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How to Take Newborn Photos: A Complete Guide

Last updated: January 18, 2024 - 18 min read
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Newborn portraiture is a take on portrait photography. Only the subjects are often less than two weeks old.
Newborn portraits are about capturing this beautiful moment before the child grows up. Soon enough they will start asking for pocket money and borrow the car.

What is Newborn Photography?

Newborn photography is a genre that focuses on capturing newborn babies. It is the only area of photography where the photographer needs to have the well being of the subject as the main priority. Safety is key.
The great thing is, you will have parents who can act as your assistants, holding and posing the baby. They can also make them laugh, and put them back to sleep.
This doesn’t mean you shouldn’t invest in a few pieces of equipment to help this process.
Read our full guide to newborn photography tips and advice for creating the best work. And keeping mummy and daddy happy.
Overhead photo of a newborn in a basket

Camera Equipment for Newborn Photography

How to Choose the Best Camera for Newborn Photography

DSLRs are perfect for newborn photography. They can shoot in raw, allow for lens changing and have a high ISO range.
Mirrorless systems are also great as they are silent and keep the newborn undisturbed.
Both of these cameras provide great quality images, able to produce large prints.
Read the article here on all the different camera systems. And how they will benefit your newborn portraiture.
Close up newborn baby photography

Camera Gear For Newborn Photography

Photographing newborns is no easy task. Most of them can’t move so well, so they tend to stay where you place them.
This doesn’t mean they can’t fall, roll over or pull faces that are less than admirable.
A camera for photographing scenes with newborns needs to have the right settings. Such as a wide range of ISOs and shutter speeds.
Your lenses should have a variety of apertures, as these will help you in low light.
Most DSLRs and mirrorless cameras have the capacity to shoot different scenarios. For other camera gear recommendations, read this article here.
Newborn photography of a baby chewing a wooden block

Newborn Props & Accessories

Everyday Objects

When beginning your newborn portraiture business, start small. You may think you need to buy all the props and accessories you can get your hands on.
What you might not realize is that you already own many of these props. All you need is a little creativity. That will save you money and time.
One accessory that will give you many different backgrounds and settings is a towel. These come in all kinds of colors and add interesting textures to your image.
Read on for more simple yet fantastic everyday objects that you can use as props.
A newborn sleeping in a basket

Best Camera Settings Newborn Photography

Nothing quite makes a person wish for the ability to freeze time like holding a newborn baby. But while pausing the space-time continuum isn’t possible, freezing that moment is — you just need a camera.
But what are the best camera settings for newborn photography? How do you keep the photo sharp, but the background blurred?
The best baby photography settings blur out the distractions. They freeze any movement for sharp memories of those first few months of a child’s life.
Here’s what you need to know to freeze time and capture great newborn photos.
Close-up photo of a newborn baby swaddle in a turquoise blanket

12 Adorable Newborn Photo Props Safe for Beginners

As a newborn photographer, a huge range of props allows you to be versatile in your captures. More props allow you to take many unique newborn photos.
Here, we have compiled a list of the most adorable props, safe for newborn photography. Capture them in style, and start by reading here.

A newborn sleeping surrounded by props

How To Start Taking Newborn Photos

Start-Up Guide

Knowing where to start with your newborn portraiture can be a challenge. Acquiring and finding a few simple props is a great place to start.
Knowing how to use these props is the key here. Layering blankets, towels and other materials create the perfect setting.
Remember, you are dealing with a few kilograms of incontinent floppiness. Waterproof sheets or puppy pads are a great way to protect the more expensive items you own.
But what else do you need when you start newborn photography? Read this detailed article to find out.
Close up newborn photography

Planning Stage

Planning your newborn photography shoot effectively is very important. You need to know a great deal about the baby to be able to photograph them well.
Feeding and nap times are important. But knowing the baby’s age can help a lot. Often, within the first two weeks works best for newborns.
At this age, the newborns are easier to pose. You will find they curl up much easier than they will in a week or two.
Use this knowledge to your advantage, and make the appointment as soon as possible. Learn more about the planning stage of baby photoshoots here.
Newborn babies feet

13 Tips for the Sweetest Newborn Photography Sessions

Photographing newborns can be a challenge at the best of times. Crying is a common occurrence that will only give you one interesting photograph. It isn’t great for a whole series.

