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Newborn Photography

15 Newborn Photography Tips – The Beginner’s Guide

September 11, 2023 by

Capturing the early moments of a newborn’s life can become a priceless gift for the family and is an art in itself.

Having witnessed the magic of newborn photography, I’ve realized that it’s not just about capturing a cute pose or a fleeting smile but is about encapsulating the essence of a newborn’s innocence, tenderness, and boundless love.

In this guide, I’ll be diving into some invaluable tips and tricks to help you create stunning and heartfelt portraits of newborns.

Whether you’re an aspiring newborn photographer, or a parent eager to document your little one’s journey, this guide is for you.

Let’s dive in.

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Lisa Edwards
"The Milky Way"
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What is Newborn Photography?

Newborn photography is a genre of photography that focuses on capturing the early moments of a baby’s life, typically within 1-2 weeks after birth.

The goal and purpose of newborn photography is to capture the purity, fragility, and beauty of the subject, allowing those moments to be cherished for a lifetime by themselves in the future and their loved ones.

Like a beautiful butterfly emerging from its chrysalis, a newborn baby enters the world with wonder and awe. Their tiny fingers, toes, soft skin, and gaze are like delicate, unfurling wings, ready to take flight.

The goal of the newborn photographer, then, is not just to capture static poses of the newborn — but to capture the moments that reveal the baby’s personality.

Now that we’ve covered the definition of newborn photography, let’s dive into the tips!

newborn photography example
newborn photography example

15 Newborn Photography Tips

Here are 15 newborn photography tips to keep in mind when on a photoshoot.

1. Timing Is Key

The first tip is timing.

Just like every other genre of photography, timing is key.

I recommend scheduling the newborn photoshoot within the first two weeks after birth when newborns and generally sleepier. Why, you may ask? For posing reasons.

Newborn photography often involves curled-up poses. By scheduling the photo shoot within the first two weeks after birth, you will be dealing with a newborn that will be sleeping longer and more deeply, making it easier to position them in those adorable poses.

Additionally, newborns during this stage will be less prone to being startled, making photographing them more manageable. You will also notice that they are more flexible and are able to hold certain positions better during these early weeks.

Of course, I did want to note that every baby is different, and some may develop differently than others. Hence, it’s also very important to communicate with the parents and also take into account any medical considerations as well.

Keep the lines of communication open and be flexible while also taking into consideration the timing of things.

2. Safety First

The second tip is regarding the safety of the newborn.

You’ll always want to prioritize the safety and well-being of the baby.

Newborns are very, very cute, but they’re also very delicate, and their safety and comfort should never be compromised for the sake of a photo.

Some things to keep in mind when on the photoshoot (that should also be communicated to everyone in the room) is to avoid props with sharp edges or small parts, don’t use irritating fabrics, have an assistant or parent present, always work with clean hands and props, be mindful of posing limitations with the newborn due to their muscles, always find ways to support their neck and head in the poses, and know when to say no.

newborn photography baby lying down
newborn photography neck supported

3. Keep the Room Slightly Warm

You know what’s warm? The womb. You know what can get cold? Photography studios.

With that being said, make sure you are in a shooting environment that is comfortably warm for the newborn.

Don’t make it a sauna in the room, but make it a cozy, comfortable atmosphere for the newborn.

I recommend setting your thermostat to at least 75 degrees Fahrenheit, using heating pads if necessary (no direct contact though), dressing the baby appropriately, using blankets and wraps, monitoring the baby’s comfort, and being mindful of overheating.

4. Use Natural Light When Possible

The fourth tip is to use natural light when possible.

Natural lighting will enhance the delicate features of the newborn, so it’s best to try to use soft light, such as ambient lighting or diffused light sources.

Consider placing the baby near a large window or a source of natural light to create this soft light (don’t open it), and consider the time of day of the photoshoot.

Consider photographing during golden hour to add a magical touch to your photos and using reflectors to bounce light back onto the baby to help fill in shadows.

If you have to photograph with only studio lights, then be sure to use a diffuser so the light isn’t so harsh on the newborn.

newborn photography natural light
newborn photography natural light

5. Avoid Direct Flash

The fifth tip is to avoid using direct flash.

I touched on this a bit in the previous tip.

Using a harsh, direct flash could startle the baby and be disruptive for them, making it challenging to capture the serene moments of the newborn.

If you have to use a flash, make sure you are using a diffuser or a softbox in front of the flash to scatter and soften the light.

6. Work With the Parents

The sixth tip is to work with the parents.

When photographing a newborn, you will have to understand that the parents will be very involved; it is their newborn baby, after all.

Make sure you communicate and guide the parents on what to expect and how to prepare their newborn for the photoshoot.

Preparing the parents is just as important as preparing your photography equipment.

You’ll want to make sure you discuss with the parents the best time to schedule the photoshoot, as mentioned in tip #1.

It’s also essential to advise the parents to feed the baby before the session, as a full tummy will help keep the baby happy and sleepy.

Also, instruct the parents to dress the baby in comfortable clothing that can be easy to remove without disturbing them. And as for the parents, remind them that the room will be kept a little warm for the newborn so as to prepare accordingly for themselves.

7. Be Patient

The seventh tip is to be patient.

Patience as a photographer is vital, especially if you are a newborn photographer.

You’ll have to remember that newborns can be unpredictable so be patient and allow time for feeding, diaper changes, and comforting the baby.

If you go into the newborn photoshoot knowing this in advance, you will be prepared mentally for a good session.

