Newborn Photography: A Beginners Guide
A newborn girl wrapped in a pink wrap sleeping on a fluffy blanket.
A newborn girl wrapped in a pink wrap sleeping on a fluffy blanket.
Picture of Giliane Mansfeldt

Giliane Mansfeldt

Whether it’s your passion for photography or your love for newborns or both that has led you here, know that capturing newborn portraits will turn out to be a delightful job and it is one of the most rewarding areas of photography to work in. However, I may be a bit biased! So, if you’re adamant on starting your own newborn photography business, we’ll tell you how to get started in newborn photography with helpful tips. If you are interested in learning more about newborn photography and are interested in attending a workshop, please visit Giliane E Mansfeldt Photography Workshop page to learn about all the workshops we host in our studio.

Newborn Photography
It’s a niche of portrait photography, that’s gradually gaining popularity among the parents. The best part is that your subjects have also just started out in life. However, this job comes with great responsibility. You just don’t have to focus your camera on the baby but also ensure their safety at all times. But you’re not alone in this, as the newborn’s parents will be by your side during most of the session. After all, you are working with the most important person in their lives. Make good use of this opportunity. We’re sure that they’ll be more than happy to assist you by holding their baby during a pose or putting their hand on their baby’s back to soothe them during a session.

A newborn baby sleeping in a wooden chair.

Things You Need to Invest In
Camera and Gear

There are a lot of tips and tricks involved when it comes to newborn photography. Capturing their perfect moments require a lot of patience. With enough focus and the right tools, you can achieve adorable newborn photos all while safely and professionally capturing these memories for your clients. You need to have a camera with the right settings, shutter speeds and high ISO range. The lenses you use should have multiple apertures, as it will help you in low light situations. DSLRs are the perfect choice for this task as you can shoot in raw. They also have a wide ISO range and they allow you to change lenses.

Another option in camera gear is a mirrorless system. This is a great investment if you want to capture newborn portraits. It’ll keep the newborn in peace, as you can carry out the shoot silently. Both these cameras are built with the ability to shoot under different scenarios. You can click great quality images by using any of these cameras, which can develop large prints.

Props & Accessories

The newborns alone are adorable enough so you don’t need to overdo the props department. Props can be expensive so start small and build on to your collection gradually. You might find plenty of items you can make use of just lying around. All you need is to make use of your creativity. When photographing the newborns, keep it simple. Make use of simple colored backgrounds and materials. Soft pastels colors look wonderful in the photos. It’ll also make it easy for you to set the correct white balance when you are working in an editing tool during post-processing.

These are a few additional accessories you start off with to help the session flow smoothly:
 Stands and clamps to hold the backdrop
 White noise machine or any audio equipment that creates soothing sounds
 Space heater that maintains a comfortable temperature for the newborn  – maintain the space between 75-85 degrees.


Getting Started

Let’s get down to some more newborn photography tips for beginners. Now that you’ve gotten hold of the equipment, knowing how to use them is the key. Create a simple
and secure setting that looks perfect. Keep in mind that you’re dealing with a baby, and the situation might suddenly get leaky. Prepare some waterproof sheets under your blankets in order to protect the expensive items that are lying around.

It’s important that you plan out the session effectively. You should know your client well if you don’t want the shoot to turn out as a complete disaster. This includes their nap and feeding time. The most important thing about your client is their age. When scheduling their shoot, try and keep it during the first two weeks as it’s the ideal time. Around this age, they’re easier to pose. They’ll curl up with much more ease than they will as they grow older. So be quick and set the appointments as early
as possible.  Newborns tend to sleep a lot and stick to where you place them. But when awake they require a lot of attention and cooing.

You see many images where newborns seem to be on their own either in a basket or their heads are resting on their hands. but for baby safety, that is certainly not the case. Their safety comes first, so there is work done here by an assistant holding the baby and the photographer does work in photoshop to remove the hands supporting the baby.  You can get this effect with the help of post-processing in photoshop by cloning and stacking images together to make a seamless photo.  


What Fabric Should You Use?

In order to have a smooth session, it’s important that you use the most comfortable materials. Only then would you be able to capture the best newborn portraits without interruptions. 

The best material to use is lightweight cotton wraps. These are usually the baby’s swaddling clothes, so they’re used to it and will stay comfortable in them. These make the shape of the baby to be prominent as they provide a tight covering. They come in various patterns which can add to the texture of a plain and simple background.

What to Avoid?

It’s common to make mistakes, but that won’t be very good for your business. Especially considering the clients you’re dealing with. But as long as you’re not putting the babies at harm, you’re good to go.  If you have never handled a newborn baby before, it is best to practice on special weighted dolls.  There is a great example, the Stand In Baby.  This baby is weighted and moves the same way a newborn baby would.  Another option to do, if you are not comfortable working with babies on your own yet, or need to practice your skill, is to attend a workshop that offers newborn photography.  Not every state has photographers who offer in-studio workshops so some photographers end up traveling to learn from experts in the field, Workshops are a great resource and a valuable way to learn from photographers who specialize in the field of newborn photography and will help guide you through learning safe ways to work with newborns.  We offer newborn photography workshops which you can learn about here:  Workshops by Giliane E Mansfeldt Photography. 

When it comes to any kind of photography, you learn with time. So you need to take your time and be patient. You’ll see yourself improving your skills and becoming an expert as you spend more time on the field. Don’t put pressure on yourself, as a photographer you know that you’ll perform much better when
you’re relaxed. You’ll learn what works and what doesn’t and understand how to deal better with the babies as you’ll spend more time with them. And as a result, the images will also turn out to be better in the long run.


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