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How to Photograph Close-Up Details of Newborns and Infants

Newborn portraits warm hearts and bring tons of joy to those who view them, especially if they are the new parents or extended family of the newborn. Often, we focus on capturing the new baby among their surroundings with various props and scenes setup. One area we might overlook in our quest to photograph their fresh new life is the tiniest of parts in comparison to the larger world around them. Parents love these special details of newborns just as much, and you’ll enjoy taking them, too.


The Gear

Using a macro lens or a close-up filter will help you get in tight without the need for cropping in post-processing which may degrade the image quality later. Ideally, you want to use a macro lens as they stay sharp while allowing you to get in closer than ever before.

Close-up details of newborns macro lens

If you don’t have a macro lens or close-up filter in your lineup, a zoom lens works well, too. You can be a short distance away and still get close-up without needing to crop. Post-processing may help with sharpness if you’re using a zoom lens.

Non-macro fixed lenses may be a little more challenging to use for getting close up, depending on their minimum focusing distance (how close you can be to the subject while still keeping it in focus). Investing in a fixed macro lens or close-up filters would be more suitable for this application.

The Hands

Everyone remarks on the small hands of a baby and how soft they are when they’re holding them. There are two ways to photograph close-up details of newborn hands to make an impact.

The first way to photograph new hands is up close. Hands resting near their body or close to their face shows the small details on their hands and provides a glimpse into how soft they are.

Close-up details of newborns hands

The second way to photograph their hands is against another person’s hand, finger, or an object that shows the actual size of their hand. By capturing hands near or holding an object, the viewer easily can gauge how small the baby’s hands are in comparison to the world around them.

Place their hand around a parent’s finger, or a special family heirloom like wedding rings to show their true size.

Close-up details of newborns hands

As the newborn grows, hands become an integral part to how they begin to use their body or hold themselves steady. Make sure to give some focus to their hands in the coming months as they grow and start to grasp objects, use them for balance, or while they are relaxing in a seated position.

Close-up details of newborns hands

The Face

A newborn’s face is priceless to their parents. Photographing details of their face at various angles will give you more than just a straight-on standard image. Their tiny nostrils or eyelashes can have a tremendous impact on the viewer. Ears, lips, and hair are just as valuable to capture in an image when focusing close-up and on details.

Close-up details of newborns face

As the child grows, his or her face will change tremendously from those first few weeks. Photographing their face over the course of infancy will be a proud addition to their baby album as they morph features from one parent to another over a short time.

Close-up details of newborns face

The Feet

The feet are extra soft and cuddly, minus the wrinkles of age or use. They might be pricked and prodded before they get home, but photographing them alone is worth the additional editing time it may take to remove small pricks from hospital needles. Getting in close to shoot details of newborn feet makes the viewer almost want to touch them and feel how smooth and gentle they are.

Close-up details of newborns feet

Try capturing their feet while they are lying on their back and while also snuggled up on their stomach. Both angles will give you options to again add-in family heirlooms in addition to showing just how tiny they are in comparison to their parents’ fingers. Parents love these types of images that embody the love they have for their new addition.

Close-up details of newborns feet

Also, as growing infants become more aware of their feet, you’ll be able to capture them against a backdrop of their face while sucking on their toes, or pulling back from touching the green grass outdoors for the first time.

Close-up details of newborns feet


Getting close-up with newborns is essential to telling the entire story of their fresh new life.

Photographing these little parts makes for beautiful wall decor, while also capturing the same features one might ordinarily try to get set in ink for their baby book. To cherish their growth over time, getting in close with macro or zoom lenses offers the best option when focusing on these tiniest of parts and parents will absolutely love these details shots.

Please share your newborn details photos in the comment below, or post any questions you have.

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Kate Nesi
Kate Nesi

is a wife, mom, distance runner, photographer, and academic librarian. She is the Frugal Momster as well as owns Kate Nesi Photography. Connect with her on Instagram and Twitter.

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