If there ever was a stage of parenthood that’s fleeting, it’s the newborn stage. While having a brand new baby can be a hectic and confusing time, it’s also completely magical — and incredibly short! In other words, you don’t have very long to capture those precious newborn days with beautiful photos. So, if you’re going to do it, you want to do it to the best of your ability.
From super creative newborn photo ideas to expert tips for getting the best pictures possible, here’s everything you need to get utterly amazing newborn photos.
Newborn photo ideas and inspiration
Want to get snap happy with your little one, but you aren’t sure where to begin? Here are 17 newborn photo ideas to consider when capturing this beautiful moment in time.
1. Use a color theme
Using one color throughout the photos — even in different shades — can make for seriously beautiful photos. How sweet is this white knit set-up?
2. Find a cute position
As long as you’re positioning baby safely (and someone is close by), capturing baby in an un-baby position can be super cute.
3. Get in the photo — kind of
Even if you’re not feeling your best and most well-rested, you can still get in the photo — from the back.
4. Get in the photo — and match baby
If you’re willing to get in the photos with your teeny tiny baby, all the better. When else will you have this time back? And how adorable is this smiling and matching mama-baby duo?
5. Document the tiny things
One day you’ll wonder how your child’s feet were ever this tiny?
6. Get the siblings involved
And for an extra dose of cuteness, make sure they match.
7. Be twinkly
The fluffy white background. The tiny lights. What a magical photo!
8. Put baby in a basket
A cozy basket, of course.
9. Crop it
“Cropping was a big part of my newborn photos,” says mom of two Erin Skurdal, of Cranford, New Jersey. “If I got a picture I loved, I used my phone to cut out all the extraneous stuff. There were blankets and diapers in the background of this photo!”
10. Celebrate the season
Why not evoke your baby’s birth season with natural (or store-bought!) beauty? And as a general rule, flowers always make great newborn photography props.
11. Capture the real moments
No, every moment isn’t a photo op, but when you happen to catch daddy snoozing with baby or the dog cuddling up to the family’s new addition, grab your camera if you can!
12. Don’t make baby — or parent — the focus
Your big hands holding his tiny head? Now that is a picture to remember.
13. Make a design
Hearts, stars, mandalas — putting a sleeping baby in the center of any design or shape is sure to be sweet.
14. Make each twin unique
With twin photos, there’s extra pressure, because there’s not just one babe to capture, but two! Of course, this also means the photo can be extra cute — especially when you position the babies together, but give them each their own special thing.
15. Use a cute hat or headpiece
Because it’s only a matter of time before they’re pulling them off their head.
16. Use a silly outfit
When all else fails, you can never go wrong with a baby in a mermaid costume.
17. Keep it light and airy
White bedding with a white onesie always makes for gorgeous, timeless photos. Adorable.
OK, so now you’ve got the photo ideas, but what about the know-how for ideal execution? Whether you’re scheduling professional newborn photos or are getting behind the camera yourself, here are a few expert tips that will help you get the most out of your little one’s pictures. Your future self will thank you.
Schedule newborn photos early
Newborns aren’t newborns for very long (technically-speaking, for about only two months), and the longer they’re earthside, the more alert — and wiggly! — they get. So, the best time to book a newborn photography session is within the first few weeks.
“Newborn portraits are ideally captured within the first two weeks, while baby is sleeping deeply and curling up naturally into those sweet womb-like poses,” says Michael Kormos, a New York City photographer, who specializes in newborn, children and family photos. “That said, other factors are taken into consideration when determining the best time, such as birth weight, overall health, jaundice and circumcision.”
Kormos also notes that if a baby is born prematurely, the timing is usually adjusted.
“Generally, you want to wait until baby reaches a healthy weight of 7 pounds,” he says. “But when babies are born past their due date, they develop quickly, so scheduling as early as possible is best for capturing this tiny, adorable phase.”
Book newborn photos even earlier
If you know you want to have professional newborn photos taken, start researching photographers — and book one — while you’re still pregnant. Remember, the window is small for getting the best shots, so make sure you’ve got your photographer lined up.
