6 Tips for Better Newborn Photography

newborn photography
Photo by Kristen Lewis

Newborns generally do just one of three things: eat, sleep, and soil diapers. And yet, somehow, their moods, needs, and expressions are all over the map.

“Newborns can be pretty unpredictable,” admits photographer Kirsten Lewis — but there are ways to minimize the stress that a photo shoot can put on the baby, the parents, and you. During her class, Family Photography: Modern Storytelling, she shared some suggestions for creating a newborn photo shoot to help you make beautiful, authentic pictures:

1. Always shoot at the family’s home. Kirsten’s family photography packages includes a 72-hour immersion – shooting people as they live out their ordinary lives. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she advocates taking a newborn photograph where they live.

“They’ve just brought the baby home they are just getting used to the smells, the sounds –their parents are very comfortable in their own environment so babies will feed off their parents energy. That’s definitely the best place to shoot, ” Kirsten says.

Bonus: “Also, it allows context and meaning.” As your families age, they can look to those photographs and remember those first months exactly as they were.

2. Turn up the heat. While a toasty environment might make photographer and parents a little hot under the collar, it is exactly what a baby wants.  “Most people that photograph newborns know this,” Kirsten explains, “They were just in 98.6° for nine months so they like it warmer.”

3. Be patient. While a photograph of a smushed up little newborn cuddled up on some nice textiles in an old wash tub will always be adorable – there is more to newborns and newborn photography than shooting while they sleep.

“Newborns have personalities,” and Kirsten encourages photographers to settle in and wait for it to emerge. When you photograph a family in their home they can go about their normal routines and in doing so, their natural selves will start to appear, “newborns will show you their personalities you just have to be patient.”

4. Get close. One thing babies don’t have is a big objection to you getting close, so go ahead and move in. Shooting up close can help you capture the sweet little details the family won’t see again – those newborn fingernails and lashes and the softness of their skin. So Kirsten implores you, “get close – use your 35!”

5. Use natural light. Kirsten takes the same philosophy she uses in labor and deliver photographs and applies it to her newborn photographs. Simply put, “I don’t use a flash.” A camera flash can make a dressed-up adult feel like a celebrity, but a camera flashing in the eyes of a vulnerable new family and sensitive newborn infant can feel like an intrusion. So Kirsten leaves her flashes at home – every time.

“You have lovely natural light you can find in a home, all you have to do is find a window source.”

6. Don’t set a time limit. “I don’t put any time limits on my shoots – I think that stresses the moms out,” Kirsten goes on to explain, that a baby’s needs can’t be overlooked. If the baby is hungry or fussing or spitting up, it has be addressed. If a new mom is bouncing and nursing and all the while worried about the clock, it’s unlikely she’ll ever really relax for herself or the baby. So Kirsten sets up the shoot so a family knows she’ll be hanging out “for a while” and taking photos until she knows she’s got all the right shots.

If you want to learn more about photographing those precious first days or get more tips on bringing a documentary-style feel to your family photography, you can watch the clip and check out Kristen’s class here.

RSVP Now for Lifestyle Newborn Photography with Emily Lucarz and find more ways to capture your clients memorable moments. 

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Rachel is the content marketing lead for the CreativeLive Craft Channel. Her side hustle is floral design and her day job is awesome. @ms_gregarious.