I still remember my very first newborn photo shoot. There was this tiny, sleeping baby, only a week old, wrapped delicately in a soft blanket. When you set out to take newborn photos, you quickly realize on your first session that a photo shoot with a newborn is more than just a photo shoot – it’s a unique opportunity to document a life that’s just beginning. Whether you’re a professional photographer or new parents wanting to capture your baby’s earliest days, the challenge is the same: to freeze these fleeting moments in time.
When capturing new born baby photos, keep in mind that each baby is different – some snooze peacefully through their first photo shoot, giving you the chance to pose them gently with newborn props, while others might be wide awake, curious about the new world they’ve found themselves in.
This guide to newborn photography is an accumulation of all the helpful tips, great insights, and practical advice that I’ve gathered over the years. Whether it’s mastering the art of posed newborn photography, understanding the importance of baby safety and comfort, or exploring the creative potential of simple props, , I’ll share tips to improve your newborn photography, focusing on the style of newborn pictures you want to capture.
For new parents, taking photos of your baby is about more than just keeping memories; it’s about capturing the essence of your new life with them. The sleepy half-smiles, the tiny fingers wrapped around yours, the peaceful face of your baby asleep – these are the moments you’ll treasure forever. And for photographers, it’s about getting a lot from the littlest subjects – understanding that babies tend to dictate the pace and flow of the session.
So, whether you are a parent looking to take the first baby photoshoot of your new born baby, a budding photographer keen on making your baby look the cutest, or an established baby photographer looking for advanced techniques and unique newborn photo ideas, this guide is for you.
The Art of Photographing Newborns
When you enter the world of newborn photography, you step into a realm where every detail matters. Unlike other photography forms, photographing newborns is less about creating the perfect scene and more about capturing the natural beauty and innocence of a new born baby. It’s about the softness of their skin, the tiny fingers, and toes, the peaceful expressions while they’re asleep, and sometimes, their curious eyes when awake. As a photographer, you become a storyteller, weaving tales of beginnings, love, and wonder.
Remember, newborns don’t pose, they are either asleep, gently awake, or, let’s be honest, occasionally fussy. This unpredictability is what makes newborn photography both challenging and rewarding. The key is to be patient, adaptable, and above all, sensitive to the baby’s and parents’ needs.
The Best Age for Newborn Photoshoots
A newborn photography session in the first two weeks of life is ideal, see my full guide on scheduling a newborn photoshoot here.
In these early days, newborn babies are also more likely to stay asleep when moved or gently posed. Their flexibility and sleep patterns at this age make it easier for photographers to gently pose them with various props or in their parents’ arms. However, this doesn’t mean you can’t have beautiful newborn photos beyond this period. It simply means the type of shots and poses might change as the baby grows and becomes more alert.
Preparing for the Newborn Session
Preparing for a newborn session is like preparing a cozy, little nest – it’s all about creating a space that is safe, warm, and inviting. As newborn photographers, we’re also creating an experience for both the baby and the parents.
Setting Up Your Studio
Creating the right environment for a newborn photography session is super important. First and foremost, the studio should be comfortably warm. Newborns are used to the cozy environment of the womb, so keeping the room at a warm temperature helps them stay comfortable and sleepy. A space heater can be a handy tool to maintain this warmth, especially in cooler environments.
Safety is paramount. Ensure that every prop, blanket, and surface is impeccably clean and safe for a newborn’s delicate skin. Opt for soft, gentle textures that will be soothing for the baby and will also add a tender touch to your photos. Remember, less is often more. A simple, uncluttered space can be just as effective as one filled with props.
Ambiance plays a significant role too. Soft, soothing music or white noise can help keep the newborn calm and relaxed. The studio should be a peaceful sanctuary where parents feel relaxed and newborns can drift off to sleep.
Lastly, consider the parents. A comfortable seating area where they can watch and enjoy the session is a thoughtful addition. Remember, happy and relaxed parents contribute to a happy and relaxed baby, and that makes your job as a newborn photographer much easier.
Choosing the Right Equipment
The right equipment is key in newborn photography, but it doesn’t mean you need the most expensive gear. A good quality DSLR or mirrorless camera is a great start. The camera should allow you to manually adjust settings to accommodate the often soft and natural light used in newborn photography.
