One of the best experiences you’ll have as a portraitist is making pictures with brand new babies. There truly is something special about working with someone so new and pure, and it’s a big responsibility to be entrusted with the opportunity. It’s really a once-in-a-lifetime shoot, so be ready and take it seriously.

And remember that it’s not a picture of baskets and props.

What is your purpose?

We love pictures of babies snuggled into a blanket or wrapped in a peapod costume, and we dream of making that kind of picture, too. Swaddling a babe tight and placing him in a basket or a scene or whatever can be really cute, but ask yourself, “What am I photographing?” Are you photographing a product on a terrific set or are you photographing a person?

Photograph relationships

When you make a baby into a prop you’re doing fashion photography. When you see fashion models in a magazine, it can be a striking image, but it’s all about the clothes and you don’t know anything about the model. The model is simply a place to put the clothes. It’s fun to make babies into props, but it’s not important.

The most important pictures you can make are those depicting relationships. You should totally have fun making a baby prop, but you should remember that you haven’t made the most important picture, yet. When you photograph baby with his parents you make an important photo. As baby grows, it will be unbelievable how small he was in relation to his parents. It’ll be incredible how young and innocent mom and dad were in relation to now. We understand our lives by relating them to how they used to be. No one ever said, “Oh, he’s so much bigger than pea pod costume, now.”

So after you make the funny pictures, be sure you make the important pictures, too.

Portrait Tips come out each week, and you can see them all right here.