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Simple Poses for Every Baby Session


Milestone sessions are for babies 6 months and up, usually up to a year or so. These sessions typically last 20 minutes at most, though I always deliver a full gallery of over 25-30 images to share with the parents!

I LOVE shooting babies this age…..they are smiley, happy, and generally stay still. (Note I said “generally” though!)

I also like to keep my sessions simple, and only use a couple of props. (in the pics below you can even see that I use them over and over again.)

Here are a few of my go-to poses for kids of this age:

Pose #1 – Simple Sitting Pose

I usually start with this one, as it lets me make sure my lighting is correct and if I need to move them to a different angle.

This is where Mom gets a workout though as they tend to crawl away quickly!

Photo 1 Alliston Child Photographer

Pose #2 – The Toy Pose

Usually these babes do not like to sit still. That is where a simple toy comes in. I tell clients to bring a favourite neutral stuffy or toy.

I also have some simple stuffies and wooden toys they can use. This keeps baby somewhat occupied for a few moments, enough to get some cute shots!

lifestyle and portrait wedding and family photographer

lifestyle and portrait wedding and family photographer

Pose #3 – The Belly Pose

This is a great pose for babies who may not be standing or holding themselves up yet. It gets a really cute shot of their faces and they tend to get really happy and excited in this position!

However, this pose is an easy one to crawl away from, so again, Mom gets a workout!

photo 3 _Alliston Child Photographer

Pose #4 – The Standing Pose

Kids love this one, especially if they are not yet standing alone. Make sure you use a sturdy prop, one that will not fall forward or topple over with their weight, as they are likely not too steady.

And Mom stays right beside always!!

lifestyle and portrait wedding and family photographer

lifestyle and portrait wedding and family photographer

Pose #5 – The Close Up

Always, always get some close ups! You can do this in any of the above poses.

photo 5

Pose #6 – The Sitting Prop Pose

Put the baby on a chair, crate, prop and they usually stay put..they are so fascinated with the fact they are sitting up high on something that they rarely wiggle.

And if they do, Mom is ALWAYS there for safety!! Safety first and if baby is too young or unsteady to hold himself up on something like this, do not attempt!

photo 6

Pose #7 – The Outtake

Self explanatory and this usually happens at least once a session…and yes I photograph and edit one or two. And yes, parents love it.

photo 7


Want to see more tips on posing? Click here!

About The Author

Bobbi-Jo Stuart is a lifestyle wedding and portrait photographer living in Ontario Canada. She fell in love with photography as a young child and has taken used passion to create a successful business. Bobbi-Jo loves finding interesting ways to use light and breaking all the photography “rules” to create thoughtful imagery.

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Newborns and Your Perspective


Today’s tutorial is from Brandie Coe.

Brandie says:

Do you ever feel like your on auto-pilot during your newborn sessions and every session ends up looking the same? Of course, this isn’t entirely a bad thing since our clients hire us for what they have seen online, and want us to be able to replicate it for them.

But wouldn’t it be nice to keep things the same but with a slight twist? Here’s my solution to that very problem.

Recently, I felt this exact feeling and decided that when my client came in, I would get up, walk around, and really look at the baby to see things from a new perspective. And I loved the way the shot ended up looking from the bird’s eye view as well as the front and close in images.

Not only do you get to give mom and dad a great variety of poses of their sweet new baby, but now these different shots from the same scene would look gorgeous in a canvas trio over the baby’s crib, or s a series of images in an album.

Another tip is to not only get up, but get down (insert music here “get low”) 😉

When your baby is on a prop, we tend to take a shot that feels like we are taking it straight on, but ends up actually looking slightly down on the baby.

Instead, try lying flat on the ground. You’ll see the shot in a whole new way, and I find it focuses even more on the baby.

So do yourself and your creative spirit a favour and slow down during your next newborn session. Do your usual shots and once you have those, get up or low and observe things differently!

Have fun!!!





Brandie used a Nikon D4 (affiliate link) with a Nikon 50mm 1.4 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Brandie Coe is a Vancouver, BC Newborn, Maternity, Family, and Children’s photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Posing.

If you love newborns and newborn portrait photography but are just getting started, check out our articles written by a seasoned newborn photography pro about newborn safety.

A Recipe for Soft, Natural Newborn Images

A Recipe for Soft, Natural Newborn Images


Today’s feature is from .

Kelly’s Photography Tip About Soft Newborn Images:

For this particular session, my clients wanted to keep it really simple and make each image purely about capturing their baby. To make sure I was able to accommodate their desires, I chose to use soft, neutral tones and textures so as not to distract.

My studio has an abundance of beautiful natural light. But, to keep with the soft, natural images, I used my sheer curtains to diffuse the light. I personally prefer this type of lighting because it gives the images that beautiful, soft look while also highlighting all of the baby’s features.

When positioning the baby, I like to light the area from a 45-degree angle. Then, I look for where the light falls across the baby – changing my exposure in camera to suit.

For camera settings, I generally shoot wide open at f2.8 which also contributes to that soft feel each image has.  In post, I used my ‘workflow action set’ to adjust the contrast, skin reds, and  give the images a nice warm tone for these newborn images.


Kelly used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 24-70 f/2.8L lens to capture these images.

Kelly Brown is a Brisbane, Queensland, Australia Maternity and Newborn photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Lighting, Editing, and Camera Settings.

Online photo galleries are a great way to deliver your lovely images to your client, manage sales, etc. But a great way to maximize your sales per client is to do an in-person sales session with each of your portrait clients.

If you’ve never done them before, this can sound pretty intimidating – but believe me when I say you wouldn’t be the only one to feel that way. If you need a little help figuring out how to do an IPS (what to say, when to say it, etc.), there are guides out there to help you get started.


Creating Composite Images

Foxy baby boy final composite

Today’s tutorial is from Shannon Jilge.

When working with clients that are difficult to give direction to, you may need to what are called composite images. Shannon has some great ideas how to achieve this result!

Shannon says:

A composite image is final image that is made up from several similar images. Some of the most common types are eye swaps and head swaps. This technique is also used regularly and often in newborn portrait photography.

Being able to create a composite image in Photoshop gives you the freedom to do some newborn ‘poses’ that may be otherwise considered dangerous or unsafe if you were actually executing the pose you want to portray.

In this tutorial, I’ll walk you through the steps I take in creating an image composite of a newborn shoot that I did.

