Are you looking for newborn photography tips for taking memorable photos of your baby? Search no more! Infant photography can require patience, but it is oh so rewarding. Whether you are brand new to newborn photography, or just looking for ways to improve, read on for 10 tips for taking memorable newborn photos.
1. Help Your Client Prepare for the Photo Session
Bringing a new baby home is such a fun and exciting time for a couple or family. Babies grow and change by the day, which makes a newborn photo session the perfect way to freeze this special moment in time. New parents have a lot to think about on and are often sleep deprived. It’s a good idea to try to answer any questions they might have before they can even think of them.
Tips for how to have parents prepare for their newborn session:
- Feeding. It’s a good idea to try to feed baby right before the start of the session so that he is nice and sleepy! If you are lucky, he might even drift off into a deep slumber. I always allow time for feeding breaks when scheduling the session, though.
- Outfit selection. Soft, neutral colors work well for newborn sessions. It keeps the focus on the baby and not the clothing. Bold, dark colors can also create a color cast on the skin which can be challenging to edit.
- Temperature. Depending on the season, I ask that clients lower the air conditioning in the summer and turn up the heat in the winter. Babies sleep better when they are warm and toasty.
I like to provide all of my clients with a simple PDF guide that outlines everything they need to know to prepare from their session starting with what age to take newborn photos.
Generally speaking, it’s ideal to schedule a newborn session within 7-10 days of birth.
2. Get Into a Creative Space
I love going into a newborn session feeling relaxed and mentally prepared. The way I do this is by getting into a creative headspace. Often times I’ll spend 15 or 20 minutes looking at inspiring newborn photography before a session. I’ll also listen to my favorite music on the way there. It’s also a good idea to visualize posing and other artistic elements that you’d like to incorporate into the session.
If you are worried about forgetting what you had planned to do while photographing baby, make a checklist or notes for yourself!
3. What to Bring
You might be wondering which lens to use for newborn photography. There is no right or wrong answer, but I love using prime lenses. I always bring a 100mm macro, 50mm and 35mm lens to newborn sessions. I also bring a backup camera, extra memory cards and an extra fully charged battery.
Other items I bring along include:
- White noise app on my phone
- Jersey knit stretch fabrics for swaddling
- Textured neutral colored blankets
- Small space heater
Whenever possible, I like to pack up my gear and anything else I’m bringing the evening before the session. There’s nothing worse than being pressed for time and grabbing things hurriedly as you run at the door. It’s a surefire way to forget something!
4. Camera Settings for Newborn Photography
Keep the exposure triangle in mind when choosing your camera settings. I love photographing baby portraits at a shallow depth of field because it gives a softness to the images. The actual aperture will depend on the focal point, though. For example, if the focus is on the baby’s eyelashes, I might shoot at f/1.4. If the focus is her whole face, I might bump the aperture up to f/3.2 and choose the eye closest to the camera as the focal point.
Another newborn photography tip is to put your shutter on quiet mode if possible. The click of the shutter can often startle baby if the room is otherwise quiet.
5. Have a Plan…. But be Flexible!
This is probably my most important tip for newborn photography. Be flexible – and patient. If there’s one thing you can plan on, it’s that newborns are unpredictable. They cry, spit up, have blowouts – sometimes all at the same time! It’s good to have a plan for how you’d like to start the session, but be ready to throw it all out the window if the baby isn’t having it.
I always allow for extra time when scheduling newborn sessions and allow for up to a 2-hour block of time. Not because I am shooting for two hours, but it allows for nursing breaks or time to soothe baby if he is fussy.
6. Posing Babies: Portrait vs. Lifestyle
Newborn photography breaks down into two posing categories: portrait and lifestyle.
Portrait photography involves molding baby into sweet little sleepy poses whereas lifestyle focuses natural moments and the connection between mom, dad, and baby. Either way, posing is a big part of newborn photography.
For lifestyle photography, you will need to be able to gently coach mom and dad into natural looking poses. One tip when posing baby with parents is to make sure that they are touching as much as possible. Think leaning heads together, hands touching hands, arms wrapped up tightly around one another. The more contact the better! Touching gives images a sense of deep intimacy.
Example of lifestyle newborn photography:
If you are posing baby for portraits, one key tip to keep in mind is to never shoot up the nostrils. Try to angle the camera head-on or point or shoot from just above baby with it angled downward. If you aren’t sure how to angle your camera, try practicing on a doll or stuff animal.
Examples of Portrait/Studio Newborn Photography:
7. Be Unique in Your Newborn Photography Style
Another tip for newborn photography is to be unique. It’s extra rewarding to create something different or that you haven’t seen before. Think about new ways to use texture, props, and environment to make each session different.
Maybe it’s using a handmade quilt or family heirloom. Or maybe you found some beautiful flowers that you’d love to incorporate into the photos. Think outside of the box and let your creativity soar!
8. Details, details, details
Don’t forget to photography baby’s tiny fingers, toes, lips, eyelashes, nose, and ears! If you have baby swaddled up tight, try bringing out her fingers and letting them rest on her cheek or under her chin! It’s also sweet to photograph her little feet while mom or dad holds them.
If you are photographing a lifestyle session, you can also capture some photos of baby’s nursery. Details are wonderful for blogging and they help frame the whole story.
9. Include Siblings and Pets
This is where things can get … interesting. If a newborn is unpredictable, then adding siblings and pets to the mix only amplifies it!
Related Article: Pet Photography Tips
Siblings (especially younger ones) can be challenging, but if you already know how to photograph children it definitely helps. Just remember to keep it light and fun. If age appropriate, consider little “bribes” with candy or other small trinkets.
As for pets, I often rely on mom and dad’s comfort level with including them. They will generally know if their pet is capable of being directed to sit or gently lay next to the baby. A tip for getting dogs to look at the camera is to make a quick high pitched noise!
10. Safety First
Last, but certainly not least is safety. Is it safe to take photos of newborns? The answer is yes, but only if done properly. First and foremost, you must reschedule the session if you are feeling at all feel under the weather. Newborn’s immune systems are not fully developed and they are extra vulnerable viruses and bacteria. Along with that, always wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before you start the session. (It helps to do it in front of mom and dad, too, so they feel extra comfortable!)
We’ve all seen the photos of babies in a wrap hanging from a stick or with their head propped on their hands. If done correctly, these are composite images. What you don’t see are hands supporting baby’s head or from underneath the wrap. If you are doing this type of photography, it’s a good idea to bring along an assistant who also has a strong understanding of infant photography safety and techniques. Newborn photography videos, tutorials, and workshops are a great way to learn these techniques. A baby should never, ever be put at risk for a photograph.
Is camera flash safe for newborns? The camera flash is perfectly fine for the newborn as long as you are taking photos from a normal distance (at least a few feet away from the eyes). Source via Babymed.
There you have it – 10 newborn photography tips for taking memorable photos of your baby! These newborn photography tips will not only help your sessions to run more smoothly, but it will keep you stress-free as well! And remember, sometimes the most memorable photos come from spontaneity. It’s always good to plan and be prepared, but be open to what’s happening in the moment.
Do you have other tips to add to this list? Feel free to add them in the comments below!
Download FREE Photography Lighting Cheat Sheet
Subscribe and get a free downloadable photography lighting cheat sheet