There’s something truly magical about a newborn baby. From their little yawns, those tiny toes, everyone loves photos of newborn babies. Whether you’re just beginning to explore the world of newborn photography. Or are thinking about a career as a newborn photographer. There are many aspects to consider and understand when it comes to newborn photography. This complete and ultimate guide is here to help!
This guide will answer all your questions about taking newborn photos. Plus it will give you the best tips and tricks out there for newborn photography that you won’t find anywhere else. Why? Because this guide is written by Matt and Jess, expert and professional newborn photographers in Los Angeles since 2011. We have over 13+ years of experience working with newborns and babies. This guide is a wealth of information based on our experience running our newborn photography business together over the years.
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
- Newborn Photoshoot Top 10 Tips for Taking Great Baby Photos
Why Newborn Photography Matters in 2024
Let’s talk about why newborn photography is such a big deal in 2024. Picture this: the world’s moving faster every day, everything seems to be changing, but here’s one thing that remains timeless – those first precious moments of a newborn’s life. For new parents, they know how quickly time flies, and before they know it, their tiny baby isn’t so tiny anymore. That’s where newborn photography comes in – it’s like pressing pause on these fleeting moments.
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”.
Think about all those adorable details – the little yawns, tiny toes, and those peaceful sleeping faces. These are the memories parents want to hold onto forever. Newborn photography captures these details so beautifully, and in 2024, it’s all about documenting these moments with even more emotion and style.
It’s not just about taking pictures; it’s about telling a family’s story right from the start. These photos will become a part of a family’s heritage and passed on to future generations to come. They’re a way to remember how small their little one was and to cherish the beginning of this amazing journey called parenthood.
In 2024, newborn photography is more than a trend – it’s an essential part of capturing and celebrating life. For us baby photographers, it’s a privilege to freeze these moments for families. We’re here to help them remember every little detail of this special time, giving them something beautiful that they’ll look back on for years to come.
To be the photographer who documents these special moments in time is truly an honor. We are humbled every time a new family chooses us.
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 first most important day of their 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 a baby’s first ever photoshoot. It is the category of photography that focuses specifically 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. It’s all about celebrating and capturing the start of a brand new life in the most beautiful way possible.
Newborn Photography Overview
At first glance, a newborn photo 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 experience is to learn from in-person mentoring and training sessions from an expert newborn photographer. It’s the gold standard of learning in our field. 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 photographers who’ve been in the game for ages find these super valuable. We’re all about keeping our skills sharp and staying up to date.
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 photoshoots 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. Newborns can startle easily and in our experience the safest way to photograph a newborn is with two people- the photographer and an assistant.
All professional newborn photographers should be current on their vaccinations, especially the Tdap, or whooping cough. Newborns are not born with a fully developed immune system. So it is extra important that anyone that will be in close contact with them be fully vaccinated. Additionally, photographers should take an Infant/Baby Safety and CPR class at their local hospital. Both Matt and Jess have completed the Infant Safety and CPR class at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center.
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
- Parents and Siblings
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. In our experience, it is best to create a posing flow that will end up moving baby the least amount of times. Planning out how this works takes some time, but will pay off big when you still have a sleeping, peaceful baby at the end of the photoshoot. Parents especially love these photos because they focus on the star of the show- their new born baby!
After photographing newborns for more than 12 years, we have found that these bare baby poses can be the more challenging shots during the photoshoot. Keep in mind that newborns naturally prefer to be swaddled up, snug and cozy. But with bare poses, they are not. In our experience, we have found it best to start with these poses at the beginning of the photoshoot. Baby has slept the entire car ride over and is more apt to be in a deeper sleep upon arrival.
Bare baby poses also require a very, very sleepy baby. A full belly and a warm studio are going to be your best bet here. Also, remember that not all newborns will do bare baby poses. Some will have gas or tummy issues and some are just super alert and awake. If this is the case, we will do a shortened work flow or skip these bare baby poses and focus more on swaddled shots.
