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5 Tips that Changed My Newborn Photography
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5 Tips that Changed My Newborn Photography

I am so thankful to Courtney for letting me write for her on this fabulous site! Especially because she said I can write about newborn photography! This is certainly a passion of mine, and I love to chat about this genre of photography any chance I can get. Mostly because with each conversation, new tips and bits of knowledge can be gained … for the photographer just starting in this specialization to the seasoned professional. Having been a Newborn Photographer for 2.5 years now, I know that there is so much to know in order to have a successful session. And I should mention; a successful session, to me, isn’t just a beautiful gallery. It is a session in which the baby sleeps well, the parents are relaxed, and we all leave the session feeling excited about the entire process.

I not only want this for each and every one of my own clients, but for every Newborn Photographers’. I’ve studied, practiced and learned a lot in the past several years and am excited to pass on to all of you, five tips that positively changed my newborn photography experience.

5 Tips that changed my newborn photography

I not only want this for each and every one of my own clients, but for every Newborn Photographers’. I’ve studied, practiced and learned a lot in the past several years and am excited to pass on to all of you, five tips that positively changed my newborn photography experience.

5 tips that changed my newborn photography

newborn photography tips via click it up a notch

  • No.
    01
    Have confidence in what you’re doing!

    I know you’re thinking “but doesn’t that only come with experience??” To a point, yes … but so much can also be achieved through watching videos, studying poses, taking classes or mentorships, and asking tons of questions on your favorite photography forum. I gained so much confidence before my very first session by watching a video of a well-known photographer working with a newborn. Just seeing how she handled the baby opened my eyes to what was possible with posing a sound asleep newborn. I also observed a number of soothing techniques that have proved to be so helpful … so much so that I wish I knew of them with my own babies! True, there is nothing like true, hands on experience, but studying and watching other experienced photographers work can prove invaluable.

    newborn photography tips via click it up a notch

  • No.
    02
    Communicate session details with your clients

    I can’t emphasis enough how important this is, even though it seems so obvious. Your goal for the session is the same as theirs, but they don’t often know what it takes to accomplish that goal. Right from the point of their first inquiry, inform them of your approach to your sessions. Likely, this information is readily available on your website or blog. But personally sending them details about the age range you prefer for the newborn, where the session will take place, the length of the session, environment temperature, and your hope for the parents during the session, starts your trek toward accomplishing the shared goal on the right foot. And then again a day or so before the session, send reminders for what the parents can do to prepare for their experience and what they can to to ensure it is the best experience possible. Also, explain why you suggest these things … why is a pacifier helpful at the session? Why should the baby be given a very full feeding right before, kept awake for a bit prior, and then photographed in an 85 degree room? A well informed client is a trusting, relaxed client and that goes a long way toward a successful session.

    newborn photography tips via click it up a notch

  • No.
    03
    The Beanbag and blankets you use do matter

    I started out working with a teardrop shaped beanbag that I cinched on the bottom with a rubber band to make it more full and solid feeling. But ever since I purchased a puck-style beanbag and filled it with a couple extra bags of bean my posing has become so much easier. The wide, flat work area lends itself perfectly to posing in order to see the baby well and working more easily with their legs, arms and face, rather than battling with them sinking into a too-soft, too-small, beanbag. In regards to blankets, I have learned how much I benefit from layering many blankets on my beanbag, in the order I want to use them and clasping the entire stack to the backdrop stand. I benefit during the session from doing this because it makes the transition from one blanket to the next extremely quick and fluid, and during post-processing because the layering helps make the blankets a lot smoother. In addition, when stuffing rolled up cloth diapers under the blanket to properly pose the baby, it really helps to stuff them all the way under the bottom blanket for a very smooth, not lumpy, look. In between those blankets? Lay down a potty pad! And lastly regarding blankets … thick, textured blankets are just so much easier to work with in post-processing because they are not as prone to wrinkles.

    newborn photography tips via click it up a notch

  • No.
    04
    Light … the angle matters … a lot!

