Newborn Photography: 3 QuickTips

Newborn Photography: 3 QuickTips

In this post one of our readers Loraine McCall shares some quick tips for newborn photography.


Newborn photography usually brings the words fragile, family memories, and innocence to mind. Since newborns do not move  much in their first few months, we must consider a these 3 things:

1. Pose Them

Newborns do not pose, they somewhat just sleep most of the time. So you need to do most of the posing for them. You can tell the difference between the image above and this next image. Notice how they are both bird’s eye view portraits, however, the poses do make a difference in the feel of the images.


2. Keep on shooting!

This works best if time is an issue and if parents do not mind that you continue shooting. Newborns tend to have their own timetable and needs. During this photo shoot, the newborn wanted to feed and in this case I threw a black sheet over mom and baby and with the help of a pillow and mom’s sister we managed to snap a few pics of mom and baby peeking out of the blanket. I am sure this worked out mainly because I am a mom myself, but if the parents and baby need their time – GIVE IT TO THEM!



3. We need to be creative and plan ahead in case nature calls!
Have fun props that we can use to hide diapers. Also try getting back-up disposable changing pads ready for the newborns in case certain fluids come out while they are being changed from one prop to another.

These are just few things to keep in mind. I am sure there a so many more tips out there; please add your comments and suggestions on what you would do in a newborn photo shoot!

Further Reading on Baby Photography Tips from our Archives:

Read more from our category

Guest Contributor This post was written by a guest contributor to dPS.
Please see their details in the post above.

Become a Contributor: Check out Write for DPS page for details about how YOU can share your photography tips with the DPS community.

Some Older Comments

  • Vivika's Photography March 27, 2012 12:51 pm

    Great ideas. Thank you

  • Etta H February 11, 2012 07:19 am

    I appreciate you putting this information out there. While at first glance both are on the same point of view on your first photo selections. You can see that the tenderness of putting the pose together and angling the baby in that manner instead of just splaying him there for a picture portrays it a whole lot more delicately. I thank you for that.

  • Event Filming January 31, 2012 03:15 am

    I like the photos. They look great. I wish I had something like that when I was small.

  • Carol Narvaez January 21, 2012 03:39 am

    I CAN see the difference in the first two photos, the first the baby is in the prop. The baby is the ONLY thing there. It looks alone, uncared for. The second is more inviting because the baby is nestled in the blankets, and its hands are more out to the sides relaxed.

    Thank you for putting these tips on the web. I am a beginner photographer. I am doing this as a hobby for now. I want to learn as much as possible. Thanks again, for opening my eyes.

  • Ali January 9, 2012 12:13 pm

    The two photographs of the newborns in the "Pose" topic aren't the same. In the second (black and white) one the baby is mostly opposite the camera's view. Picture it as though it's a women sitting with her back to you. Where as the first picture would be as though she is turning her head over her shoulder back towards the camera. The infant is positioned in the first as though she's interacting with the direction of the camera. (Clearly she's sleeping, so "looking at the camera" wouldn't have worked for phrasing) The difference is that the black and white is as if you'd laid the baby down and snapped shots. The first is more elegantly posted and directional towards the camera to appear as though it's more of a portrait then a snap shot. If that makes sense.

  • Kelly December 30, 2011 03:47 am

    In case people missed it, Darren posted 2 years ago that it was an editing error, folks. The two images are different; they just weren't for the first few commenters.

  • Whitney November 18, 2011 04:51 am

    The first two pictures are not identical. The feet and legs are positioned differently as are the arms and the way the whole body is in a different position. The first one is kind of curled up, the second is laying on it's tummy completely.

  • Sherry November 14, 2011 01:19 pm

    Actually, the two poses at the top are very different....well, to me anyway. The first one the baby is slightly to one side which allows for a little more of the face to show. The pose curves the baby's body which makes the photo more elegant. The second photo, however, the baby looks like someone just plopped him/her right on down without much thought. The baby looks like a Thanksgiving turkey. And you can't see the shape of his/her nose.....and Wow, after just typing all of that, I just noticed the tisha's comment. LOL

  • Tisha September 21, 2011 03:58 am

    There is a difference in the top and bottom pictures under the "pose me" The top one the baby is much cozier looking, one leg and one are slightly tucked under and the other arm and leg slightly hanging out. The baby is bend like of in a C shape. This is giving the baby a more cozy feeling and a look that he could have in the womb of his mother...where they felt the most comfortable and safe. The bottom one is kinda a tree from look, its a cute pose, but it does not have as much of a cozy fell to it as the top one!! thanks for the info!!

