Blog » Newborn Photography Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide (77 Best Tips!)

Newborn Photography Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide (77 Best Tips!)

Newborn Photography Made Simple: A Step-by-Step Guide

newborn baby in a light pink swaddle, laying on pink textured background during a newborn photography session

Nothing is sweeter than a brand new baby. From their little yawns, tiny toes and sleepy grins, everyone loves photos of newborn babies. Even if you are just starting to research what newborn photography is all about. Or you are considering a career as a newborn photographer. This ultimate and complete guide will answer all your questions and give you the best newborn photography tips and tricks out there.

I’ll start from the very beginning, but here is a general outline of what this step-by-step guide will cover:

  • Why Newborn Photography Matters
  • Newborn Photography Definition
  • Newborn Photography Overview
    • Safety
    • Styles
    • Locations
    • Equipment
    • Accessories and Backdrops
    • Timing
    • Preparation
  • Newborn Photoshoot Tips

Why Newborn Photography Matters in 2021

Newborn photography is probably one of the most important categories of professional photography.

Why? Because it freezes in time those first few precious weeks of a new born baby’s life.

How often do you hear parents say things like:

“The days are long, but the years are short”.

“They grow up so fast!” or “Time is flying”.

Well folks, thanks to Covid, 2020 was a year that kind of disappeared for some of us. So, many of us have made a vow to preserve our memories in 2021! Having professional photos to look back on helps parents never forget how tiny their little baby once was. As baby grows, these photos become even more important and sentimental.

On top of this, these photos can become part of a family’s heritage and passed on to future generations to come.

To be the photographer who documents these special moments in time is an honor!

What is Newborn Photography: A Definition

There has always been many different categories of photography: engagement, wedding, graduating seniors, family, etc. It was only a matter of time until newborn photography became its own niche.

Before there were photographers specializing in newborns, most parents would turn to their wedding photographer for help in photographing their new baby boy or baby girl. It only seemed natural to go back to the photographer that documented the most important day of your life!

But, most wedding photographers had little to no experience working with babies. In fact, taking photos of a newborn is nothing like photographing a wedding. So, this left many parents searching for a photographer who was trained and well versed in working with babies. Naturally, this led to many photographers deciding to focus solely on newborn photography.

So, in a nutshell, newborn photography is the category of photography that focuses on taking photos of a newborn baby, usually two weeks old or less, by a trained, experienced professional. One that has devoted themselves to the craft of safely lighting, wrapping, posing, and soothing newborns. So they can produce beautiful memories for parents and future family generations.

Newborn Photography Overview

At first glance, a photo of a sleeping newborn might seem simple: a cute, sleeping baby. But you would be surprised at how much time, patience and effort goes into a newborn photoshoot. Not only do you need to be a great photographer, but you should also understand all the different aspects of newborn photography. Aspects such as safety, different styles, locations and equipment used, props and accessories, as well as timing and preparation.

Let’s take a closer look.

Safety in Newborn Photography

The most important topic when discussing newborn photography is safety.

There are many ways you can learn the skills needed to safely photograph newborns. There are hundreds of on-line videos, classes, groups and conventions all devoted to newborn photography education. But, the number one way in our opinion is to learn from in-person mentoring and training sessions from experts. During these sessions you will learn hands on the safety skills and posing confidence needed to be a newborn photographer. Of course, in addition to this you will learn the proper soothing techniques to work with babies.

I’m here to tell you that in-person, hands on mentoring and training with an expert is the number one way to learn how to pose a newborn safely. Additionally, you can take on-line education courses. Photographers can watch expert mentors conduct multiple live newborn photoshoots and ask questions. Throughout the year, there are also many baby conventions dedicated to newborn photography and include courses devoted to safety. Even the most seasoned newborn photographers will continue to educate themselves!