Top 4 Basic Newborn Photography Poses
There are four main bare baby poses that we do here at Matt Cramer Photography.
- Bum or Tushy Up
- Side Laying
- Back Laying
1. Womb Pose
In the womb pose, we cross baby’s feet and lay baby gently over them for a curled up look. 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.
We use posing pillows, also known as “posing beans”, under the fabric to achieve our bare baby poses. In this photo, we have used one large posing bean underneath baby’s head to lift their head up towards the light and camera. This is the first pose we do in our posing workflow.
2. Bum or Tushy Up Pose
During the bum or tushy up pose, baby’s feet are crossed and resting underneath their bottom. Their hand is placed under their cheek. 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 tushy up pose is one of the most classic bare baby shots in newborn photography.
We achieved this pose by gently moving babies legs from under them in the womb pose to behind them. The hand position stays the same, tucked under their cheek. The larger posing bean used in womb pose remains in place and a second, smaller posing bean is added under baby’s bottom. This is the second pose in our posing workflow.
This pose is perfect for accessorizing! We like to change the look by adding a knit or cheesecloth/gauze wrap and trailing it off and away. This pose with the pink wrap trailing off is the most requested shot for girls!
3. Side Laying Pose
Next, we move to the side laying pose where baby is laying on their side with their legs out from under them and slightly bent. Their cute feet are stacked on top of each other and hand under the cheek. Notice that the baby’s face is in focus, as the body goes out of focus.
From the bum up pose, we gently uncross baby’s legs, shift their hip under a bit, and stack their legs on top of each other off to the side. The hand position stays tucked sweetly under their cheek. The larger posing bean used in the bum up pose under baby’s head rotates clockwise 25%. The second, smaller posing bean is now pushed farther back under the fabric to support baby’s legs in the side position. This is the third pose in our posing workflow.
This pose can be one of the more challenging shots during a newborn photography session. This is because baby is a little more apt to wake since their legs and feet are a little more “free” and not tucked under them. But we think this pose is one of the cutest! Parents love this pose because it put the focus right on baby’s face.
The most requested accessory for this pose is our sheer, ivory cheesecloth wrap! We drape this over baby for an extra beautiful look!
4. Back Laying Pose
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.
If baby wakes during the side laying pose, we will take baby off the fabric and swaddle them with a nice knit wrap. Once wrapped snug and neat, we will place baby back on the fabric on their back. The larger posing bean used in the side laying pose under baby’s head remains in place. The second, smaller posing bean is now positioned as a “stopper” at the back of baby. This will also lift baby’s bottom a bit and help keep the pose. This is the fourth pose in our posing workflow.
We love to add a little teddy bear lovey if baby is sleeping deeply, too!
This pose sets baby up for an absolutely perfect transition to a prop look. Especially if this shot has been done with baby wrapped. We simply pick up baby from the fabric and place them in our first prop set up. Be sure to use a wrap that will match and work with your first prop.
Remember the key to newborn photography is maximizing a well thought out posing workflow. Our goal is always to get the most amount of variety while moving baby the least.
Speaking of props! We love them! Not only do they add in more texture and dimension to our photoshoots. But they also give us the opportunity to capture those beautiful close up, macro shots of baby’s details. For these photos, baby is photographed while posed on or in a prop. We will alway swaddle baby nice and snug in a wrap first. Then, we place baby gently in a prop and little posing pillows are used to support their head. Next, photograph baby from a variety of different angles. Aerial, side view, straight on, close up, etc.
In our experience as newborn photographers, the prop shots allow us to get the most variety of images for our clients. For this reason, prop shots are not only a favorite for us, but also among most baby photographers and parents.
Where to buy newborn posing fabric: Freebird Prop Shoppe
6 Best Newborn Photography Props
There are six main types of props we use during our newborn photo shoots here at Matt Cramer Photography.