  • Bob tims August 29, 2011 12:53 am

    Love the site. Great place to view newborn photography is at Feel free to stop by! :)

  • Lauren July 22, 2011 12:36 pm

    The baby in pic #1 is facing downward and #2 the baby is facing up... To me, it looks more aesthetically pleasing for the baby to be facing upward. But that's just me!!! Both pics are adorable :))

  • Shaun March 18, 2011 09:28 pm

    Some great tips here on new newborn photography here. When doing Baby photography we always make sure we shoot within the first 10 days of life. They are so much more relaxed and sleepy which makes such a big difference in getting those perfect newborn shots.

  • Christy Lee February 25, 2011 06:54 am

    I think the biggest obstacle in shooting newborns is keeping them asleep and happy. You have to crank up the heat and feed feed feed! I have a large piece of black velvet that I can lay over a pillow or a lap, etc. It works beautifully, and I agree, natural light is the best way to go- that's all I use.

  • JJ October 8, 2010 09:59 pm

    to say the first two pictures look the same is to say the third and fourth pictures look the same... THEY DON'T
    the poses are different (the first pose is more of a fetal position and the second has the arms more spread out )
    but these are good tips for beginner newborn photographers and really the rest is up to mom and the baby as far as poses and backdrops go ( but that's just my experience as a newborn photographer) but I find its best to find out what the mother wants for her pictures and just do your best for backdrops and lighting. i use soft lights in a darkened room if possible and I like to set the baby on a table with fabric on it for a good mobile backdrop or for birds eye views.

  • Loraine March 17, 2010 04:57 pm

    Use a black backdrop and bump up the contrast in your post processing. Be sure that the black is pretty dark and not washed out. And that the subject is well exposed.

  • Krystle March 17, 2010 06:51 am

    I was wondering if someone could give me some more tips on how to get black around all of the parts except what I am photographing. I am an amateur and would love some advice on how to do this. I appreciate your help!

  • Loraine McCall January 28, 2010 08:22 am

    By the way, that is technique I used on black background images if I want that effect.

  • Loraine McCall January 28, 2010 08:21 am

    I actually mainly covered most of the mom's and baby's body and just let the hands/feet poke out. Then when I open the RAW file I darken the black in Camera Raw so that the folds and highlights on the black fabric would blend in with the solid black background.

    Hope this helps.

  • NatashaMPhotography January 28, 2010 06:39 am

    What software do you use to create to get the heart photo of the lil ones feet and the moms hands?

  • Mary Kay January 24, 2010 01:50 pm

    Rhonda, I've been trying to email you about backdrop instructions, but the emails keep getting returned!

  • Mary Kay January 20, 2010 12:57 am

    Regarding portable backdrops: My husband made me a portable freestanding backdrop stand out of pvc pipe that sets up in minutes. Quite economical. It's collapsible and I store/carry mine in a short ski bag (any long bag will do). I can attach any backdrop or piece of fabric to it with clips that he also made out of pvc pipe. The stand even has extensions to make it higher and/or wider. It works great! Contact me if you'd like further info about how to make one.

    Another way to get a seamless backdrop for newborns is to drape a piece of fabric over wherever you will place the baby (bean bag, ottoman, etc.), then lay the baby on it. Have the mom stand behind the baby and hold up the extra fabric high and wide with her arms. Voila! Under the fabric, I put a heating pad down first, then layer a waterproof changing pad over it.

  • vikki November 18, 2009 01:02 am

    You can also order collapsible backgrounds that fold into a circle for transport and are supported by a frame that you lean on a wall or something (just saw it in the B&H catalog last week). I have no idea of the quality, but I may be getting one to try out!

  • Loraine October 13, 2009 06:04 am

    Thanks for asking. I like to use a stool or other things I can stand on. Since I consider myself so short I went and got a nice that folds well for transport and extra rubber to avoid scratching floors. I'd ask the parents' permission if you would ned to stand on their furniture to take a shot.
    For some shots that just cannot be held to my face, I use the focus light and make sure it is centered on what I want as the center of the image.