Lens choice is also important. A prime lens, like a 50mm or 85mm, is excellent for portraits, capturing sharp details while creating a soft, blurred background that makes the newborn the focal point of the photo. A macro lens can also be handy for those close-up shots of tiny toes, fingers, and eyelashes.
Lighting should be soft and flattering. Natural light is always preferred in newborn photography for its ability to cast soft shadows and provide a warm, natural look. If natural light is limited, a softbox can be used to mimic this effect. Remember, the goal is to use light that complements the baby’s delicate features.
And let’s not forget about your settings. A lower ISO helps to ensure the image is as clear as possible, while a wider aperture (like f/2.8) can give you that lovely soft background. The shutter speed should be fast enough to capture any slight movements without blur, but remember, newborns aren’t exactly known for their speed!
Mastering Newborn Poses
Mastering newborn poses is a bit like being a gentle sculptor. It’s about understanding how to work with a baby’s natural movements and comfort to create those heart-melting photos. Patience and a gentle touch are your best tools here.
The Art of Swaddling for Photographs
Swaddling is a technique as old as time, used to keep babies feeling secure and comfortable. In photography, it also helps to keep those tiny arms and legs from flailing, which can be a distraction in your photos. But remember, safety first! The swaddle should be snug but not too tight, allowing for some movement and not restricting the baby’s breathing.
Start with a soft, lightweight blanket. Lay it in a diamond shape and fold the top corner down to create a flat edge. Place the baby on their back with their shoulders just below the fold. Gently hold the baby’s right arm down along their side, wrap the blanket over their arm and chest, and tuck it under their left side.
Then, fold the bottom of the blanket up and over the baby’s feet. Finally, wrap the left side over and tuck it under the baby, leaving the neck and head exposed. Ensure the baby’s hips can move and that the blanket is not too tight around their chest.
Swaddling creates a cozy, womb-like environment for the baby, often helping them settle and sleep – perfect for a newborn photoshoot. Plus, a nicely swaddled baby in a beautiful blanket makes for an adorable image.
Working with Natural Light and Soft Shadows
In newborn photography, the way we use light can make all the difference. It’s like painting with sunshine and shadows, each ray and angle bringing a new dimension to your photographs.
I offer private mentoring for photographers, feel free to contact me as well as see this article I put together as a beginner’s guide to newborn photoshoots (tips for infant photographers) and this article on perfecting your newborn photography (tips and techniques).
Utilizing Natural Light in Newborn Photography
Choose the Right Time and Place: The best natural light for photography is during the morning or late afternoon, when the light is softer and more diffused. Set up your shooting area near a large window where plenty of natural light pours in, but not directly in the sunlight, which can be too harsh.
Use Sheer Curtains: Sheer curtains are fantastic for softening the light that comes into the room. They can turn harsh sunlight into a soft, dreamy glow that’s just perfect for newborn photos.
Position the Baby Correctly: The direction of the light is crucial. You want the light to flow from the top of the baby’s head down their body. This way, you get a beautiful gradient of light to shadow, highlighting the baby’s features and giving the image depth.
Reflectors Are Your Friend: Sometimes, you might need a little extra light on the baby’s face or body. Using a reflector to bounce some natural light back onto the darker side of the baby can help even out the lighting for a perfect shot.
Creating Soft Shadows for Depth and Texture
Soft shadows are essential for adding depth and texture to your newborn photos. They give a three-dimensional feel to your images, making them more lifelike and dynamic.
Here’s how to create and use soft shadows effectively:
Understand the Light Source: To create soft shadows, you need to understand the direction of your light source. The light should be at an angle where it casts a gentle shadow on the opposite side of the baby’s features.
Use Light Modifiers: If the natural light is too strong, use light modifiers like diffusers to soften it. This can help in creating more subtle shadows and a softer overall look.
Play with Angles: Experiment with different angles to see how the shadows fall on the baby’s face and body. Sometimes, a slight change in angle can make a big difference in how the shadow adds character to your image.
Embrace the Moodiness: Shadows can add a touch of moodiness and drama to your photos. Embrace these elements when appropriate, as they can add a layer of emotion and depth to your newborn photography.
Remember, the interplay between light and shadow is a dance. As a photographer, learning to choreograph this dance is key to creating those breathtaking, timeless newborn photos.
Incorporating Props and Accessories
Adding props and accessories to your newborn photography can be like sprinkling a little magic into each session. The right prop not only adds charm and character to the photo but also helps in telling a story, the story of this new little life.
