6 Tips for Lifestyle Newborn Photography


Looking for Newborn Photography Tips? You’re in the right place.

Newborn Photographers fall somewhere on a spectrum between producing posed, styled imagery and natural, lifestyle imagery.


While I enjoy looking at styled images of sleeping newborns in costume or appearing as though they are holding their own head up with the use of proficient Photoshop work, the emotions and stories captured in Lifestyle Photography images are what make my heart sing! So I stand comfortably and proudly on “side B” of the spectrum.

After following the rules outlined in The Sensitive Side of Newborn Photography, I follow these six tips for Newborn Photography:

1. Capture every detail

Whether the baby is crying heartily, yawning, or sleeping peacefully, they are all important and precious because the newborn stage is so brief. A yawn of a 4-day new infant, for example, looks different than a yawn of a 4-year old child, so photograph it all!


Memorialize the details, including items in the nursery. Talk to the parents and find out what baby items are meaningful to them. Maybe the grandparent knit the blanket or the dog is considered the first-born!


2.  Photograph them at home

Capturing images of the baby in his or her very first home means every backdrop and furniture will be meaningful in the photos. It also means every session will be unique since every home looks different than the other.



3.  Do the newborn photography session within the first 10 days

Annie-Tao-Photography-Lifestyle-Newborn-Photography-article-8Technically, babies are considered “newborns” the first 3 months of birth. However, in the first 10 days, babies sleep most of the day and can more easily handle noises and movement. Though in Lifestyle Photography, newborns do not need to sleep the entire time, the session will run smoother if the baby is calm.

They also have a better chance of not having skin issues, like newborn acne, which will save you time in post-processing after the session.

4. Be well-equipped

Most of the time, I confidently tell other photographers that their equipment is NOT as important as the person behind the camera when it comes to good imagery. This is still true with photographing newborns, however, you do need to have equipment that performs well in various indoor conditions, such as tight spaces and low light, A wide angle prime lens and a reflector are key. You should also have a macro lens to capture detail shots of the baby.

When I arrive at a client’s home, it usually looks like I’m staying overnight because I have a roller bag and carrying case!


5. Use natural light

Flash can startle newborns.

Also, when you are photographing new parents with their baby, using flash or other lighting equipment can take away from the spontaneity and natural tone of the shoot.


6. Be flexible

A lot can happen when you’re photographing a newborn, like having unexpected baby visitors looking over your shoulder or being spit on, pooped on, vomited on! (that has all happened to me.) Just remember, you can’t always prepare for what happens at a newborn shoot, so stay calm and take everything in stride.

The first few days of a newborn’s life can be a hazy memory for new parents who are often sleep-deprived and running on adrenalin. Know that you are capturing a magical time for the family, and your photos of their life in that narrow slice of time will be treasured.


Have you photographed any newborns or small babies? Do you have any additional tips or comments to add?

For more information on photographing babies and kids read these:

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Annie Tao is a Professional Lifestyle Photographer in the San Francisco Bay Area who is best known for capturing genuine smiles, emotions and stories of her subjects. You can visit Annie Tao Photography for more tips or inspiration. Stay connected with her on her Facebook page

  • Cyprien

    Thanks for your inspiring pictures and advices.
    A friend of mine will have a baby in the next few months, you made me want to give her an as nice as possible souvenir of that moment 🙂

  • Annie Tao Photography

    That sounds great, Cyprien! Hope you do it. Your friend will appreciate it, I’m sure. 🙂

  • Rwhedgephoto

    I would like a tutorial on how to better “pose” a newborn. Anyone wanna tackle that one?

  • Annie Tao Photography

    Reading articles won’t be very helpful for the topic of posing. There are many videos about posing newborns, which would be better, but I strongly suggest taking a class on it, so you can see how to do it first-hand. Posing newborns requires handling the baby whereas with Lifestyle/Photojournalistic Photography, you don’t. So there are many things you’d need to learn about newborn safety, not just the best strategy to shoot once the baby is in position (ie, shooting in different angles and changing little details). Happy shooting!