Things To Consider Before and During the Session

If you are shooting a difficult pose and know ahead of time that it will be a composite image, take extra shots and be very attentive to detail during the session to help reduce the amount of editing that you will have to do during post-processing.

Also make sure to try and take a shot of your setup before the client is posed; this will give you an image that shows all the elements of your setup that can be added via a layer mask as needed.

With the newborn fox image (at top of post), I knew it would require a spotter that would need to be edited out later so when I was shooting that pose I made sure that my images would line up easily by keeping my camera in the same spot and at the same angle.

The majority of the final image for that pose was made from 2 images – one for the left side and one for the right side (below).

Base image used for left side of final image

Base image with spotter's hands, used for right side of final image

Before Working on the Composite Images

Before I begin to work on a composite, I adjust the color balance and levels of all of the images I took in the session by doing a batch process in RAW.

By working in a batch, I guarantee that all of the images will have the same base adjustments and will blend together better in the final composite.

Choosing the Images

Once the basic adjustments are completed, I choose  the images that will be combined into the composite. When I do this, I make sure to choose images where the subject is posed at similar angles. If I can get the backgrounds to line up a bit too, that’s even better.

For this image of the twin girls, I had two cute photos but really wanted a final photo with both girls looking straight at me.

Here are the two images I used for the composite:

Twins base image, used for right side

Twins base image, used for left side

And here is the final composite:

Twin girls composite

Creating the Composite.

To do a composite like the one above, just a few steps are required.

After the basic level and color balance adjustments click have been made, click and drag one image onto the other in Photoshop, creating a new layer just above the background image.

Lower the transparency of the new layer to about 50 percent and adjust the size and placement of the layer so that your images line up.

Screen shot of layered files. The opacity of the second layer is lowered so it is easier to line them up.

Once the layers are lined up, increase your opacity back to 100 percent and create a layer mask by clicking:

  • Layer> layer mask> hide all.

This will make the top image invisible and you can begin painting in just the parts that are needed.

Make sure black and white are selected as your foreground and background colors, then click on the black layer mask and use a soft round brush and begin painting in white.

Start with an opacity of 35 percent and increase or decrease as needed. If the images are lined up well, simply paint over the parts that need to replaced and the hidden layer will appear.

If you find the images weren’t lined up quite right, just drag them into place as needed. As you paint watch to make sure you aren’t leaving extra hands, fingers or pieces of clothing where they shouldn’t be.

Masking in progress. There are one too many hands at this point and I need to paint a bit more.

Use a larger brush in big areas and decrease the brush size near edges and small details. If you paint too much, just switch to black and repaint the area.

Pro Tip: increase and decrease the brush size quickly by clicking the left and right bracket keys and switch easily between the foreground and background colors by clicking the X key.

After the main parts are completed, zoom in and check the little details, making sure there isn’t anything in the background that is out of place.

Zoom to check background details and paint the layer or clone out as needed. A final composite should look like a single image.

You may have to do a little bit of cloning in some areas but most of the time I’ve found this to be pretty minimal.

For the last step, save the file you’ve been working on as both a layered PSD file in case you need to come back later and make any further adjustments and as a jpg.

That’s All There Is To It!

Composites do require a bit of practice to master but once learned, it is a technique that will allow you to do more creative photo shoots and to present images that look just the way imagined them.

Shannon used a Canon EOS 50D (affiliate link) with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens (affiliate link), but this can be done with any lens and camera setup.

Shannon also recommends using Adobe Camera RAW and Photoshop CS 6 (affiliate link) to accomplish this particular technique.

Shannon Jilge is a Oklahoma City Newborn, Children, and Maternity photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Editing.

If you still need help navigating Photoshop, look no further than Lynda.com (affiliate link). There are hours upon hours of tutorials on various aspects of Photoshop.

Plus, click here (affiliate link) and you can check it all out for free for 7 days!

Ensuring Proper Lighting in Client’s Home

New York Newborn Photography by Karilyn Sanders Photography

Today’s feature is from .

Karilyn says:

“This mother contacted me about photographing her son’s Jewish bris ceremony. Unfortunately, the ceremony fell on a Saturday which meant there could be no photography. So I went to their Upper East side apartment the day before and did a newborn session instead!”

Karilyn’s Photography Tip:

I’m an on-location photographer, so I asked the client to send me some photos of her apartment before the session to show me what sort of natural lighting they had. New York apartments can be tricky, since they are usually small and don’t always have good window light.

If the pictures the client sent me showed that they didn’t have good windows, I would have brought my speed light + umbrella setup. But in this case, the client had a large window in their bedroom. The window was at least 10 feet wide, so I posed the newborn on their bed, which was parallel to the window about 5 feet away.

It was an overcast day but there was still plenty of light, and I used my 50mm lens at f/2.8, shutter speed between 125-200 with ISO 320. I brightened up the photos in Photoshop, but they still had good lighting straight out of the camera.

I did 90% of the shoot on their bed, without any backdrop/backdrop stand. They had a white bedspread, which definitely helped as a large reflector to bounce more light on the baby. These things are important when you can’t bring a ton of gear with you!

New York family, photographed by Karilyn Sanders Photography
New York mother and her newborn son, photographed by Karilyn Sanders Photography
New York Newborn Photography by Karilyn Sanders Photography
New York Newborn Photography by Karilyn Sanders Photography
New York Newborn Photography by Karilyn Sanders Photography

Karilyn used a Canon 7D (affiliate link) with a Canon 50mm f/1.4 lens (affiliate link) and a Canon 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Karilyn Sanders is a New York City metro Newborn + Baby photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Lighting.

Not having a studio (or choosing to be an on-location photographer like Karilyn) can be a lot of fun, but also poses its own difficulties – like how to do in-person sales sessions (affiliate link).

Thankfully, the creators of YouProof (affiliate link) have already thought of that and created an in-person proofing app that can be used from anywhere – your studio, a coffee shop, and especially your client’s home. Check it out here. (affiliate link)


Tips on Posing Newborns

Newborn baby on white fur, shot in the shadows

Today’s feature is from Erica Courtine.

Erica says:

“This was one of my favorite newborn sessions from the fall. This little girl was a last minute session that I was able to squeeze in. She was just over two weeks old, but slept soundly through the entire session.

She was quite a dainty little baby with the most beautiful skin and strawberry blonde hair. I wanted to share this session because I love simplicity and portraits that focus on the newness and beauty of a newborn baby.”

