Photo Peas Classroom: Newborn Photography (basic)

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Posted 3/30/2010 by emily.weaver.brown in General Photography
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mama to 3 now!

PeaNut 305,846
March 2007
Posts: 8,539
Layouts: 41
Loc: Australia

Posted: 3/30/2010 3:16:21 AM
Wow thanks Emily. That is fabulous! I have been practicing weekly with my BFF little one and not 100% happy with the lighting and postioning. Your diagrams are invaluable! I am bookmarking it and printing to read through again as I am sure that I have a few questions pop up!

Thank you!

my blog JLB photography FB fan page
In my bag: Canon 50D, Tamron 28-75mm f2.8, 50mm f1.8, 430exII;
On my computer: CS4, LR3
Feel free to hhcc me anytime!


PeaNut 439,885
September 2009
Posts: 283
Layouts: 1

Posted: 3/30/2010 4:33:00 AM
Thank you, Emily. The information here is invaluable. You are among the best!
Can you tell me more about the light you use? What is the name of it? I have been looking into purchasing a light like this!


PeaNut 364,327
February 2008
Posts: 319
Layouts: 6
Loc: Switzerland

Posted: 3/30/2010 4:52:59 AM
Thank you so much Emily for this! I cant wait to have time to sit down and absorb it all!

My Photography Blog
My Facebook Page
Canon 5d Mark II and 50D, 24-70mm 2.8, 50mm f1.4, 85mm 1.8, 28-75 f2.8, 580exii speedlite
Calibrated on an iMac with Lightroom and CS5

Can you hear me now???

PeaNut 26,273
December 2001
Posts: 7,824
Layouts: 180
Loc: North Carolina

Posted: 3/30/2010 5:08:26 AM
thanks emily. I don't shoot newborns but your information was very valuable, especially the lighting!


Can you give us a little more information on our lighting equipment?

Thanks so much!

Will I ever get to Buckethead?!

PeaNut 426,570
June 2009
Posts: 407
Layouts: 3
Loc: Brisbane, Australia

Posted: 3/30/2010 5:44:44 AM
You have no idea how much I've been looking forward to this lesson! I can't wait to sit down and read it properly several times over. I've got a newborn in the next month so this will be my bible til then!

Thank you, thank you, thank you!

In my bag
~ canon 1000D (aka rebel xs) ~ tamron 28-75 f2.8 ~ 18-55mm IS kit lens ~ canon 50mm 1.8 II ~ Alien Bee 400 ~ 43in translucent round brollybox ~

NessyB Photography Blog | NessyB Photography Website | NessyB Photography Facebook Fan Page


PeaNut 430,898
July 2009
Posts: 361
Layouts: 3
Loc: Tennessee

Posted: 3/30/2010 6:05:17 AM
Thank you so much for sharing! This is such great information!!


PeaNut 385,152
July 2008
Posts: 307
Layouts: 7
Loc: New Brunswick, Canada

Posted: 3/30/2010 6:54:38 AM
This is great information! I have been waiting for this lesson and it is just as great as I knew it would be. I have my first newborn (other than my own dd) this Saturday, so I am sure I will read through this many times before then. One question - do you have any advice about or shots you could post of newborns and toddler siblings? I don't really know how to go about posing them. I tried with my two girls when my dd was a newborn and it didn't go so well. Any help would be appreciated


My gear (so far):
Sony a700, Sony a200, Tamron 70-200mm 2.8, Tamron 28-70mm 2.8, 18-70mm Kit Lens, Minolta 50mm 1.7, Sony 70-300mm, Metz 48AF Flash, Lightroom, PS CS3

Molly C
PhotograPea Enabler

PeaNut 49,752
September 2002
Posts: 15,942
Layouts: 86
Loc: Virginia, where my heart has always been

Posted: 3/30/2010 6:56:22 AM
This is fabulous. I've never shot a newborn, but hope to some day! This is great information. Thank you so very much for sharing.

So much of this can translate into just general lighting set up as well, not just specific to newborns.


Nikon D700
Nikon lenses & flash, AB400 and softbox

SJ Photography

PeaNut 311,426
April 2007
Posts: 3,782
Layouts: 7
Loc: Michigan

Posted: 3/30/2010 7:08:32 AM
Thank you! I cannot wait to come back and read this very carefully! Great job!


Canon 5D, 24-70 mm 2.8, 85 mm 1.8, 50 mm 1.4, 100 mm 2.8

My Blog

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 150,843
June 2004
Posts: 7,819
Layouts: 213
Loc: Texas

Posted: 3/30/2010 7:20:11 AM
Thank you so much, Emily, for such a detailed explanation! There are so many pearls of wisdom in there especially about soothing/comforting.

