Our Minted Guide on How to Take Newborn Baby Pictures

Congrats on your little one! Here at Minted, we’ve dedicated our work to celebrating these beautiful milestones. We want to make sure that you have the most adorable photo of your baby to share with friends and family, which is why we have assembled this list of newborn photography tips. To say it simply, life with a newborn is hectic. Between the feeding, changing, crying (from you or the baby), and the constant worrying, being a parent can be physically and emotionally exhausting. While from our San Francisco office we can not help you with the newborn night shift, we can most definitely help simplify capturing beautiful memories of your growing family.

For those looking to hire a professional, we have tips for hiring a photographer. Then for those ready to test out their photography skills we have tips for taking your own smartphone photos.

Then when you’re ready with your perfect newborn photo, go ahead and text it to us for FREE and receive five custom designs with the Text Us Your Photo tool. Our designers are anxiously waiting to see the perfect photo of your little one and place it in an independent artist designed birth announcement.

Tips for Hiring a Newborn Photographer

Which photographer should I hire?

This is the ultimate question. Ensuring that you have the right person to capture this moment is often daunting because these images will be the first of your baby and will likely be shared with family and friends as part of the big reveal! You already have enough things to worry about with your newborn, and we believe a photographer should not be one of them!

Ultimately the choice of a newborn photographer comes down to your preferences. There are some non-negotiables like safety and professional credibility, but otherwise choosing a photographer is often based on the photo library’s aesthetic appeal. Some photographers may have some real clever and unique newborn photo ideas and poses that catch your eye.

Once you have found a photographer in your area, the first step is to investigate a professional photographer's portfolio. The most important things to look for in a portfolio are one, experience, and two, aesthetic. We are in an era where everyone can claim to be a photographer if they get a nice camera and know the basics. You do not want your sister's best friend’s, neighbor who got a new camera for Christmas taking photos of your newborn. An artist’s portfolio needs to directly inform their credibility through a thorough bio, customer references, and a strong photo library.

Here at Minted, we like to start at the photo library. We do this because we think it’s the easiest way to determine what the photographer specializes in and their professionalism. For example, there you are on the library page and you’re seeing nothing but wedding photos. Beautiful, but not what you are looking for in newborn photo ideas. You see another portfolio library and see that they have lots of photographs of kids and family portraits. While they do have many photos of children, they do not have photos of newborns. Newborn photography is niche and requires a deep skill set and training, especially in safety. Simply said, if you don’t see any photos of newborns on their portfolio, keep looking.

When you spot newborns in a portfolio it should be reflected in their bio that they specialize in newborn photography. Look at the photo library carefully. You want to make sure the babies look calm and comfortable and that there are a variety of poses done. Another thing to look for is even lighting and clear, high-resolution photos.

Fast forward, you have found two newborn photographers! Now, how do you decide between the two? We have compiled some further considerations besides experience and aesthetic that we recommend you investigate before you hire.

Birthday Balloons Kids' Birthday Invitations

What should I ask my photographer?

  • Price: Ask them about the PRICE! Most photographers will not disclose their rates on their portfolio so you will need to reach out and ask. Note that professional photographers, especially experienced ones are expensive, so we would recommend budgeting accordingly. It is ideal to know what you are willing and able to pay for a professional photographer before asking for a price.
  • Experience: Another key question is to ask how long they have been taking pictures of newborns and how many babies they have taken pictures of since the start of their career. This will give you a clearer idea of the depth of their experience.
  • Location: Ask the newborn photographer about the setting in which the photos will be taken. Do you want the photos done in your home? Are they willing to come to your home if so? Especially with newborns, location is vital because you want your baby to feel comfortable and also be in a clean environment. If you would rather be in a studio, ask about sanitation and how often the studio is sanitized. Along these lines, ensure that the photo studio is insured. If the lighting in your home is muted, we would recommend going to a studio so that lighting can be more easily controlled.
Newborn Photo at Home
  • Photo Editing: It is also good to ask your photographer if they do composite images. Composite images are created in photoshop by merging two or more photos together to create a complete image. A common pose requiring composite skills is the froggy pose. This pose, shown below, is where the baby’s head rests on their hands while lying on their stomach. It is not safe for the baby’s head not to be supported so two different images, one where the photographer holds the head and another where the photographer supports the forearms of the newborn are “sewn” together to create the final composite image. The photographer may have additional newborn photo ideas that they have done in the past surrounding the composite image technique, so be sure to ask!
  • Assistant: A question to ask in tandem to composite images is if they have an assistant. Having an extra set of hands, especially for composite images, can be immeasurably helpful. If they don’t have an assistant, ask them about how they like to direct parents to support the photography session.
Newborn Froggy Pose
  • Friends and Family: Think about who you want in your photos. Just baby? Parents and baby? Siblings and baby? This is an important question as some photographers will add cost as each person (or furry friend) is added.
  • Backup Plan: We try not to be doomsday planners here at Minted, but one can never be too prepared! For this reason, we also recommend that you ask what is to happen if either the photographer gets sick or your baby does. They should have a plan in place for instances like this.
  • Communication is Key: For communication, we highly recommend you have this conversation on the phone and prepare your questions in advance. On the phone you will be able to better determine the professionalism of the newborn photographer as well as their personality and if their personality fits with yours. You’re going to be spending a couple of hours with this person, so you should like them!