  1. Prioritize safety in newborn photography
  2. Take photos of newborns before two weeks old
  3. Create a warm and consistent environment for the photo shoot
  4. Try to photograph sleeping babies for peaceful-looking photos
  5. Use caution when attempting complex or potentially hazardous poses
  6. Dress in layers to adjust to the temperature in the room
  7. Use white noise to keep the baby calm
  8. Photograph newborns while they are sleeping or when they are awake but calm
  9. Use props and accessories carefully and with caution
  10. Avoid overloading the baby with too many props and accessories
  11. Try to capture natural expressions and poses
  12. Work with the baby’s natural sleep patterns to get the best photos
  13. Take breaks and be patient during the photo shoot

Wait until your newborn is nice and sleepy for the best use of your newborn photography shoot

Tips for The On-Location Photographer

If you are an on-location photographer, your preparation and workflow are going to be a little different.
Every tool or prop you use will need to be taken with you. Or has to be in the location where you are shooting.
The biggest tip we can pass on is that the parents need to have as much information as possible.
Parents will have a better idea about the location, they will own the props that you will use.
They will also be your assistants in posing and keeping the newborn happy. Learn more about being an on-location newborn photographer here.
Black and white newborn photography of a woman holding a baby

Newborn Photography Ideas to Try Yourself

If you are seeking inspiration, look no further. As photographers, we are always trying to create unique content. This comes from original photoshoot concepts.
This doesn’t mean that looking at and copying other images isn’t a good place to start. It will act as training until you find your own feet.
Check out these newborn baby photography ideas to get inspired.
Newborn baby in a basket surrounded by forest themed props

10 Famous Baby Photographers You Must Check Out

No matter the genre you are specializing in, we all need photography inspiration from time to time. Photography is about lifelong learning. And who are the best teachers? Other photographers, of course.
Never stop looking at other artist’s work. You can learn new techniques or find inspiration in their photos.
We collected 10 famous baby photographers who are great sources of creative ideas. And their newborn photos are heart-melting.
Cute newborn photo in a headscarf

10 Best Newborn Photography Outfits You Should Try

Adult subjects are proactive in deciding what to wear for a photoshoot. Newborns have no choice but to rely on the photographer’s styling ideas.
Newborn photos often have the same outfits. Sure, you need to be safe and use materials that are comfortable for the babies. But there is still space for creativity.
Read our article on the 10 best newborn photography outfits.

photo of a newborn baby in cute outfit posed with a teddy bear

How to Take Beautiful DIY Newborn Photography With a Smartphone

Smartphones are a great tool for capturing precious moments in time. They allow you to take high-quality images easily.
Through apps, you can edit, add filters and post your images. All in one tiny package.
One tip we can offer you here is to focus on the details. An iPhone allows you to get closer to a subject, locating those easy to miss wrinkles newborns have
Read here on other ways you can use your smartphone to capture amazing images.
Close-up of hands holding baby feet

Newborn Photography Mistakes to Avoid

Mistakes are helpful, as you learn how not to do something, letting you work towards getting it right.
Photography is no different. By getting out there and applying your knowledge, you will start to see what works and what doesn’t.
This article here is to help you get past these mistakes, learning faster and faster. This will allow you to take better images sooner, rather than later.
One mistake to avoid is putting too much pressure on yourself. Stress is not going to help you capture that shot, it will work against you
Understand that photography, especially newborn portraiture won’t be a quick learning path. It will take time and patience.
Sweet diptych portrait of a newborn baby

Flower Wreath Images

One idea on how to pose your newborn baby is within a flower wreath. This is a unique concept to create stunning images the parents will love.
You will need an area with plenty of natural light, some flowers, time and some patience. Quick and simple doesn’t go with newborn portraiture.
Use a neutral background for this shot. Something earthy will work well with the flowers. So light beige or off white will be good choices.
Read the article here for photographic examples and a step-by-step guide.