And More Safety

Knowing how to properly soothe, handle and support baby is an absolute requirement of any professional newborn photographer. Parents should take extra special care when deciding on their newborn photographer. Ensuring they are putting their brand new little love into the hands of someone who is highly experienced and specializes in newborn photography. Someone who will never pose a baby in an unsafe position. No pose or shot is EVER worth a baby’s safety. I can’t stress this enough. Our newborn photography sessions are dictated by one, and only one, person. The baby. It doesn’t matter what parents or we have planned out. Or what pose or prop we were hoping for. We photograph what the baby is comfortable in. If they are not happy in a certain pose or position, we move on. A comfortable baby is a peaceful baby and this will show in the photos you take.

The baby’s comfort and safety should be paramount to you, as the newborn photographer, which is also why you should always always work with an assistant. Having two sets of eyes attending to the baby during the entire newborn session is very important.

Last, all professional newborn photographers should take an Infant/Baby Safety and CPR class at their local hospital.

Styles

There are two main styles of newborn photography: posed and lifestyle. Below we will cover the differences between each!

Posed Newborn Photography

Posed newborn photography is more like professional portraits for your baby in a studio setting. Studio light or natural light can be used. Accessories, backdrops, flowers or greenery and props are used to add texture and beauty to the photos. Your photographer will gently position your baby into a variety of cute poses during the photo shoot. Keeping your baby comfortable and content the entire time. The emphasis is on your baby looking especially adorable in those classic sleeping newborn poses.

There are three main categories in posed newborn photography:

  • Bare baby
  • Props
  • Parents and Siblings

Bare baby

Bare baby shots are those classic newborn photos where baby is posed on a fabric on top of a firm surface. Accessories such as wraps, headbands, hats, etc. are used, too. The focus of these shots are just baby with very little distractions. A stretchy fabric is draped and pulled taught over a firm surface, serving as one continuous background. Surfaces like a posing beanbag or table can be used. Each newborn photographer has their own workflow for these bare baby shots. Often, they will start with one specific pose and continue to transition from one pose to another. Ideally, baby will stay sleeping the entire time. Parents especially love these photos because they focus on the star of the show- their new born baby!

Top 5 Basic Newborn Photography Poses

There are five main bare baby poses.

  • Womb
  • Bum or Tushy Up
  • Hands Under Chin
  • Side Laying
  • Back Laying

1. Womb Pose

newborn baby posed on solid white fabric during a newborn photography session

In the womb pose, baby’s feet are crossed over and curled up underneath them. A hand is tucked sweetly under their cheek. This posed is named for being somewhat similar to the position baby is inside the womb during pregnancy. In this photo, there is a little posing pillow underneath baby’s cheek to gently lift their head up towards the light and camera.

2. Bum or Tushy Up Pose

baby girl posed on cream fabric in professional newborn photography photoshoot

During the bum or tushy up pose, baby’s feet are crossed and resting underneath their bottom. Babies tend to love this pose. Having their knees tucked under their tummy, with their head to the side is a natural position for them when being held or burped by a parent. The tush up pose is one of the most classic bare baby shots in newborn photography.

3. Hands Under Chin Pose

black and white photo of baby boy posed on solid fabric during a newborn photo shoot

The hand on chin pose is a parent favorite as it focuses on baby’s face. Baby’s hands are folded sweetly and placed under their chin. Your photographer’s goal is to have baby’s face in focus, as the body goes into a soft blur, or bokeh.

4. Side Laying Pose

smiling baby boy with hat on laying on his side during a newborn photo shoot

While the side laying pose can be more of a challenging shot during a newborn photography session, we think it can be one of the cutest too! In this pose, baby is laying on their side with their hands tucked underneath their cheek. Again, the baby’s face is in focus, as the body goes out of focus.

5. Back Laying Pose

baby boy laying on his back in a cream swaddle

Last, we have the back laying pose that is just that. Baby is posed on their back either bare or swaddled. The goal in this pose is baby’s hands resting peacefully on their chest while their feet are crossed.

Props

On the other hand, prop shots offer more texture and dimension to a newborn photography photo. Baby is photographed while posed on or in a prop. Almost always, a newborn photographer will swaddle baby nice and snug in a wrap first. Then, baby will be gently placed in a prop and little posing pillows are used to support their head. Next, baby will be photographed from a variety of different angles. Aerial, side view, straight on, close up, etc. Most newborn photographers will say that prop shots allow them to get the most variety of images for their clients. For this reason, prop shots are often a favorite among baby photographers and parents.

