Newborn Portrait Tips

Spring is here, and photos of a cute baby are just what the world needs now. If you would like to capture memories of your little one, here are a few newborn portrait tips for you.

Newborn baby yawning while swaddledTiming is everything. The key to excellent newborn photos is a happy baby. And the time to photograph that happy baby is normally just after a nap and a feeding. You’ve got an hour max, so make the most of your camera time. Ideally, all photos should be done at ‘golden hour’ – the hour or two just after sunrise and just before sunset. But with a newborn photo shoot, you will most likely be indoors. So take a look at your residence (where you are more than likely staging the session) and figure out when you have the most sun in your home. If you can coordinate a sunny apartment and a happy baby, then you are golden.

Concentrate first on the talent. As I have mentioned in previous family portrait tip posts, you want to photograph the most temperamental family members first. That means focusing on the wee one, and next taking a full family shot that includes every family member. This way you take care of your priority shots first. Next up should be photos of your newborn with each respective parent, followed by a photo of your newborn and both parents, or perhaps your newborn and siblings. You choose, but plan ahead of time which photos you really want, and then everything else is gravy.

Safety first. The safety of your little one is my top priority as a photographer. I always make sure that the baby is placed on a solid surface for the portrait session. In addition, I always, ALWAYS, have a parent within arm’s length of the baby for any emergencies. Nothing ruins a newborn portrait session like dropping the baby (not that I have ever done that).

Also, let me say here that I am not a fan of newborn photos where the babies in question are contorted to look like mini-gymnasts. These photos are usually created using editing software, and folding your baby like a piece of origami is not a good look in my opinion.

Clear out some space. The home of a newborn is usually cluttered with toys and necessary supplies. I totally get it. See if you can clear off just a corner of space for your photo shoot. In the case of Sandy and Bryan’s newborn portrait session with little Everett, we plopped the baby on the dining room table that was located by a sunny window. Perfect location!

Lighting helps. Strong natural light from a window is always best, but most of us live in homes that are not ideal photo studios. While supplemental flash on a camera does not damage a newborn’s eyes, it is not your best light source. Rather, continuous light is the perfect option for family shoots where you don’t want flash to upset the baby. I use Godox LEDP260C Bi-Color LED Light Panels, which can be adjusted and color balanced as necessary. The lights can use AC power or run on batteries. I feel like my family portrait game has gone up a notch with these lights and they are great for adult portraits as well.

Close up of newborn baby held by father

Start with swaddling, then go naked. Post-nap, we are all a little groggy. As such, I recommend you ease your newborn into a photo shoot by starting off with some solid swaddling shots. I then transition to photos of cute naked babies, and have a furry lambskin rug on hand for just such a photo.

Don’t forget the details. Who doesn’t love photos of tiny fingers and toes? Newborn babies are truly a miracle of nature. Little bits are precious; so make sure you photograph them all. Even better, take a comparison shot of your newborn’s hand grabbing mom’s finger.

Sometimes your best photos come from uncooperative talent. Finally, don’t worry if you can’t get the perfect newborn portrait. Or, if certain siblings aren’t cooperating. Perfection is completely overrated. If your little one has a strong set of lungs and wants to cry for the entire session, then that’s your reality and that is what should be photographed. Also, if big brother is a little unsure of this new person who entered the house, then so be it. That’s family.

Accompanying today’s blog post are photos from my family portrait session with Sandy, Bryan, big brother Henrik, and little Everett. Everett was such a good baby during the session (as was everyone else in the family). Henrik’s tears quickly dried up when we played with his toys on the carpet and he showed off his matching t-shirt.

Enjoy the photos, and I’ll have images next week from the birthday party for a one-year old that includes nearly naked gladiators. Yes, you read that correctly.

Helpful links

Would you like to see more images from past family portrait sessions with Sandy and Bryan? Check out their Central Park family photo shoots here and here.

Interested in setting up your own family portrait session? Drop me a line and let’s talk about scheduling post-coronavirus.

If you would like to see more images from my family portrait portfolio, then please visit my website –

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