- Round (bowls, baskets, nests, etc.)
- Rectangle (crates, baskets)
- Flokati Rug
1. Round Prop
For round props, things like wood bowls, woven baskets and nests are used. We love this style of prop because they seem to naturally keep baby in a nice, round shape. Its easy to swaddle baby up in a pretty wrap, place a posing pillow under their head and capture beautiful shots!
2. Rectangle Prop
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
What can be cuter than a baby in a mini bed? Not much! Baby bed are among the most popular newborn photography props right now. They are usually made of wood and come in a variety of colors. The most requested baby bed props here at Matt Cramer Photography are our white wood bed and our natural wood bed. Made with specific dimensions, they are perfectly sized for a newborn baby.
4. Basket Prop
Although the basket 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 basket. Baby’s arms rest on the edge of the basket for a perfect shot of their face. Don’t worry, there is plenty of padding and support in and around the inside of the basket to keep baby very comfortable. Baskets props come in a variety of materials, with wood and rope being the most popular in newborn photography.
Where to buy: Luneberry (where actual prop in photo was bought)
5. Flokati Rug
Ok, well this is not technically a prop! But in professional newborn photography sessions, we use a flokati rug a lot. This is a shot we do in almost every single session. We spread it out over a posing pillow or round prop. Then we create a small dip in the middle and place baby gently in. A posing bean goes underneath to support baby’s head. The flokati gives a beautiful textured backdrop for a newborn photo. And, it adds variety to the gallery.
We have multiple colors of flokatis here at Matt Cramer Photography. Most popular are: blush pink, ivory, light slate grey/blue and a perfect light grey.
Say what? Did we just say trampoline? Well, yes we did. The latest and greatest posing aid to come on the newborn photography scene and we are here to say we LOVE it. To use and set up this aid, we take our mini 36″ trampoline and throw 3-4 blankets over it. Then we put our “final” fabric that we want to photograph on top and clamp down all around the frame of the trampoline. One large posing bean is used under fabric that will support baby’s head.
We gently place baby down on the fabric and adjust our light. With this set up, we are able to get beautiful overhead shots of swaddled baby. It is a perfect backdrop for a more modern and minimalistic style of newborn photos.
Where to buy: Amazon
Parents and Siblings
Last, there are parent and sibling photos taken during our posed newborn photography photoshoots. These shots have a more emotional and sensitive element to them. We will pose baby with each parent, sibling and everyone together. We 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 our newborn photoshoots here at Matt Cramer Photography.
- Mom and Baby
- Dad and Baby
- Sibling and Baby
- Family and Baby
1. Mom and Baby Poses
If mom is feeling up to taking photos we always encourage them to! Here at our home studio we have a selection of tops for moms to choose from. We’ve got them covered! We have a nice selection of beautiful cream lace accented tops in a variety of size, styles and colors here- plenty to choose from! We tell moms that they can actually bring nothing at all, and we have enough here to work with.
Of all the mommy/baby shots in our newborn portfolio, 95% are of moms wearing tops from our collection. This certainly makes it easier on moms! When everyone is ready, I place swaddled 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
Similarly, there are the Dad and baby photos. Usually we capture these photos after mom. We pose Dad with his baby girl or baby boy together. The photo of baby in dad’s hands is perhaps one of the most popular requests. This is where we 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
Another important category to consider is sibling and baby photos. These photos are especially important to our clients that 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, we can include siblings who are three years old and over in our newborn sessions. We like to remind parents that we always try to capture great sibling shots. But it will really depend on what the little ones are game for. Sibling shots can be great when they work. But we like to stress that they are not the focus of our newborn sessions.
Typically siblings arrive separately about an hour after the session starts. Then we try for a few different shots with newborn and sibling, as well as everyone together with newborn. For about 30-45 minutes, we give it our best shot with the siblings, but if they aren’t cooperating, we move on. Taking too much time away from the baby-only shots isn’t something we like to do. We recommend that someone is available to leave with the siblings once their shots are done. Newborn sessions are much too long and hot for siblings!
