Top tips for a Perfect newborn photoshoot

Documenting precious moments in life is at the core of my work as a photographer. I am grateful for being able to work with families to help them preserve their best memories through pictures. In this article, I will talk about the newborn photoshoot, its importance, and the best tips for a successful photoshoot with your little one.

Nisreen Shawwa
Published on:Apr 18th 2022 |Updated on:Mar 10th 2024
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 The importance of the newborn photoshoot

- Despite how difficult, how exciting, joyful, exhausting, and worrying this short period is, it will pass quickly. So, as a photographer and as a mother as well I encourage all moms to have a newborn photo session to document this lovely period, that will happen only a few times in a lifetime.

- It facilitates the sharing of these amazing memories with family and friends who are in different parts of the world, to allow them to be a part of your precious moments with your newborn.

- Leaving a memory for the child to later look at from this period of his life that he can’t remember. It will also serve as a memory for the parents, especially the mother who will be tired and busy during these first weeks postpartum and will need to remember her child through beautiful images.

The best time for a newborn photoshoot

This type of photo session can be done during a limited window of time. It is done preferably when the baby is between four days and 14 days old. At this age, the baby is very flexible and sleeps a lot. After this age, the baby's needs will increase, and he will start facing issues like colic and acid reflux which will make photographing him quietly a challenge.

In the past two years, because of the Covid pandemic, I had to photograph newborn babies at one month or six weeks of age, but I was not able to take pictures of them in all the positions usually used in this type of photo session. Because by that time the baby’s muscles and bones have matured and become stronger which makes wrapping him difficult.

Is the newborn photo session safe?

I was asked several times by moms of newborns: “are you a mom?” To make sure that the person holding her little one has experience in holding babies at this fragile age.

This is why it is essential to choose a photographer that has a long experience in photographing newborn babies. Because no matter how good a photographer is, or how experienced they are, if they are not trained and experienced in the field of newborn photography, a photo session of this kind might not be safe nor successful. Parents often are worried about the flash in the camera and its effect on the baby, but an experienced and trained photographer has the knowledge and ability to position the flash in a way, that provides the needed lighting without being directed to the baby's eyes. This is just one of the details an experienced photographer knows how to handle. Another detail is that this type of photo session usually lasts between two to three hours which makes them a challenge to a photographer or a studio who is not trained or experienced in this field.

It is noteworthy that 90% of experienced and trained photographers in the field of newborn photography are women! Most of them are mothers because they have the know-how and the innate ability to handle children at this sensitive age.


Tips for a successful newborn photoshoot

1- Early preparation

It is very important to book the photographer as early as the beginning of the third trimester of pregnancy and agree with them on every single detail related to the photo session. Details such as the theme of the session so that the photographer has enough time to order and acquire the needed props.

2- The family

Family members are essential characters in the newborn photo session as this is among their first moments together so everybody must be ready and excited. Family members need to be dressed in the outfits agreed upon with the photographer previously so that the props and the wraps of the baby would be matching to the colors of their outfits. If there are older children in the family, I recommend that they are well-rested and fed before the session. I usually start my photo session with the siblings so that they are not jealous of the concentrated attention on the newborn baby.

 3- Preparing the baby

The baby must be fed, burped, changed, and bathed 30 minutes before the session starts. I also recommend having an extra bottle of milk or formula ready in case the baby wakes up and needs to feed in the middle of the session

4- The location of the photo session

Newborn photo sessions are usually done at the comfort of the family home or in a studio that is well prepared for this type of photoshoot. The studio Must have enough privacy for the mom to feed the baby if needed. During these sessions, the baby is changed into different outfits and is wrapped in special wraps so the location must be warm to make sure the baby is not cold. Among the many props and tools, I carry with me to the baby sessions is a small heater that I use if the room where the pictures are taken is cold.

5- Safety

It is very important that the photographer washes and sanitizers their hands before holding the newborn baby. It is also important that they are not wearing any rings, bracelets, or a watch that might scratch the baby in any way.

 Tools used in the newborn photoshoot

A photographer usually carries almost many tools to this photoshoot such as:

- Backgrounds

- Wraps and swaddles

- White noise machine

- Props and decorations

- A small heater

Photographing premature newborns

It is possible to have a photo session for the premature baby once they are cleared to go back home. But it is usually difficult to handle these babies because they don't feed properly, they wake up often which makes the session longer than usual. This is why it’s important to choose a photographer who is patient and experienced in such cases. One advantage of taking pictures of a premature baby is that the pictures can be taken later than the 14th day postpartum.

Types of photo sessions with newborns

 - At the hospital

Also known as the fresh 48 this session is done during the two days the mother and baby spend at the hospital after birth. This is a lifestyle photo session without props and decorations to document the first moment with the baby, and the first time his siblings meet him. It is a very intimate and spontaneous photo session. Sometimes this session can be the first part of the photoshoot that is later concluded at home.

- At home

This is a lifestyle session done at home with family members. Pictures are usually intimate and spontaneous. The baby is photographed in his room, sleeping in his crib, and held by those who love him.

- Posed session

This type of session can be done at home or in studios prepared to accommodate families and newborn babies. We use special backgrounds, accessories, special wraps, and baby outfits.

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Newborn photo session themes

- The heritage theme

In this theme, the wraps and outfits are used to represent the baby's heritage and home country.

 - Floral theme

This is the most popular theme for a newborn photo session with both baby boys and baby girls.

 - A theme special to the family

Sometimes if the father is a pilot or a football player, or he is in the military, the family chooses a theme representing dad’s career. So, the newborn is photographed in either a pilot, a soldier, or a footballer uniform. Another special theme is the fertility treatment theme where the baby is photographed among the many needles the mother had to take to conceive him and to carry him to term.

A word to moms

I would like to end this article with some advice to mothers, who from my experience hesitate to be photographed with their newborn because they think that they don't look at their best because they are tired or gained weight. My advice is please take pictures with your baby and focus on the feelings of the moment and document them. Later when your child will look at these pictures, he will only see your love, and your happiness to have him in your life. And you will only be able to see precious moments, and a unique feel and you will be grateful that you took these photos.

The other advice I would like to give to moms. is to not be embarrassed if the baby pees or vomits on the photographer during the photo session. These are natural and normal things babies do. And if the photographer is a mother like myself, trust me she must have faced these moments many times before. So, don't be embarrassed or anxious, and enjoy this unique session with your little one.

*Photos in the article are courtesy of @NisreenShawwaPhotography

Find out  Tips for the Perfect pregnancy photoshoot


Nisreen ShawwaPhotographer

Mother of three and a professional photographer. She holds an undergraduate degree in interior design and an MBA. She is a co-founder of Darna Magazine, and the owner of the Monsters call me mama blog, where she used her natural sense of humor to document the daily struggles of motherhood in a funny and heartfelt manner. Nisreen worked as an interior designer and participated in several mom’s shows. She became a professional photographer to capture feelings and memories, through her candid lens she helps families celebrate their memories and to make their happy occasions and love eternal through photos.

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