“I would suggest booking your newborn photo session at least two months before your due date, but even sooner is better,” says Utah-based photographer Amber DeHaas. “Depending on the photographer, schedules can fill up quickly. So once you hit your second trimester, it’s a good idea to start reaching out to people you’re interested in working with.”
How to get the most out of newborn photos
Whether you’re taking your own photos or hiring a professional, a few things are key for getting the most out of your newborn photo session:
Feed baby before. A hungry baby isn’t a happy baby, so make sure you breast- or bottle-feed your little one before thrusting him into the spotlight. “A generous feeding ensures that baby will be calm and content for a variety of beautiful poses,” says Kormos.
Create a cozy environment. “A space heater and white noise machine is wonderful to recreate the environment of the womb,” says Kormos. “Also, a heater is important for ensuring baby is warm and comfortable if you’re doing poses in the nude.”
Go with the pose. Kormos likes letting newborns curl up naturally for photos. “Having arms and legs outstretched can be stressful and cause a startle reflex for newborns.”
Make safety the No. 1 priority. In addition to always having someone within hands-reach of baby, make sure your little one is physically comfortable throughout the process. “Always take the utmost care to position baby as gently as possible,” says Kormos. “Never force a baby into a position you want if it makes them feel uncomfortable. Babies can startle and move around unexpectedly, even while sleeping.”
Be patient. “Newborn sessions may run a little long depending on the temperament of baby, so don’t stress if your newborn is fussy and needs attention or a food break. It’s all part of the session and is expected,” says DeHaas. “Really, we’re all at the will of the little one, so patience is key!”
When using a professional photographer, DeHaas also stresses the importance of client-photographer communication.
“Good communication between the client and photographer from the very beginning is key, as is being informed on how the session will run and what to expect after,” she says. “Going in knowing what to expect makes things less stressful. And if you have specific shots in mind, be sure to express this to your photographer!”
Tips for a DIY newborn photoshoot
In addition to the tips above, here are a few things to keep in mind when trying your hand at newborn photography:
Use natural lighting. “When taking your baby’s photos, make sure you are in a spot with good natural lighting,” says DeHaas. “Open up those blinds, and make sure you’ve got plenty of good light to capture all of that baby goodness!”
Use a hair dryer. If you don’t have a space heater like the professionals, the next best thing may under your bathroom sink. “You always want to make sure it’s nice and warm so baby is comfortable,” says DeHaas. “Bust out the blow-dryer! The warmth and the noise help soothe baby and has been my secret weapon for quite sometime now!” Of course, never aim a hair dryer directly at a newborn, but instead use it to toast up the room, in general. (It’s white noise-like sound can have a calm effect on baby, to boot!)
Have a blanket handy. As far as newborn photography props go, it doesn’t get much better — or easier — than a blanket. “Fussy babies can generally be calmed once they’ve been wrapped in a cozy swaddle,” Kormos says. “Just make sure to wash it beforehand with hypoallergenic detergent, and if you’re doing nude photos, don’t forget to put a waterproof pad underneath!”
Use portrait mode. If you have portrait mode on your phone, now’s as good a time as any to use it. “Almost all of my kids’ baby photos were taken in portrait mode,” Skurdal says. “It makes nearly every photo of little ones look professional!”
Have a vision, but be flexible. If you have specific shots you’d like to try, DeHaas recommends creating a Pinterest board you can refer back to — but don’t get stuck on it. “Try not to get stressed out if a pose isn’t working,” she says. “My favorite images have been made by being present and capturing what is naturally happening. Notice any tiny details that you love and document it all.”
Winding up with newborn photos you love is great, but ultimately, it’s important to keep things in perspective. Because even if you don’t get the exact shots you want, the photos are sure to become special memories nonetheless.
“Remember what you are really there for, to have this precious time in your life documented for you to always remember and treasure,” says DeHaas. “Instead of thinking of being posed perfectly, enjoy being present in that moment with your little one.”
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