What is photographer newborn safety training and why is it important?

Safety is a huge concern for any parent, especially those with newborns. Babies are fragile, and that could not be any more true for newborns. When speaking with prospective photographers it is vital that they have training in handling newborns. As the photographer, they will be positioning your little one and they must ensure that positions are not putting them in distress. For example, all upright positions, as well as any poses requiring suspension, must require the support of human hands.

There are online and in-person trainings that newborn photographers can and should take to make sure they are making safety their number one concern when with your child. Ask about any training they have had and if they belong to an organization or association that connects and educates newborn photographers. Both NAPCP (National Association of Professional Child Photographers) and APNPI (Accredited Professional Newborn Photographers International) are organizations that further accredit a newborn photographer.

Another thing you should ask in regard to safety is if they are up to date on their vaccines. It’s important to ensure that their health allows them to safely work with newborns and to know what their overall sanitation practices are in their studio.

When should I schedule?

We recommend that you take photos of your newborn five days to 14 days after your baby is born. It is important to take photos in this stage because the newborn is, in fact, new-born and after this period they are less likely to sleep through the session (which is often ideal). Also, after this stage, it is often harder to place your newborn in those endearing curly, womb-like poses.

With that time slot in mind, when setting an appointment, each photographer has different availability and it is important to ask how they like to do their scheduling. Some would rather set a session up right after the baby is born, and others would prefer you to make an appointment months prior to your delivery date.

If hiring a photographer is not of interest to you, the following section about how to take baby photos on a smartphone will give you an easy guide to get that near-professional shot.

Family Photo

Newborn Photography Tips if Using your Smartphone

Welcome to our crash course in newborn photography for beginners! Let’s get swaddling and snapping.

Lighting and Location

Find a cozy blanket and gingerly place it on your mattress for an easy backdrop in your bedroom. Anything soft and plush on a surface that is not precarious will do perfectly. It is important to have the correct lighting when planning how to take baby pictures. Open the blinds to let the natural light in and turn your flash off. Know your home and when the light is the best in that room so that you can try and plan around that time of day. We tend to find that the morning works best, but that is dependent on the direction of the sun, so find what works best for your home!

Baby in A Blanket

Baby’s Best Mood

One huge benefit of not hiring a photographer is that if your newborn is unhappy you can just try again tomorrow. In fact, that’s what we recommend. If your baby is feeling grumpy, don’t force it and try another time. We advise that you take your newborn’s photos between the 5-day and 14-day mark because they sleep deeply around 16 hours a day and are easy to move around and pose in that state of deep sleep. Make sure your little one is fed and going down for a nap for optimal time for photos. Ultimately, you know your baby best and will be best be able to pick their least fussy time of day.

Clothes and Props

Our favorite newborn photography tip when it comes to clothes and props is to keep it simple! Pastel and neutral colors tend to look the best when taking photos of your little one. For clothes, there are a few options; the onesie, the baby blanket swaddle, and of course nude. You can also add cute knit beanies and dainty headbands to the mix. We like to keep patterns, especially busy ones, to a bare minimum since busy patterns tend not to photograph as well. Try out a small stuffed animal, a textured blanket, or any other plush prop to make your photos more dynamic. The options are endless so play around a bit!

Baby in A Blanket

Taking the Photo

Your newborn is dressed, the backdrop is set, and the lighting is perfect. It’s officially time to start snapping! We have a few great recommendations on how to take baby pictures. Once you place your baby down in a safe position, we encourage you to take at least 10 photos of each pose, outfit change, etc. Here are a few ways to get that perfect shot. First, try and place your phone perpendicular to your newborn to get that stunning aerial shot. For another shot get at your newborn’s level for an endearing close up of their feet or hands. Next, play around with angles until you feel that there has to be a winner in your camera roll. Especially if your little one is not fussing, take advantage of repeating this process with cute hats, new poses, and different backdrops. Additionally, be sure to get a healthy mix of both horizontal and vertical photos so you can take advantage of a variety of custom photo framing options later down the line. If planning to create a birth announcement, we recommend that you take several photos that leave ¼ of the photo empty on the top or bottom to leave room for your newborn’s name, height, and weight. Your newborn will only be “new born” for such a fleeting period of time, so above all else, enjoy this time with your new baby. After your budget-friendly photoshoot, you will have beautiful photos to remind you of these precious moments. We can't wait to see them, so please use the hashtag #MintedLovesMoms to share them with us! Maybe we will even see some of our newborn photography tips in some of your photos!