The ultimate newborn photography studio checklist
Setting up a newborn photography studio can be a daunting task!
Sure, you will probably remember the big things, like your camera, and studio lights, and a beanbag (hopefully!)
But the little touches are often overlooked, and only remembered when you’re in the middle of a session and you think, “It would’ve been great to have a snack to offer Mom!”
Trust me, I’ve learned the hard way, so let me take you on a little tour of my newborn photography studio. Along the way, you’ll see how I outfit my studio, with all the must-haves, but also the nice-to-haves!
1. Equipment and gear
Well, there are of course the few obvious tools of the trade:
- Lighting (natural, strobes or continuous)
- Light modifier (softbox or umbrella)
- Trigger and Receiver
- Light stand
- Beanbag and beanbag stand
- Beanbag fabrics
Not sure what gear you need to get started with your newborn photography studio? Check out our comprehensive guide here!
But often overlooked are the little extras, that could easily derail your entire session if you don’t have them. Like the Scouts … be prepared!
- An extra charged battery
- Lots of memory cards
- Spare bulbs for your studio lights
- Spare battery for trigger
- Lens wipes/lens cleaner
- Sandbags to weigh down stands
- A sync cord in case trigger/receiver fails
Part of your preparation before a client comes in should be to pull out all the props that you will need for that session. Not only does it mean you won’t have to scramble around during your session, it also allows you to visually coordinate all the elements used in a session in order to produce a cohesive gallery.
As your prop collection grows, so will your storage needs. Guard against unsafely stacking up boxes and bowls and beds, especially anywhere close to where your client area. We have some great storage ideas on our Pinterest board here.
When selecting baskets, buckets and the like for your session, be mindful of the safety considerations when choosing props.
3. Bonnets, hats, tiebacks, headbands, outfits
Aah, I bet you don’t need much incentive to stock up on any of these! But always remember, your skill does not grow by shopping. It grows by practice.
Find a way of storing your accessories so you can see what you have available at a glance. It will make your sessions runs smoother, but also stop you from buying the same thing over and over again (as we all tend to do!)
4. Wraps and Blankets
Cubbies like these work well to store your blankets and posing fabrics, giving you quick access to them without making a mess looking for a specific colour or texture.
Not sure how to choose blankets for your beanbag? We wrote about that on this blog!
5. Caddy/Cart to keep close to beanbag
Keep whatever you need while you are shooting within arm’s reach, and you never have to disturb your posed baby to grab a different lens, a headband, a wipe, or a soother. The RÅSKOG utility cart from IKEA is a popular option.
6. Hand sanitizer and masks
Today, more than ever, it is so important to keep our littlest clients safe. Regular hand washing, hand sanitizer, and wearing a mask will cut down on the amount of germs the tiny newborn is being exposed to in your studio.
7. Posing Beans
There are many suppliers out there each offering different sizes and designs. While these are wonderful to have, I used rolled up blankets, cloths, and socks for the first 7 years of being in business, without a problem!
8. Space heater/heating pads
Maintaining a warm studio is key to ensuring sleepy baby vibes. A space heater can help to boost the temperature in the room before the client arrives, but be careful having it on once the family arrives, especially with small siblings present. You also never want hot air blowing directly onto baby.
Heating pads can be used to heat up the beanbag blankets before placing baby down, but never use these while baby is on the beanbag – electricity and liquids don’t mix! And always test the temperature of the blankets before placing baby on them.
9. Puppy pee pads
Put these between each layer of beanbag blankets, and if a naked baby poops or pees while being posed, it will protect the blankets underneath so you only need to remove that one layer.
10. White Noise
One of the secrets to getting and keeping babies in a deep sleep is constant shushing. The Baby Shusher is a popular tool, or you can download one of several white noise phone apps, many of them free.
Clamps are one of the most versatile tools to have in a studio. I mostly use mine for clamping blankets tight on the beanbag so wrinkles are minimal. But I also regularly use them to secure fabric or a too-big dress behind mom’s back, or clamp a drop of sheers over a too bright window, or hold up a reflector … and so much more! You can find them at any hardware store.
12. Step stool
I use my stepstool for mom and baby, dad and baby, and family photos with their newborn. It helps me shoot slightly from above, which is the most flattering angle for portraits.
Instead of using the step stool for overhead shots of baby, I prefer to switch out my usual 50mm lens for a wider 24mm lens, and keep my feet on the ground! Standing on a ladder of any sort over baby just adds an unnecessary risk of you falling onto baby. Safety first, always!
13. Outfits for mom+dad for family newborn pics
I have a selection of dresses (usually ones that double as maternity dresses) available for moms, and basic white t-shirts in various sizes available for dads, in case what they are wearing is not appropriate for family photos with their newborns. Parents will love having one less thing to think about before their newborn session!
14. A change of clothes for yourself
If you are a newborn photographer, chances are good that you will be pooped or peed on at least once in a session. Remember to keep a change of clothes handy for yourself.
15. Couch for parents
I can’t tell you how many parents have nodded off on my studio couch. Mix the sleep-deprivation with the balmy warm studio and a constant white noise, and chances are good they may take a nap while you are photographing their baby.
In the very least, it’s nice to provide mom a comfortable place to relax for the 2-4 hours it may take for the session.
16. Mini-fridge and microwave
Stock your fridge with water and juice for families and milk for coffee/tea. Parents will also be thankful to have a fridge and microwave available if they need to store and reheat any bottles or milk over the course of the few hours the session will take.
Because newborn sessions are usually held in the morning, many families will be rushing off to get ready and get to the studio, and may skip breakfast completely.
I like to pick up some muffins and a pastry or two, along with some prepackaged snacks, coffee, tea, and water for parents to snack on during the session. And I include a few snack options for little siblings too – some fruit gummies can work wonders as an incentive!
18. Change Table and Supplies
Parents, especially new ones, are stressed and sleep-deprived in those first few weeks after a baby’s birth, and it’s not unusual for them to forget even the most basic baby supplies. Have some newborn-size diapers, wipes, pacifiers, and diaper cream on hand in case they need it.
If you don’t have space in your newborn photography studio for a change table, have at least a changing pad available for parents to use.
19. A chalkboard
A little chalkboard sign can welcome a little client by name, let parents know the wifi password, or ask them to tag you on social media. It’s just a small personal touch that can make a big difference!
20. Samples of products
Show what you want to sell! If you sell wall art, put some canvases on the wall. If you sell albums, have some on a table for parents to page through. Seeing these beautiful products displayed will get parents excited about seeing their own family in these types of products and make it an easy sell later!
The best way to set up your newborn photography studio is to put yourself into the tired shoes of new parents, and walk through what their needs could be during the session. Great photos are a given, but the little extra ways you can serve them takes your service levels up a notch.
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