There are a few basic things every newborn photographer should have in their studio. Below is my list of the 15 essential items I keep in my own studio for every newborn session.
In my studio I use the Studio Baby Travel Beanbag Poser. It’s big enough for multiples, but small enough that I can cart it to a clients house with relative ease. I also use the Studio Baby Butterfly Positioner on a lot of my poses as well as a set of posing beanbags, which come in handy when I just need a little change in position.
Below is a pullback image of both the studio baby travel beanbag poser, the small posing beanbags I use and how I setup my posing fabric.
2. Studio Lights
I typically use Natural Light in my studio, however in the winter time and during really overcast days I need a little extra boost to help create some natural light. I use two simple umbrella lights in my own studio, but in the future I will most likely upgrade to a large softbox with an AlienBee Light.
CowboyStudio Photography/Video Portrait Umbrella Continuous Triple Lighting Kit with Three Day Light CFL Bulbs, Three Stands, Two Umbrellas, and One Carrying Case For Product, Portrait, and Video Shoots
I have a variety of different backdrops in my studio. I typically use Savage Seamless Background Paper for my parent poses. The 53″ is good for 1-2 people, but if you have more than that in the frame you probably want to upgrade to the 107″ wide roll. I like to stick to neutral colors like Bone and Mocha.
Savage SV-53X12-51 Seamless Background Paper, 53-Inch wide x 12 Yards, Bone, #51
107″ x 12yds Background Paper (#76 Mocha)
In addition to seamless paper I have a few wood backdrops I use. There are a few different options when it comes to backdrops. You can do paper, vinyl, rubber backed, or the real deal. I used to do vinyl, however I tended to get wrinkles a lot and eventually created two of my own backdrops with real wood that I purchased from Lowes and then cut and stained. I have a white backdrop and a brown stained backdrop I interchange.
Below is an image of the boards I cut and stained myself.
4. Backdrop Stand
If you have backdrops you will inevitably need a stand to support them. I use a Cowboy Studio stand that comes with a carry case so I can transport it easily. I use this for both my seamless paper and my blanket backdrops. If you are going to be using this for parent poses make sure you get one tall enough to accommodate dad’s height. 🙂
CowboyStudio Photography 10 ft Heavy Duty Crossbar Studio Portable Background Support System and Carry Case – 901
Below is an image of the backdrop stand I use and what it looks like underneath all of the posing blankets.
5. Backdrop Blankets
I have so many backdrop blankets it’s a bit insane. They can double as basket stuffers and backdrops and are super versatile. I purchase a lot of my backdrop blankets from Rose and Ruffles and Fancy Fabric & Props. You can also just purchase throw blankets and use those as well. I tend to stick to solid colors and like anything with a texture.
Hudson Park Textured Knit Throw Blanket 50 X 70 – Baltic
Brielle® Winding Wave Cable Knit Throw (50×60 in.), Introductory Price
6. Backdrop Clamps
To help secure your blankets to your backdrop stand you will want to invest in some backdrop clamps. These hold the blanket in place and pull it tight to help eliminate wrinkles.
4.5in-Studio Backdrop Clamp-A Clamp-Muslin Clamp-6 Pack
7. Sound Machine
If you don’t purchase a sound machine you can also download a white noise app on your phone, but I tend to like a separate sound machine so I don’t kill my battery and risk someone calling me in the middle of a session. I have a cordless sound machine so I can move it around easily with me and I typically play the heartbeat or the ocean. This helps soothe baby and lull them into a deep sleep.
8. Puppy Pee Pads
This sounds like a weird one, but let me assure you, you will think I’m a genius if you don’t know about this yet. When I set up my blanket backdrops I put them all on at once to help create a thick wrinkle free layer and to save time. However, naked babies will obviously go the bathroom at some point, so to avoid it soaking all the way through each layer, I put one puppy pee pad between each layer of blankets.
All-absorb Training Pads 100-count, 22-inch By 23-inch
9. Baby Essentials
While we are on the subject of accidents, make sure you have some basic newborn essentials in your studio. Baby Wipes, a diaper pail, pacifiers, extra diapers, etc.
Pampers Sensitive Wipes 7x Box 448 Count
Playtex Diaper Genie Elite Pail System with Odor Lock Carbon Filter, 100 Count
10. Space Heater
This one is a biggie! Baby needs to be kept a safe temperature and the warmer it is, the better they will sleep! If you aren’t sweating, it’s not warm enough! I always tell me clients that we will do parent shots first, because we are usually a hot mess by the end of a session! 🙂
11. Prop Buckets
Like my never ending blanket collection, I have an abundance of prop buckets and baskets. You don’t need a ton, but I like to add variety to my portfolio.
Antique Revival Wooden Kitchen Water Bucket, Aqua
Antique Revival Wooden Round Basin Bucket
Antique Revival Vintage Wooden Vegetable Sink, Natural
Antique Revival Large Tofu Bucket, Aqua
If you are going to use prop buckets, you should be thinking about safety of a newborn. If you don’t have a bucket weighed down at the bottom, a 6-10 pound baby can topple a bucket! I always place a 5 or 10 pound dumbbell in the bottom of any bucket or basket I use and then place a basket stuffer or blanket on top.
13. Snacks and Drinks
Newborn sessions usually take somewhere between 2-3 hours and like I mentioned above, it’s hot in the studio. Make sure you have some bottled water, soda, or coffee on hand for mom and dad. I always have a plate of snacks with anything from granola bars to candy. If I know an older sibling is coming I will usually have a juice box or two and some little snacks like goldfish or graham crackers. I bribe kids with dumdums and stickers, but they can’t have them until after their part is done! 🙂
Newborn sessions are long, so it’s important mom and dad have a comfortable place to sit and relax. I have an assistant in the studio to help assist me with the posing, so I usually encourage mom and dad to take a nap during their session. With the sound machine and the warm temperature, this usually happens! 🙂 This is also a great time for clients to look at product samples to familiarize themselves for their home ordering session.
This is the part that isn’t very fun, but necessary. Without a doubt, baby has peed or pooed on something… I wash everything with All Free & Clear detergent and vacuum and wipe down all props before and after a shoot. I also wash my hands in between every setup and keep hand sanitizer on me at all times!
iRobot Roomba 770 Vacuum Cleaning Robot for Pets and Allergies
All 2x Ultra Free Clear Liquid Laundry Detergent, 150 Oz
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Are you an aspiring newborn photographer wanting to take your newborn photography to the next level? The amazing e-guide The Complete Guide to Newborn Photography gives you 85+ pages of detailed step by step process that takes you through business essentials and a breakdown of how to be successful with your newborn sessions before the shoot, during the shoot, and after the shoot. This guide will give you the know how and confidence you need to be successful!
Want hands on training? Jessica offers 1:1 and 1:2 mentoring and newborn workshops in her home studio in Dallas, Texas. We will go through an entire newborn session from start to finish, including client prep and interaction, prop selection, beanbag posing, prop posing, wrapping techniques, parent and sibling poses, angles, newborn safety, and soothing techniques. To learn more about mentoring and 1 Day Workshops, you can visit Jessica’s shop or contact her with any questions you may have.
Frisco, Texas Newborn Photographer | Dallas Newborn Photographer