    I remember when I first began photographing newborns one of the very first errors I made was how I used my light. I was prepped with the blankets and heat and lessons on posing, but … I faced the beanbag and baby right at the window! What resulted were flat-light, very one-dimensional looking images. I hadn’t yet grasped that the direction of the light, when hitting the subject is very important! Angling thing beanbag set-up and positioning the baby at an angle to the light source creates soft shadows which add critical depth to an attractive portrait. Also, I most often keep the baby’s head toward the light, to achieve shadowing I prefer. Depending on the size of the window, intensity of light and distance of the window to floor, I generally keep my beanbag around 3 feet from the window and my set-up at about a 60 degree angle to the window.

    newborn photography tips via click it up a notch

  • No.
    05
    Heat ... shhhhhh ... hold ... oh my!

    More little details that make a huge differences in my sessions! We all know that heating the space you’re working in is crucial … I have my space heater going the whole time and if I’m not sweating, I know the baby isn’t warm enough. But I’ve also found that warming the spot on the beanbag where they will be posed is incredibly helpful too, particularly on the first blanket I’m working with. A heating pad works great for this! To sooth the baby while posing, I have found that a very loud ‘SHHHHHH’ goes a long way! I hold my warm hands firmly on their body, often one on their head and the other on their tush, and say ‘SHHHHH’ in their ear. Sometimes I have to raise my ‘SHHHH’ to an awkwardly loud volume, but it helps greatly in calming when they start to stir. And speaking of ‘holding’ … when I mold the baby into a pose I don’t just get them there and then snap the shot. I will keep my hands on them as I feel them relax into the position. During this time I may be shushing into their ear, while still adjusting the pose slightly or smoothing a blanket with a free hand. But whether it is a finger that keeps wanting to curl under or a foot that wants to pop out, holding the newborn in place will comfort them a great deal and bring the pose into perfection.

newborn photography tips via click it up a notch

I hope that some (or all!) of these tips will help you toward your goal of successful newborn sessions, as much as they’ve helped me!

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54 Comments
  • July 9, 2013 at 8:49 AM

    Great, great tips! Thanks for sharing!

  • July 9, 2013 at 9:11 AM

    Great tips, especially for layering the blankets! I’ll be using that!

  • July 9, 2013 at 10:09 AM

    Thanks. Loved the tips!

  • July 9, 2013 at 10:12 AM

    Great idea about placing a heating pad under the blanket.

    And, I’m glad to read that we all seem to make rookie mistakes with lighting. I have a few pictures of a newborn I just took and I was mad at myself for not turning baby more towards the window!

    Thank you for sharing your tips! I’m off to pin it on my photography board. :-)

    • July 9, 2013 at 11:33 AM

      Thanks, Shannon! Yes, light is so important, isn’t it?? I also have discovered that it is best to feather the light, by having the baby sort of ‘behind’ the soft stream of light, rather than ‘in’ it… if that makes sense. ;)

      • July 9, 2013 at 11:48 AM

        So, I’d want baby just behind the light, so it’s just kissing her, yes?

  • July 9, 2013 at 10:14 AM

    Love the tips especially about the light!!

  • July 9, 2013 at 11:21 AM

    Great information, especially the heating pad! Thanks for sharing.

  • July 9, 2013 at 11:32 AM

    Thank you for this opportunity, Courtney, and I’m so glad you all enjoyed it!

  • Tara
    July 9, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    You are amazing. Love your tips! Where do you get such fabulous blankets friend?

  • July 9, 2013 at 2:35 PM

    Great tips, thank you! My sister recently asked me to photograph her baby when he gets here (hopefully next month, if he’ll stay in that long!). I am by no means a photographer, I just own a good camera. But I couldn’t say no to my sister. These tips will help me sooo much!

  • July 31, 2013 at 7:10 PM

    Thank you for all of the pointers! I was wondering if you have any tips for photographers with parents that hover so much I can’t get control of the crying baby. Mom kept trying to feed him which was good once or twice, but then the father stepped in to pick up the child (he was crying a lot). Is there a way to frame a conversation with the parents so that they know I will need to hold, soothe and pose the child in order to get a good shot? At this point I am going to their houses, which can sometimes be tough with various lighting situations but it’s a great situation to learn. I just need a way to get the baby into my hands and not have the parents take over so that I’m not able to work with the baby. Any help would be appreciated!

  • August 3, 2013 at 8:37 AM

    Great tips and awesome photos:) Thanks for sharing:)

  • Melanie
    September 6, 2013 at 10:04 PM

    Thank you. Great tips. I am a high school teacher who wish I could be a photographer and I was charged of doing my bestfriend’s newborn baby photoshoot. So great thanks.

