Firsts / by Brandon Kawamura

Speaking of trying something new, I was asked by one of my coworkers if I could photograph her newborn daughter. Despite having ZERO experience with newborns, I said "Sure!" What followed were a lot of messages to my photography pal, Daren, a recent father himself, about how to go about working with newborns.

1. Props! Newborn photographers own LOTS of props. I borrowed many basics, like soft textured rugs, and baskets, and beanbags, and pillows, and wraps, and wood letter blocks, and backdrops, but the best props say a little something about the family.

2. Lights! They can be controversial in the newborn photography space. I was told that flash photography is generally okay. In rare instances, newborns may react to flashes by seizing, which is scary for all parties involved, but this reaction is often a symptom that parents benefit from knowing about early. Armed with this information, I used my flashes for many of the images, and baby Amelia wasn't phased. I approached lighting much like I do with product photography. The baby has soft skin, so I tried diffusing my light more to match. I used reflectors to soften the shadows some too.

3. Timing! The best baby subject is one that is asleep, or at least tired enough not to move. Babies younger than three days are ideal, particularly after they have been fed. Amelia was a week old when I first met her, and she was already capable of unposing herself and wiggling out of wraps.

Doing photo sessions outside of my comfort zone often gives me a bigger appreciation for those who specialize in the genre, and this experience was no different. Clearly I am not a newborn photographer, but I am grateful to Amelia and her lovely family for being my first.

Amelia 56mm, f/2.0, 1/180s, ISO 200

Amelia 56mm, f/2.0, 1/180s, ISO 200