6 Tips To Take Brilliant Newborn Photos Without Much Hassle

Newborn baby girl with a purple bonnet on a purple background

After all, they’re new… pink and squishy looking. Babies have a distinct smell to them – baby powdery and sour milk. They’ve got a unique sound to them – from cooing to screaming. Babies are interesting little humans.

Of course, it doesn’t matter how sweet these tiny humans are, they’re not always easy to take pictures of. How can you ensure that a newborn’s photo session goes smoothly?

1 – Make Plans Prior To The Session

It’s imperative that you talk with the mom and dad one to two days before you arrive at the scheduled session. Some of the things you need to speak with them about include:

What’s the baby schedule like? While some babies may not have this, some do. Whatever the case may be, parents should tell you what time your child is most calm.

If you take pictures at the child’s home, get some specifics as to where they would want pictures taken – what rooms, outside in the yard, etc. Whatever the case may be, make sure you have enough light to take pictures.

Ask them about the wardrobe or if there is going to be any. While many photographers like the idea of a naked baby booty, some parents don’t feel that way. Talk with the parents about their feelings. If they don’t mind a naked photo shoot, have the mom or dad take the baby’s clothes off. If they’re against it, don’t push the issue.

If the baby’s parents are okay with nude photos, make sure the clothes have been removed one hour before the shoot is set to start. This ensures there are no clothing lines on the skin. It’s also a good idea to have the diaper hang loosely during the hour leading up to the service. While lines can be fixed with Photoshop, you probably want to take pictures, not manipulate them.

2 – Be Prepared

It’s of the utmost importance that you have everything that you will or may need. Make sure it’s all organized and can be gotten a hold of easily. Babies will get fussy and impatient, so have a plan of attack on hand. Here’s what to keep in mind:

If you’ll be using studio lights, have them set up 10 minutes prior to the scheduled shoot. This allows you to run test shots before the parents bring in the baby.

While already a no-brainer, check your lenses and sensors to ensure they’re clean. You don’t want to stop in the middle of a newborn photo shoot because you see a spot on the sensor or lens. Babies are not very forgiving in the waiting department. In fact, they’re a bomb waiting to go off.

Be sure you get lots of rest the night before the shoot. You want to have both patience and energy on standby, as it can be a long day without them. Don’t forget that you’re walking into a home where nobody has gotten a lot of sleep in some time. The last thing anybody needs is a grumpy photographer who has no patience for the unexpected. You only set the tone. So, with that in mind, rest up and get a good meal in before you walk into the home.

3 – Focus On Details

Go ahead and get close to focus on the little details. One thing you can do is shoot babies using extremely low apertures to get a shallow field depth. It’s not going to work for everybody but it’s definitely an option to keep in mind.

Babies are tiny for a short time so put attention on their tiny toes and fingers before they grow up. After all, they grow up quicker than you realize.

A shallow depth field produces an air of intimacy and tenderness, which is suitable for this type of shoot. This kind of shooting can depict how parents see nothing else but their baby. Everything else may be out of focus but the baby is the one thing that’s clear.

4 – Have A Hat On Hand

It may seem strange but a tiny stocking cap can solve any look a baby has that appears “odd”. If a baby has a misshapen head or hasn’t had all their features grown in quite yet, a hat can do wonders for the entire shoot.

5 – Establishing Pictures

What are these? These are pictures that create a feeling, location or anything of the time that an event occurred. What you’re trying to do is create a story about the feelings that surround the baby’s birth – the welcoming of the new person into an established household. Every family unit is different but every single one is special and needs to be “shown” that it is. For instance:

If you shoot inside the home, you’ll likely be in the baby’s room (nursery). Get a shot of it. Establish the setting, as it’s a reminder for the family of what their home was like when the baby first came into their home.

If you’re going to be on location or in a studio, get a shot that gets the family as a whole as they were with the birth.

6 – Flexibility Is Still Important

Make sure you’re flexible, as taking pictures of a baby comes with an array of variables. Babies can be extremely unpredictable. Therefore, remember the following:

Lovingly handle all setbacks. Babies know when you are tense and frustrated, and they will respond in the same manner. If you stay calm, they’ll relax.

If you need to stop, then stop. If you notice the baby is about to freak out, then it’s okay to take a break. Allow the parents to calm the baby down, change the diaper, feed the baby, etc. You don’t want to push a baby to the point where the session ends before it’s really begun. Focus on the baby and allow them to be in charge.

If you notice the baby is fussing a small bit, don’t become bothered by it. The parents are going to be. Ask the parents if they want to snuggle with the baby to make them feel comfortable. You certainly don’t want the parents to worry about their little one.

Provide yourself time. While it’s possible to have a short newborn photo session, it’s not always possible. Therefore, you want to set up a two-hour window for taking the pictures before you must arrive at your next session… if you have any.

These are just some of the many things you must remember when you take professional pictures of newborns. Always remember that the baby is going to be the one running the show; you’re just playing along and acting it. Let them guide you, as you take their picture. Things will go much smoother if you do.



Mary is a Vancouver based Maternity and Newborn photographer, with over 31 years of photography experience. Years ago, she started out in photography as a photojournalist and then became a photography teacher. While she has always loved the journalistic magic that she could create with her camera, she really enjoyed capturing the beauty of people & families. This then sparked a desire to further her passion for capturing and creating these cherished memories, and joining her talents for capturing & retelling stories with her camera.

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About Me

“I’m a mother of two beautiful children and have vast experience in photographing newborns and expecting mothers. I know the joys a child can bring in the world, and through my experience as a newborn photographer, we will aim to showcase the love you have for your newborn. ”

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