And just before you said it, I was thinking, "That applies to natural light, too!"

Thank you for taking the time to write all of that out - I know it's not a quick task.


Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 97,944
July 2003
Posts: 5,638
Layouts: 251
Loc: Parkersburg, WV

Posted: 3/30/2010 7:32:59 AM
this was awesome! thank you for sharing.

My blog


PeaNut 254,107
March 2006
Posts: 29,049
Layouts: 29
Loc: Texas

Posted: 3/30/2010 7:34:28 AM
Wow Emily, thanks so much for all of that awesome and detailed information! I appreciate you taking the time to share all of this with us!

Drink lots...PEA pale!

PeaNut 276,190
September 2006
Posts: 22,615
Layouts: 717
Loc: Colorado

Posted: 3/30/2010 8:26:11 AM
and this is why you run with the big dogs

Seriously though... you are so well-thought out in your examples and even though I've not gotten a ton of practice on newborns, I found myself nodding my head over and over and then, having "ah-ha" moments from time to time. Thank you so much for sharing, it's fabulous.


24-70 2.8L
100 2.8L IS macro
135 2.0L
85 1.2L II
Fisheye 15mm
Tamron 70-200 2.8
Lensbaby Composer

CS4 on a calibrated Mac

My blog
Photography website
Woolywishes Etsy shop


PeaNut 304,920
March 2007
Posts: 263
Layouts: 0
Loc: Missouri

Posted: 3/30/2010 8:57:03 AM
awesome THANK YOU

Momma to four little stinkers
Nikon D80
Nikon 18-135mm
Nikon 50mm 1.8

MY BLOG (that I've really not used in a year LOL)


PeaNut 385,152
July 2008
Posts: 307
Layouts: 7
Loc: New Brunswick, Canada

Posted: 3/30/2010 9:01:14 AM
One more quick question, Emily. I look back through your post to make sure you didn't cover it, but I didn't see it. What lens do you primarily shoot with? I am debating between my 28-75mm 2.8 and my 50mm 1.8. Which one would be better overall? Or does it just depend on the shot? THanks again!


My gear (so far):
Sony a700, Sony a200, Tamron 70-200mm 2.8, Tamron 28-70mm 2.8, 18-70mm Kit Lens, Minolta 50mm 1.7, Sony 70-300mm, Metz 48AF Flash, Lightroom, PS CS3


PeaNut 378,885
June 2008
Posts: 1,076
Layouts: 7
Loc: BC, Canada

Posted: 3/30/2010 9:23:33 AM
Thank you Emily, that was wonderful information. Especially:

Now you get the general idea about a progression.

Thanks for taking the time out to do this. I love your work!

CC and plays always welcome and much appreciated!
Cannon Rebel XT ~ 17-55mm 2.8 ~ 50mm 1.8


PeaNut 284,112
November 2006
Posts: 975
Layouts: 1
Loc: Illinois

Posted: 3/30/2010 9:24:40 AM
I just quickly glanced at this, and also quickly bookmarked it to read through when I have more time! I love your baby photos and just know this information will be very valuable! My nephew's wife is expecting in September and I hope to put some of this lesson to use then! I can't wait! Thanks for a great lesson.


My equipment:
Nikon D90, Nikon 35 1.8, Nikon 55-200, Nikon 18-55, Tamron 18-200, Nikon 85 1.8, Nikon 50 1.4, Tamron 28-75, SB600 (though I have no clue how to use it yet!), 5 in 1 reflector and a few other misc. photography gadgets! Plus theres plenty on my wish list!!!


PeaNut 420,439
April 2009
Posts: 1,289
Layouts: 0
Loc: Lehi, Utah

Posted: 3/30/2010 9:29:01 AM
Wonderful, wonderful stuff.


5DmkII gripped
24-70 2.8L
70-200 2.8 L is ii
85 1.2L ii
50 1.2L
16-35 2.8L ii
100 2.8L IS macro
50 1.4
Tamron 28-75 2.8
Various odds and ends

Pure Photography and Design Website Blog Facebook Fanpage Rachel Rehart Photography Weblog Pure Photoshop Actions


PeaNut 374,469
May 2008
Posts: 1,652
Layouts: 88
Loc: Kansas

Posted: 3/30/2010 9:31:03 AM
Thank you so much. that was really helpful information. I really appreciate the time you took to do that.