    Good luck.

    I am interested to hear how others may do this as well. I am sure there are loads of ways to do this, just as there are other ways on making backdrops!

  • ryeates October 13, 2009 05:21 am

    I love the suggestions on the backdrops!! Thanks so much for sharing. I'm VERY new to photography and want to learn everything I can. They say there's no such thing as a stupid question so here's mine: How do you get shots that look down on the baby? Is there a special lens or do you just stand over them?

  • Erica Conner October 2, 2009 01:10 pm

    "Does anyone have a good suggestion for a small portable backdrop that I could set up in a hospital room or at their home? I used black and white sheets but the set up kept falling over. I know the last thing I wanted to do when mine were born is try to get a newborn, myself and other sibblings ready to go out to a studio. Too exhausting! I’d like to come to them. Any suggestions and a backdrop would be appreciated."

    I went to a fabric store and bought the widest black and white material i could find (72 inches), and then went to Lowes and bought 2 packs of industrial strength clothes pins. Most hospital rooms have a window (at least I have been lucky thus far anyways) and I clothes pin the fabric to the drapes or blind cords. Curtains closed, a portable softbox as lighting. Because I agree, the last thing a new mother wants to do is drag her baby to a studio...but I recommend the photos be done in the first week of birth because that's when the "newly to this world" wrinkles are still present, and they just are so tiny and adorable. PLUS, those horrid "hospital taken Portraits" always make them look so alien...babies of the world deserve better than a mugshot! hee hee. I have not even one time had a hard time getting it to stay put. and being able to pin at different heights and with different tension gives it a great dimension that is still monochromatic. Clip them both up, black in front of the white, shoot all black shots, then unclip quickly the black and you are set for the all white shots in seconds.
    The natural lighting is nice, but I have found that as long as you use a softbox, babies sleep right through a flash and then you can have complete control of how much or how little. Not yet had a session go badly with or because of one.

  • Curtis Copeland September 19, 2009 07:04 am

    Nice work!

  • Courtney August 20, 2009 06:39 pm

    I love using different fabrics for back drops. No need to be fancy with it, most of mine are right off the bolt. Also a cotton spandex blend works great for a tight swaddle, without getting too bulky and losing the "shape" of the baby. Oh, and parents beds usually provide a nice fluffy surface that softens the background great, with out looking lumpy.

  • Rhonda August 20, 2009 03:15 pm

    I have read that infants start to lose their little newborn tucking position within 10 days of birth. Not sure how one judges that, but it is something to think about. Also, unfortunately not long after that many poor little ones break out in rashes which isn't very cute.

  • Melissa August 20, 2009 02:32 pm

    Brittany & Loraine,

    Thank you so much! Your advice makes perfect sense and it will surely be helpful for me very soon.

  • Loraine August 19, 2009 11:50 pm


    I may be opening up a whole new can of worms here, but I would say the sooner the better. If you can schedule the photo-shoot within the first few days to a week after the baby is born you would notice that the baby will stay still for longer periods of time. If you have a variety of poses, try to have them ready to be in use because even though the newborn is generally more sleepy the first few days, once she starts getting cranky, you may want to stop the session unless mom is willing on feeding while you shoot, so get all the pics you can get done as quickly as possible. Have the new parents help, and watch them as you prepare their next props with the camera around your neck you never know if a tender unique picture will brew up "behind the scenes!"

    Another thing, since you know that crying and pooping and other "funny" things may happen, be sure to tell the parents what you plan to do if this happens beforehand (ie: if baby gets hungry during the session dad can help you feed him while I shoot your hands holding up his feet.) This way you will know how comfortable beforehand they will be so the transition will go smooth.

    Hope this helps!

    @everyone else : Thanks for all your comments and helpful tips. I have learned much from you all as well!

  • Brittany August 19, 2009 11:44 pm

    I like to do my newborn shots in the clients home, since they just had a baby they don't want to leave their house. Anytime during the day, you want the best lighting you can get. I don't use flash because it wakes the baby, so you want really good lighting. I always try to do my pictures within the first 2 weeks. Hope that helps! Good luck!

