A Photographer's Complete Guide and Shot List for a Newborn Session

FOTO Blog | A Photographer's Complete Guide and Shot List for a Newborn Session


As adorable as they are, newborns can be a tricky subject to capture. In order to get those mantle-worthy shots that your clients will ooh and aah over, you will need to do your homework.  Below, we've compiled a complete guide and checklist for you to use as an outline as you collaborate with your new parents and photograph their most treasured bundles of joy.


Schedule for 5-14 days old: To ensure the baby is at the best age for newborn photos, work with your clients to schedule their session during the first couple of weeks. This is when they are sleeping most and easiest to adjust.

Safety First: When working with newborns, safety is priority. If placing the newborn on a surface that is high or potentially uneven, take your photographs in composites. Set your camera on a tripod, photograph the prop and environment without the newborn and then one with (but with mom or dad as a spotter to support the child). Your professional magic in photoshop post-session is what will achieve the illusion of a perfectly still sweetie atop whatever environment you created.

Take Extra Measures to Ensure the Newborn's Comfort: For the perfect newborn shots you will want your subjects either wide-eyed and happy or peacefully sleeping, so making sure they are comfortable is important. Have heating pads or area heaters available to keep baby warm and sleepy on shoot. Ask your clients to schedule the session right after a nap and feeding. 

Keep Lighting Simple: All you need to achieve the lighting you will need is a large window for natural light and a reflector to fill in shadows. Don't subject a newborn to flashes or unnecessary bright lights!

Be Flexible: Newborns are unpredictable, the amount of time it will take to position new poses and different backdrops/outfits will vary and will be the one thing you can't plan for. Be patient and breezy on shoot; new (and exhausted) parents might be frantic or embarrassed; reassure them that this is perfectly normal and that the fussiness and struggles of the session will not be reflected in their final portraits. Also, consider charging per image or session rather than per hour since the time it will take to wait on baby will vary.

FOTO Blog | A Photographer's Complete Guide and Shot List for a Newborn Session


Standard Shot List:

As you gain experience and accrue your own set of newborn photography props and standard shots-- add to and get creative with your shot list!

  • On back from above
  • On their side from the side
  • On their side from 1/3 above
  • On their tummy from above
  • On their tummy from in front
  • Detail shot of hands
  • Detail shot of feet
  • Detail shots of accessories
  • Detail shots of favorite props/dolls/stuffed animals/blankies


Related: Fotostrap, #tellyourstory, Small Business, Tips 

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