  • Heidiyphoto

    Thank you – Just what I needed, have my first newborn session in a few days, and your tips are very helpful. Deep breath!…and relax 🙂

  • Annie Tao Photography

    You’ll do great! Have fun. 🙂

  • thanks for Sharing tips it is helping for me http://www.kanganfilms.com

  • Virginia

    Annie, Thank you for this. I too am on the NATURAL side and since I usually only do babies and children for friends or friends of friends, I tell them up front that I don’t use props. I have a story to share. I noted you included dogs in several shots. I had a newborn who had two LARGE older “brothers” of what breed I forget. Anyway things were going well upstairs in the bedroom by a nice window when Dad let the two wild things in from the backyard and one came bounding up the stairs, jumped on the bed and probably would have stepped right on the baby when Mom reached out and grabbed his collar. She didn’t miss a beat and I almost had a heart attack. Amazingly, he calmed down and I got a great shot of the dog gazing down on baby. They loved it and bought many copies. My fav baby shots are always a close up of a tiny foot!

  • Michael

    Great advice Annie. I wish I would have read this one month ago when I had my newborn. I was totally focused on getting the perfect studio looking photo and passed up on the natural looking events that could have made very interesting and memorable photos. I will focus more on natural everyday shots, that are much more achievable. It’s very difficult to find that time to stage a perfect posed studio looking shot.

  • Annie Tao Photography

    You are very welcome!

  • Annie Tao Photography

    I absolutely adore the tiny feet shots too! I always have to get at least a couple shots of those. 🙂

    The dog situation you mentioned sounds scary! I’m glad that worked out though. For me, when families want to include their dogs, I always ask them about the dogs’ behavior and warn them that they can only be included if it’s safe for the baby. If they have puppies or the dogs are just too hyper, it isn’t safe for the newborns — in which case, I’ll have one parent can hold/play with the dog(s) while the other parent holds the newborn. Safety first!

    Happy shooting, Virginia!

  • Annie Tao Photography

    I like the studio posed look too, and sometimes I’ll do a combination of things: 85% lifestyle – 15% posed. It’s still fun to do, if you have the time and the baby is sleeping soundly. What I tell people who like the studio/posed look is to not forget about the “in-between moments”, like the diaper changes, feedings, crying, and cuddles. Those are all details that are sweet and fantastic in a different way: they tell a story of your life and the baby’s life.

    I’m glad you still got shots of your newborn! I’m sure you’ll always appreciate that. 🙂

  • Gamma

    I’m enjoying many opportunities, with my new grand baby! One thing that comes to mind is to be ready for rapid-fire shooting. The click (even sometimes when baby is asleep) can evoke a little facial expression you hadn’t anticipated, and it is worth capturing! Also, her grandfather did a wall of alphabet letters in the nursery, so of course, I had to have a picture of those two grandparents with that as a backdrop. Was so glad we did that while they were in town.

  • Thank you Annie for such a great article and for me it is just in time. My daughter is staying with me this week with her two week old boy. I don’t know how to pose a baby so all my pictures have been pretty natural so far, I did get some good ideas from your article and as mentioned below, I will be sure to get some toe pictures.

  • Mark

    Thank you for your tips. I’m getting excited to embark on the photography of my own newborn very soon! I’d prefer the natural light shots as well. What are your favorite primes on ff? I have the Canon 16-35 but I’m considering Canon’s 35 2.0 IS.

  • Stefan Diaz

    I always have my clients crank up the heat until it is almost unbearable for those of us with clothes on. It is the new born that is hardly wearing any clothes at all in most situations. It is important to make the environment comfortable for the baby and not you or the parents.

  • Annie Tao Photography

    That’s a good reminder for everyone. (This would be for any type of newborn photography, not just Lifestyle.)

    You need it pretty warm for newborns to be comfortable and sleepy. It’s like replicating what it was like when they were in the womb!