5 Best Newborn Photography Props

There are five main types of props used during a newborn photography photo shoot.

  • Round (bowls, nests, etc.)
  • Rectangle (crates)
  • Bucket
  • Bed
  • Flokati Rug

1. Round Prop

babies posed in round props

For round props, things like woven baskets, wood bowls, and nests are used. Photographers love this style of prop because they seem to naturally keep baby in a nice, round shape.

2. Rectangle Prop

baby girl posed in white crate with pink flowers holding teddy bear

The most popular rectangular props right now are wood and bamboo crates. Baby is always padded underneath with layers of knit blankets, faux fur or felted wool for comfort. This prop is also perfect for capturing close up macro shots of baby’s details.

3. Baby Bed Prop

baby boys in wood bed prop

Wood baby beds are the most popular newborn photography prop right now. They are often handmade by a woodworker photographers. Made with specific dimensions, they are perfectly sized for a newborn baby.

4. Bucket Prop

baby girl posed in a wood bucket

Although the bucket prop shot can be more challenging, it sure is a parent favorite! In this prop, baby’s half swaddled body is placed down into the bucket. Baby’s arms rest on the edge of the bucket for a perfect shot of their face. Don’t worry, there is plenty of padding and support in and around the inside of the bucket to keep baby very comfortable. Buckets props come in a variety of materials, with wood and metal being the most popular in newborn photography.

5. Flokati Rug

baby boy in los angeles newborn photography shoot

Although not technically a prop, the flokati rug is used in a professional newborn photography session. You spread it out over a posing pillow or round prop. You create a small dip in the middle and place baby gently in. The flokati gives a beautiful textured backdrop for a newborn photo. And, it adds variety to the photo shoot.

Parents and Siblings

Last, there are parent and sibling photos taken during a posed newborn photography photoshoot. These shots have a more emotional and sensitive element to them. Photographers will pose baby with each parent, sibling and everyone together. They will also guide them through a series of shots, photographing different angles and expressions as parents and siblings engage with baby. These are photos a family will never regret having!

Top 4 Newborn Photography Family and Sibling Poses

There are four main categories of the parent and sibling portion of a newborn photoshoot.

  • Mom and Baby
  • Dad and Baby
  • Sibling and Baby
  • Family and Baby

1. Mom and Baby Poses

collage of moms holding their newborn babies during a newborn photography photoshoot

If mom is feeling up to taking photos we always encourage them to! Your photographer will usually have a selection of tops or dresses for moms to choose from. This certainly makes it easier on moms! When everyone is ready, I place baby in moms arms with her hands cradling baby’s head and feet. Then, I guide mom through a series of interactions with baby. For example, looking down at baby, kissing baby, smelling baby, and softly placing her cheek on baby’s cheek. These photos always evoke beautiful connection between mom and new baby.

2. Dad and Baby Poses

collage of dad with their newborn babies

Similarly, there are the Dad and baby photos. Usually we capture these photos after mom. Dad and his baby girl or baby boy are posed together. The photo of baby in dad’s hands is perhaps one of the most popular requests. This is where the photographer will position baby on top of a black fabric with Dad’s hands gently cradling baby. This very powerful shot is so timeless and classic.

3. Sibling and Baby Poses

Collage of kids with their newborn siblings at photoshoot

Another important category to consider is sibling and baby photos. These photos are especially important to parents when they have other children. To see their older child interacting with their brand new baby brother or sister is such a joy. But capturing that in a photo is even more so. However, getting a great shot of sibling and baby during a newborn photography session can be a challenge. Especially if sibling is under three years old. For this reason, many photographers have a policy of only allowing siblings in photoshoots who are three years old or older. Often a wiggly or fast moving sibling can be a concern for newborn’s safety and must be taken seriously.

