10 Tips for Photographing Newborn Babies

May 21, 2009

in Newborn Photography, Photography Tips, Photography Tutorials

10 Tips for Photographing Newborn Babies

We love photographing newborn babies! There is something sacred about capturing a tiny human so fresh and new. To get you started on your journey of taking photos of babies, Katherine Marie Photography is here with 10 easy tips for capturing these little miracles.

1. Put the babies IN and ON things.

Look around your house for bowls, baskets, plates… get creative. If you can’t find anything you love check out Ikea, Target, antique shops & yard sales for some inexpensive props.

10 Tips for Photographing Newborn Babies
2. Stock up on variety of fabrics and blankets.

Find at least one of each—- high dimension texture (like blanket above), silk, fake fur, loopy/bumpy texture and velvet. You may also like to have several basic solids on hand; black, antique white and your favorite baby shade (pink-blue-mint). Fabrics are essential for backdrops if you have lots of clutter around. Also use fabrics to make a tasty baby burrito or put your fabric over a bean bag, pillow or boppy for an instant “baby poser.”

10 Tips for Photographing Newborn Babies
3. Click with your heart.

Don’t worry if your photographs aren’t technically perfect. Some of my finest work is highly flawed… as long as you love an image, it is a treasure. Photograph baby with something you cherish and/or something that represents you; an heirloom blanket, vintage baseball glove, cowboy hat, wedding rings… the ideas are endless. One of my Texas clients carved this table (above) and we curled baby on top for once in a lifetime shot.

10 Tips for Photographing Newborn Babies
4. Turn off your flash.

Let God’s light do all the work for you. I have lots of expensive & fancy lighting equipment— never used it on a baby, not once. Find a spot in your house that has soft, subtle light. Notice the way the light changes in each room through out the day. You may find exceptional light in the nursery during the morning and then the dining room in the afternoon. Trust me when I say your house has perfect light— it’s just a matter of finding it. I’ve photographed in bathrooms, entry ways, kitchens, garages… you name it!


5. Be ridiculously cheesy and silly.

Costumes aren’t just for Halloween!! Accessorize fully clothed and naked babes in hats, scarves, booties and bows whenever possible.


10 Tips for Photographing Newborn Babies
6. Go black and white.

Nothing beats a timeless and classic black & white photograph. Often fresh newborn skin can be bit blotchy and/or red— black and whites will help hide that! The baby angel (sweet Kennedy above) had flawless skin, yet black and white just worked perfectly here. Let each photograph speak to you– I usually know within the first second if it should be B&W or color… if in doubt print both and pick your favorite.


10 Tips for Photographing Newborn Babies
7. Take the one shot you can’t live without.

For me, every session includes the quintessential hand shot. I love how this pose highlights the smallness of the baby against daddy’s hands. Search your favorite magazines and find YOUR SHOT. Do whatever it takes to capture it.


8. Print your photographs regularly.

This sounds simple enough, but in this age of digital greatness it’s easy to forget about REAL PRINTS. Please don’t use your local pharmacy or home printer for photographs you actually care about. Skip Target and Walmart. Find a local professional camera shop and see if they do in house printing. If they don’t they will recommend one to you.

10 Tips for Photographing Newborn Babies
9. Show some skin. Go for the birthday suit. Tushie shots are a must have. You can easily cover up privates with a blankie. Their skin will never again be so velvety, soft and gorgeous.

10 Tips for Photographing Newborn Babies
10. Have Pee and Poop Patience.

Photographing newborns is a hard, messy job! Take your time and take lots and lots and lots of photos. It’s okay to take 100 shots and only get ONE that really makes your heart sing. My all time favorite photograph is with Emerson on stack of books (see sidebar). This photo took me over two hours to capture. It was worth every second.


11. Enjoy the sleepy heads.

Who isn’t a sucker for sleeping newborn? You’ll find babes to be most easily movable and flexible within the FIRST TEN DAYS of life. Keep a sleeping baby warm and wrapped until you are ready to begin your session. I always ask my clients to turn the heat way up (parents should be sweating by the end of session) to keep baby content. You can also use a hot water bottle or heating pad to warm babies spot in advance.

10 Tips for Photographing Newborn Babies
12. Okay, this was only supposed to be 10 tips…

I can’t stop myself, one more– get AS CLOSE as your camera will allow. Capture tiny toes, drool, wrinkly skin, belly buttons… and capture it close. “Key to My Heart” (above) would not have had the impact if I included the entire baby and a wild background. Always remember this— when you think you are close enough, go a tad closer!

My all-time favorite baby photography book—— Nick Kelsh’s “How to Photograph Your Baby.” LOVE this book! Nick will make you believe that “The most important piece of equipment is your heart.”

Lastly, I promise you, I’m not just saying this because I am one, but if you can afford to hire a professional photographer, do it. I so wish I would have done this when K was a baby. I did the chain studios, but I truly wish I would had someone come to our house when he was brand spankin’ new.

If you really and truly can’t afford a pro, contact your favorite local photographers and tell them about your situation— I can’t tell you how many times I’ve done discounted sessions to help out families. I’d photograph every baby in world if I had time!!! I really believe that most photographers are amazingly compassionate and generous. If you can’t, find anyone (ask a super close friend or family member) to act as your photography assistant during the first days!! New mama’s need and deserve all the help they can get.

Don’t Miss Our Ultimate Newborn Photography Guide. An amazing FREE resource for all photographers!

Newborn Photography Tutorials | Baby Photography Guide

Katherine Marie is a fun-loving mama of four. When she isn’t giggling, dancing and creating with her kids she works as a commercial and portrait photographer. Take a peek at her photo journal here.

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Merlyn Kirk October 2, 2015

This has been very helpful! My hubby gave me a Nikon for my birthday over a year ago! I fell and broke my socket of in my shoulder and have been unable to use it very much! Looking forward to being able to photo graph our first granddaughter! We have six grandsons so it is special! Hoping to be able to do it!


Carl July 12, 2011

Great ideas. One early development photo tip I read about was to place a tissue lightly over the little one’s face and pull up (when age appropriate). The little change in air usually generates a precious reaction to add to the other memorable ideas you have in your article!


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