If tiny babies in cutsie-poo poses make your heart go pitter-patter, these newborn photography tips, techniques, and props will melt your sappy soul.
How to become a newborn photo pro
Professional photographer Meggan Whittsit doesn’t have children of her own (“Yet!” she’s quick to clarify), but she snuggles a new precious baby almost every day.
Her nearly-10-year-old photography business, Truly You Photos, works with humans of all ages, but newborn pictures are by far her favorites.
“Everyone asks me how many kids I have, and it’s such a compliment,” says Meggan. “It means my clients think I look comfortable with their babies—and I am!”
Here are some of the great tips Meggan has learned in more than a decade of photographing the tiniest clients:
Natural light or studio lighting?
Before gathering up her camera and props, Meggan took stock of her lighting situation.
Meggan understood that her lighting style would be as much a part of her brand as her logo. She was determined to develop a consistent “voice” with her lighting. This lighting style would help her create on-brand images—and earn steady word-of-mouth referrals!
“Through my early-learning workshops, I explored different newborn photography approaches,” explains Meggan. “Some pros made lifestyle newborn images in their clients’ homes; others had studios—either using strobes and artificial light, or relying only on natural light.”
“I decided I needed to learn to use artificial light,” says Meggan, “because I couldn’t always rely on window light for all my photographs.”
Whether you’re a studio or location photographer, nailing the light is critical. When your lighting is consistent, you’ll get consistent exposures. This also streamlines your editing time.
3 must-have newborn props
“Your focus should always be on the baby, first and foremost,” asserts Meggan. “The props are secondary!”
However, these tried-and-true newborn photography props have served Meggan well for years.
#1: A wooden crate
“Purchase a sturdy, wooden crate!” advises Meggan. “Mine was the first newborn photography prop I purchased, and I use it ALL the time. It’s so versatile!”
Line the hard crate with plenty of fur or fluffy fabric, lay the baby inside, and photograph the crate from above to capture a sweet scene.
Have a space heater on-hand to keep the space warm. Cold babies are not happy babies!
How to pose a newborn with a wooden crateMeggan suggests these poses when using a box or crate:
- To start, turn the crate upside. You can then pose the baby on top of the crate in the “butt-up” position.
- Keep the crate upright (on its bottom), and prop the newborn up inside. With the help of an assistant, pose the baby with their hands resting on the side of the box and their head resting on their hands.
- Lastly, turn the crate on its side for an easy multi-baby setup. Pose one infant on top, one inside, and (if there are triplets) one to the side of the box.
#2: A vinyl-covered bean bag
“If you’re posing newborns, you need a bean bag,” Meggan exclaims. “Search online for newborn posing bean bags, and choose a bag that’s both really full, but flat on top. A good bean bag will support the baby without engulfing them.”
Meggan recommends a vinyl-cover because babies may spit up (or let loose other bodily fluids!) on your bean bag. Vinyl covers are easy to wipe down and sanitize. Overlay the vinyl with a soft, washable blanket so the bean bag is cozy against the baby’s skin.
#3: A background stand
Maybe a background stand doesn’t seem like a newborn photography prop; but it supports one of your most important props: your backdrop! Since newborns are so small, you can easily use a blanket or a strip of cloth as your backdrop. A solid stand helps prevent wrinkles and provides a clean sweep from floor to wall.
“I have a PVC pipe frame that’s approximately 4-feet square,” Meggan describes. You can buy them online or make your own!”
Creative poses that keep Baby safe
Safety is the most important aspect of baby photoshoots. Babies are heartier than they appear, but they’re still delicate little folks. Make sure to stay vigilant of their soft bones and fragile skin.
Meggan employs an assistant to help with baby-only poses, and relies on the parents’ arms for family portraits.
Photoshop: Baby’s best friend
While all-natural images are wonderful and admirable, you’ll want to use Photoshop for more complex poses.
“A lot of my prop-based photographs are composites,” reveals Meggan. “You should never leave a newborn’s head unsupported, so I have my assistant hold up Baby’s head. Later, I remove her hands while post-processing in Photoshop.”
Enhance your poses with items from home
“I love it when clients bring sentimental items from home to incorporate into to their baby’s photo session,” shares Meggan. “I’ll pose the baby first, then place their home-brought items around them. This keeps the focus on the baby while allowing me to include my client’s personal items.”
Curate a Prop Stash
Meggan maintains her own thoughtfully-curated collection of props for her clients to use. She features these props throughout her portfolio, which makes it easy for her clients to select their favorite props well before their session.
#ShootProofPRO Tip: Don’t forget the details
Is the baby asleep at picture time? Use a macro lens to capture the tiny details of the newborn’s fingers and toes, wispy eyelashes, delicate hair whorls, and pouty lips.
Plan each session in advance
About a week before each session, reach out to your clients to answer any final questions and to finalize your photoshoot plans.
You (almost) never want to alter your brand style simply to suit a client. But you can ensure a great outcome when you know your client’s expectations. Consider creating a session guide using one of Design Aglow’s Welcome Packet templates. Your guide should include details like:
- arrival guidelines
- how to get their baby “in the mood” for photos
- available backdrops, wraps, and props
- tips for bringing their own items from home
- print and album recommendations
- delivery timelines
Prep like you’re working with royalty
Before your clients arrive, prepare your studio as if the royal family themselves are headed your way.
- sanitize your studio space and props
- launder all soft fabrics
- make sure the room is fresh-smelling
- declutter all client areas
- display your sample products
- turn on a soothing playlist
- warm up the photography space with your heater
- dress in comfortable, washable clothes
- have plenty of soap and hand sanitizer available
The best newborn photography sessions inspire deep emotions in your clients. Hopefully they gives you the same warm-fuzzies, too!
Stay true to your own creative voice, and your brand will form client bonds that are loyal and long-lasting.
Written by: ANNE SIMONE | Photography by: MEGGAN WHITSITT, TRULY YOU PHOTOS