4. Family and Baby Poses

collage of new parents holding their newborn baby girl or boy during a photoshoot

Last, we have the family and baby photos. These can be of mom, dad and baby. And, for new parents, this will be their first official family portrait. Or, siblings are sometimes included, too. Hopefully, baby is still sleeping for these photos. We like to capture families engaging with baby. Either looking down and admiring the new baby or kissing baby. These are the photos that get framed and put on the wall for years of enjoyment.

Lifestyle Newborn Photography

Lifestyle newborn photography is more like an informal and candid photo shoot for your baby. Generally, your photos will have a more casual feeling. The props and backgrounds used are more in line with your home or baby’s nursery. A crib, a bassinet, a window, a bed, etc. can be used. Your photographer will still guide baby through a variety of different shots, but again, baby is photographed in props that are more in line with what you would find around your home or in the baby’s nursery. These sessions are almost always done in home with natural lighting. We do not offer this style of newborn photography here at Matt Cramer Photography, but there are many newborn photographers in Los Angeles that do!

Locations for Newborn Photography

There are three main locations where newborn photography takes place:

  • A studio
  • Your home
  • Outdoor

Studio

Most newborn photoshoots take place in a studio. This can be a rented or leased commercial space. Or, it can also be a home studio where a dedicated space is used only for newborn photography. Here at Matt Cramer Photography, we only photograph newborns in our comfortable home studio.

The benefit of going to a studio for baby photography is that all props, equipment and lighting is already set up. Parents only have to bring baby and milk. Professional newborn photographers know to keep all the supplies needed for a newborn on hand. Things like baby wipes, diapers, a bottle warmer, a UV sterilizer, burp clothes, a changing pad, bottles and pacifiers are on always on hand.

Likewise, there is always a parent lounge or waiting area in the studio. This is a place where parents can comfortably sit back and take a moment to breathe. Many parents take a nap, catch up on text, or work emails. If your newborn photographer offers free wifi, take advantage of it, too! Usually, there are displays of the different prints and products that are offered. We display products like reclaimed barnwood frames, metal prints, hanging canvas, albums and books.

Last, we always have a cute little welcome sign for the baby of the day!

In Home

Sometimes a photoshoot can take place in your home. We call this in home newborn photography. Generally, this will be more expensive as your photographer has to travel to your home. All props, lighting and equipment must be packed up and brought to your home.

While this location is convenient for some parents, it comes with its own set of challenges.

First, your home must have ample light and ample room. So, if you live in a small apartment or home without many windows, this can be challenge. Second, props and background choices might be more limited. Your photography can not bring their entire studio with them. Many times they will bring just the essentials or a narrowed selection of props. Also, many parents feel they need to tidy up their house before an in home newborn photography session. However, after just bringing a new born home from the hospital, that is the last thing most parents want to do! We do not offer in home newborn sessions at Matt Cramer Photography.

Outdoor

Although uncommon, there are some newborn photographers in warmer states that will photograph newborns outdoors. Many use a nearby open space or a yard with filtered light. While these type of photos can be beautiful, they also come with a set of challenges. Natural elements like insects and weather come into play. Since newborns need to be kept warm, outdoor temperatures can make this difficult- even in the warmest states.

Newborn Photography Equipment

The Best Cameras for Newborn Photography

Every professional newborn photographer uses a DSLR, or a digital single-lens reflex camera. Most recently, many are making the switch to the new mirrorless cameras. Without getting too technical, both are wonderful for photographing newborns. Some of the more popular DSLRs being used today are:

  1. Canon 5D Mark III or Mark IV

  1. Nikon d800 or d850

New mirrorless cameras gaining popularity are the Canon R5 or R6.

6 Great Lenses for Newborn Photography

Photographers always have their “go to” lenses. And this is the case in newborn photography, as well. While there are many who swear by Nikon or Sony, we shoot Canon so the lenses listed below are what we have used.

