19 Adorable Newborn Photo Ideas and Essential Tips

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ideas for newborn photography.
Quick summary
: Simple and easy newborn baby photography ideas and tips to learn how to get the best out of your next photography session.

The birth of a child is an incredible occasion that deserves to be celebrated and photographed in the best way possible. Newborn photoshoots can help you achieve that and get creative at the same time.

With the right newborn photo ideas and tips, you can take outstanding photos that the baby’s parents will cherish forever.

Safety Tips for Newborn Photography

Before you use new products, ask the parents if they have special costumes or toys for the baby. If they don’t, make sure you talk to them before you buy any new costumes or props for your photoshoot. A parent’s intuition transcends general safety rules, so always seek their advice before you make any changes to your shoot.

Newborn photography comes with a unique set of challenges. You can’t ask babies to pose for you a specific way. It’s impossible to simply place them in front of a beautiful backdrop and start taking photos. You have to consider allergies, safety hazards, and the parents’ preferences.

Professional newborn photographers have certifications for this genre. The requirements for this are a lot of training and studying. This isn’t mandatory, which means almost any photographers can take photos of newborns.

Make sure you educate yourself beforehand so that you don’t risk the baby’s safety.

newborn photo ideas baby lying next to unicorn toy.

A few important tips to keep in mind are:

  • Some of the sweetest poses out there were Photoshopped! Don’t re-create anything that makes the baby uncomfortable. Pay close attention to his or her reactions. Don’t pose it any way you want. Remember that babies are flexible but fragile.
  • Talk to the parents beforehand. Make a checklist that includes allergies, creative preferences, and more. Make sure the parents are close to the baby throughout the photoshoot.
  • Always have an assistant with you. This should be someone who has experience in newborn photography. It can’t just be the parents. An assistant will make your job easier and will make the parents feel more comfortable during the shoot.

Newborn Photo Ideas

Here are the 9 best newborn photography ideas you must try.

1. Use a Large Aperture

The aperture used for the following picture was enough to capture the baby’s face in detail. It also kept some parts of the pillow quite sharp. If you use an aperture that’s too large (e.g. f/1.2), you’ll be able to capture a limited amount of detail. This can be a problem if you want to photograph costume or backgrounds details. An aperture like f/2.5, which is still large, can do a much better job than an aperture that’s too large.

baby smiling on a pink rug.

The larger your aperture, the softer the background will look. This will add to the overall dreaminess in your shots. It will also help you focus on the baby completely. A large aperture is great for removing distractions and creating a minimalistic feel.

Keep in mind that this isn’t always necessary. Some newborn photos are full of detail. However, most newborn photographers tend to use a large aperture to create a soft haze in the background. This approach might seem simple, but it works very well in this genre.

2. Create a Sense of Safety With the Parents’ Hands

This is one of the sweetest and simplest newborn photo ideas out there. You can convert the photos from this shoot to black & white. This will allow you to focus more on the emotions in your pictures. This is an easy way to remove distractions without having to Photoshop them out.

For example, the bracelet that one of the parents is wearing in the photo below might actually be quite colourful in real life. That could be a major distraction. In the black & white version, it’s barely noticeable. The shadows and highlights stand out the most.

newborn photo ideas parents supporting baby with their hands.

This is the kind of photo your clients will want to hang on their wall! It has a fine art photography feel and is easy to create. Make sure you use natural light and a black background. (It doesn’t have to be perfectly black. You can add shadows in Photoshop.) You can shoot next to a large window so you can work with as much available light as possible.

Put the baby on a soft blanket. Ask the parents to gently hold it from both sides. This will create a feeling of safety and unity in your photos.

3. Use Adorable Props and Costumes

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.

When you use costumes, think of other simple props that could make them stand out even more. In the following photo example, the photographer used a bunny costume and a green rug that looks like grass. It might be a simple detail, but it adds a nice pop of colour and it makes sense in the context of the photo. This is an important thing to keep in mind, especially if you’re on a budget. Simple props can make a big difference.

baby wearing a rabbit costume.

Amazon and Etsy are overflowing with props for babies. They offer newborn pillows, adorable costumes, milestone blocks, and much more. There’s a lot you can do with these simple but effective items. For example, a bunny costume will instantly make your newborn photos significantly cuter. If you’re looking to build your portfolio, this is a great way to make each of your photos look unique.

Below is a perfect example of a more advanced prop. It’s a small wooden bed with a warm blanket. Its unusual size makes it very cute. More importantly, it’s comfortable for the baby to sleep in.

baby sleeping in a small bed.

There are many options for those who want to get extra creative, too. Some companies create handmade moons, boats, planes, and much more. These tend to cost $100 or more. They can be a great investment if you want to pursue a career in this genre. (Or if you just want to decorate your home with miniature props.)

4. Use a Faux Fur Rug to Add Softness to Your Newborn Photos

Simple faux fur rugs are a budget-friendly option for adorable newborn photography. They’re colourful enough to catch your eye, but not distracting enough to make your photos look busy. You should include them in your photoshoots to create a classic newborn photography look.

baby lying on faux fur rug.