Sweet baby in flower wreath and tutu
Photo by Arthur Goulart on Pexels

10 Simple Tips for Shooting DIY Newborn Photography at Home

Babies grow up fast and change so much even in days. There is no way people can schedule a professional photo shoot to capture every little milestone.
So it’s a smart idea to learn how to take DIY newborn photography at home. The photos might not look that professional. But DIY newborn photography has advantages.
Like you can take all the time you need. Or use any props that you have on hand.
For the rest of the tips, read here.
A sweet overhead portrait of a baby in a novelty hat on a white blanket - diy newborn photography

19 Adorable Baby Christmas Picture Ideas You Should Try!

Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year.
Especially if a family just welcomed a new member and they are celebrating the baby’s first Christmas together.
Here, we collected 19 adorable baby Christmas picture ideas for you.
No matter if you want to shoot a newborn photography session or capture an older baby. You will find the inspiration you need!
Sweet baby's first Christmas portrait by the christmas tree

Newborn Posing

Newborn Poses: How to Minimise Fuss and Maximise Cuteness

Posing newborns can be a little daunting on your first try. They are all floppy and can’t hold themselves well, if at all.
Move slowly, be confident and never put the baby in danger. Use the parents to hold the baby in different poses. Then Photoshop them out during the editing stage.
The back pose is one of the most common and the easiest to start with. Lay them on their back on soft material. Place their hands on their tummies.
While they are there, grab some detail shots of their hands and feet. For the other two poses, read the article here.
Cute close up portrait of a newborn baby

Tips on Posing Newborns

Posing a newborn is not the same as posing men or women. What you look for in adults, you look for the opposites in the baby.
Fat rolls and wrinkles are the focus, alongside their expressions. Place them in poses that extenuate and show these off.
You can also decide not to shoot posed newborn photos. Instead, you can choose to do lifestyle shots newborn photography. It means that the baby is in a natural setting and moves into an unaided pose.
Read our article here for all the tips you will ever need about posed newborn photography vs. lifestyle shots.
Black and white close up portrait of a newborn baby

12 Composition Tips for Family Portraits

There will be times when you want to capture the family or the siblings alongside the newborn. In case you’re doing a photoshoot for newborn twins, read our article here about some useful tips! An image of the whole family is something the extended family and friends would love.
So how do you capture a little one alongside the grownups?
Here we have 12 compositional tips for family portraits. It looks at compositions, inspirations to follow and the important things to look out for.
Having something like this under your belt means more clients and happier ones. And happier clients talk, giving you more families to photograph.
A shot of mom, dad and the little baby lying on grass

Studio Photography

Tips For Setting Up Your Home Studio

Your studio is where all the gear comes together. This is your controlled environment. This is where you set up your camera, lighting, and other accessories.
These allow you to take portraits in the style and manner that suits you. If you’re getting started, you’ll want to set up one that is affordable.
Of course, setup isn’t everything. You will still need to work with the subject in the studio. This way, you get the look, feel, and the effect that you want in the portrait.
Get comfortable with working in the context of the studio. The faster you’ll do this, the faster you will be able to improve your newborn portraiture.
Read our tips here on how to set up your home studio.
Photo of a baby in a home photography studio

Best Lighting To Get Started With

By working in a studio, or building your own, you will find a lot of different choices for lighting. Flashbulbs are the most common as they are cheaper and available.
But there are other forms that will provide constant light, rather than a flash. These are incandescent and fluorescent and are generally used in studios.
Read our article here on the difference between these lights, and why and when you would use them.
Flat lay lighting equipment is necessary for newborn photography.

DIY Flash Modifiers

If you have a Speedlite, why not try some DIY. Store-bought modifiers can be expensive to buy, and you might find you don’t use them all the time.
Creating them at home means harnessing a few benefits. You get to try different ways to light your portraits without spending a lot of money.
You can try before you buy the professionally made versions. Or keep the ones you made for future use.
With a few small pieces of plastic, you can create a few different modifiers. You might need to buy a pack of Pringles, but then you can enjoy them too! Read our tutorial on how to create DIY flash modifiers.
A can of Pringles full of black straws


Portrait Lighting Terms

Studio lighting is a vast topic unto itself. There is a large amount of terminology that you’ll encounter when dealing with it.
Become familiar with the vocabulary of lighting. It will help you become better at working with different types of light.
Sources, patterns, and tools will help you take successful portraits.
This short glossary is a handy reference. You can check these when assembling your lighting kit.
This will also allow you to manipulate your lighting setup while working in the studio.
Close up of a newborn babys feet

Utilizing Natural Window Light

Using the natural light that shines in through a window is a great way to get soft light. This is an excellent light for an indoor subject. Window light is often overlooked and it costs nothing.
The effect of the window on the outdoor light is the same as that of a softbox on a flash. The intensity of the light lessens and the light becomes soft.
Done right, the effect can be very impressive and professional-looking. You are harnessing the power by moving the subject closer or further away from the window.
Check out this article to learn how to use natural window light for your newborn photos.
Close up of a newborn baby sleeping

