and support the child’s arms and legs.
- When you are taking pictures of babies, you will most likely need a spotter. Babies can be fussy and cranky and move around without holding poses. Also, they aren’t usually able to support the weight of their heads. So, ask mom or dad for some help, and you’ve taken care of your spotter.
Step 5: Get a Bean Bag
Consider getting a bean bag as well for your baby photoshoots. Bean bags also work well for safety reasons. Whenever you lift baby off the ground for a pose, you should put the bean bag under the baby just in case. You want to make sure the bean bag always stays near the baby while you are taking pictures.
- The bean bag can work as an extra safety cushion each time you have to pick the baby up. It also gives you a soft, safe place to let baby rest when needed.
- The bean bag also makes a cute prop if you want to take pictures of the baby with the bean bag. You can purchase bean bags in a wide variety of styles, colors, and sizes, and they tend to be very affordable props, too.
Step 6: Be Ready for Accidents
Working with babies means you’ll need to be ready for baby “accidents,” like spitting up, urgent bowel movements, urination on props or the floor and even another person when the baby is without a diaper. So, make sure you have plenty of cleaning materials and back-up accessories just in case the baby you are shooting has an accident.
- Make sure you purchase plenty of cleaning supplies. Purchase mops, buckets, disinfecting wipes and sprays, garbage bags and cans, and paper towels. That way, you have everything you need in case the baby has an accident.
- Also, when you buy your props, make sure you also purchase a few back-up accessories and keep them on hand in case of an accident. You’ll then be able to replace a prop if the baby experiences an accident quickly.
Step 7: Use Composite Images
Using composite images is another great idea. A composite image is a combination of several photos merged into a single image. If you also know how to use Photoshop, you can make the most out of your composite images and create high-quality pictures.
- With composite images, you’ll be able to take pictures while the spotter is holding the baby. Later, you can combine images to remove the spotter from the picture.
- Using composite images also makes baby photography much safer for the baby. Since the spotter can hold the baby and be removed from the picture later, the baby will be protected while you snap your picture.
How to Become a Baby Photographer
Now that I've covered what you’ll need to think about to get started and obtain clients as a newborn photographer, and the info you need to know on how to handle infants safely, I'll cover the steps you’ll need to follow to actually become a baby photographer.
While it can be a lot of work to take pictures of babies, the work is also rewarding. If you are the type of person that likes working with children and you enjoy a challenge, then working as a baby photographer might be the perfect line of work for you.
Most parents like to get professional photographs of their babies to keep some fun memories available. So, there is plenty of business and opportunity accessible for baby photographers as long as you can attract plenty of clients.
As a parent, I started having more fun when my son turned 3 months old and started to develop more of a personality. Photo ops were easier and so much fun to engage in.
You have a few options to get started with baby photography. You can launch your career by yourself as a freelancer. Or, you can try to join up with an established photographer. You could also seek out employment at a portrait studio.
See below for how you can become baby photography by taking pictures, working with babies, and getting a portfolio of your work together.
Step 1: Take Photography Classes
If you brand new and haven’t already taken photography classes yet, then you’ll want to consider enrolling in classes. You need to study photography and learn how to use the equipment utilized by professional photographers correctly.
Also, you’ll want to ensure that you’re educated about the aspects of photography that can be difficult. By taking courses or training with an experienced photographer, you can prepare your education.
- You can find classes in photography at high schools, community colleges, universities, and private school instruction.
- You can study commercial photography at an educational institution so that you can learn more about the business and how to reach your clients.
- You can even enroll in online classes to get a feel for the creative side.
Step 2: Learn How to Use a Camera
Next, you’ll want to learn how to use a camera correctly. While that sounds easy, learning how to snap professional photos is a bit different. You want to make sure you can use your camera at the professional level, so you need a thorough education on how to use a camera.
- Consider taking photography classes so that you can obtain a complete education about how to work with cameras.
- Photography classes will also give you the hands-on experience you’ll want and need.
- You’ll also learn about the many different types of cameras in photography school and how to use them. Different cameras include pinhole cameras, manual cameras, DSLRs, and point-and-shoots.
- You can also get some education for free online. There is a plethora of online resources out there that discuss how to use a camera, and several of them are free. Hello YouTube!
Step 3: Learn How to Use Lighting
After you’ve gotten yourself educated about how to use a camera, you’ll need to learn how to use lighting correctly when shooting pictures. Light is an essential aspect of creating high-quality photos. If you can adequately use light, you’ll be able to make your images stand out from the crowd. If you wind up losing poor lighting, you’ll create poor photos, so this is an essential part of your education.
- To learn how to use lighting correctly, you’ll need to learn how to experiment.
- Educate yourself about the bevy of different kinds of lighting that photographers use. Some of these types of lighting include flash photography, ambient lighting, natural lighting, natural lighting plus fill-in flash, and studio lighting. Learning how to use every kind of illumination correctly will help you become a successful professional photographer.
- Taking classes at colleges and universities can help you learn more about lighting.
- Also, you can find a lot of material about lighting online for free. Looking around the web can give you a lot of advice regarding how to use lighting correctly when taking pictures.
Step 4: Learn Adobe Photoshop
If you’re going to become a good baby photographer, then you’ll need to learn how to use Photoshop. Photoshop can help you manipulate images from your digital camera and edit things, so they appear perfect. It’s sporadic for any photographer, no matter how good, to snap the perfect picture without modifying it.
If you think about it, when you take manual pictures, you have to work in a dark room to correctly manipulate the photos. Similarly, you need to use Photoshop to manage your digital images and give them a quality appearance.
- You can learn how to use Photoshop by taking classes at a local college or high school. Those classes will cover how to use Photoshop properly, and common ways to improve photos with the software.
- If you're not up for the community college route, there are incredible courses online to enroll in.
- Once you know how to use Photoshop, you’ll be able to edit your images creatively. With Photoshop, you’ll be able to digitally alter your pictures and give them the quality appearance you’ll want and need.
- You can also find plenty of tutorials about Photoshop on YouTube for free if you want to learn how to use the software on your own from home.
Step 5: Purchase Quality Equipment
You need to invest in some high-quality equipment as well if you want to become a professional baby photographer. You’ll want to purchase at least one professional camera. Also, you’ll need to buy several accessories to use along with the camera. Those accessories include things like a tripod, batteries, flashes, developing materials, etc.
- If you aren’t sure where to start with buying equipment, you can check out online camera purchasing guides. They’ll help guide you with information about purchasing the right type of professional camera.
- It’s also a good idea to talk to people with knowledge in photography—like your teacher or somebody you know that’s already in the business. That way, you can get some professional suggestions about what cameras work best when you are taking pictures of babies.
There are a few steps and requirements you’ll need to be aware of and work on before you can start working as a baby photographer. Working with babies can be fun and rewarding, but a little effort and planning is required to be successful in the baby photography business.
Notice how the actual becoming a baby photographer part is the last section of this article. The more important parts, the baby and the parents, are covered first. It's important to point that out since so many photographers get solely caught up in the tech and pursuit of art, which often leads to neglect of the human element.
Lastly, although the term newborn is definitive, the terms infant and baby tend to vary. Therefore, I use them interchangeably. Let me know if you classify newborn photography, infant photography, or baby photography differently.