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Newborn Baby Photography: 5 Things You Must Know Before the First Shot.

Newborn Baby Photography Essentials

Do you choose Photoshop, Elements, PaintShop Pro or GIMP for digital backgrounds?

On one level, newborn photography is about as easy as it gets. Babies are adorable by definition. As long as you have the basics right, the infant’s inherent cuteness will carry the final product.

On the other hand, babies are second only to brides for the potential to have a meltdown at any given moment. They will inevitably make messes because that’s what they do. And never discount the unpredictable nature of sleep-deprived parents.

I should make it clear here that I am only speaking to newborn photography; not toddlers and not kids. This is your optimum window for newborn photos. Any longer after this window and you’ve got an infant session which is a completely different animal than a newborn session.

Take a look at the images below. The one on the left is a newborn. The one on the right is past the two week point. See the difference?

There is a big difference between a newborn and a baby/toddler.

In our first two weeks of life, we’re pretty burnt-out. We just got evicted from the most comfortable home we’re ever going to have and all we want to do is kick back for a couple of weeks before we start taking on this thing called life.

Before The First Shot is Taken

1. Safety

More than any other aspect of newborn photography, safety should be at the forefront of your mind. No shot is worth the slightest risk. A spotter should always be within arm’s length of the baby. Infant sessions are a two-person job. If you don’t have an assistant available, you will need to enlist one or more of the parents, which usually isn’t a problem.

Be aware of any dangers associated with props such as sharp edges on crates or buckets that tip easily. I usually weight the bottom of any buckets.

Be sure to have plenty of props to choose from.

Be sure to wash any furs or blankets before their first use, and then again after every following usage. Make sure there is a soft barrier between the baby and any props. A baby’s skin is super sensitive. The perfect shoot could be ruined if the little one gets a rash after the session.

2. Be Prepared

Essential photographic props for newborns include wraps, blankets, faux furs, hats and headbands. Have a large assortment available for different themes, tastes and as replacements for soiled items.

Safety is always the primaary concern when photographing children of any age.

Other essentials that you will want to collect are crates, baskets, buckets. A Google search of “newborn photography props” will reveal a world of options out there.

There are props galore out there specifically designed for babies.

More important to newborn sessions are the non-photographic equipment you will need to have everything a baby could possibly need. Never think that the parents would surely bring (fill in blank). New parents are almost always sleep deprived and can sometimes miss the details. Think of a fully-stocked diaper bag with everything from diapers to formula to a pacifier.

3. Early-bird Sessions

Those of us who are night-owls evidently didn’t develop that trait until later in life. The vast majority of newborn are morning people. They are generally more agreeable during the first part of the day. However, it’s a good idea to ask if the little one has a time of day that they are more cooperative.

4. A Well-Fed Baby is a Happy Baby

Like most of us, newborns are lot more agreeable with happy tummy. A freshly fed and burped baby is essential to any chance of a newborn session running smoothly.

A freshly fed baby is a happy baby

5. Is it Hot in Here?

Babies need more warmth than we do. I set the room temp to 80 and adjust accordingly. It’s going to be a little hotter than comfortable for the average adult. But then, we’re not really trying to accommodate the adults, are we?

Keep a heater going near the baby all the time; preferably one that emits white noise. I keep a hair dryer handy. Keep it on low and be sure not to get closer than a couple of feet away from the infant. Also, keep plenty of blankets available nearby.


This is, by no means, a complete list. Like any aspect of photography, there will be the unexpected event or a need unique to your situation. We will be expanding on newborn photography in the coming weeks, including posing guides and also getting future gigs from your initial session.

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