The most popular lenses are:

  1. Canon EF 50mm f/1.2 L
    • This focal length is great for newborns as it has a very narrow depth of field, creating a soft background blur. Be careful, however, as this lens can have back focus issues and be tricky to use. This lens may need to be calibrated to the individual camera body to avoid issues.
  2. Canon EF 50mm f/1.4
    • A cheaper version of the lens above. Not as sharp but when stopped down it can produce great results. It is a more budget friendly lens but you will eventually want to step up to an L lens or one of the Sigma’s below.
  3. Canon EF 35mm f/1.4 L
    • The 35mm is used by many photographers as it allows you to remain very close to the baby for safety reasons. This is a big plus especially if you do not have an assistant.
  4. Sigma 50mm or 35mm  f/1.4DG Art
    • For the same reasons above these focal lengths are the go-to for most newborn photographers. However, the Sigma lens can be almost 1/2 the price of the Canon or Nikon equivalent.
  5. Canon EF 100m 2.8L Macro
    • Must have lens to capture baby’s tiny details.
  6. Canon EF 24-70 f/2.8L
    • A great all around lens. It is part of the trinity of zoom lenses that many photographers have to cover most of their needed focal lengths. The lenses are the 11-24mm f4,  24-70 f2.8 and 70-200, f2.8. Not all of these are needed, but are nice to have.

Best Lighting Equipment Gear and Kits for Newborn Photography

Many newborn photographers who do not use natural light use Paul C. Buff’s White Lightning, Einstein or Alien Bees as their primary lighting source. They are know to be relatively affordable, durable and reliable. Matt personally uses a Dynalite m1000wi power pack with a 2040 head. It’s built like a tank and is almost indestructible. He has always liked having the power controls on the power pack as opposed to the actual head itself. It also recycles relatively quickly so he can shoot quick bursts of continuous high speed when needed.  (As of writing this I just came to find out that Dynalite filed for bankruptcy last year and was purchased by Philips). There are a number of other high quality lighting solutions on the market such as Elichrom, Speedotron or Profoto but the price starts to increase as well. For the price, the Paul C. Buff products seem to be the perfect fit for all levels of newborn photographers.
As for light modifiers, the 86” white PLM Umbrella with white front diffusion by Paul C. Buff is our go-to. The light bounced is and diffused which creates for some very soft shadows. This is ideal for newborn photography. Additionally, we have also used larger rectangular soft boxes.
We put all this on top of a Matthews Reverse Stand. Its light and easy to move around the studio and compacts nicely for storage.

Newborn Photography Accessories and Backdrops

  • Swaddles and Wraps
  • Headbands, Bonnets and Hats
  • Teddy Bears and Loveys
  • Flowers and Greenery
  • Backdrops

Swaddles and Wraps

The accessory used the most in every newborn photoshoot is a wrap. It is the must have for every infant photographer! Babies loved to be wrapped up. Once they feel a soft and snug swaddle around them they often drift right off to sleep. It is usually the key to calming a fussy baby during a photoshoot.

Additionally, wraps are great ways to dress up those bare baby poses. By draping a light gauze wrap softly over baby, or covering baby’s bum and trailing the fabric off behind them. There are so many ways to create beautiful shots with an accessory wrap.

Many newborn photographers keep a huge selection on hand. This helps when they are creating those artistic set ups baby. Here at our studio, we have hundreds of wraps in many different shades. Palettes of white, cream, blush, pink, grey, and blue are the most requested! Although wraps can come in different fabrics, the most popular seem to be stretch cotton jersey, cashmere, mohair and sweater knit. These fabrics give a beautiful texture to our newborn photos!

Experienced, professional newborn photographers will have mastered wrapping a baby. In fact, there are many different techniques that we use here.

6 Newborn Photography Swaddle Wrap Techniques and What They Look Like

These beautiful wraps add interest and texture to your newborn photoshoots!

1. Middle Twist Wrap

Newborn baby girl in cream wrap being held up by dads hands

This is by far and away our most requested wrap style. It is pretty and functional at the same time!

2. Full Body Wrap

Smiling baby boy swaddled in cream wrap

This wrap style is perfect for fussy babies. It keeps them snug and warm!

3. Egg Wrap

newborn baby girl swaddle up and laying in wood prop

When we have a very relaxed and chill baby, we can use this wrap. Because baby’s arms and legs are free it can be more challenging.