Erica’s Photography Tip:

I have learned so much over the past year about posing. One tip that I would like to share about posing deals with placement of the newborn’s head.

When I first started posing newborn babies, I did what many new photographers do and I simply laid them on a blanket in a horizontal position. Because our eyes are almost always first drawn to the newborn’s face, I learned quickly that a head in a completely horizontal position is very difficult to look at.

Our eyes are not used to seeing and processing faces horizontally, so when posing a baby, try your best to get their head out of that horizontal plane. This can be done in a few ways.

1. When posing a baby on a bean bag, I always have a swaddling blanket rolled up and under their little head to gently angle it. When looking at your image, the eyes should be above the nose and mouth.

2. Tilt your camera slightly to make the head appear more vertical. For every pose on the bean bag, I take at least a few shots where I tilt the camera significantly.

3. Find other angles or poses where the head will naturally be vertical in the frame. Some of my favorite poses are shot from above where I can easily position the head in the frame in a more vertical orientation.

And as always, whenever posing and working with newborns, safety is always first – never do a pose that you’re uncomfortable with (or the newborn doesn’t seem to like).

Newborn girl on dark teal backdrop
Newborn girl on dark teal backdrop wrapped in purple
Newborn girl on brown backdrop
Newborn girl on brown backdrop, tucked in pose

Erica used a Nikon D600 (affiliate link) with a Nikon 50mm f1.4 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Erica Courtine is a Raleigh, NC Portrait photographer.

When working with newborns, it’s crucial to remember that safety always comes first. One of our contributors, Anya from Anya Wait Photographer, is a very experienced newborn portrait photographer and offers a large breadth of information on newborn photography safety.

You can read her articles here and here.


Tips on Finding Your Photography Style

Organic and natural newborn in ostrich feathers

Today’s feature is from .

Julie says:

“This session is of an 8-day-old newborn little girl.

I kept the posing natural and organic, and used all natural materials like weathered antique wood, ostrich feathers, up-cycled fabrics, and antique lace.

I don’t over-process my newborns either because I like their skin to be pink (just like they are in real life).”

Julie’s Photography Tip:

Find your own style, and your photos will improve. You’ll enjoy what you’re doing more, and passion shows in your images.

Instead of buying every newborn prop on the market or trying to compete with all the other photographers in your newsfeed, make a collection of things that speak to you and start there.

Inspiration can come from anywhere too. Like Pottery Barn’s spring bedding? Find an old photo of your grandfather in a pair of levi’s? Build a collection of images that inspire you to find what you love stylistically.

Organic and natural newborn in up cycled romper and bonnet
Newborn on antique weathered wood in simple basket
Organic and natural newborn vintage-inspired bonnet
Organic and natural newborn antique Mexican dough bowl
Natural newborn wood bowl, antique lace, handmade rag rug
Lots of skin newborn in womb pose lush white rosette fabric

Julie used a Nikon D7000 (affiliate link) with a Nikkkor 50 1.8 lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Julie Bradley is a Pittsburgh Pennsylvania Newborns and Babies photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Do-It-Yourself.

A great way to organize your ideas, as most of you know, is using Pinterest. If you’re not following us yet, you can sign up here and see inspiring photos and ideas in your Pinterest feed every day.



2014 Best Tips on Working With Children

Children’s photography can be a really fun time – they’re adorable, and energetic. But getting them to cooperate for you can present a challenge that you don’t get when photographing other age groups. Working with children can be a good experience for everyone involved with these tips.

In this article we’ve compiled our best tips on Children’s Portrait Photography that we’ve received in 2014.

Making Kids Feel Comfortable

Remember, kids don’t always really understand what’s going on when you shove a giant lens in their face, and it can make them really nervous and clam up a bit.

A good idea to get them warmed up to you is to put the camera down and just play with the kid(s) at the beginning of the session. That will help you earn their trust and make them less likely to get nervous once you do get out your camera.


This can also make it easier on the parents – once they see their kids having fun, they’ll be less anxious and worried about the session as well.

It’s also important too to remember that kids are kids (sounds obvious right?), so they’re not serious all the time. Sometimes a great way to get them to loosen up is to loosen up yourself!

Let go a little bit, and don’t hesitate to be a little silly to get them to smile and relax.


Directing Children

Once you get them to relax, the next challenge is getting them to (at least sort of) do what you want.

A great way to do that is to think like a child – if you were a kid, what would you want to do? What are fun things you like to do?

One of our featured photographers, Sarah Parker, used this idea to get the kids she was photographing to behave the way she wanted.


For this session (above), she had the older girl pretend she was reading the book to the younger girls, which gave them a task (that they enjoyed) that the photographer used to distract them and capture their natural facial expressions.

Working with Children to Keep Their Attention

Once the session has started, you’re not necessarily racing the clock so much as the kids’ attention spans. But there are a lot of tricks and ideas that our featured photographers use to help combat this that you might find useful as well.

If you’re using props in your session (like Sarah above), you can use those to distract the kids and help keep them still long enough to take a good picture.

seekjoyphotography-13-of-15 If the session is taking place somewhere where toys aren’t readily available, bring some of your own!

Baskets, dolls, games, etc. – all of these are great things you can bring that will entertain a child.

And a lot of times once they’ve started to play with the toys and relax a bit (instead of thinking they have to ‘sit still and behave for the photographer’ you can remove the toy and get some shots of them without it.


Sheets of fabric are even a cheap, fun item that can inspire play.

If you have older siblings present, sometimes they can help you out with the younger ones too. One of our featured photographers suggests ‘telling the oldest kid a secret,’ which is telling them to tickle their younger sibling(s) when you say ‘three’.

If you’ve got little girls in the crowd, you can get them to play by telling them to pretend they’re their favorite movie character, like Elsa from Frozen.


Little girl pretending she’s Elsa during a family session.

But at the end of the day – let them be kids.

Sometimes, despite your best efforts, you can’t get the kids to do what you want.

And that’s ok.

You can use their energy to your advantage and capture natural interactions with the kids playing with their families and siblings.

If they’re wanting to run around and be active, have them run to their parents and be caught to capture those moments of fun between parent and child.


Mommy catching her active, energetic little boy.

If you’re able, sometimes it’s best to just step back and watch the kids as they are. Camera settings can help with this too, and one of our photographers, Jennifer N., uses a Canon 5D MKIII and 135mm lens (for example) and sets the aperture at its widest possible setting.

