Monday, April 4, 2011

Photographing Newborns

My first granddaughter was born a little over a week ago, we are thrilled to welcome Haylie to our family, where girls are a rarity! I am having a ball photographing her, but it is a challenge, so I thought I'd share some newborn baby photography tips with you along with my favorites from our first photo session.

The best time to photograph infants is during the first few weeks of life. They are quite sleepy and pliable then, and you can pose them in the cutest positions! The newborn stage passes quickly, babies change rapidly in the first few weeks.

Be sure the room you will be shooting in is very warm, little ones get chilled easily! Babies with full bellies are relaxed babies, so shooting shortly after a feeding will makes things easier. A warm baby with a full tummy is a happy baby!

Find a location with plenty of natural light.  It's soft and even, and perfect for photographing tiny babies. If you need to add light, use a soft gold reflector. Don't use flash, it is too harsh and firing the flash will disturb that sleeping baby.

I like to place the baby on a large pillow, or on a beanbag. I have a prop collection of blankets in soft neutral colors with great textures, and some fun hats to add a splash of color. I have found some wonderful handmade hats on, as well as other props such as angel wings and even a tutu! I'm waiting for Haylie to get a bit bigger before I add the tutu!

I like to use my 50mm f/1.4 lens for photographing tiny babies. I shoot pretty wide in regards to aperture, focusing on the eyes and letting the rest of the image fade to soft blur. I also use my Lensbaby lenses, especially with the soft focus optic.

Keep your compositions simple. Be sure to watch your backgrounds, if there are distractions, change your point of view to eliminate them, or substitute a different background. I used my diffuser as a background here.

Shoot lots and be patient! Compose your photo, and then wait for changes in expression and those wonderful sleepy smiles.  My granddaughter wasn't very sleepy when I did her first session last week, but it was wonderful to catch some shots of her with her eyes open! She also had a mind of her own about some of the poses, so I went with what she was comfortable with.

Take your time, be flexible. You may need to stop shooting while baby has a little snack or a diaper change.

If Mom and dad are willing to pose, get some shots of them with the baby, they will treasure those images in the years to come!

Try converting some of your images to black and white for a classic look. I use Nik's Silver Efex Pro for my conversions, so simple to use and I love the results (you can save 15% at Nik with my student discount code, kclemons).

I cannot wait for Haylie's next session! :)

Happy shooting,


  1. Not surprising that Haylie is so beautiful. Look at Mama. And Grandmama. :)
    That last one is just too precious for words.
    A baby photographer is born!! Beautiful.

  2. Thanks for all the tips Kathleen. I had'nt thought of using my 50mm for taking baby pictures!

  3. Awww, thank so much, Cindi!

    Thanks AineB, it's great for those soft, shallow depth of field images. :)

  4. Congratulations, Grandma! She is beautiful!!!!!!

  5. Mary Lou ChristyMay 10, 2011 at 5:10 AM

    Beautiful baby, Kathleen. Congratulations! You will love being a grandma. And lucky parents will have so many photos!

  6. Thanks very much, Mary and MaryLou! :)