4. See the Details Wrap

newborn baby boy in cream swaddle in wood heart prop during newborn photography photoshoot

This wrap technique shows off baby’s tiny hands and details!

5. Knot Wrap

baby boy at newborn photoshoot in Los angeles

A perfect wrap style to keep baby snug but also adds a little extra detail!

6. Comfort Wrap

baby girl in pink swaddle

Since it allows them to keep their arms tucked in and hands close to their face, babies usually love this wrap! It’s a perfect way to capture close up shots of their hands too.

Tips for Using Headbands, Bonnets and Hats in Newborn Photography

After wraps, little hats, bonnets and headbands are another adorable way newborn photographers can accessorize. Our studio has many custom made! While there are many vendors selling newborn accessories and props on-line (especially Etsy), most of them are very mediocre in both quality, materials and style. We always ask our clients to NOT buy any newborn accessories for their newborn photography photoshoot with us. Most of these vendors actually do not know proper size measurements for a tiny newborn. Often these props, once received, look absolutely ridiculous and huge on a newborn, for example.

Newborn photographers should have established relationships with quality newborn accessory vendors. Someone who knows how to size for a true newborn (not 0-3 months!), who matches their style and used quality materials. The vendors we work with have very exclusive and limited shop openings. Since they sell out in minutes, I have to time it just right to buy the props I have my eye on. Our vendors are artists, just like us. So when we buy from them, we know we are getting the highest quality.

1. Headbands for Baby Girl

Collage of baby girl newborn photography close upsWe love to use delicate and unique headbands for baby girls. Often, materials such as dried flowers, tiny leaves, and moss are used for an organic and natural feel. For our style, we use only use small headbands that compliment baby. We believe accessories should never distract from the beauty of a newborn.

2. Bonnets for Baby Girl

newborn baby girl in white lace bonnet during a los angeles photoshoot

Though requested less than headbands, bonnets can be a beautiful newborn prop, too! We love the way a bonnet outlines the face of a tiny newborn baby.

3. Hats for Baby Boy

newborn baby boy with hat collage

There are many different type of hats for a baby boy! The teddy bear hat is most popular. But the sleepy hat is a close second. The sleepy hat has a little knot at the end of it. Grey, blue, cream are the most popular colors. Often, there is a matching a wrap.

Up the Cuteness in Your Newborn Photography With Teddy Bears and Loveys

Another newborn prop is the little “lovey”. This is a small object placed into the newborn’s hands. It really ups the adorable factor. The tiny teddy bear is often used, but, the felted hearts or other animals are just as common. These loveys are also perfect additions to a shot for a baby’s nursery decor inspired by woodland, forest or zoo animals. Last, rainbows or a set of rainbow felted hearts celebrate a rainbow baby. The term rainbow baby is a healthy baby born after the loss of a baby. The idea recognizes these special babies as the rainbow of light and hope that appears after a storm or dark time.

Some of our favorite teddy bear and lovey artists are:

  1. AGK Originals
  2. Cwtchicoo
  3. Just Peri

newborn baby snuggling felted animal lovey

newborn baby snuggling an animal lovey

newborn babies holding little animal loveys

 

How to Use Flowers and Greenery in Newborn Photography

Another way to add texture and interest to a newborn photography session is to use flowers and foliage. Here at Matt Cramer Photography we absolutely love to incorporate these organic and natural elements to our newborn photos. For baby girls we tend to use flowers like peonies, roses and baby’s breath. For baby boys and general greenery, we like to use ferns, eucalyptus, moss, and willow branches.

collage of newborn babies

Best Backdrops for Newborn Photography

When it comes to newborn photography backdrops there are hundreds of options.