4. Family and Baby Poses
Now it’s time for the entire family to come into the photo! In our home studio, this is where we will pose mom, dad and baby together. Of course, we also include older siblings if there are any. 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. You will frame these photos and put them 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. They can use a crib, a bassinet, a window, a bed, etc. Your photographer will still guide baby through a variety of different shots and photograph the baby in props that align more with what you would find around your home or in the baby’s nursery.
Lifestyle photographers almost always conduct these sessions in homes using natural lighting. But there are some photographers who have a lifestyle area in their studio already set up. Many are more boho themed with a bed, pillows, wall art and floral accents. 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
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 coming to our studio for baby photography is that all our props, equipment and lighting are already set up. We tell parents they only have to bring baby, food and a diaper bag! And don’t worry. We have all the supplies needed for a newborn right here! 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, we also have our super comfy parent area. 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. We also have free wifi, so take advantage of it, too! Around the studio you will also see displays of the different prints and products that we offer. 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!
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. The photographer must pack up all props, lighting, and equipment and bring them 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.
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, even in the warmest states, can make this difficult.
Newborn Photography Equipment
The Best Cameras for Newborn Photography
There are two main camera options for the professional newborn photographer. The DSLR, or a digital single-lens reflex, camera. Or the latest and greatest technology known as a mirrorless camera. In 2024, most photographers have either already made the switch to mirrorless or are deciding if they should. It is the way the photography industry is moving. Our bet is that most will make the change by end of the year.
Without getting too technical, you can use both for photographing newborns, but mirrorless cameras are definitely the future. Here at Matt Cramer Photography we have already gone mirrorless.
Some of the most popular mirrorless cameras on the market:
2. Canon EOS R6
These are some of the more popular DSLRs being used today are:
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 during our 12+ years of photographing newborns.
The most popular lenses are:
- 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. You may need to calibrate this lens to the individual camera body to avoid issues.
- 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. This is a great lens for photographers just starting out.
- 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.
- 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.
- Canon EF 100m 2.8L Macro
- Must have lens to capture baby’s tiny details.
- 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. You don’t need all of these, but they 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 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. (Note that Dynalite was purchased by Philips 2009).
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 Paul C. Buff 86″ White PLM Front Diffusion Fabric Umbrella is our go-to. The diffused bounce of the light creates very soft shadows. This is ideal for newborn photography. Additionally, we have also used large rectangular soft boxes.
We put this on top of a 7 ft. 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
- Posing Aides
- Headbands, Bonnets and Hats
- Teddy Bears and Loveys
- Flowers and Greenery
Swaddles and Wraps
The accessory used the most in every one of our newborn photoshoots 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 bottom and trailing the fabric off behind them. There are so many ways to create beautiful shots with an accessory wrap.
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 wrapping techniques that we use here.
6 Newborn Photography Swaddle Wrap Techniques and What They Look Like
These beautiful wraps add interest and texture to our newborn photoshoots!
1. Middle Twist Wrap
This is by far and away our most requested wrap style. It is pretty and functional at the same time!
2. Full Body Wrap
This wrap style is perfect for fussy babies. It keeps them snug and warm!
3. Cross Over Wrap
This is the perfect wrap to keep baby feeling snug and secure. The fabric crosses over baby’s body and gives some textured interest to the wrap.
4. See the Details Wrap
This wrap technique shows off baby’s tiny hands, feet and details!
5. Knot Wrap
A perfect wrap style to keep baby snug but also adds a little extra detail!
6. Comfort Wrap
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 see their little feet and capture close up shots of their hands, too.