The MKII can handle the high ISO, but will give clearer images of busy-body kids with ants in their pants.


Jennifer stepping back and watching her kids do what they do best.

Watch Their Moods

Kids can be a bit unpredictable, but they generally wear their mood on their sleeves. So pay attention to this.

Kids have short attention spans (as we’ve mentioned), so try to keep the session moving at a good pace and try switching up your location regularly.


If you see them getting bored or antsy, take the session somewhere else – outside, nearby park, upstairs instead of downstairs, etc.

If you’re trying to get pictures of each kid separately, do the younger children first. They get sleepy, hungry, distracted, etc., faster, so work with them first in the session so they can be let go sooner.


Another idea is to try and schedule the session in the morning. Kids will have woken up not too long ago, so will be less prone to be tired or cranky.


Or talk to the family and see if there’s a better time of day for their little one(s).

Sometimes though, it doesn’t matter how many of these tips you try – the kids just won’t want to cooperate.

If that happens, just take a break. It doesn’t have to be a long one, but take a few minutes and let the kids do some running and get a little energy out of their system.




What Are Your Best Tip for Working With Kids?

Leave them in the comments below!

Outdoor Baby Sessions


Today’s feature is from Cassandra Jones.

Cassandra says:

“For this shoot I wanted to utilize as much of the natural surroundings as possible. I incorporated earth tones to give a rustic feel to the images and continue the natural theme.”

Cassandra’s Photography Tip:

Photographing newborns outdoors can be tricky. Successful newborn shoots require a warm, safe, and comfortable environment, and a sleepy baby.

This can be a tall order with varying weather conditions and temperatures, bugs, and an uncontrolled environment.

I typically will not shoot outdoors unless it is 27 degrees Celsius (about 81 degrees F) or warmer.

If it is less than 32 degrees C (about 90 degrees F) outdoors, I bring a portable heater with me to make sure that baby is nice and warm at all times. Newborns are much more likely to sleep if they are warm.

Aside from shooting when it is warm outside, the ideal shooting environment should be dry, as this reduces the likelihood of being swarmed by mosquitos!

If you end up shooting the day after heavy rainfall or in a marsh-like, damp environment, you run the risk of having the baby being nibbled on by bugs and mosquitos and that is not a risk that is ever worth taking.

I always have a spotter/helper that is on bug watch as well, to keep the baby safe and comfortable.

I also like to shoot on a cloudy day or in covered shade. I do this to keep baby safe from the sun, but I also much prefer the even exposure of skin tones and depth of the environment that comes with shooting in covered shade or cloud.

Ideally, I like to shoot at the end of the day when the sun is reliably low. That being said, sometimes the end of the day gets very cool and it is best to find covered shade in the afternoon when it is warmer.

Another thing to keep an eye out for are little rays of sun poking through the leaves – if they land on the baby they will blow out and overexpose patches of the baby’s skin.

If this is an issue, I hang a sheet or blanket from a nearby tree to block the sun or have an additional set of hands to hold one in place while I shoot.

Newborns are fabulous subjects to shoot outdoors as they are so tiny they only require a little piece of protected environment to make a beautiful portrait.

One can get away with photographing a newborn in places that would never work for a family session, or even an older child.

My favorite outdoor newborn portraits are those that do not require bulky props, and instead I am always on the lookout for little nooks, pretty foliage, mossy logs, enchanting tree roots.


Cassandra used a Canon 5d Mark III (affiliate link) with a Canon 50 mm f1.2L lens (affiliate link) to capture these images.

Cassandra Jones is a Grande Prairie, Alberta Baby and Children’s photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Location.

If you’re shooting on location and away from your studio, it’s important to make sure you have everything you need with you.

Bags designed specifically for photographers (affiliate link) are a great way to pack your gear for on-the-go shoots, and can even be very stylish!


2014 Best Tips On Newborn Portrait Photography


Newborn portrait photography can be very rewarding – but since your subject can’t really talk to you or move on their own, it’s also a little bit different than your average portrait session.

We’ve compiled our best newborn photography tips that we received in 2014 to give you an idea of some of the things you need to consider before starting in on newborn portrait photography (or if you’re a seasoned pro, give you some new inspiration for future sessions!).


Safety is #1 when it comes to working with newborns. Their immune systems are underdeveloped, they can’t move on their own or tell you if they’re uncomfortable, and are completely dependent on you (and the parents) during the session.


Some of the most important things to consider before even starting the session include:

  • Immunizations – because of the delicate state of the newborn’s immune system, make sure you are up to date on your immunizations for at least two critical diseases: DTap (Diptheria, Tetanus, and pertussis), and MMR (Measles, Mumps, and Rubella).
  • Personal Hygiene – keep your nails clean and well-trimmed with no chips in your nail polish, as this will help reduce the spread of germs that live underneath and around your nails.
  • Snacks – if you’re headed for a long day at a client’s home, you might want to bring your own snacks with you. But make sure you ask the parents first if anyone at the household has any food allergies, and/or just bring snacks without nuts.
  • Preparing clients – have your clients turn up their house temperature before you arrive (or turn up your studio temperature) to about 85 degrees, as newborns lose heat rapidly. This will help keep them comfy during the session and more likely to be pleasant babies.
  • Props – make sure all blankets and/or wraps that you bring with you are clean and that you wash and sanitize them between each and every session. Make sure to use unscented detergent that is free of perfumes and dyes

Also make sure that any props you are using are safe. Some props that are considered unsafe would be:

  • Props made of glass or anything that can break and/or shatter
  • Anything that requires placing the baby up high (like on a book shelf)
  • Placing the baby inside something that is prone to tipping (such as an unstable basket)
  • Putting the baby inside some type of appliance, like a mailbox, refrigerator, etc.
Example of a safe, sturdy prop

Example of a safe, sturdy prop

Relaxing The Baby

Having an upset baby during the session can make the session incredibly difficult, so keeping them happy and content is very important.

One of the best things you can do is make sure the parents prep the newborn for the session by feeding them beforehand so they’re more likely to sleep.

To prep you and your studio, make sure the studio is warm, or if you’re doing the session at your clients’ house, tell them to turn up the temperature in their house to about 85 before the session starts.

Also tell the parents to make sure the baby is fed right before the session so they’re more likely to sleep.