  • October 2, 2013 at 5:51 PM

    I don’t know how I missed this article the first time around! I’ve been getting into newborn photography more and I’m actually doing another session this weekend so these tips were extremely helpful! I’ll have to go watch youtube now to find some more techniques! I don’t know why I never thought of that- I turn to youtube any other time I want to learn something!

  • November 4, 2013 at 2:16 PM

    I did my first newborn session this saturday and the baby was 14 days old. I did all of these things you mentioned including letting mom know all the details. We had agreed that the photos of the baby would be best at the home in a warm room with lots of light and baby should be fed and ready to be sleeping. She wanted family photos outside and it had rained the night before flooding her yard so she insisted on doing everything at a friends house. I set up at the house where there were lots of kids and adults preparing for a football get together so the house was loud and the baby would not sleep. After 3 1/2 hours of trying to sooth the baby and rock her to sleep we only got a few shots. The mom loved them but I wasn’t very happy with how it went. Mom seemed stressed out and I did my absolute best with what I could do to capture feedings, open eyes etc. Once the baby fell asleep she would only stay sleeping if she was swaddled very tightly in multiple blankets so she looked much bigger than she was. As soon as we tried to remove the swaddle, she started crying. What do you do when a client won’t take your advice? What do you do when the baby won’t sleep?

    • November 7, 2013 at 3:48 PM

      That is tough. This post was written by a guest contributor so I’ll do the best to answer your questions. I don’t shoot newborns but I know most people try to schedule the shoot within 10 days of the birth. After that babies are less likely to sleep as easily. I wish I had some advice on what to do if a client won’t listen to you. Do you have it all written down and given to them prior to the session? Telling a new mom who isn’t getting a lot of sleep, she may forget some of the details your mentioned. Taking the time to give them a well written packet of what to expect would help. Map out what you suggest for when the baby cries (for example, mom feeds then you take over and mom leaves to room to rest or drink so tea) Really stressing these things in writing and going over them will help it all sink in. I don’t know that you can do anything if the baby doesn’t sleep. Maybe explain that ahead of time to your clients. Best of luck!

  • November 15, 2013 at 3:45 AM

    My sister is about to have a baby and I’ve never actually photographed babies before so this helped me immensely! Hopefully I can give her shots half as beautiful as yours with these helpful tips. Thank you so much!

  • December 21, 2013 at 10:46 PM

    These are some fantastic tips. I haven’t done a lot of newborn sessions, so I am still learning, but I am getting better each time. These tips will help me out tremendously.

  • January 15, 2014 at 5:00 PM

    I think that layering the blankets/backdrops is a great idea but it has backfired on me when baby pees. What do you do to prevent pee accidents from soaking through all of your layers?

    • Teresa Gutgesell
      January 15, 2014 at 10:41 PM

      Layer waterproof changing pads between each layer of blanket.

  • January 17, 2014 at 1:37 AM

    Where can I buy a good “puck-style” beanbag for posing newborns? These tips are so great!!!

    • January 20, 2014 at 6:28 PM

      Hey Nicole!

      I wish I could help but this post was written by a guest poster. Good luck finding one :)

  • fran
    January 24, 2014 at 1:03 PM

    I am shooting my first newborn in a few days and these tips are so great!

  • March 28, 2014 at 11:55 AM

    I’m an amateur photographer, but just did an at-home DIY shoot with my little guy. I put together a list of helpful tips on my blog as well! http://hammer-and-heels.com/2014/03/25/infant-photography-tips-for-snapping-the-perfect-pic/
    -Anne
    http://www.hammer-and-heels.com

  • April 30, 2014 at 10:05 PM

    what a great article and some awesome newborn photography tips. I agree – the blankets and the right posing beanbag make a huge difference, as does natural light.

  • May 8, 2014 at 9:24 AM

    I love the suggestion on angle to the window. Do you have suggestions for using Alien Bees lighting and window specific?

    Nicole Hanner
    http://hannerstudios.com/newborn-photographer-cary-raleigh/

    • May 8, 2014 at 11:43 AM

      Hey Nicole,
      This was written by a guest writer. I don’t use Alien Bees lighting so I can’t help you there. Wish I could help.