  • Annie Tao Photography

    These are the primes I bring for photographing newborns: 35mm/1.4, 24mm/1.4, 85mm/1.4 and 90mm macro. (The 24mm is quite wide, but that is perfect for small spaces, which is often the case for homes in the city.)

  • Annie Tao Photography

    Awesome! Have fun with photographing your grandson!

  • Annie Tao Photography

    Love it!

  • Caron Modern Media

    Thanks for the tips! I also suggest bringing props and textured fabrics to help frame the little one(s), like tulle and faux fur. I took this one at my first twin shoot. 🙂

  • nice, those babies look a lot older though than a few days or newborn

  • on a full frame body Annie?

  • Annie Tao Photography

    Yes, full frame bodies!

  • Laura Short Photography

    I try to do parent shots first, dad especially since most of them do not like to be in photos. I always tell the parents if they are wanting pretty neutral shots with baby to wear black or white tops. I love when a dad goes shirtless in photos.

  • Great advice Annie, I had no idea babies were the quietest in the first 10 days, nor that they could have acne.

    Terrific shots to illustrate your points as well, I especially like the B & W father with newborn.

    Engaging and informative article, much appreciated!

  • Annie Tao Photography

    YAY! I’m so glad you found the article helpful. 🙂

  • LeslieBigos

    Thanks for this article. I just took newborn photos for the first time. I ended up draping the mother with a blanket and getting my best shots with the baby in her arms. I also recommend taking clothes off so you see the baby, not the clothes.

  • Alex

    It’s a free app that helps you make great photos of kids by attracting their attention. It is playing videos to attract their attention and at the same time taking photos.

  • Alex

    This is the result:)

  • TheComputerGuy

    Thanks for the amazing article! I am definitely on the B side, I just dont want to force kids to pose, they are so precious and delicate.

  • Hi, I am about to do a newborn lifestyle shoot. I do birth photography. I find that changing lens, takes time and disrupts the flow. I am using 24-70L series 2.8 for my birth generally and was hoping to care on with it for my lifestyle. Any advice? I will bring a longer lens for just in case/outdoor shots. I also have 50 and 85 low light lens. I usually to carry them as well. Any advice would be useful as this is my first time with newborn/family lifestyle shoots and I want to use the images for marketing.

  • Annie Tao Photography

    Hi Helen!

    You have some great lenses, and I think you’ll be well-equipped. Your 24-70 will give you the wide angle perspective and you have 2 great prime lenses. I would also suggest to bring a reflector and maybe an off-camera flash. I rarely use my flash, but it’s good to have just in case. I do use my reflector all the time for newborn photography!

    Have fun!


  • Annie Tao Photography

    I agree. 🙂

  • Annie Tao Photography

    What a darling baby!

  • Annie Tao Photography

    It’s great you have a flow, Laura, and also your own style!

  • kristip87 .
  • kristip87 .
  • Graydon Steele

    I have only a 50mm/1.8, if I were to purchase a second lens for my Nikon, what would you recommend? I primarily take newborn and family photography.

  • dp full course

    Thank you so much for this post. I’m also a newbie to the world of professional photography, but I’ve been a photographer for most of my life. I would usually simply do shots with friends and their families, or just my own, but I’m actually starting to get paid for it now. I had the privilege 3 days ago to shoot my friends newborn son and her older 2 kids. It was my first newborn shoot, and I was thrilled at how the pics came out, but I felt like I could have done better. Fortunately, I get to try again tomorrow, because Daddy was working last time! Your list and examples are fabulous, and I can’t wait to put then into action!


  • Thanks for the great article! I am photographing a newborn in the next couple of weeks and these tips will be of great help!
    Thanks! 🙂

  • Lindsay

    What a great article!!! Thanks so much for sharing!! I find that a full baby is a sleepy baby – discuss with the parents what seems to be the feeding schedule, and have them plan to feed the baby before you arrive:) and if they need to top off, change diapers, snuggle their fussy baby a bit, no worries! Makes for a more intimate, realistic, lifestyle shoot:) !!

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