A couple other great things that come in handy is both a sound machine and warm hands – you can even take it one step further and use gloves when handing the newborn as many times adult hands can be cold and may startle a sleeping baby.


Don’t forget about parents either; often times, if the baby’s parents are anxious or nervous, it will rub off on the baby and they’ll be more likely to be fussy.

Another good idea is to have the parents sitting close to the baby during the session (but just out of frame, or in such a way that they can easily be cropped out) so they can reach out and comfort the baby or rock them between shots.

The infant's mother's hand is located just out of frame in this shot.

The infant’s mother’s hand is located just out of frame in this shot.

If you’re still having issues comforting the little one, one of our featured photographers, Renee Barber, also recommends reading through “The Happiest Baby on the Block” by Dr. Harvey Karp.

The book has a lot of tips on soothing and comforting babies, and Renee swears it’s one of the best things she’s done for her newborn photography business, as it gave her some great ideas on how to soothe and comfort a cranky newborn.



When it comes to posing, always consider safety first – if the infant is put in a situation where there is a risk of falling or being unstable, either don’t do the pose at all or do it as a composite image. Even then, you still may not wish to do the pose – and that’s ok.

A couple popular infant poses are the head-on-hand pose and the head-on-wrist pose (which is also known as the Froggie Pose).

When doing the head-on-hands pose, use a large bean bag and center the infant on the bean bag – that way if for some reason they squirm and start to tip, they won’t fall off the prop.

Secondly, use a lens you can shoot close to the baby with – like a 35mm. This will allow you to reach out a helping hand quickly and easily if the baby does start to tip.


Before doing the head-on-hands pose, it is absolutely crucial that you check with the baby’s parents and make sure that the newborn has not been diagnosed with Congenital Hip Dysplasia (CHD), because the positioning of the legs for this pose would cause the infant’s hips to be dislocated.

When doing the head-on-wrist pose, it’s best to do it as a composite as newborns have no control over their balance and could easily tip over when put in this position.

It’s best to do this pose in two shots – one shot with a helper holding the baby’s wrists, and a second shot with the helper stabilizing the baby’s head (see examples here).

When combined in Photoshop the extra pair of helping hands can be edited out, giving you the desired pose but without sacrificing the baby’s safety.


Composite image created from two separate images, both with different stabilization points.

And finally, when posing the baby in any pose, always keep an eye on their skin tones and color – if you see their skin turning purple or blue, their circulation is being cut off and they need readjusting.


One of the most common styles of lighting for newborns is soft, even lighting, which is often achieved when you correctly utilize the play between light and shadows and feather the light.


Even, feathered light on the baby’s front with depth created by shadows.

The lighting setup for creating this type of lighting is relatively simple, and includes a safe resting place for the baby (and most likely a backdrop of your choice), and a softbox (preferably one that is relatively large in size; a 50×50″ softbox would work perfectly).

Place the softbox at 180 angle and about 6 inches in front of the baby and backdrop setup. This placement will ‘feather’ the light onto the subject, which will create softer shadows and even lighting across their face.


Example of lighting setup used for feathering the light.


Final product of light feathering setup.


Baby skin can often be red and blotchy, which isn’t as appealing as smoother, creamy skin tones. To help with that, reduce the reds in post production to help even their skin tones out a bit.

You could even use a preset or action to do this for you, and may even be able to find one made specifically for newborn skin.


And Remember…

Babies are super cute, and we really hope this post gave you some inspiration for where to start if you’re just looking into newborn portrait photography, or just some new tips you maybe didn’t know if you’re already a seasoned pro.

But remember – at the end of the day, if a pose or prop or lighting setup or anything whatsoever seems unsafe for the baby, or you’re not completely comfortable with it – don’t try it! It’s not worth the risk to the little one.


Here are some other products we recommend for Newborn Portrait Photography:

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 4.31.02 PMTo really maximize your portrait sales, nothing beats in-person sales sessions. But just getting into them can be intimidating – which is why Matt and Katie have created a guide to teach you exactly how to conduct one. Complete with scripts for you to follow, it’ll help take the edge off of figuring it out on your own.

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 4.34.45 PMA lot of the lighting techniques above discuss off-camera lighting, but if you’re not familiar with off-camera lighting that immediately puts a damper on trying out some of the lighting ideas above. Andy from Simple SLR has put together a great guide on off-camera lighting, and even if you’re a seasoned pro it can serve as a great reference piece for future sessions.

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 4.41.34 PM

None of the information in this post is valid if you don’t have a solid contract in place. The Newborn Photography Contract is written by photographer-lawyer Rachel Brenke at The Law Tog, so you know it’ll cover all the legal basics and necessities (including the contract itself, model releases for adults and minors, print releases, and more).


Baby skin can sometimes be mottled and blotchy, so doing skin smoothing on newborn portraits can help give the image a cleaner, finished look. Doing it by hand can really eat up your time though. We love and recommend the Portraiture plugin from Imagenomics, which automatically does a lot of the skin smoothing for you in just a click of the button.

before-after-72111-1024x337Black and white images are a great way to evoke emotion, but oftentimes just cutting the saturation doesn’t quite have the same affect because it’s important to remember that you must edit a black and white image differently than a color image, and Photography Concentrate has created a guide to show you how to do just that.

Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 4.46.27 PMIf there’s one thing new parents like to do, it’s show people pictures of their family’s newest addition. StickyAlbums is the mobile app made for just that, and allows clients to easy share pictures of their session with friends and family (which in turn is amazing free marketing for you!).


Screen Shot 2014-12-22 at 4.52.35 PMA great way to get your client their images is with a personalized flash drive – no more burning files to a disc, just drag and drop onto a flash drive and send it along. Plus the personalization gives it that extra professional touch, and since CD drives are sort of on their way out, a flash drive will probably have greater longevity.


Thank you for using the links in this post, as they help us earn a commission and support the site, keeping it free for everyone.

When the session doesn’t go perfectly the first time

family by the window

Today’s feature is from .

Bobbi-Jo says:

“Baby Max is one of my “Baby plan” babies, meaning he gets photographed 4 times over his first year. I took photos of Mom when she was pregnant with him, so it was exciting to finally meet Max!”

Bobbi-Jo’s Photography Tip:

This session was a tough one! It took place over two different dates, which is unusual – but sometimes necessary.

The first session was early evening. It was dark and about to rain and Baby Max was not feeling too happy, but we went ahead with the session anyway. You can see from the first few images with Mom and Dad that I had to place them close to the only window that was letting in any light.

