Newborn babies may sleep most of the time their first few weeks of life, but that doesn’t make them any less of a challenge to photograph than an older, more active baby. In this quick tutorial we offer our best newborn photography tips for posing, composing and exposing striking pictures of babies.
Newborn photography tips: 01 The opportune time
While new parents may be flustered during this time, you will find that the baby is the most pliable and poseable during the first 10 days after birth. Try to work within this timeframe.
Newborn photography tips: 02 Tiny details
If the baby is having a particularly grumpy moment, try focusing on parts other than its face. Fingers and toes can be especially cute – try starting with those.
Newborn photography tips: 03 Hat tip
Very small babies, especially those that have had a forceps birth, can have slightly misshapen heads. In these cases, try using a hat like a beanie to cover it up. Accessories like hats are especially cute on babies, too.
Newborn photography tips: 04 Use what you have
A car seat makes a particularly effective setup for a newborn baby to pose on. Not only does it prop the baby up into a seated position, but babies typically feel secure in them.
Simply drape the car seat with a sheet before putting the baby in it and crop in tight after the shot and you’ll have yourself a nice background.
Newborn photography tips: 05 Safety first
Don’t forget how fragile babies are. Small babies are fairly easy to pose when they’re sleeping, but don’t try to manipulate them without another steady hand close by.
Newborn photography tips: 06 Use mum and dad
It can be a little overwhelming to try and pose someone else’s baby, so don’t be afraid to ask for help. Make use of mum and dad – they’ll probably enjoy being a part of the process.
Newborn photography tips: 07 Unclench those fists
Babies love to clench their little fists. This can make the baby look tense or upset, so try to gently unfurl the baby’s fingers. It’s definitely easier to do this if the baby is sleeping, but it’s worth it to achieve a more relaxed look.
Newborn photography tips: 08 Up the heat
Be mindful of the temperature if you’re shooting the baby without any clothes on. Babies can get cold very easily, so keep the room nice and warm and always keep a cozy blanket nearby. Try using it in the shot, too.
Newborn photography tips: 09 Take your time
You’ll have plenty of time to frame your shot if you’re shooting newborns as they don’t tend to move too quickly. Remember that you’re in no hurry to frame, but you do want to ensure everything is right before you push your shutter release because the accompanying noises can cause the baby to stir.
Newborn photography tips: 10 Add personality to your shots
Babies tend to look alike as newborns, so how do you set your shots apart? One simple way to add character to your shots is capture things that are unique to that baby – a specific toy or maybe a favourite piece of furniture.
Newborn photography tips: 11 All about perspective
To avoid perspective issues, don’t shoot from your own height down at the baby on the floor. Rather, get down on the floor at the baby’s level and shoot from there. The results will look much more natural.
Newborn photography tips: 12 Tiny hands, big hands
When photographing particularly small babies, you’ll want to convey just how tiny they are. One way to do this is to capture the baby gripping mum or dad’s finger. Use a shallow depth of field to isolate this subject. These photos make great additions to montages.
Newborn photography tips: 13 Overhead
Try shooting the baby lying down flat, looking directly up at the camera you’re holding above them. In this case, shooting directly from above from your height can frame the face nice and tight to show a great deal of expression.
Newborn photography tips: 14 All about context
In addition to tip 62, you can also show how small a baby is by placing it on top of a folded stack of towels. Make sure the baby will be secure at all times, though.
Newborn photography tips: 15 Show the whole family
Try incorporating mum and dad into the shoot, too. While you should make sure they have ample warning that they’ll be photographed, you’ll probably find that they’ll be excited to create these memories with their new baby.
Newborn photography tips: 16 Be sensitive
Consult with parents before the shoot as to what they want to achieve in the photos. For instance, while it’s not at all uncommon to shoot newborns naked, not everyone will necessarily be comfortable with this. You want the shoot to go as smoothly as possible for both baby and parents, so be sure to discuss these things beforehand.
Newborn photography tips: 17 Lose the awkwardness
You’re going to have to pose newborns. They don’t have much control over their arms and legs at this age, so without a little help from you, they may end up looking quite awkward. The good thing is that newborns are very flexible so you can pose them without disturbing them too much. If you’re nervous or hesitant, however, don’t hesitate to ask mum or dad to step in.
Newborn photography tips: 18 Tuck in legs
Tucking in the legs of newborns can create some nice lines and shapes. Plus, a tiny baby’s extended legs can look a little lanky.
Newborn photography tips: 19 Watch the face
It’s all-too-tempting to cozy up to a soft blanket. If you’re using a snuggly blanket like we’ve suggested, you may find that you need to move the baby’s face out of it so it’s facing your lens.
Newborn photography tips: 20 Feed them up
If you’re looking for the classic sleeping newborn shot, make sure the baby is fed right before the shot so they’ll be more likely to fall asleep. A full baby will most likely stay content long enough for you to get the shots you want.
Newborn photography tips: 21 Rest on a beanbag
In addition to the stack of towels we mentioned in tip 64, beanbags also make great resting places for newborns and small babies. They’re soft and flexible enough to form around the baby for maximum comfort. If you can’t get your hands on one, a pile of cushions will do. For a softer effect, try draping a blanket over your resting place.
Newborn photography tips: 22 A classic pose
One classic pose for the sleeping baby is the hands under the head. Gently place the baby on its stomach and then cross the hands underneath its head. Fold the legs up underneath the body for a sweet, cuddly look.