with Courtney Slazinik
10 Tips to Help Dramatically Improve your Newborn Photography
10 Tips to Help Dramatically Improve your Newborn Photography

Having a successful newborn photography session isn’t about creating the perfect gallery. Instead, it is about creating a session where everyone is comfortable, happy and the baby is safe and loved.

You want the parents to leave the session feeling joy. I not only want this for each and every one of my own clients, but for every newborn photographer.

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1. Know when to take newborn photos

To have a successful newborn photo shoot, it is important to know the perfect time to take these photos. You don’t want it to be too soon after birth or too late when they aren’t as fresh.

7-14 days after birth

Ideally you would want to take newborn photos between 7-14 days after they are born. This is the time where they are still pretty sleepy and love to snuggle up in those cute poses we all love.

You will still be able to get some great newborn shots after that second week. That being said, keep in mind they might be starting to wake up to the world around them.

Read more: Newborn Photography- 5 Reasons to try a lifestyle approach

newborn photography tips via click it up a notch

2. Know what you need for a newborn photography session

Well first you’re going to need a sweet newborn. Obviously. In reality this is completely up to you and your photography style. Some people prefer the more simple approach and some prefer a lot of props.

Blankets, wraps, heat, and sound

Most everyone will agree that you are going to want some simple wraps, soft neutral blankets, a warm space with extra heaters, and a sound machine.

A couple more very helpful tools

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.

newborn wrapped in pink swaddle on white blanket

3. Communicate newborn photography details with your clients

I can’t emphasis enough how important this is. Your goal for the newborn photography shoot is the same as theirs, but they don’t often know what it takes to accomplish that goal.

Communication is key

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 more. Sharing your hope for the parents during the session, starts your trek toward accomplishing the shared goal on the right foot.

Read more: Newborn Photography- 4 Tips for preparing the parents

Create a solid contract

You should also have a solid contract in place. A day or so before the session, send reminders for what the parents can do to prepare for their experience. Share what they can to to ensure it is the best experience possible.

It’s important to 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?

Baby wearing a small pink flower headband on tan blanket.

4. Consider doing a newborn photography session at home

The reason for this is because babies are in a whole new world right after brith. For this reason, staying in the comfort of their own home could really help keep the baby calm.

You really don’t need much for a newborn session. So as a photographer, pack your bags and make your studio mobile for these newborn photography sessions.

Read more: Newborn Photography- Finding beauty in a clients home

5. “Fresh 48” photos

These are very unique and special memories for a family. Fresh 48 photos are taken in the first 24-48 hours after the baby is born. You are there to document all of the little firsts that the baby has.

Alternative to labor and birth photos

This is usually an alternative to having photographs taken of the labor and delivery experience but still be able to capture the brand new life.

Most of the time these will be in the hospital, don’t forget to get all the little details from the signs to the gifts.

Read more: Newborn Photography- Tips for the on location photographer

6. Learn to wrap a newborn for a photo

Practice makes perfect right? Practice different wrapping techniques on a doll before your photo shoot. It doesn’t always have to be a tight swaddle you would probably do for when they are sleeping.

Lengths and textures matter

Play around with different lengths and textures to get your desired look. Pro tip- you can tuck the cloth around them to avoid moving the baby too much!

Newborn baby laying on a white blanket wearing a pink wrap and a flower headband smiling for newborn photography

7. The beanbag and blankets you use help with your newborn photos

Invest in a flat puck-style beanbag for newborn photography

The wide, flat work area lends itself perfectly to newborn posing. It helps to see the baby well and working more easily with their legs, arms and face. This is better than battling with them sinking into a too-soft, too-small, beanbag.

Layer your blankets on your beanbag

I have learned how much I benefit from layering many blankets on my beanbag in the order I want to use them. You will benefit during the session from doing this. It makes the transition from one blanket to the next extremely quick and fluid.

Newborn baby on green blanket.

Roll cloth diapers to help with posing

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.

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.

8. Light & angles matter in newborn photography

When I first began photographing newborns one of the very first errors I made was how I used natural 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.

Angle the baby to create soft shadows

Angling the 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.

I most often keep the baby’s head toward the light, to achieve shadowing I prefer in my newborn baby photography sessions.

3 feet and a 60 degree angle from the window

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.

mother in white tank top holding baby in a pink wrap for newborn photography shoot.

9.Use your hands to help hold the pose

When you mold the baby into a pose you don’t just get them there and then snap the shot. You will keep your hands on them as you feel them relax into the position. During this time you may be shushing into their ear, while still adjusting the pose slightly or smoothing a blanket with a free hand.

Involve the parents in newborn photography

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.

Swaddling during your newborn photography session will help the baby not only feel comfortable but helps to hold the pose as well.

newborn baby on blue blanket

Read more: How to use a newborn wrap to create amazing photos

10. Have confidence in your newborn photography

You may be 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, and asking questions.

Watch newborn photography videos

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. You will pick up a number of soothing techniques that will prove to be so helpful.

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

Don’t forget there are so many different types of ways to photograph newborns. Another popular option is to create a lifestyle newborn photography session.

Read more: How to take creative lifestyle newborn photos

5 Tips that changed my newborn photography
  • 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/

  • 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

    • 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

  • Karen Sorto
    February 4, 2017 at 3:20 PM

    excelent info ! thanks for sharing us !

  • Vera Kruis
    March 15, 2017 at 9:48 PM

    Love the photos! These tips are very helpful. I can’t wait to use them on my next newborn photography session. Thanks for sharing them.
    Vera Kruis Photography

  • chitra
    May 10, 2017 at 3:56 AM

    thank you Great tips


  • Betty Vanover
    November 15, 2018 at 10:59 PM

    These are awesome photos. Thank you for sharing!

  • Erick Balls
    September 24, 2019 at 5:28 AM

    Superb article. Hope to use this.

  • Jason K. Stiger
    March 7, 2022 at 12:34 AM

    Actually capturing new born baby photos a tough task. In your post you have showed all the pose of new born baby photoshoting step by step. All the beginners and experts photographer can learn a lot of things from your post.
    Thanks for a nice post.

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