Luckily for me, my style is often light filled and moody, so it worked! I had them sitting on the edge of the master bed facing the window, which did not leave a lot of room for myself and even though I was using a 35mm at that point, it was still a tight fit.

As I do with most lifestyle newborn sessions, I had Mom and Dad interact with the baby and walked around the room in a quiet manner, taking shots from different angles. I love that feeling of “peeking in” on a new family so I always try to get into a hallway or even behind a bathroom or closet door to create that feeling for a few shots.

As you can see, Baby Max was awake for most of the session with Mom and Dad and although he looks content, he often was not! We decided after an hour or so that I would come back another day to get more shots of just Max alone. He did not want to be put down and I could tell the parents were getting frustrated!

I don’t usually come back another day; however, these clients lived only 5 minutes away from me so I was able to pop by one morning when my kids went to school.

The second half of the session, Max was much more content! Grandma was also there to help calm and soothe the baby – in that way that only Grandmas can!

During lifestyle sessions I always try to use the “props” the family already has. For this session, Mom and Grandma actually owned a vintage shop so there were plenty of beautiful quilts and blankets to lay the baby on. His nursery was beautiful and we captured some images in there to show off the books and little deer details.

Overall this session was a success, although it took a little longer than usual. I never want a client to feel disappointed in their finished product so I will always do what I can to make them happy. The baby’s moods cannot be controlled so sometimes it takes that extra effort to make a session work!

family in colour
baby in mom's arms
baby on mom's lap

sleeping newborn
sleeping baby
baby sleeping

Bobbi-Jo used a Canon 6D (affiliate link) with a Canon 35mm lens and a Canon 85mm lens to capture these images.

Bobbi-Jo Stuart is a Toronto, Barrie, and Newmarket, Ontario Lifestyle Wedding and Portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on in-home sessions.

If you’re thinking about getting into newborn photography, skill is only have the battle. Make sure you have all of your legal ducks in a row as well to make sure both you and your client are protected (affiliate link).

2014 Tips for In-Home Sessions


Lifestyle sessions are a lot of fun, but can seem a bit daunting if you’re just starting to get into them – especially if the client has asked you to do them in their home.

We’ve had some very experienced lifestyle photographers contribute some of their best tips on how to handle that situation, as well as ideas for what to photograph once you’re in the home.

But first —

Preparing for the Session: You and Your Client

First off, keep in mind that you’ll be doing the session in your client’s home – ok, it sounds obvious. But my point is that you won’t have access to everything you have at your studio.

Props, lighting, etc. – you can probably bring some reflectors with you, but ideally you won’t want to bring much more than that, your camera bodies, and your lenses.

You can try to bring all of your props and backdrops with you – but that can be a bit cumbersome and time-consuming.

Instead, plan your session ahead of time and think forward on what sort of props or backdrops you’d like to bring (if any). This will drastically cut down on packing/unpacking and time spent setting up gear.


Even simple newborn wraps are a great, simple, easily-transportable prop you can use.

Not only do you want to prepare for an in-home session, but you also want to make sure your clients are prepared as well.

Doing a pre-session consultation is a great way to go over information the family will need to know about the session before it happens (and is great for establishing a client relationship).

This will help clients to trust you and get to know you, which will help them be more relaxed in front of the camera on the day of the session. It’ll also give you a chance to go over how the session will run from the time you arrive at their home until you leave.


One of our featured family portrait photographers, Emily Lapish, puts it this way:

Since every family has their own unique dynamics and quirks, there is no way that pulling out the same tricks and trying the same poses and shots on each session can capture a family authentically – so this pre-session consult is vital.

Another one of our family portrait photographers, Maegan Hall, suggests telling the family to prep any activities at the home that they like doing together before you arrive.

This will insure that you capture some of the family’s favorite memories together instead of leaving it up to chance.


Once You Arrive

When you get to your client’s home, you’ll want to take note of a few things. First, make note of what time of day it is and what direction the light is coming into the house from in the various rooms. This can help you plan what rooms to shoot in at what time of day.

Secondly, take note of the paint on the walls. Dark walls will make your images look darker, walls with solid, vibrant colors will give your client’s skin a color cast, and of course, white walls will give the cleanest light and skin tones.

And of course, as you do your walkthrough, take note of the light quality and intensity in each room – ‘great natural light’ usually means something completely different to your clients as it does to you.

Perfect example of a well-lit in-home portrait.

Perfect example of a well-lit in-home portrait.

Ideas for In-Home Sessions

There are multiple ways you can approach an in-home session too. You can do a Lifestyle-type session, a session that’s more posed, newborn sessions, whole family sessions, etc. etc. – the list goes on.

For newborn and toddler sessions, a great way to approach it is to use your client’s home and things in the home to document the growth of the baby.

If you’ve done a newborn session of your client’s child in their home before, photograph them as a toddler next to or near places or items that you used in the newborn session to document how they’ve grown in their family home.

Or, if you’re planning a newborn session and hope to photograph their child again as a toddler, try to plan for areas like that in the home that you can use for future.


A picture of a toddler in their newborn crib is a great way to document the child’s growth.

If you’re doing a family + newborn session, doing the session in the home is a great idea because the parents will be more comfortable in their own space – which will rub off and affect the mood of the newborn.

Since parents will be holding their newborn for the majority of the session, you want to minimize the amount of moving around you do so as to keep the baby calm and relaxed.

Don’t worry though – this doesn’t necessarily mean that this limits your variety of photos, especially if you remember to work your angles and distances from your subject.

Michael Kormos, an experienced in-home newborn photographer, uses principles of cinematography to accomplish the same goal.

Many times, he will start out with a wide shot (like peeking around a doorway) that sets the tone for the rest of the session, and gives the sense of “peaking” in on the clients’ lives and tender moments with their newborn.

Once that’s established, he’ll start closing the distance between himself and his clients for the closeup shots, which are a great way to capture the emotion and attachment the parents feel with their newborn.

Both of these shots can be done while the client is seated in the same position, but it still provides a variety of images that can be included in a final collection.

If you’d like to forego posing altogether, Kirsten Lewis, suggests capturing the day naturally as it unfolds and taking a documentary-style approach.

She suggests making yourself (more or less) a member of the family for the day – whether the family is going grocery shopping, cleaning, swimming, playing outside, reading books, etc.

