My five top tips for emotive and timeless family portraits in your newborn sessions.

Celebrating the arrival of a new member to the family is perhaps one of the most significant milestones in our lives. It ranks right up there with our wedding day. But, like experienced wedding photographers, we don't just want to record the event; we want to capture the incredibly powerful emotions our clients experience in this momentous time in their lives. 

Capturing emotion is everything when it comes to a successful family portrait. Remember, we are recording the beginnings of a new family, and it is such an honour and privilege to immortalise these precious moments for our clients.

In this blog, I will list five of my top tips to capture stunning, emotive, and timeless images your clients (and their babies) will cherish for a lifetime. 

1.Keep it simple

Remember, emotion is king! Try to avoid anything that distracts attention away from the connection between parents and their baby.. Keep the outfits simple, and try to avoid bright and patterned clothing. I usually ask my clients to bring in one outfit in white and one in black. I shoot the white on lighter backgrounds, and for a dramatic black and white image, I shoot the black outfits on a dark background. 


2. Use just one light.

Keep the lighting simple by using just one light source. I use a 150cm Octabox for beautiful soft light, and it is placed roughly one meter from my subjects. It is crucial to position the softbox higher, resulting in a pleasing 45-degree angle of light falling down and across your subjects. If your ceilings are too low, it helps to sit your clients down for some poses. I use two adjustable posing (hairdresser) stools.  

Keep your light higher by sitting your clients on adjustable posing stools

When using just one light, be careful when using black backgrounds, if your clients have very dark hair, you may want to use a second light to separate their hair from the backdrop.

Use a second light to accent dark hair when using a black background.

3. Shoot from a higher angle.

You will almost always get a more pleasing image when shooting from a higher camera angle. Stand on an apple box or a small step ladder to achieve this. I mentioned the posing stools before; these are a great help for shooting down on your clients. For example, when mum is holding baby, I use the posing stools, but for the pose when dad has baby to his chest, I need my steps to get to the right angle. 

Shoot from high for a more pleasing angle.


4. Physical contact means emotional connection.

This is the MOST IMPORTANT element needed to build a stunning portrait that conveys love and tenderness. Without physical contact between Mum, Dad and baby, it's so hard to convey the emotion that connects them. The camera makes an inch look like a mile, so they need to be CLOSE. I am not shy to physically guide them to how close I need them to be to get the shot. If they are not touching, they are too far apart!

5. Have fun and keep it real!

There is nothing worse than a forced smile and tense shoulders. Remember posing for a portrait can sometimes make people feel anxious. Chat to them and make them feel at ease. Explain that they do not need to smile for the camera; you just want to see how much they love each other and their new baby. My favourite family portraits are when no one is looking at the camera; their focus is on each other and their baby. 

However, it is also important to get a smiley "look at the camera" shot because these are the ones grandparents love. For this shot, I make sure they are close and in position, and then I ask them to look at the camera and say a few silly phrases; "More kids" usually gets in a huge smile! I also use "who's idea was this?" or "never again!" The genuine smiles make a massive difference to the final result. 


So those are my 5 top tips for capturing timeless and emotive family portraits.

 My next blog will be all about including siblings in your newborn sessions and how I tackle those tricky little toddlers!

P.S. Check out all my up-and-coming in-person workshops here. I am so excited to be able to see you all in person and help elevate your photography skills to the next level! 


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