Newborn Photography Business Tips

Starting a Newborn Photography Business

Starting your own business is a huge undertaking, and it will be challenging. You will need to build it from the ground up, starting with investing money.
The fate of your business rest in your hands, and it will only continue if you price well. You need to know how much to charge your clients.
Don’t become discouraged by the competition or that you may not make a profit for the first two years. It can be a difficult market, and you need time to get the word out.
Read the article here on how to start your newborn portraiture business today!

Black and white portraits of parents holding their newborn child

Baby Photography Plans

If you take quality images of newborns, the parents might decide to come back as the baby grows. They are repeat buyers into your product.
This is great, as they trust you to capture those fleeting moments. This is when you might feel that a baby plan will help you gain more repeat customers.
The BOGO (buy one, get one) baby plan might be a great idea for you and your business.
Give the parents a free session after they booked the first three sessions within a year. This will ensure repeat business from happy customers.
The time between the sessions means they are more likely to buy prints from you. The difference in the baby will be large.
Read the article here on different baby plans to help your newborn photography business.
A baby plan celebrating its first birthday

10 Things Your Photography Contract Must Include

A newborn photography contract ensures both parties retain their rights.
It makes sure that neither side can do anything that was not pre-discussed and agreed upon. Such as sharing or editing images.
If not followed, either side suffers the risk of legal action against them. The contract needs a notary for effectiveness.
One rule for photographing people is to get a model release. This is a contract between both parties, allowing the use of the model’s image.
Most stock photography requires this if you wish to sell the images online.
Read here for the other nine tips on what your photography contract needs to have.

A newborn baby holding their mothers finger
Photo by Wayne Evans on Pexels

Pixieset – An Image Sharing Platform 

As a professional photographer, your business model is important. Delivering your images on time is essential
That’s where Pixieset comes in. This is a platform that allows you to share large files with your clients. This all comes at a monthly fee.
This means your clients will be happy, satisfied, and likely to work with you again! Pixieset is one of the top options for file sharing.
For the full review, and information on how to get started, read our article here.

A screenshot of Pixieset website to share your newborn photography with your clients
Natalia Robert

Post-Processing Family Photography

Planning Stage

We can all benefit from using a well-organized workflow. This is a great way to make sure you do everything you need to.
It is also a perfect way to tackle a paid newborn portraiture session.  It ensures that everything goes according to plan without missing or losing images.
The best advice we can give you is to make sure you upload your images on time.
Create a folder on your hard drive that you will remember. Use the clients’ name and/or date for the best naming system.
All our tips covering the workflow are here, in this article.
Overhead shot of a person working on a laptop

Post-Processing Under Two Minutes

No doubt you will take hundreds of images of the newborns to make sure you have a few perfect ones. After ten different poses and angles, you could end up with a thousand.
How are you going to cull and edit all these images that make sense timewise? One way to do this in Lightroom is to batch-process images at the same time, in one go.
A hundred images of a particular angle will have the same light. So when you correct the light for one, you can apply the adjustments quickly to the other 99.
One way we can achieve this is by using presets. These are pre-made adjustments other photographers have created. You are free to use them on your own images.
Read here on all the information you need on cutting down your editing time.
Closeup of a sleeping newborn

Newborn Photo Editing Tips

The best way to edit images into stunning captures is to make sure you get as close as you can with the photograph. You can’t fix an angle problem in Lightroom.
Try to capture a well-framed scene in-camera. This will give you great photographs and will cut down your editing time.
Newborns are soft and cuddly, so the images should reflect this tone and mood.
To generate smooth, creamy skin tones, use the contrast and clarity sliders. You can find these in Adobe Lightroom.
Reducing the contrast creates this dreamy feeling and soft appearance.
Read here on all the editing tips you need for newborn portraiture.

Look for creamy skin tones by keeping the contrast down during the post-processing of your newborn photographyConclusion

Nothing is more rewarding than being able to freeze time and capture precious moments in life. Taking photos of newborns is a challenging yet heart-melting photography genre.
One thing is sure: if you read our complete guide, you will know where to start. And with time, you can master this field and get more clients than you can handle.