  • Melissa August 19, 2009 06:38 pm

    I will be doing several newborn shoots in the near future and my question is this:

    What is the best time do to a newborn shoot? How long do you wait after the baby is born? A few days/weeks? I would love your outlook on this!


  • Brittany Stucki August 16, 2009 12:34 am

    I just started doing newborns a couple months ago. ( I would love feedback) It is by far my favorite sessions to take. You can do so many fun things with them, and they mostly just lie there. Instead of a heat pad (you have to be super careful that you could burn them} I bring a portable heater. That way it is in the room but not touching them, and you don't have to worry. It is also fun to use different boxes, bowls, and decorations around their homes, really anything can be used as a prop if you use your imagination.

  • Melanie Steeden August 12, 2009 06:37 pm

    Cute photos!

    A friend of mine recently had photos taken of her newborn and they were dismal. The baby was unposed and there was no use of 'props', very plain photos. She also said it was quiet funny when her newborn made a nice mess on their drop sheet and the photographers had no idea how to react.

    I am also expecting, so great tips and advice.


  • aliaskajan August 9, 2009 08:35 pm


  • Arun August 7, 2009 03:29 am

    I have to try out these tips as soon as i get the perfect model(baby)

  • Carrie August 7, 2009 12:39 am

    Someone else already posted this exact reply. Read up in the thread, there were many replies to it. We work for our clients, not ourselves. If THEY like it, that's all that matters.

  • John.D August 6, 2009 07:33 am

    Great tips.

    The hand heart thing needs to die. That thing is so way over done. I see it ever where and hate it more each time I see it.

  • Daiquiri August 4, 2009 02:39 pm

    Thanks for the tips on posing - something I have yet to master. As for more tips....use natural light and a fairly neutral background, get close and really capture all the baby's little features, use something recognizable as a point of reference to emphasize how tiny the baby is (a parent's hand works - but this is a great opportunity for creativity and adding interest).

    Thanks again :) Daiquiri

  • Phil August 4, 2009 10:12 am

    I especially like the feet, these are wonderful shoots for the future since most people just shoot the baby as a whole instead of the parts. Imagine when your 60 years old and you have these wonderful shoots of hands, feet, nose, belly button and more instead of jsut the face. You only have one chance to do this unless you have mre kids

  • Amy August 2, 2009 09:50 am

    Thanks for the tips. Yesterday I went and took some photos of my cousin's new baby daughter Evie. It was fun and definitely a learning experience! Taking photos of babies is much harder than it looks! We had a few wees and winges - and smiles too. Patience is so important. I also need to get some kind of portable backdrop if I'm going to try this again. Anyway, thanks again and check out my photostream I'd love to get some tips for improvement.

  • Rhonda July 27, 2009 10:59 am

    Phillipa, Thanks for the backdrop ideas. I will try them out. Thanks.

  • CapturedByKylie July 27, 2009 07:33 am

    I am due to have my third child in January next year and it was good to read these tips. I did not get my first digital camera until my second child was about a year old, so it will be a great experience to be able to shoot my own newborn photos for the first time.

  • dollslikeus July 24, 2009 10:41 pm

    I loved how you showed babies and life and how little babies really are I am expecting my first granchild in Feburary maybe I will take some of those type of pictures since I have seen yours.

  • Phillipa July 24, 2009 03:17 pm

    Rhonda- all my newborns are at home for their first modelling session, easier for the parents to relax! I have props packed up and backdrops of varying colours that are easy to set up. Bring chip bag clips or big hair clips and attach your backdrop to chairs/tables (most of my indoor set ups are on the floor near good light anyway). Have a couple of yards of different fabric so the floor is covered too. Easy! Hope this helps.

  • Rhonda July 24, 2009 10:49 am

    I just did a photo session with an 11 day old. I had done photos at his birth and was excited to pose him all cleaned up. He and his mom were very cooperative, though he was nursing and eliminating a lot. That's what they do. You just have to be ready for it and certainly not freak out. Have tissue handy...

    I treated the session like I do other photography. I just kept on shooting. He even opened his eyes and looked at me for some incredible shots. I too used a heating pad under blankets to keep him warm and the room was also warm. You need to dress accordingly.