Selecting Props That Complement the Baby
Safety First: Always choose props that are safe for a newborn. Avoid anything with sharp edges, small parts, or made from materials that might irritate the baby’s skin. Everything should be thoroughly cleaned and sanitized before use.
Comfort is Key: Soft, padded props are best as they keep the baby comfortable and happy during the shoot. Think plush pillows, padded baskets, and soft blankets. See my guide on picking clothes for a newborn photo shoot.
Complement, Don’t Overpower: Choose props that enhance the photo without taking the spotlight away from the baby. Simple, elegant props work best. A small, hand-knitted hat, a gentle wrap, or a delicately patterned blanket can add just the right touch without overwhelming the scene.
DIY Newborn Photography Props
Handmade Blankets and Wraps: If you or someone you know is handy with knitting or crocheting, handmade blankets or wraps are wonderful, personal props. The texture and patterns can add a beautiful element to your photos.
Refurbished Furniture Pieces: A small, vintage-looking chair or a refurbished crate can be a charming addition to your newborn photos. Just make sure they are stable and safe for the baby.
Seasonal Props: For a seasonal touch, consider natural elements like a wreath of spring flowers or autumn leaves. These can create a lovely, timely setting for the newborn.
Themed Costumes and Hats: You can make simple costumes or hats that align with a theme, like a tiny crown for a little prince or princess, or animal-themed hats for a cute, whimsical touch. See 21 creative newborn photoshoot ideas.
Fabric Backdrops: Create your own backdrops with fabrics of different textures and colors. They can be hung or draped to create a simple yet effective background for your photos.
Safety First: Handling Newborns During the Session
When it comes to newborn photography, safety isn’t just the first priority – it’s the only priority. These tiny, delicate humans require the utmost care and attention during a photo session.
Ensuring the Baby’s Comfort and Safety
The comfort and safety of the baby are paramount in newborn photography. Here are some essential safety tips to always keep in mind:
Never Leave the Baby Unattended: This might seem obvious, but it’s worth repeating. Even if the baby is asleep and seemingly secure on a prop, never step away without ensuring someone is watching them.
Support the Baby’s Head and Neck: Newborns don’t have strong neck muscles, so always support their head and neck when posing them.
Use Safe Props and Poses: Avoid poses or props that could potentially harm the baby. If you’re ever unsure about a pose, it’s best to skip it.
Maintain a Warm Environment: Keep the room comfortably warm, as newborns can lose body heat quickly. Use heaters if necessary, but ensure they are not too close to the baby.
Sanitize Your Hands and Props: Always sanitize your hands before handling the baby, and ensure that all props and surfaces are clean and safe.
Keeping the Baby Calm and Soothed
A calm and sleepy baby makes for a smooth photography session. Here’s how you can help keep them serene:
White Noise and Gentle Sounds: Soft, soothing sounds or white noise can help keep a newborn calm.
Feed Before the Session: A well-fed baby is often a sleepy and content baby. Encourage parents to feed their baby right before the session.
Warm Hands: Cold hands can startle a baby. Keep your hands warm before touching the baby to keep them relaxed.
Gentle Movements: Sudden or jerky movements can wake or startle a newborn. Always move gently and slowly around them.
Capturing Lifestyle Newborn Photography
Lifestyle newborn photography captures the baby in their natural home setting, creating a more personal and candid feel. It’s about documenting the real-life moments and connections.
Involving the Family: Including Siblings and Parents
Incorporating family members into a newborn session adds a beautiful, emotional layer to the photos. Here are some tips to do it effectively:
Encourage Natural Interaction: Instead of posed shots, encourage the family to interact naturally with the baby. Tender moments like cuddles, gentle kisses, or simply gazing at the baby can create powerful images.
Be Observant and Ready: With families, especially those with other children, candid moments can happen quickly. Be ready to capture them.
Guide, Don’t Pose: Give the family gentle guidance on where to sit or stand but let the interaction unfold naturally. This approach results in more relaxed and genuine photos.
Post-Processing and Editing Newborn Photos
Editing newborn photos is all about enhancing, not transforming. Here are some basic tips to get you started:
Correcting Skin Tones: Newborns often have patchy or reddish skin. Gently adjust the skin tones to appear more even and natural. But remember, it’s important to retain the authenticity of their delicate skin.
Softening the Image: Softening the image slightly can enhance the dreamy, gentle feel of newborn photos. However, be careful not to overdo it – you still want to preserve the details and textures.
