photography 101 {newborn photo kit}

Entering the world as a photographer you have to know one thing.

It’s an investment.

Camera bodies will run you anywhere from $500-2000 and higher.

Lenses typically range from $300-$2000. 

The flash I want is $450.

Lighting kits start around $200.

Editing software is $200.

Props for food photography add up quickly.  $5 for a bowl here, $8 for a plate there...

Props for newborn photography can also add up quickly. 

  • backdrops
  • space heater
  • multiple blankets
  • bean bag
  • backdrop stand
  • clothing props
  • …and on + on

Getting into this business you have to realize you may not make much money for the first year or so.  Most of the money earned [at least in my case] will be spent upgrading + adding to your list of equipment + props.  While it’s not the camera or lens alone that produce a great image, quality tools are important.

In a perfect world, I could invest in the best of the best right now but that’s just in the cards.  I’ve been working with the same two lenses for 2.5yrs, waiting for the day I can add a few to my bag.  While you can’t really skimp on lenses, there are other ways you can cut photo shoot costs.  In particular, for newborn photography.

What I’ve created below is a basic newborn photography kit that cost right around $70.

It’s not 100% ideal, but it gets the job done.

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  • backdrop stand [expanding clothing rod] = $18
  • bean bag chair = $15
  • clamps to hold backdrops = $5
  • puppy pee pads = $5
  • space heater = already owned
  • fuzzy blanket = $15
  • plain black sheet background = $5
  • white blanket = $15

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The way this little set up works, which is very similar to a professional setup, is by clamping the backdrop onto the clothes rod. 

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Then, drape the blanket over the bean bag chair. 

notes: The cheap beanbag chair does the job, but it wasn’t as soft and moldable as I would have liked.  The higher quality bean bags cost around $90 from what I’ve seen.  I think adding more “fill” to this will help.

The beanbag helps prop the baby up higher, so you’re not shooting on the floor or other random surface.  It’s also a nice cozy spot for the baby.  Being moldable helps get the baby in the position you want.

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Underneath the blanket?

Puppy pee pads!  Believe me you will need these!

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Ideally, you will be able to find a well-lit area in the house by large windows or sliding glass doors. 

After you have everything in place pose your model.

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Okay, maybe more like this.

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The look I wanted to create was to have a seamless background.

Having a space heater is also crucial for a happy baby during the photo shoot.  I kept it at a safe distance away, keeping this little guy warm + cozy. 

notes: I also used a heating pad to warm up blankets and the bean bag chair before placing the baby on them.

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After the newborn-only shots were done I extended the clothing rod to it’s full height.  Having the extendable rod was key!  The blanket was not big enough to stretch all the way from the fully extended height over the bean bag.

I bought a plain black flat sheet and clamped that to the rod.  Perfect for the family shots.

note: While the adjustable rod worked really well, the one flaw is that it’s only 5’10” at the fully extended height.  I need to figure out how to squeeze a few more inches out of it for those tall dads!  If you have any ideas on an extension piece let me know!  The black sheet was a great deal for $5 and worked well in my opinion.

Adjustable backdrop stands cost around $50 on Amazon.  This $18 clothing rod did the trick, at least for now!  I didn’t want to invest a ton of money not knowing how many newborn photography shoots I would be booking.

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Black backdrop images.

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The last helpful item is some sort of white noise machine.

If you have a smart phone you can download a free white noise app with all sorts of different sounds.  If you have a newborn you may want to download this as well!!  I have fun annoying Chris with this app, because you can play more than one sound at a time.

Water + Wind + Flute!!

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And that’s that!  It’s about the cheapest newborn photography set up you could put together.

I hope someone out there finds this post helpful.  Maybe a newbie photographer, like me.  Or, maybe a mom/dad trying to take shots of their little one!