She even goes so far as not even bringing any additional lighting equipment, since her goal is to capture a family’s life and interactions exactly how they are – down to every detail.


Working With Multiple Ages

When you’re doing an in-home session (and even when you’re not), working with multiple age groups can be challenging. The older kids want to run around, but if there’s an infant or toddler in the picture, that’s not always an option if you want to get pictures of everyone.

That can be ok though – if your active children want to be active, let them burn off some energy! Capture some shots with mom or dad and baby in the meantime while one of the other parents supervises.

Or direct their energy a different way and have mom or dad play games with them while you capture their interactions – it will help hold their attention but still allow you to get in some good shots.




What are some of your best in-home session tips?

We’ve told you ours, now it’s your turn! Post some of your best tips for in-home sessions below!

Using Light and Shadows


Today’s feature is from .

Melissa says:

“This is baby Killian at one week new. I first met this family when big brother came for his newborn session less than 2 years ago. I always love when clients come back with more kiddos!”

Melissa’s Photography Tip:

I feel lighting is a main factor (if not THE main factor) in creating an interesting image. When lighting this session (and all my newborns), I like to use my soft box (though window light will work too) to feather the light at either a 45 or 90 degree angle, which gives a nice soft shadow when done correctly. This will cause the light to feather the front portion of the baby and not directly towards backdrop.

Alternatively, avoid aiming the light down on the baby or right in front of the baby, as it will give you harsh shadows.

And one last note – shadows are good! I think a lot of new photographers are scared of shadows but shadows are what really add dimension to an image. If there’s too little or no shadow, it’s flat lighting, which is very boring! I could do the cutest pose possible and have the most beautiful baby but if I have flat lighting, the image is just average to me.

Adding some depth with shadows opens up that dimension and that creativity. (Also, shooting from the shadow side is a favorite of mine – try it out!)


Melissa used a Canon 5D MKII with a Canon 35mm 1.4 lens, a Canon 50mm 1.4 lens, and a Canon 100mm 2.8 macro lens to capture these images.

Melissa Jaimes is a Colorado Springs, Colorado Maternity and Newborn photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Lighting.

Need more help with lighting? Melissa is right, in that you can use window light to achieve the same affect here. But being able to use a soft box or other off-camera light really adds a lot to the photographer’s repertoire.

If you’re not too keen yet on off-camera lighting, that’s ok – there’s tons of guides and information out there from those that have mastered it.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Using Location to Help Kids Relax


Today’s feature is from .

Rebecca says:

“This was a portrait session for 2-year old Leeland which took place at The Farm in Door County, Wisconsin. While I don’t normally travel so far for a portrait session, I knew when I talked to Leeland’s Mom about the location that it would be totally worth it. And it was – it ended up being one of my favorite sessions from last year!”

Rebecca’s Photography Tip:

This session was successful because of our careful consideration for the location. When Leeland’s Mom and I spoke to plan his session, we brainstormed many different ideas.

We decided on The Farm in Door County because it’s one of Leeland’s most favorite places, he had been there numerous times, and there are tons of fun things for kids to do!

Having a complete stranger point a camera at you can be uncomfortable for anyone, but especially for toddlers! So choosing a location that they are really familiar with can make a huge difference in their level of ease.

It’s also helpful to have something interactive for them to do so they’re more apt to forget about your camera and have a good time.

At The Farm Leeland was able to feed the baby goats, watch new chicks hatch, climb on the tractors and wagons, play in the puddles, and run around…so I was able to get some great images of him playing and just being a happy kiddo!

Most toddlers won’t sit still for a photographer for more than 2 seconds…but you can still get great images that their parents will cherish!

Just choose a familiar environment and make sure there are lots of fun things for them to play with or do, and you’ll be able to capture a level of authenticity that you wouldn’t otherwise be able to achieve.








Rebecca used a Canon 5d mark II with a Canon 24 – 105 L lens to capture these images.

Rebecca Pfeifer is a Sheboygan Portrait & Wedding photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Working With Children and Location.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Preparing for In-Home Newborn Sessions


Today’s feature is from .

Leah says:

“This was a recent newborn session of an 8-day-old little boy with TONS of hair! I shot this session in the family’s home.”

Leah’s Photography Tip:

I am a newborn photographer who mostly shoots the “posed” style with newborns. I shoot mainly in my client’s homes, and I used to take everything I own with me to a session (so many backdrops and props!).

Now, I plan each session ahead of time so that I don’t need to take every single thing I own with me and spend time sorting through a bunch of stuff during the session. I usually only bring a few blankets and a couple of props with me, which really simplifies my workflow and reduces my packing/unpacking time.

When I am shooting a session in my client’s home, I love to spend a little bit of time at the end of their session getting some “lifestyle” images of the family, such as images on mom and dad’s bed, baby in his crib, and baby sleeping peacefully in a simple swaddling blanket, etc.

Lifestyle images are loved because they show more ‘real’ moments between a family and their baby. For this session and this family, the baby really does sleep in the crib, and the family really does snuggle up together on their couch or bed and show their new baby to his big sister, so I wanted to make sure I grabbed images of those interactions.

Some of the last shots from this session were the most simple to capture. As I was preparing to wrap up the session, he baby was swaddled in a simple white blanket, and he was sleeping very soundly.

I had already taken a few frames of him in his crib, and I pulled out a simple off-white blanket and laid him on it on the floor near the window in his room. Those simple close-ups of his face, his hands, and his little tiny toes are my favorites from the session.

Of course you can’t foresee every scenario that may happen, but cutting down on what you take with you and having a flexible “session plan” in mind before you go can save you a lot of time and trunk space!






Leah used a Nikon D700 with a Nikon 50mm f/1.4 lens, a Nikon 35mm f/1.4 lens, and a Nikon 105mm f/2.8 macro lens to capture these images.

Leah Jent is a Dayton, Ohio Birth, Baby, and Family Portraits photographer.

Click here to read more tips on In-Home Sessions.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

How to Put Newborns at Ease

Adorable Newborn

Today’s feature is from .

Desiree says:

“This adorable newborn was 10 days new at the time of this session, and super cute. She arrived at our studio with her Mom, Grandma, and Auntie who were all so helpful.

During the session I used one studio light with a large Octobox on camera right, and a large white reflector coming from the opposite side to fill in the shadows.

Sophie had been awake for three hours prior to arriving to the studio so after a top up of milk, a bit of rocking, and soothing she was sleepy and ready for her session.”