    A good fast lens and a decent amount of window light was all I used. I also sat the baby with the two older sibblings and got some darling pics. It was the first anyone had done of the 3 of them. I wouldn't normally stay so long, but I was there for 4 hrs between feedings, and a stupid lame battery that wouldn't hold a charge. Have since tossed it.

    If you want to get into infant photography offer to shoot for free. What mom in their right mind would turn that down? You will learn a lot. But be patient. You can't rush a newborn or his mom. I took over 400 pics. 175 were darling. The parents loved them. Having had 7 babes of my own it was great fun.

    Does anyone have a good suggestion for a small portable backdrop that I could set up in a hospital room or at their home? I used black and white sheets but the set up kept falling over. I know the last thing I wanted to do when mine were born is try to get a newborn, myself and other sibblings ready to go out to a studio. Too exhausting! I'd like to come to them. Any suggestions and a backdrop would be appreciated.

  • Niels July 24, 2009 08:17 am

    Having just had two babies and taking 1000's of photos, I think you are missing a BIG one: NO FLASH.

    Babies hate flash - they will start crying etc. Oh, and while your flash is getting ready for the next shot, that grin you are trying to capture is gone.

    So - go out and buy a prime (50mm 1.8 is cheap and great), crank up the ISO and do bursts. This is BTW true uptil about 2 years when you can actually get them to post.

    Thanks for the great tips!

  • Trish H July 24, 2009 05:55 am

    thank you for the wonderful tips, like some others I am HANGING out for someone to give birth so I can start shooting and trialing out some of these tips. thanks again and look forward to the next lot.

  • Carrie July 24, 2009 03:05 am

    The "heart hands" and baby feet may very well be overdone in the eyes of a photographer, but if you are the parent of those tiny feet, a shot like that will be very sentimental and live on forever in their eyes. Who are we supposed to be shooting for? Ourselves or our clients? Love it.

  • Heather July 24, 2009 02:19 am

    Ohh and if anyone doesn't have children I think it is difficult for you to think of a baby sleeping like a frog, but when they are newborn their arms and legs are always tucked up against those are actually pretty natural positions. The hand heart thing...I think it makes the photo say "Love" without text on it. Many people love the shot, and hey whatever makes a new parent happy!! (watch out they are sleep deprived...and can be crabby ) :)

  • estevan July 24, 2009 02:18 am

    Can't believe so many thought the shots are the same. DUH the hand of the first form a heart around the feet. The two snuggles are showing the variety of possible props for the same pose. Come on people lets get out of the box and get creative thinking installed!

  • Heather July 24, 2009 02:14 am

    I think that the first 2 photos are completely different. The legs are positioned differently and the baby is not curled more to 1 side that the other in the second. As a new mother I can understand the difference in these 2 photos. The first is more of a cuddled relax feeling (like the baby would be in the mother's belly), and the second shows the babys arms and hands not so curled up)...But love both!!

  • loraine July 23, 2009 10:37 pm

    First of all, thanks everyone for your comments! And Darren thank you for the correction! The images I used are simply used to go along with the tips I suggested. As april mentioned to cath55 I didn't mean for anyone to prefer one over the other--rather for one to notice the feeling we can get if and when we pose the newborn.

    The second tip was to just keep on shooting if time is short. If a diaper needs to be changed and the parents are willing on having the baby's (babies') needs captured as well, then I would ask if they would want me to keep shooting or to stop. If parents felt comfortable to have a feeding picture or a diaper change picture then keep on shooting!

    Please add your suggestions to these newborn photography tips!


  • kathi July 23, 2009 12:56 pm

    The first two poses are completely different with even completely different babies i do believe. The second shot is much more posed than the first one where the baby's head looks very uncomfortable and what not. I love taking shots of babies and my most favorite poses are the ones with mom and dad's hands and baby's hands and feet... plus their ear, nose, eye, lips and a really tight crop shot of their face makes for a great collage... it will sell every time

  • April July 22, 2009 11:13 pm


    I don't think you're supposed to prefer one over the other. I think the point was that though it's a similar shot (from above) the pose of the baby really changes the feel of the photo.

    In other words, changing the pose will change the picture, even if you don't change your camera's angle.

