Helpful Tips for Successful Newborn Photography


The emotional value of photography is its ability to document life. Newborn portraits are no different and equally compelling.  For the photographer, however, things are somewhat different.  


Newborn portraits can be challenging, especially for the inexperienced photographer. They also can be extremely rewarding for a photographer.  So, do not let any potential challenges of photographing a tiny, new life dissuade you. With some planning, this beautiful style of photography is worth your time!

For a more successful and fruitful newborn photography shoot, here are some tips to consider:

Tip 1: Newborn portraits are typically taken within the first eight to ten days of life. During this period, babies look and behave as if they are still in the womb. They sleep a lot. They're curling their fingers into little fists. And, they are entirely comfortable in a fetal position. They are also easier to pose and photograph given how much they sleep!

Tip 2: It’s prudent to have a “spotter" nearby at all times, especially whenever a baby is out of a parent’s arms. Any handling of a baby should be done only by experienced hands. Never force a child into a specific position which isn’t happening naturally or easily.

Tip 3: Make sure that at all times your equipment is well secured. Safety is critical when you're shooting babies and children! There’s no compromising on a child’s safety. There should be no possibility of items falling or tipping onto a baby. Secure all wires or cables, so there's no danger of someone tripping onto the child.

Tip 4: You, as well as the parents, should be ready to go as the assigned appointment time. Nothing does more to make you look unprofessional than appearing not ready or unable to find equipment. 

Tip 5: If you aren't actively using something, it should nearby within easy reach without posing a danger to your clients. All props, such as outfits, posing bags, blankets, warming pads, should be easily accessible as well.

Tip 6: The room should be warm to keep a newborn comfortable.


Tip 7: Communications with your clients is key to any successful shoot and client-photographer relationship. Be certain to communicate in advance with your new (and likely sleep-deprived clients) what they should bring to their child’s session. This can include items such as extra diapers, multiple outfits, food, and any personal props they want to bring. It’s usually best to have this conversation when they first call to schedule their appointment, especially if they’re calling while still pregnant because they’re likely not sleep-deprived yet!

Tip 8: Prepare for the unexpected! Oh, the joys of working with children on a photography set. You never know quite what to expect. Remember that newborns are probably not yet adapted to life outside the womb and haven’t settled into a regular sleeping and feeding schedule. Whether it’s unexpected body fluids, a cranky baby, or sleep-deprived parent - the most experienced photographers know to be ready!  

Tip 9: You should expect to spend at least two hours and possibly up to four hours for a newborn portrait session. There might be a need to take breaks for feedings, diaper changes, or to soothe a fussy baby. Sleepy or hungry babies quickly become cranky babies, so a hefty dose of patience is critical for a newborn photographer!

Tip 10: Take the opportunity to shoot your client's first family portraits by including parents and siblings during your newborn shots! These shots can make especially poignant pictures. Remember, though, that the family is adjusting to changed schedules plus an addition to the family. Young siblings, especially, will be adapting to the new family dynamics. Be flexible and ready work with what you have during the session. Snap some candid shots when you’re clients least expect it. These are often among the most precious!


Additional Tips:

  • Do a pre-check and assessment of your set and equipment before your clients arrive.  
  • What might go wrong, fall over, or cause someone to trip and fall onto a child? 
  • Are batteries charged? 
  • Extra equipment ready to be used? 
  • Is lighting equipment ready? 
  • Are props and outfits at hand nearby and clean or ready?

Lastly, remember that post-production editing exists! What isn’t captured perfectly during a photo shoot, can be adjusted later. Lightroom and Photoshop can be a photographer's best friend in the days following a shoot, especially one with babies and children. Use presets to spend minutes rather than hours editing your newborn pictures.