The four main categories that are most commonly used today:

  • Wood
  • Solid Seamless Paper
  • Posing Fabric
  • Prints and Themes

1. Wood Backdrops

Much like the trend in interior design, reclaimed barnwood is by far the most popular look right now in wood backdrops. Some newborn photographers will use real wood and build themselves a DIY wood backdrop. Others will buy a backdrop with a wood pattern actually printed on it- and they look incredibly real! This type of backdrop is made of a rubber backed mat or a large piece of canvas, coated poly paper or stretchy fabric and a wood print is applied directly to the material. Further, wood backdrops will vary in terms of color, type of wood, board width and how rustic they look. Most newborn photographers will have a collection of wood backdrops that cover both white, medium and dark wood looks. Above all, we prefer Rozzi Rayne and Intution Background for our wood backdrops.

2. Solid Seamless Paper

Mainly used for parent and family shots, a solid seamless paper backdrop is classic and timeless. This type of backdrop comes as a large roll and we hang from the ceiling. Most importantly, this allows the photographer to easily pull it down when needed and roll it back up and out of the way when not. Hundreds of color options are available, however, most newborn photographers will use neutrals such as bone, beige, mocha, chestnut and grey. Savage is the most widely known maker of seamless paper backdrops for photography.

3. Posing Fabric

You would consider this backdrop option for those cute bare baby photos I talked about earlier. Posing fabric comes in every shade of the rainbow and more recently printed options have become available, too. Moreover, the material is always a stretchy fabric so it can easily be draped over a posing area and clamped up to a backdrop stand for a very smooth and even look. Two yards is the most common size for the posing fabric used in newborn photography.

4. Prints and Themes

Last, there are thousands of different print and theme options out there. Everything from florals to fields, from whimsical to woodlands. If you can think of it, there is probably a backdrop for it! Here, we tend to shy away from busy backdrops, as our style is just less “themed” in general, but there are many wonderful photographers out there that enjoy and do themes beautifully!

Newborn Photography: 10 Tips for Taking Great Baby Photos

So we’ve covered all the different aspects of newborn photography in this guide. You’ve read it through a million times and you are familiar with everything you need to do . Safety- check. Eduction- check. Posing- check. Accessories- check. Now, you are ready to take adorable newborn photos. But how do you prepare for the actual photoshoot?

Here are a few tips to get you started.

1. Communicate with Parents

Let parents know exactly what to expect during their photo shoot. Tell them how long it will take. Let them know it will be very warm and to dress in layers. Remind them of your address and where to park. I know that might sound silly. But remember, newborn parents can be very sleep deprived! Having a new baby is a lot of work, so make sure to spell everything out for them ahead of time. Be sure to communicate with them on how the prepare for the baby photos.

Remind them that when they arrive to your studio, their only job is to relax. Once they arrive they are off duty and you will be in charge of all baby soothing, handling, diaper changes, wiping, etc. Many of our parents are so surprised they don’t have anything to do while they are here! They really can just take it easy. It will give them a little time to take a nap, have some quiet time, or catch up on any emails, texts, calls, etc.

2. Ask Parents to Do a Little Prep at Home

We always ask parents to keep baby awake and alert at home for about an hour the morning of the photoshoot. Baby will usually sleep deeper and longer during their time with you if they can do this. This will enable you to get in the maximum number of “set ups” that you will want to deliver to parents. Singing, walking around and talking, or even taking them for a stroll outside are all great ways to interact with baby to keep them awake. Also, if ok’d by the pediatrician, tell parents to give baby a bath in the morning. Sometimes this will keep them alert for longer periods and get baby photoshoot ready!

Tell them to be sure to wipe down baby’s eyes and face as best as they can during awake time at home. Paying special attention to any flakey skin or dry skin around the baby’s eyes, corner of eyes and any crusty eyelashes. Last, recommend that parents do not use any kind of oil based skin lotion or moisturizer on baby the morning of the session. Oil based lotion can add shine to baby’s skin that the camera will pick up. Any cream based lotion is fine to apply.

Next, have parents give baby a full feeding before leaving the house. A full belly of warm milk will help keep baby content and asleep during their photoshoot. If mom is breastfeeding, recommend no spicy foods and no caffeine for at last 48 hours prior to the newborn pictures.

Last, remind parents to not take baby out of the car seat when they arrive. This helps to not disturb baby and ensure baby stays asleep for the start of the session.