Faux fur rugs are affordable but safe for most babies. (Again, make sure to check with the parents beforehand!) If you buy them from a professional store, you’ll have the perfect background for your shots.

Many newborn photographers use rugs because they’re soft and come in many appropriate colours for the genre. If possible, invest in a few colours. This will give you more creative freedom when you photograph different costumes and outfits. Some of the most popular rug colours are light pink, light grey, and beige. Choose colours that won’t take the spotlight away from the baby.

5. Focus on Details

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.

Popular details in newborn photography: toes, fingers, hair, and lips. You can showcase all of these details at once in a collage.

newborn photo ideas close-up of baby's feet.

Parents usually want to remember everything about their child because the first few weeks pass quickly. Don’t be afraid of photographing details that might seem simple or insignificant. Fingers, toys, and small moments are all precious in newborn photography.

It goes without saying that you can’t get too close to newborns. In general, getting close to a subject is bound to make them feel uncomfortable. Even if you’re the parent, try to keep a safe distance. You can use a regular lens. If there’s too much negative space, you can crop it out in post.

6. Include a Beloved Companion in Some Shots

dog sleeping next to baby.

The newborn photo above is heartwarming picture that tells a clear story about the dog’s relationship with the newborn. The photographer used an unusual angle. Most people would take a few steps back to capture everything in detail, but this person did the opposite. Even though the baby is out of focus, it’s clear that the dog is protecting it. Use this as inspiration to shoot from unusual angles of your own.

To make your newborn photos stand out more, you have to tell a story. You can easily do that with the help of an item or a person. Does the baby have a toy that helps it fall asleep? Is there a pet in the house that keeps it safe? You can include all of these things in your shots to give viewers a better idea of your subject.

Experiment with different angles and apertures to make your newborn photo ideas come to life. You don’t need to focus on the baby all the time. However, make sure it’s in the frame most of the time. Even if it’s out of focus, its presence will add to the story.

7. In a Parent’s Arms

If you want to take a wide photo of the baby and its parent, make sure to use a simple background and foreground. This image is a great example of this. The background is white, so it’s not distracting. The foreground is a white bed sheet, which complements every other colour in this shot. The mother’s clothes are simple and the baby’s outfit isn’t too vibrant.

newborn photo ideas mother holding baby.

Not all newborn photo ideas require the use of a studio. This is a practical tip that you can use in almost any setting. You just need the baby and its parent. Ideally, the baby should be wrapped in something that’s beautiful and comfortable. The parent’s outfit should complement what the baby is wrapped in. When in doubt, use simple pastel colours. You can’t go wrong with those!

Photos like this work very well because they are heartwarming. They show the relationship between the child and its parent. If possible, photograph the newborn separately in both parents’ arms.

8. Use Lightroom Presets and Textures to Enhance Your Newborn Photography

baby looking at snow.

As you can tell, the snow in the photo above is fake. In this case, it adds to the overall charm. The photographer used textures to make it seem like the baby is admiring the snow. Using textures is a budget-friendly way to make your newborn photos more creative. It’s also much safer than creating DIY props. If the photographer used DIY snow made of cotton balls, for example, it could be dangerous for the baby and it would create a mess.

Your creativity doesn’t have to stop at the end of your photoshoot. The editing process can open up a whole new world of tools. These tools can help you take your newborn photo ideas to the next level.

Some of the most popular editing programs right now are Lightroom and Photoshop. pictures within seconds. Newborn Lightroom Presets can help you turn simple photos of babies into eye-catching masterpieces. In Photoshop, you can utilise textures to make your photographs look even more creative.

9. Use Your Outtakes

baby sticking its tongue out.

Your outtakes don’t need to be perfect. They can be silly or funny. In the image above, it looks like the baby is purposely sticking its tongue out. This might not end up in the family album, but it can be something that the baby will find amusing when it grows up.

Never delete photos that you don’t like. If someone doesn’t look flattering, that’s a different story. However, if the photo is relatively sharp but doesn’t reach your standards, don’t delete it. Take some time to look at it on your computer. Wait a few days before you make a decision. Add it to an outtakes folder in your archive.

Outtakes are photos that don’t make it into your gallery. They might not be perfect, but they still have some charm to them. Outtakes usually end up being forgotten in archived photo libraries. They might not be as bad as you think, so come back to them after some time. You might see them with fresh eyes and decide to include them in your portfolio later on.

baby in father's arms.

Before you start taking photos of newborns, familiarise yourself with all the safety hazards. Once you’re aware of them, you can experiment with different photo ideas.

Don’t be afraid of trying new techniques. Shoot from different angles, focus on details, and include fun props in your pictures. All of these tricks will make your newborn photos as precious as your little models.

Tips for Photographing Newborn Babies

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.

10. 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.

11. 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.

12. 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.

13. 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!

14. 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.

15. 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.

Photographing newborns

16. 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.

newborn baby.

17. 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.

18. 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.

19. 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.

Final Thoughts

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.

Remember to be creative with your angles and positions. Good luck with your photos!

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Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.
Taya Iv is a portrait photographer, 500px ambassador, and host of Great Big Photography World podcast.

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