Also, be patient with the parents, as they will be new to the whole process, and make sure to maintain open and clear communication throughout the whole session.

8. Capture the Details

The eighth tip is to capture the details.

Newborns have many intricate and captivating details that you will want to capture, such as their tiny fingers, toes, face, and eyes.

In order to capture these details, I recommend you use a lens that will let you capture close-up details, such as a macro lens.

You’ll also want to make sure you are using natural poses that will showcase the details of the newborn.

When it comes to the composition of the shot, consider a composition technique such as the rule of thirds or filling the frame.

newborn photography details
newborn photography details

9. Use Props Sparingly

The ninth tip is to use props sparingly.

Props can definitely enhance the storytelling aspect of the photograph; however, just like adding spices to a dish, you don’t want to overdo it.

It’s a newborn photograph, after all, not a product photoshoot.

When choosing props, I recommend you choose props with intention, keep it simple, safety first, and ensure the props are in proportion to the newborn so it doesn’t award the baby or make them appear lost in the prop.

newborn photography props
newborn photography props

10. Embrace Simplicity

The tenth tip is to embrace simplicity.

In newborn photography, less can truly be more.

By embracing simplicity as a newborn photographer, you will be able to allow the viewer to draw their attention to the newborn.

Embracing simplicity in newborn photographer consists of you choosing a minimalist setup, opting for a neutral color palette, utilizing simple props without much adornments, and using clean and uncluttered backgrounds.

Remember, the focus should be on the newborn, not some crazy-looking backdrop or prop!

11. Explore Different Angles

The eleventh tip is to experiment with different angles and perspectives to capture interesting compositions.

Speaking from experience, it’s better to have a lot of photos that you have to cull through instead of not having enough photos to give to the client.

Some of the most common angles to capture include the overhead view, the side view, the eye-level view, and the close-up view.

I recommend you get multiple images in all of these angles and also variations of these angles. This way, you have a lot of images to work with.

12. Go For Candid

The twelfth tip is to go for candid.

What I mean by this is that some of the most heartwarming images you can capture will be candid images of the newborn or the newborn interacting with their family members.

While posed images are beautiful as well, there is nothing like an excellent candid image that is spontaneous and unscripted.

In order to be in a spot where you are ready to capture a candid image, I’ve found it’s best to stay observant and watch for fleeting moments of connection and emotion.

It’s also imperative to build rapport with the family and to create a comfortable environment because only when the parties are comfortable, is when they will let their guard down and increase the chances of these candid moments occurring.

newborn photography candid
newborn photography candid

13. Consider White Noise or Music

The thirteenth tip is to consider introducing white noise or music into your newborn photography session.

This is more of an optional tip.

Soft background noise that is calming can help add to that soothing environment you are going for.

I recommend you select soothing sounds that are baby-friendly, such as nature sounds or womb-like sounds.

You’ll also want to keep the volume at a consistent level and one that is soothing and not overpowering.

If you find the baby is not cooperating with the music, then turn it off.

14. Keep the Eyes in Focus

The fourteenth tip is to make sure the eyes are in sharp focus.

As you may have heard before, the eyes are windows to the soul. Well, this holds true in newborns as well.

With that being said, it’s crucial that you capture the eyes in sharp focus.

In order to do this, make sure you use a wide aperture to create a shallow depth of field, keep the eyes well-lit, use eye-level compositions, and focus on the closest eye.

Also, make sure you use an autofocus mode, such as single-point autofocus (AF), to ensure you have a sharp focus point.

Lastly, make sure you have enough light in the room to ensure your camera can accurately focus on the eyes.

newborn photography focus the eyes
newborn photography focus the eyes

15. Edit With Subtlety

The fifteenth and final tip is to edit with subtlety.

The post-processing of an image is just as important as the picture-taking process.

You can have a great image out of camera and mess it up with poor editing or over-editing.

Remember, just because you do a lot of edits doesn’t necessarily make it better.

The goal is to enhance the newborn’s features without overdoing it.

In order to do that, I recommend starting with a solid foundation first, making sure your exposure, white balance, and overall tonal balance look accurate and nothing is on the extremes.

Next, you’ll want to make sure that the newborn’s skin texture looks natural and is preserved from the image. Avoid excessive smoothing or blurring techniques, as that can make the baby’s skin look unnatural.

Lastly, enhance the colors subtly and aim for a natural color balance. It’s important to know the fundamentals of analogous colors and complementary colors (the color wheel) during this step.

Final Thoughts

In conclusion, newborn photography is a genre that is very rewarding and unlike many other types of photography because you are dealing with a delicate, unpredictable subject.

By keeping these tips in mind, however, and getting some practice under your belt, you’ll be a newborn photography expert in no time.

Good luck and happy photographing!

How soon should you get newborn photos?

Newborn photos are typically taken within the first two weeks after birth when babies are sleepier and more easily posed.

What should I put my newborn in for pictures?

For newborn pictures, opt for simple and comfortable outfits such as onesies, swaddles, or wraps, keeping the focus on the baby’s natural beauty and features.

Is 3 months too late for newborn photos?

While 3 months is past the typical timeframe for newborn photos, it’s never too late to capture beautiful and meaningful images of your growing baby.

How does a newborn photoshoot work?

A newborn photoshoot typically involves scheduling the session within the first two weeks after birth, creating a warm and calm environment, and working closely with the baby and parents to capture posed and candid moments that showcase the baby’s unique features and the family’s bond.