"A women is like a tea bag... she doesn't know how strong she is until she is in hot water"

Ancient Ancestor of Pea

PeaNut 100,139
August 2003
Posts: 5,209
Layouts: 0
Loc: Boston, MA

Posted: 3/30/2010 9:43:36 AM
Thanks, Emily.

~ Karen


PeaNut 26,170
December 2001
Posts: 615
Layouts: 42
Loc: SD

Posted: 3/30/2010 9:43:59 AM
Thanks! I just had my baby 3 weeks ago, and have been trying to take pictures. I am going to get a bean bag today!


Nikon D60

Prayers: You need 'em? I've got 'em <3

PeaNut 365,669
March 2008
Posts: 12,737
Layouts: 81
Loc: St. Louis, MO

Posted: 3/30/2010 9:53:13 AM
Thank you for such a fabulous, detailed lesson!

Blessings, Rebecca

My gear:
Nikon D700-a dream come true
50mm 1.8
70-200mm (old AF film lens)
Nikon D40-
55-200mm VR
Promaster 7400EDF flash
Close up macro filter set

Drink lots...PEA pale!

PeaNut 276,190
September 2006
Posts: 22,615
Layouts: 717
Loc: Colorado

Posted: 3/30/2010 9:57:31 AM
I thought of a question for you.

-Have you ever had a session in which you felt defeated and like you just could not get what you wanted? If so... how did you overcome that?


24-70 2.8L
100 2.8L IS macro
135 2.0L
85 1.2L II
Fisheye 15mm
Tamron 70-200 2.8
Lensbaby Composer

CS4 on a calibrated Mac

My blog
Photography website
Woolywishes Etsy shop


PeaNut 39,805
June 2002
Posts: 4,325
Layouts: 37
Loc: Roy, Utah

Posted: 3/30/2010 10:02:42 AM
This is all such fantastic info, Emily! Thank you so much! I have another couple of portfolio building newborn sessions coming up....hopefully I can utilize all of this great info. Thanks again!


Life in Moments Photography Blog

Canon 40D!!!!!, Canon XT, Canon 18-55mm, Canon 50mm 1.8

For beautiful eyes, look for the good in others; for beautiful lips, speak only words of kindness; and for poise, walk with the knowledge that you are never alone. - Audrey Hepburn


PeaNut 263,040
May 2006
Posts: 3,877
Layouts: 46
Loc: Bellingham, Washington

Posted: 3/30/2010 10:23:38 AM
Thanks for putting so much time into your lesson! So clear, consice, you're amazing! You could write a book!


Lost and Found in Pea-land

PeaNut 138,098
March 2004
Posts: 6,558
Layouts: 2
Loc: NC but wishing I was somewhere else

Posted: 3/30/2010 10:44:23 AM
This is an incredible tutorial. I love babies, but doubt I would have the patience to photograph them on a regular basis...thankfully there are people like you out there. I LOVE your work.

Thanks for taking the time to share your talent.


PeaNut 262,177
May 2006
Posts: 4,753
Layouts: 102
Loc: Suburb of Vancouver

Posted: 3/30/2010 10:45:13 AM
Thanks for sharing Emily!

I totally made the flat lighting mistakes when I was JSO! I had a big AHA moment when I figured out what the heck I was doing wrong. It is soooo important to have those shadows!

I agree with you 100% about just being comfortable with newborns. I have always been comfortable with babies and even though I am not a mother, I always get comments about how much of a natural I am with them. I think it really helps. I am not afraid to handle them at all and I really think those little babe's can sense nervousness and will not settle if the person who is handling them is nervous.

Do you use a reflector with your softbox?


Website | Blog | Facebook

Nikon D700 | Nikon D300 | 24-70/2.8 | 70-200/2.8 | 85/1.8 | Sigma 105/2.8 macro | SB900 | Apollo Westcott 50x50 softbox | AB400
CS5 | LR 3
Calibrated with spyder 3 PRO!
On location photog, wishing for a studio soon!


PeaNut 64,293
January 2003
Posts: 5,418
Layouts: 493
Loc: anywhere but where I should be

Posted: 3/30/2010 11:24:21 AM
thank you...thank you...thank you

I'm going to read and re-read and then read again

My grandson is due in June and I'm so excited to get the chance to photograph him. Now I'll feel way more prepared for the big event. This information is awesome!!


Thank you to all the photography peas who are so willing to help out those of us with less knowledge.


PeaNut 406,249
January 2009
Posts: 959
Layouts: 0
Loc: B.C., Canada

Posted: 3/30/2010 11:52:02 AM
Thanks for the great info. I too am curious about what equipment you use. I have a couple of newborns coming up and I am excited to put your tutorial to use.