Removing Distractions: Use editing tools to remove any distracting elements like small blemishes or background noises. This helps in keeping the focus on the baby.
Light and Shadow: Play with light and shadow to add depth to your images. Enhancing soft shadows can give your photos more dimension.
Keep It Simple: With newborn photography, less is often more. Avoid heavy filters or effects that can take away from the natural beauty of your subject.
Creating a Consistent Photography Style
Developing a consistent style in your newborn photography not only makes your work recognizable but also helps in attracting your ideal clients. Here’s how you can achieve it:
Find Your Aesthetic: Experiment with different editing techniques to find a style that resonates with you. It could be soft and airy, rich and moody, or anything in between.
Consistency in Editing: Once you find your style, be consistent with it. Use similar editing techniques, tones, and colors for all your photos to create a cohesive look.
Create Presets: To streamline your editing process, create presets in your editing software. This helps in maintaining consistency and saves time.
Building a Newborn Photography Portfolio
Your portfolio is your visual resume. It’s what potential clients will look at when deciding whether to book you, so it’s crucial to showcase your best work.
Selecting Your Best Work for the Portfolio
Showcase Variety: Include a range of poses, setups, and lighting scenarios to show your versatility as a newborn photographer.
Quality Over Quantity: It’s better to have a few stunning images than a lot of average ones. Choose photos that best represent your skills and style.
Tell a Story: Arrange your photos in a way that tells a story. This could be the story of a single session or a variety of sessions that collectively showcase your talent.
Update Regularly: Keep your portfolio fresh and up-to-date with your latest and best work.
Tips and Tricks from a Professional Newborn Photographer
After years of photographing those adorable little bundles, I’ve picked up a few tips and tricks along the way. Sharing these nuggets of wisdom is like passing on little secrets that can make a world of difference in your newborn photography.
10 Tips for Taking Stunning Newborn Photos
Lighting is Key: Use soft, natural light whenever possible. It flatters the baby’s delicate skin and creates beautiful, soft images.
Safety Always Comes First: Never compromise on the safety of the baby. Always have a spotter or a parent close by during poses.
Keep the Baby Comfortable: Ensure the room is warm and cozy. A comfortable baby is more likely to stay calm and sleepy.
Patience is a Virtue: Newborn sessions can be unpredictable. Be patient and flexible, and be ready to adapt to the baby’s needs.
Preparation is Essential: Have all your props, blankets, and equipment ready and sanitized before the session.
Simple Poses Work Best: Start with simple poses that are safe and comfortable for the baby. As you gain experience, you can try more advanced poses.
Capture the Tiny Details: Don’t forget to photograph the little details like tiny toes, fingers, and cute expressions.
Involve the Family: Include parents and siblings in the session. These interactions often make for the most heartfelt photos.
Post-Processing Matters: Enhance your photos in post-processing, but keep it natural. Avoid over-editing.
Learn Continuously: Keep up with trends, attend workshops, and learn from other photographers. The field of newborn photography is always evolving.
Ramina Magid Newborn Photography
If you’re in the Los Angeles area, my studio in Beverly Hills specializes in newborn photography, I am fully am fully licensed, insured, and trained on newborn safety and would be honored to be considered for capturing your family’s special moments.
See my reviews here and contact me today to schedule your shoot and begin the journey of capturing your family’s precious story in the most beautiful way possible at my Beverly Hills studio located at 1010 S Robertson Blvd Suite E, Los Angeles, CA 90035.
As we reach the end of this comprehensive guide to newborn photography, remember that taking newborn photos is more than just a profession, it’s a privilege. To be able to freeze time, if only for a moment, and deliver photos of the baby that evoke the pure essence of infancy is truly rewarding.
In my photo studio in Los Angeles, where I offer both baby photography and newborn photography, each session is unique. Each baby, each family brings something new to the table. Babies tend to have their own ideas about how a session should go, and part of the joy is in adapting to their needs.
Whether you’re a professional photographer looking for great tips to enhance your craft, or parents seeking to capture the essence of your newborn’s early days, continue to research newborn photography, experiment with different styles of newborn pictures, and embrace each opportunity to improve your newborn photography skills. And if you’re in Los Angeles, feel free to stop by my studio for a newborn, baby photography or cake smash session – I’d absolutely love to help you capture these once-in-a-lifetime moments.