Over the weekend I took some photos of my friends and there new born baby Joshua. It was the first photography "shoot" I'd done outside of my own immediate family, and with the confidence I'd gained from doing plenty of reading on the net, and the knowledge that I can always rescue photos in Photoshop I set out to capture images of this tiny baby forever.
The tips below are what I think really helped me out as a first timer, and are therefore aimed at photographers in a similar situation.
1) Be PatientBabies scream and squirm a lot. Fact. I was at the shoot for a little over 2 hours, and a good 50% of that time was spent crying. Just chill, the parents will be stressed enough without having you breathing down there necks and getting all stroppy.
Relax; the baby, the parents and you will perform much better in a calm, quiet environment.
2) Plan the shoot with the parentsTalk to the parents about any particular photos they want to capture and the best time to do the shoot as you'll want the baby at there most placid. Before you arrive make sure you have a good idea of the photos you want to take, search through Flickr or your favourite site and find images that you like. Look at the angles, the poses and the lighting used, this will give you a great starting point to expand and improve upon.
3) It's all about lightingBabies are soft and smooth skinned, I'm sure that you and the parents will want to capture this. The ideal lighting (in my opionion) would be a soft even light. Obviously this depends on the mood of the photos you want to capture, nothing spoils a nice photo like a harsh shadow across someones face.
I have a flash with an umbrella and a few other bits of equipment to achieve this, however a few lights bounced off the ceiling can do a pretty good job too.
Check out Strobist for a fantastic resource on all kinds of lighting setups and ideas.
4) Keep it simpleThe best baby photos are the ones of the baby, I know this sounds simple but you need to take care to minimise "noise" in photos, you don't want lots of props or a busy background. The simpler the better.
I use a black or white bed sheet held up between 2 lighting stands as my backdrops, they're cheap, readily available and come in every colour you can think of.
5) Boost the parents confidenceGive loads of feedback, then give some more. Little bits of advice like "move that arm down a bit", "you're doing great", "that's a really nice shot" will relax your clients and make them feel like they are doing a good job. Don't be afraid to show them the pictures you've just taken, people really like to see what's going on behind the camera too!
While I'm sure there are a million other points worth while putting in here, I think these are the points that I needed most. Keep everyone smiling with a positive atmosphere, they'll be happier, there will be better results, and you'll want to do it all over again!