~~ Corrie ~~

Nikon D700 | Nikon D90 | 50mm 1.8 |35mm 1.8 |85mm 1.8
LR3 & CS5


My Blog


PeaNut 192,476
February 2005
Posts: 2,075
Layouts: 35
Loc: Lakewood, CA

Posted: 3/30/2010 12:00:00 PM
Thank you! That was exactly what I needed to see to better my newborn photography.

Great at taking pictures!
Facebook Fan Page
5D Mark II ~ 40D ~ Canon XSi ~ Sigma 30mm 1.4 ~ 85mm 1.8 ~ 50mm 1.4 ~ Tamron 28-75 ~ CS4


PeaNut 428,425
June 2009
Posts: 112
Layouts: 0
Loc: Pacific Northwest

Posted: 3/30/2010 1:47:07 PM
Thank you so much!

Sony A550, 50mm f/1.8, 70-300mm f/4-5.6, 18-70mm f/3.5-5.6

The {Pea}J's Girl

PeaNut 87,750
May 2003
Posts: 5,296
Layouts: 45

Posted: 3/30/2010 3:09:09 PM
ooooooooohhhh Emily, this was awesome!

Thank You so much for taking the time to do this for us. I love newborns, love them... Your work is always so awesome and beautiful and you serve as a true inspiration to those of us on the board.



PeaNut 457,149
February 2010
Posts: 842
Layouts: 2

Posted: 3/30/2010 3:27:04 PM
Thank you very much for putting this together...great tutorial! So generous!

I remember reading on your pea interview that you use the AB400 and Westcott 50x50 softbox...did you have to purchase anything extra to get the softbox to fit the Bees?

Thank you,


Canon 5D Mark ii
24-70mm 2.8L
100mm 2.8L macro
50mm 1.4
580 EXII
Bamboo tablet

picture perfect

PeaNut 42,646
July 2002
Posts: 19,396
Layouts: 491
Loc: Upstate NY

Posted: 3/30/2010 3:31:35 PM
Thanks Emily!!


Can I ask why it is that you don't like the blanket to be vertical behind the beanbag?

Stacey Anna

PeaNut 90,606
June 2003
Posts: 2,506
Layouts: 115

Posted: 3/30/2010 4:13:35 PM
This is fantastic! Thank you so much for taking the time out to do this for us!

I pea a lot...

PeaNut 345,407
October 2007
Posts: 9,468
Layouts: 47
Loc: Australia

Posted: 3/30/2010 4:47:17 PM
I'm going to have to do some testing with my lights in different positions. I thought I knew what feathering was, but I obviously didn't after seeing your diagram! TFS!






PeaNut 338,012
September 2007
Posts: 169
Layouts: 1
Loc: North Dakota

Posted: 3/30/2010 5:20:21 PM
Thanks for taking the time to write up such a great tutorial about newborn photography.


PeaNut 417,111
March 2009
Posts: 733
Layouts: 2
Loc: NYC

Posted: 3/30/2010 7:20:17 PM
Thank you thank you thank you Emily!!!!

I'm slowly getting into working more with newborns and have learned a ton from my mistakes - posts like this really help A LOT with avoiding those mistakes!!

Your work is STUNNING and it's such a pleasure reading your posts.


Nikon 35mm 2.0 lens
Nikon 50mm 1.8 lens
Nikon 85mm 1.8 lens

AB 800 and giant Softbox

{I'm calibrated - YEY}

{FACEBOOK fan me}


PeaNut 343,181
October 2007
Posts: 2,140
Layouts: 69
Loc: Southeast Kansas

Posted: 3/30/2010 9:36:40 PM
Definitely bookmarking this for future reference. Thank you so much!!

"You have to have confidence in your ability, and then be tough enough to follow through." {Rosalyn Carter}

My Blog: 2009
My Facebook Fan page


PeaNut 135,621
March 2004
Posts: 3,607
Layouts: 52
Loc: somewhere in Texas

Posted: 3/30/2010 10:40:03 PM

Nikon D800
Nikon D300
85mm f/1.8 | 24-70mm f/2.8 | 80-200mm f/2.8 | 60mm f/2.8 macro | 50mm f/2.8
50mm f/1.8

Nikon D70s | 18-200mm f/3.5-5.6|18-70mm f/3.5-4.5 | 70-300mm f/4-5.6
Sekonic L-358
2 SB-800 | 2 Elinchrom 500 BxRi
2 Pocket Wizards III

CS5 | LR4 |PSE6

Stock pictures
My recentstock pictures at

Colette from SA

PeaNut 269,116
July 2006
Posts: 207
Layouts: 94
Loc: South Africa

Posted: 3/31/2010 1:37:07 AM
This is priceless info Emily. Thanks so very much!