The best vendors for beautiful, quality wraps are:
Newborn Photography Posing Aides
Say hello to the little helpers of newborn photography – posing aides! These special tools are a photographer’s best friend. Designed just for newborns, they make posing a breeze. Comfort and security for the baby? Check. Easier posing for us? Double check. Each posing aide has its own magic, simplifying our job and ensuring your baby looks adorable and stays snug during the shoot. They’re the behind-the-scenes heroes, helping us capture those perfect, peaceful baby poses every time.
Posing beans are the original and most popular newborn photography posing aides. They are basically just little curved pillows filled with firm stuffing. We use them for both bare baby poses and props to support baby’s head and anywhere else baby needs a little extra support. They come in a variety of sizes, with the largest beans mostly used as head support and the smallest beans as “fine tuning” supports. We use them often in our photo studio that we have multiple sets. The original design came from a prop vendor named The Original Photoblocks Props. Amazon and Etsy now offer cheaper, lower quality versions
Newborn Cloud Posing Pillows
Another excellent posing aid are the Newborn Cloud Posing Pillows. These are most often used for bare baby posing, but the smaller versions can also be used for behind baby’s head in props. They are filled with rice or buckwheat so they can be easily molded. Here at Matt Cramer Photography we use the largest pillow under the fabric on the trampoline. The beauty of these pillows are the firm rise to support baby, but they are contoured to fade back to the backdrop fabric so that minimal to no backdrop editing is needed.
Modest Little Me Boutique Posing Systems
The Original Freeform Posing System is a rounded super soft fleece covered pad that fits perfectly inside a variety of props. It provides the extra padding needed to support baby and has a hidden soft, metal frame that allows us to easily bend it to match the shape of our props. We use this in baskets especially. It brings ease and efficiency to our newborn photography sessions.
Next is the Freeform Lite Posing System, and this one is the winner for us. In our experience, this slimmer and more streamlined posing tool is the most versatile. This tool is also a super soft fleece covered pad, but is in more of a rectangular shape that is used inside props. It is smaller in size than the Original mentioned above, and also less bulky. It is also bendable so we can shape it support baby perfectly. We love using this posing aid in almost every prop!
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 uses 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
We 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 small headbands that compliment baby. We believe accessories should never distract from the beauty of a newborn.
2. Bonnets for Baby Girl
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
There are many different type of hats for a baby boy! The sleepy hat with a little knot at the end of it is most popular. But the teddy bear hat is a close second. Grey, blue, cream are the most popular colors. Often, we use a matching a wrap, too, for a polished look!
Up the Cuteness in Newborn Photography With Teddy Bears and Loveys
Another newborn prop we love to use in our photos 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 inspired by a woodland, forest or zoo animal nursery decor. 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.
The little teddy bear and felted animals are the most popular here!
Some of our favorite teddy bear and lovey artists are:
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.
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:
- 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. Here at our home studio, we backdrops 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. Our collection of wood backdrops covers white, medium and dark wood looks.
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 of paper 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.
We buy all our posing fabric from Freebird Prop Shoppe. Her fabrics are incredible and of the best quality.
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 that we do in our own newborn photography studio. In our experience, these are the most important.
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, first time 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 absolutely NO caffeine for at least 48 hours prior to the newborn pictures.
Last, remind parents to not take baby out of the car seat when they arrive to the photoshoot. 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 while within two weeks is the ideal timeframe, 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. We have photographed many older newborns and they have always turned out beautiful!
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, 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. This way you can get an idea as to what photos in your portfolio they are drawn to.
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 or YouTube 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 and be aware of their cues.
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. 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 take a least 1.5 hours, and up to 3 hours if parent/siblings are included.
10. Stay Current on Your Vaccinations- An Absolute MUST!
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.
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 in 2024.
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! Although we do not offer maternity photography anymore, we recommend our great friend and colleague, Oxana Alex Photography. She is an incredible artist and does beautiful maternity photos.
Let us know in the comments when your next photoshoot is and which part of our complete, step-by-step guide to newborn photography in 2024 helped you the most!