The plus of taking baby photos is also the downfall. Babies don’t pose for the camera. To your advantage, you won’t have to sort through hundreds of phony, cheesy smiles and awkward poses like you may have to do with older subjects. But because babies are natural models, it can be harder to get them to do what you want for the camera.
All photographers are not cut out to shoot newborns. Taking pictures of babies takes a lot of shots, a long time, and even more patience to get that perfect baby shot. Babies aren’t like most people we take pictures of, we can’t tell them how to pose or what we want them to do and have to be careful to not upset them.
Read through the following baby photo tips to get an idea of how to get the best out of your next photography session with a cute baby, and help you capture that special image parents will treasure for a lifetime.
Tip #1: Understand the Parents’ Expectations
Talk to the parents so you can understand their expectations. It is important to understand what they want so you can prepare them for the shoot.
Posed/studio shots are usually done within the first two weeks of life when the baby is more amenable to being posed. They often involve a long session with numerous breaks and several props. You want to make sure you bring things like bean bags for posing the baby, and swaddling blankets for that special look.
Lifestyle shots are done within the first 6 weeks of life and involve getting more natural images. These are more spontaneous shots of the baby, the family, and the home, and can involve more than one session.
Tip #2: Non-smiling photos are also endearing
As a photographer, you have the opportunity (and responsibility) to capture a baby’s feelings and expressions. You and the baby’s parents will love the result when you snap a photo of a genuine baby smile or giggle. Keep in mind that you are documenting the baby’s true feelings. Life is not always bliss and it’s ok, and often a golden opportunity, to illustrate this in your photos. A picture of a baby fussing or yawning can be just as precious as a happy one.
Tip #3: Practice up on your silly voice
If you want to capture a certain expression from the baby, you may need to step in and help elicit emotions. (For the record, I’m definitely not suggesting that you make the baby sad on purpose.)
You may need to goo and gah and make funny faces to get a giggle out of the baby you are taking photos of. Bring an interesting or unique toy for the baby to play with to get some curious-looking-baby photos. A fun way to get some cute, squinty faces is to give the baby something sour to eat.
A quirky, sour face is an interesting twist on traditional baby pictures. This is especially cute with babies who have darling dimples or chubby faces.
Soothing sounds can also keep the newborn calm. Many photographers use white noise to soothe the baby, but there are also apps that play a number of soothing sounds.
Tip #4: Take Advantage of your Time
Photo shoots tend to be long. As you’ve learned in the tutorials on our website, it’s best to snap several photos of each position or angle so you can be sure you will find a good one out of the bunch. Attention spans of infants vary, but most probably won’t be excited about sitting through a long afternoon with a camera in their faces.
In order to keep the baby happy and get better results, you may need to help entertain the baby. Have the parents bring snacks or start a quick game of Peek-a-Boo. Having siblings or other children nearby can also help keep the baby happy. Take advantage of these little breaks to snap some additional photos!
Pro Tip: A hungry baby will become very cranky very quickly. Have mom feed the baby before you begin the shoot, and if it goes on for a while, take a snack break to keep the baby full. That will also likely necessitate a diaper change!
Tip #5: Be Prepared
Make sure the room and props are warm. It is easiest to move the baby and position them if they are asleep and comfortable. Make sure the baby has recently been fed and their diaper has been changed. If photographing a naked baby make sure they have recently been changed but know you might end up cleaning up after them. But it’s worth it for that perfect, precious picture. If it’s an older baby make sure there is nothing for them to choke on, baby proof your studio and have toys handy to help keep them happy.
Along with your lenses and tripod, don’t forget to bring baby wipes to take care of any snot, dirt or food messes.
It probably comes as no surprise that babies are messy. That may be just the look you’re going for. But if it’s not, a few wipes will do the trick. Another idea is to have the parents bring an extra outfit in case of an emergency diaper blow-out.
Tip #6: Embrace the Clouds
Many amateurs think that sunny days equal the best outdoor conditions for a photo session. Make the most of the light you’re given! Unless you want to spend hours editing shadows on your photos, choose a partly cloudy day.
Ideally, you should go before or after the middle of the day when the sun shining the brightest. The baby will be happier if he or she doesn’t have to squint to look at you.
Tip #7: Lighting
Natural window light is best for photographing babies, it makes the soft pink tones of a baby look the best. If using studio light make sure it’s not too bright or going to make the baby uncomfortable. Flash with babies is a controversial subject as some think it will affect a baby’s eyesight, so use it at your own discretion. If using a flash make sure it is not going to flash right in the babies’ eyes or scare them.
Lighting is so important for newborn photography. You don’t want to get the angle wrong and have the baby look like something scary. Soft diffused light can really show a baby’s tender skin and create that angel-like appearance, but if you go outdoors (and you should if the weather permits), you have to work with the natural light. Whatever the light source you have, it’s important that it be angled so that it doesn’t shine upward under the newborn’s face.
Tip #8: Location
Location is another important consideration. Indoor shots give you more control over the light, but outdoor images bring out the natural beauty of the newborn and give you many more creative possibilities.
Another way to keep baby happy is to make sure the location is warm. You might even bring a space heater to warm up any spot where you want to shoot.
Tip #9: Props
Simple is best when it comes to babies. Try putting them in or on things, or different textures around them. Use fun headbands, bows, or little hats for fun props. Be creative and don’t take away from the natural beauty of the baby. A simple, clean background is best.
Tip #10: Poses
Look for new angles, zoom in and get pictures of their hands, feet, ears or nose. Lay the baby on their belly, side, back, or prop them against something to be in a lounging position. Get them interacting with family or friends and don’t be afraid to get those people in the shots as well.
Newborns are often more awake in the afternoon or evening, so a morning shoot can work better for posing them.
Tip #11: Include the Family
There is nothing more touching than a newborn sleeping with dad or mom or a picture of baby’s tiny hand on top of dad’s. It’s the connection between them that really shows the love. Likewise, a brother or sister lovingly interacting with the newborn can bring tears to your eyes. But, if you’re involving the family, you’ve got to prepare appropriately.
Toddlers will need toys to keep them occupied as you shoot, and you’ll need to get the parents prepped for their shots as well. Getting shots of the family together will create those lasting memories and is well worth the effort.
Tip #12: Newborn Details
Don’t forget to take photos of the little hands and feet, the upturned nose, or the beautiful eyelashes on the sleeping eye. These are the little treasures that parents will love. For this, you’ll likely need a macro lens so you can get every little wrinkle on baby’s toes.
Tip #13: DIY Newborn Photography
Tip #14: Learn from other Professional Photographers
If you really want to master newborn photography it’s best to learn from other photographers who have been in the business for years. There are an array of affordable courses offered by the best photography learning platforms.
These courses teach you everything including baby safety, how to market your newborn photography, advanced editing for babies, and even how to build confidence with parents. We have put together a comprehensive list to help you discover the most popular newborn photography classes.
Remember to be creative with your angles and positions. Good luck with your photos!