  • June 20, 2014 at 7:08 PM

    ¡Me ha encantado este post visitar este blog! Las fotos son maravillosas y tienen unos tips muy interesantes para que las fotografías sean cada vez mejor!
    Lo pondré en mi feedly y los seguiré muy a menudo.

  • August 16, 2014 at 4:17 AM

    Thanks alot very useful

  • September 11, 2014 at 7:26 PM

    You are so kind to share so much crucial information!! Thank you!!

  • January 2, 2015 at 5:57 PM

    Amazing! Its truly remarkable article, I have got much clear idea concerning from this post.

  • Becky
    February 9, 2015 at 8:31 PM

    I’m hoping someone can help me with a strobe question. When I set my light approximately three feet in front of the baby and aimed toward the baby’s head, the results are beautiful. But, if I turn the baby so her feet are toward the camera, I’m not sure where to move the light in order to get the same results. Any advise?

  • February 11, 2015 at 8:32 PM

    Great tips

  • maxine
    April 23, 2015 at 3:16 AM

    hey great tips!! im also using the teardrop shape bean bag and it just makes things so hard and baby so hard to pose! i really med to change to a better posing pod, i find people always come to me wanting their newborn shots done at about a month old which makes it even harder as they dont sleep quiet as much and have more movement so my photo shoots at the moment have not been going as good as i would like and even though i get great responses with happy parents i not happy with the results im getting :(

  • Billy
    May 21, 2015 at 2:09 PM

    Thank you for the tips as I enter into my first newborn photo shoot!

  • Fakhri
    June 16, 2015 at 11:49 PM

    Hey Lacey,
    Thanks for sharing tips on baby’s photography, love the idea of having baby be given a very full feeding right before shoot. it is true that photographing a baby wont be not as easy as shooting portrait of an adult =) that’s a good point.
    Anyway, i have a content that would be useful addition for your post.
    It’s called: “Baby’s Photo Digital Footprints” http://www.fotozzoom.com/blog/
    Either way, thanks again for your sharing!

  • Noble
    September 20, 2015 at 3:22 PM

    Thanks for the tips and other research material to study. Prep and ready for first newborn shots.

  • Cara
    September 24, 2015 at 1:00 PM

    I just did my first newborn shoot on request from a friend and I was disappointed in my pictures. They aren’t bad but I was hoping for more. The baby was 11 days old and was difficult to get to relax. Thanks for the tips. I need to watch some videos and prob order a real beanbag. Do you shoot all natural light or ever use flashes?

  • Lucie
    November 27, 2015 at 5:59 AM

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  • Joseph
    December 20, 2015 at 10:44 AM

    Wonderful tips that I’ve also learned along the way! Thanks for sharing!

  • alex
    December 28, 2015 at 5:03 PM

    Brilliant article. Concise writing! Thank you Lacey :)

  • Nick Bailey
    February 11, 2016 at 11:29 AM

    Great advice, iv’e been doing Photography now for many years on many levels including weddings, children and so on but am moving into Babies and newborns since i was asked do i do it at my child’s school.. Now i have family that are expecting and they have asked me to do there first shoot! … time to study :D

  • Katie
    February 19, 2016 at 11:58 AM

    Do you have a suggestion on where to get the best posing blankets?

  • Newborn photoshoots
    May 4, 2016 at 6:42 AM

    First photoshots is very hard but you did nice newborn photoshoot..Thanks for share

  • Looky Looky
    May 23, 2016 at 4:42 AM

    Amazing pictures, and great tips! Thanks so much for sharing Newborn Photography Tips!

  • Samanta
    June 8, 2016 at 2:26 PM

    Really very informative post . But I want to know the color about newborn baby . I don’t know where i will buy blanket for new born baby for photo shoot . It’s really great advise for new born
    Photography .

    waiting for your reply .

  • Ramzanul Hasan
    June 8, 2016 at 2:34 PM

    Really very nice post . It’s really very helpful for Photographer and
    Photo Editor . Thanks for share .

  • Samanta Salam
    June 12, 2016 at 8:02 AM

    Amazing article… I have got much important idea from your post. http://dinamicostudio.com/blog/

  • mehriyar
    December 14, 2016 at 4:56 AM

    thank you Great tips
    http://limage.ir

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