3. Time it Right

Newborn photography is typically scheduled within the first two weeks of birth. This is when babies are still very sleepy and curly. And infant pictures require a sleeping baby!

However, for preterm or early babies, and babies that have spent time in the NICU this timeline can be adjusted. Remember that is the ideal timeframe, but you can still photograph “older” newborns past two weeks old. You will just need to be more patient and perhaps focus more on the swaddled shots than bare baby photos. In our opinion, five weeks is the latest you can try for newborn photos.

You will want to ask parents to consider booking their photoshoot with you in the second or third trimester.

4. Plan Your Props and Looks Ahead of Time

So, now you’ve scheduled your newborn photoshoot and the day has arrived. Now its time to prepare for your best newborn photoshoot.

Create a questionnaire and ask parents what colors, poses, props, etc. they like. You can tell them to send you links or screenshots from your website or Instagram of photos that they like.

Then, make a plan for what poses you want to try for and which props you hope to use. Communicate with parents on this plan to be sure you are incorporating looks and colors that they like.

The morning of the photoshoot, pull together all your looks. Choose your fabrics, backgrounds, props, wraps, etc. and set them all up. Then, you just have to add baby. Have these ready before parents arrive so you can review the looks and get their top choices picked out quickly.

5. Warm the Space You Will Be Working In

Now, you are ready to get to work. But there are a few things you still have to do. The most important is to heat the room you will be photographing baby in. Newborns can not regulate their body temperatures as well as older children or adults. So you will need to keep your space comfortable, cozy and warm. This is especially important during bare baby poses. You can use a space heater if your shooting area is usually cold.

6. Use White Noise and Heartbeat Sounds

Newborns love to listen to white noise and a heartbeat. So much so, that there are many baby products on the market to help create these soothing sounds for baby. Make sure to have white noise going in the background while you are photographing baby. Most newborn photographers use the Baby Shusher, and we do too! It is a wonderful tool that makes the best white noise for a newborn photoshoot.

Similarly, you can also play a heartbeat soundtrack while you are working. There are plenty of apps and Spotify playlists for this! Other sounds that newborns love are: washing machine, hair dryer, traffic, rain, and ocean waves.

7. Move Slowly and Gently

From taking baby out of their car seat upon arrival to posing and swaddling them, be sure to make your movements gentle and slow. You are handling the most precious gift any parent has ever received. It is your duty and promise to them that you will handle baby in the most safe and gentle way possible. Keep in mind that newborns can startle easily with too quick movements or loud noises. So it is incredibly important that you take your time with each baby.

8. Have Patience and Know When to Move On

There is no doubt about it, newborn photography takes patience. What seems like one simple, easy shot to parents can take you 45 minutes alone! From getting baby poses just right to finally taking the shot, it can be a slow process. So above all, make sure you bring your patience! For example, a baby might not like a pose. Further, others might need to feed, have their diaper changed or just have a little gas. Whatever happens during your new born photos, always remember to be patient. And if something isn’t working, or baby is not happy, move on to the next look. No picture is worth an unhappy baby.

9. Allow Time to Take Care of Baby’s Needs

Remember you are working with a baby, and babies have a lot of needs. Now, be sure to build in extra time during your session to allow for breaks, soothing, diaper changes and feedings. You can expect a typical newborn photoshoot to run anywhere from two to four hours, so

10. Stay Current on Your Vaccinations

A newborn’s immune system is not fully developed at birth. Therefore, protecting the newborns you work with should be your number one priority. So, you should be current on all vaccinations, especially the Tdap, or whooping cough, immunization.

 

Conclusion

As you can see, there is a lot that goes into newborn photography.

This guide gives you everything that you need to get started in newborn pictures.

Now, you know all the work that goes into preparing for newborn photography.

If you need help, you can reach out to us for any newborn photography questions or use our contact page to work with professional newborn photography experts.

Also, when it comes to maternity photos, check out this article for tons of great Maternity Photo Shoot Ideas!

Let us know in the comments when your next photoshoot is and if any part of our complete, step-by-step guide to newborn photography helped you!

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