​First year baby photography isnt for the faint hearted. When it comes to studio baby photography the child is definitely the boss and to be a successful baby photographer it isnt enough to just be a great photographer, you also have to be an entertainer and have the patience of a saint. 

I have over the years learnt how to switch the power back to myself in the studio and the following article outlines 10 tips that may help improve your baby photography and inevitably create better photographs and hopefully better sales.

Plan out your session - Every photographer will have a different style of baby portraits and will do things differently, so there is no hard and fast rules. I work fast and plan not to dress and undress the child anymore than I have too as they hate being dressed and red eyes from crying doesnt make good photography. If there are particualr shots you must get, then get them in the bag first and don't play until the end. I have a mind like a seive so often I will draw out sketchs before hand if I want to try something a little different, this way it is in my head so when I have the opportunity I can try the shot.

Create a template for your sessions - I shoot on average 200 - 300 first year studio sessions every year but for the client this is possibly the first time they have had professional photographs of their child taken. Depending on the childs age they may have different physical limitiaitons; at 4 months they wont be able to sit but at 12 months they may be able to stand. I generally start off by following a template or sequence of photographs that I know work and that suits my clients. Usually if the child is still cooperative after I have a quality set of images then I will try some news shots and change things up a little. That said always be on the look out for the child giving you something out of the blue!

Connect with the child - As soon as the client enters studio with their child try and connect with the child. In the childs eye we may be the scariest thing they have ever seen so consider this and get down to their level and try and get that first smile. If the child is in a buggy or car seat, get them out as soon as possible, make them comfortable and interact with them. Once in the studio again try and put the child at ease, get the parent involved in front of the lights and try find out what makes the child happy.

Learn to speak baby - One of the biggest advantages I have in the studio is being a parent. Babies don't take instruction, they instead respond to different tones and noises. I always ask the parent what songs they sing, what if any TV programs they watch (for older children) and I will try (badly) to replicate these during the session. Another favourite with young children is animals sounds, and the old favourite peek-a-boo.

Have some tricks up your sleeve - Every now again we all get un-cooperative children that just dont want to play ball, or refuse to keep still for 1 minute! Be prepared for this and have some back up plan to try and coax the child a little. A child that is occupied will tend to be less fidgety, so give the child something in their hand to allow enough time to get some shots.

Dress to impress - It is known babies have different sensory experiences at a young age. As well as being attracted to certain noises they are thought to also be attracted to certain colours as well. I have learnt to wear bright colours in the studio, and I even have a red circus master hat that I use to grab the babies attention if needed.

Don't over shoot - I used to fall into this trap. I would take far to many photographs and try far too many set ups. A baby gets bored very quickly! From experience I would say a child 3-6 months would on average give you 20 minutes of quality time, so get the shot, move on and aim to have everything in the bag after 20 minutes. The client doesnt need hundreds of photographs, in fact this can cause problems when selling, less is definetly more!

Get parents and grandparents involved - Help from parents allows you to concentrate on your photography and allows you to change things up if needed. Try changing which parent is making a fool of themselves to get that smile! You should always be thinking about selling, after all that is what we are running our studios for. Sessions that have fathers and grandparents helping usually generate more sales than those with only the mother. If you have a good session and the father or grandparents have helped they will feel connected with the photographs and will want to spend more, especially if you have a good session with plenty of smiles. 

Create a nice studio environment - The floor of my studio shooting area is padded, clear from clutter and all my lights are on a roof mounted rail system. Most importantly it is child safe. 
During sessions I play 'happy' background music and we spend a fortune on air fresheners!

Use props to your advantage - Props and studio aids can be your best friend. Some useful items to have in the studio are; sellotape, whistles or other noisy items, hats, childs sunglasses to name a few. For older babies just about at the walking stage it is often just enough to introduce a stool or a bench to the set if they are not interested and if that doesnt work a toy car should do the trick!

Baby photography isn't rocket science but it does take a little thought and a lot of patience. To build a successful first year baby photography business you have to plan and execute your sessions well. But most importantly for any business to survive the photographer has to develop the link between shooting and selling to have the ultimate success.

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