  • Cheryl July 22, 2009 11:03 pm

    the first two photos are NOT the same pose.. to me.. I like them both thanks for info.

  • cath55 July 22, 2009 05:53 pm

    Just wondering what happened to my first comment, which was awaiting moderation. It was something innocuous along the lines of 'Me too' or 'Same here' so not controversial.

    Anyway, now that I can see the difference, I just thought I would comment on the poses - I prefer the first but wonder if I was 'meant' to prefer the second? I know it is always a case of personal preference but am I in the minority? To me the second pose looks like a frog.

    However the setting in a basket for the second shot is cosier to my eyes, and I find the hard urn(?) in the first a little unsettling.

  • Sharon July 22, 2009 02:19 pm

    Sorry I messed up my quote tag. I was referring to what the previous poster said..."The hand heart thing needs to die. That thing is so way over done."

  • Sharon July 22, 2009 02:16 pm

    Thanks for the tips. However...

    Thank you. It's run it's course and it was corny to begin with, but mom's still get choked up and buy the image. We really should save them from themselves.

  • T. David July 22, 2009 12:46 pm

    Please remove my name and email address from your site and/or files. The email address submitted to you is my business email address and I would not have used it for this.
    The comment WAS NOT posted by ME and I would like it removed.
    Thank you.

  • Francis July 22, 2009 11:12 am

    Cool tips... I'm really hesitant to use flash with babies afraid it might affect their eyes or something..

  • MeiTeng July 22, 2009 11:02 am

    I love the image of the mother's hands forming a heart over the baby's feet. Powerful image.

  • Darren Rowse July 22, 2009 10:16 am

    Apologies for the first two shots being identical - my fault in editing late at night. Fixed now though - thanks everyone for letting me know.

  • ken klassy July 22, 2009 09:43 am

    Great tips.

    The hand heart thing needs to die. That thing is so way over done. I see it ever where and hate it more each time I see it.

  • Peter July 22, 2009 07:42 am

    great article...i know just the baby to photograph... thanks dps..

  • Tanya July 22, 2009 06:20 am

    Also don't see a difference. hehehe

    I always tell the mom to bring with toys, clothes and anything that is sentimental that she'd like to have a pic of...

    Also I give lots of time because its so true that babies have their own time schedule hehhe!

    I think Natural light (like Michelle said) is best its lovely and soft on a baby :)

  • T. David July 22, 2009 05:31 am

    I am one rung below amateur, so I may be reading into what I see. Aside from the two baby photos looking identical, it looks to me like the baby’s neck and body are slightly propped-up – as if the child were embracing a small pillow in the second photo. Of course I am aware my observation may be screaming – IDIOT but it’s OK, I am still in the very early stages of learning and training my eye.
    I also think, ‘1. Pose Them’, is showing how it would be unlikely for the baby to have fallen asleep in THAT particular position – so some calculated repositioning was in order to help with ‘mood’.

  • Michelle July 22, 2009 05:14 am

    Make sure your room is warm and a sound machine helps to keep baby sleepy. And yes, I personally do not time my baby sessions it just takes however long baby and Mom are willing to put up with me. I find natural light to be best with baby's skin. If I think of some more I will come back and post them.

  • Stuart July 22, 2009 04:46 am

    they look the same to me too

  • Gracia July 22, 2009 01:46 am

    I was thinking "OMG, I have SO much to learn about photography if I can't tell the difference between those two photos..."

    I'm just glad I'm not the only one. Oh, and I'm sad I don't have any newborns around to try these tips!

  • Michael Leuchtenburg July 22, 2009 01:26 am

    Yeah, the two "pose them" shots look exactly identical to me, down to the position of the toes.

  • Zack Jones July 22, 2009 01:25 am

    +1 for what Bob said. The images look the same to me. Otherwise very interesting. I haven't had an opportunity to do this type of photography yet so the tips are much appreciated.

  • Bob July 22, 2009 01:12 am

    Maybe it's just me, but in section "1. Pose Them" the author talks about a visible difference between the image and the one above and I can't see any difference. Am I just dense or are these identical?

  • Dylan July 22, 2009 12:50 am

    I think you accidentally used the same image for the first two photos. They are identical.