<a href="" target="_blank"><img src="" border="0" alt=" photo 2p1.jpg"/></a>

Nikon D60
Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 35mm 1:1.8G
Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 18-55mm 1:3.5-5.6 GII ED
Nikon DX AF-S Nikkor 55-200mm 1:4-5.6 G ED


PeaNut 364,713
February 2008
Posts: 1,147
Layouts: 0
Loc: Nebraska

Posted: 3/31/2010 8:42:29 AM
Fantastic! Thanks for all the time and detail you put into this.

Nikon D300,Nikon D90,Nikon D40x,70-200 2.8 VR,50 1.8,SB600,55-200 VR,Tamron 28-74 2.8,Tamron17-35 2.8-4,lightroom 2,PSE5,AlienBs,SB 800 &600


PeaNut 254,479
March 2006
Posts: 244
Layouts: 32
Loc: Arizona

Posted: 3/31/2010 8:53:18 AM
Wow! Thank you for sharing!


Will I ever get to Buckethead?!

PeaNut 108,915
September 2003
Posts: 406
Layouts: 9
Loc: IL

Posted: 3/31/2010 9:13:02 AM
Thanks for taking the time do this, the information is really helpful. I have a couple questions.

How do you deal with a baby that just won't relax or fall asleep? And how do you deal with parents that won't relax? I feel like the session goes much smoother, and I am able to get the baby to calm down when I just take over (after the baby has a full stomach.) I've had a couple Mom's that just wouldn't "back off"- I guess you could say! They would want to come and console the baby if she got the least bit fussy. The sad thing is one of those Mom's was a close friend of mine!

Just wondering how I can let them know in the nicest way possible, it is easier when they let me take over. Have you had this situation?

I'm also curious about the question Heather asked. Thanks again, love your work BTW!



PeaNut 151,070
June 2004
Posts: 1,147
Layouts: 13
Loc: Colorado

Posted: 3/31/2010 6:34:54 PM
Great information! Thanks Emily! I don't do many babies, but definitely going to try the heater next time.


PeaNut 280,501
October 2006
Posts: 1,430
Layouts: 99
Loc: Birmingham, Al.

Posted: 3/31/2010 10:24:01 PM
Thanks so much Emily for the tut on posing nbs.It is so helpful to see your pull backs,and read about your tips for soothing newborns. You're absolutely right. I worked in a newborn nursery for 5 yrs., and everything you said really does work. I've just never seen anyone put it into words quite as well as you did. You really should write a book on it. (But then you wouldn't have time to photograph lol). Thanks again for all your time you put into this. Love your work.

Carolyn Upton Miller

Stacey B.

PeaNut 374,085
April 2008
Posts: 898
Layouts: 21
Loc: California

Posted: 3/31/2010 11:21:03 PM
Seriously, this was amazing. I was hanging on every word. Thank you so much for sharing your talent with us!

Nikon D700 ~ Nikon 24-70 2.8 ~ Nikon 60mm 2.8 Macro ~ Sigma 50mm 1.4
Learn with me on my photography blog!
My Website-still in the process

To pea or not to pea that is the question.

PeaNut 355,331
January 2008
Posts: 11,548
Layouts: 89
Loc: utah

Posted: 3/31/2010 11:57:41 PM
Thank you very much! I can't wait to try these techniques on my niece this weekend!

Nikon D90
Nikon D50
50 mm 1.8
Nikon fisheye 10.5
Nikon 85 mm/1.8
Tamron 17-50 mm/2.8
18-55 mm
70-300 mm
My blog: Whatever
My Etsy: My Etsy


PeaNut 412,762
February 2009
Posts: 269
Layouts: 0
Loc: Minneapolis

Posted: 4/1/2010 12:12:42 AM
Fantastic info- thanks for sharing your time and talents. LOVED the diagrams. thank you!!


PeaNut 302,504
March 2007
Posts: 489
Layouts: 29
Loc: North Carolina

Posted: 4/1/2010 10:50:24 AM
Emily...Thank you SO much for your write was awesome I love seeing really helps me to understand things better. You do amazing work...thanks for taking the time to explain everything so well.

Carolina Dreams blog
Canon 40d, Canon 28-135mm, Sigma 70-300mm, Canon 50mm 1.8, Speedlite 580EX
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