Desiree’s Photography Tip:

Safety is a huge concern when it comes to newborn photography, and I find that by explaining and demonstrating safety precautions parents are put at ease.

And since the feelings and actions of parents reflect onto their babies it’s especially important to make sure the parents are relaxed and comfortable, as then the babies tend to be more settled.

I always have a parent sitting next to their newborn throughout the session. It allows the parents to gently touch and rock their little one until I’m ready to take the shot, and allows them to be right there in case the baby pushes themselves forward and startles.

An added bonus is that the parents are close enough to hold the baby’s hands where I want them and then quickly pull away right before I take the shot so I can easily get the hand placement right.

With this newborn session, Sophie’s mom’s hand is just out of the frame. The baby was comfortable the whole time, and her mom, grandma, and Auntie were at ease knowing that the care of their baby was the number one priority.

By following this tip you will have a comfortable session with adorable images to share with your clients.

Cute Baby Girl
Sleepy Sophie
10 Days New
Tiny Toes

Desiree used a Canon 7D with a 24-105mm F4 lens to capture these images.

Desiree Veldkamp is a Edmonton, Alberta Maternity and Newborn photographer.

Click here to see more tips on Client Direction.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Newborn Lighting Tutorial

Today’s tutorial is from .

Getting the perfect newborn photos is critical for your clients. These photographs are very prized, and if done well, your reputation for a newborn photographer will spread.

Keely says:

I’m going to discuss one lighting technique that you may or may not know about, which is called feathering – a lighting technique I used to create the image below.


Whereas it sounds like a silly term, it actually produces some really amazing results in terms of lighting, and works well for almost any subject.

I personally like to use it for newborns quite frequently (including bean bag shots, prop shots, parent shots, etc), but it even works well for studio maternity sessions.

Newborn Lighting Tips

Here’s a list of equipment that I use to achieve this affect, plus the equipment I use for the overall image:

To set it up, I put my softbox at a 180 degree angle I put my box at a 180 degree angle and place it about 6 inches from the side of my set up and about 6 inches in front of my set up.

Feathering chart

Seems a bit strange, doesn’t it? But with the size and quality of the softbox (shown below), the light trickles or “feathers” onto my subject – creating softer shadows and even light across their face.


Photo credit: Adamos Photography

This type of setup will also make the background slightly darker, and the farther away your subject is from the background, the darker the background will be.

When it comes to settings for both the lighting equipment and my camera, here are the settings that I use that work well with my style:

  • Camera shutter speed: 1/200
  • ISO: 160
  • Aperture: between 2.8 and 2.2
  • And for the lighting equipment itself I never set it higher than 1/16th power

Photo credit: T.Y. Photography

However, note that if you’re looking for a brighter style you will have to increase the power on the Alien Bee. For me, I’ve found that keeping the power at 1/16 makes the lighting much softer (than it would if I were to set the light at a higher power), which is what I’m looking for in my style.

Another fact I will point out is that you cannot go faster than 1/200 shutter speed on a Canon 5D Mark III with studio lights. My previous camera, a Canon 7D, could not go faster than 1/250. So be sure you’re aware of that when you are choosing your camera settings, as max shutter speed will differ for different brands and models.


Photo credit: T.Y. Photography

It took me a little while to get this lighting technique correct and perfect it, but once I did I had so much fun with it.

And since the lighting on my subject is so even and the background already illuminated properly (via placing the light and subject at the correct distance from one another), it has helped tremendously with my post-processing.

I also never have to mess too much with settings during a shoot, which is a big help when working with newborns.

Final image

To see more of Keely’s newborn work, check out her feature here!



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Documenting Baby’s Growth by Doing In-Home Sessions

Baby boy standing in crib

Today’s feature is from .

Stefanie says:

“I used to be pretty intimated when I had to photograph a family session inside a client’s home, but those sessions have actually become some of my favorite, especially for sessions during baby’s first year.

With young babies and children, I like to keep things really simple and often find it easier to play with them in their own space, where we have quick access to favorite toys, lovies and snacks and can document their first home.

I love the creative challenge of figuring out where in the home I want to shoot, and what I want to incorporate from their home to make the session unique and personal to each client.”

Stefanie’s Photography Tip:

In-home sessions for baby’s first year are a wonderful way to capture natural interactions and document baby’s growth in a unique way in their first home.

My main goal for in-home sessions during baby’s first year is to keep things simple and relaxed. I want my photos to show my client’s true personalities and capture them interacting naturally.

For baby’s first year sessions, one of my favorite things is to incorporate places or things that I’ve used with them at previous sessions to document baby’s growth – in this particular session, I was able to use the baby crib again with one of the newborn portraits hanging above the crib.

I think it’s such a sweet visual reminder for the parents to see just how quickly their sleepy newborn has grown into a moving and curious baby/toddler.

Baby boy sitting in nursery
Baby boy crawling in nursery
Family photo with dog in nursery
Mom kissing baby boy

Stefanie used a Nikon D700 with a Sigma 35mm lens to capture these images.

Stefanie Harrington is a Washington, DC metro Birth, Newborn, and Family portrait photographer.

Click here to see more tips on In-Home Sessions.



*Please note: some of the links in this post are affiliate links, and don’t affect you as the buyer but do help support us and keep this site free for everyone.

Newborn Safety Tips Tutorial, Part II


This article is the second half of a tutorial on infant safety during Newborn and Infant photography sessions. To read the first half of the article, click here

The second half of the article is based around infant posing and safety during posing, and is written by the same author as the first half of this tutorial, Anya Wait.

The safety of the littlest ones when taking photographs is very important. Not only is the environment very important, but even the equipment that the newborn rests on must be free of hazards.

Newborn Safety Tips for Infant Posing

I do not do any images that are composites.  I am sure some of these can be done safely; however, I personally don’t feel comfortable hanging babes in slings or doing the chin-on-wrists pose (as I will discuss below).

If a photographer is going to do these types of images, where baby has the potential to fall over or be unstable, they should always be done as a composite.

Below are a couple examples of poses that I do (or don’t do along with reasons why) and suggestions on how to complete the poses safely.

The Head-On-Hands Pose

I have heard that a lot of photographers do the head-on-hands pose as a composite image. However, because I am so conscientious about the safety of the newborn, I do this pose frequently and don’t actually do it as a composite.

Here’s how I do it.

For safety purposes, I use a very large bean bag (like one from Shoot Baby or Newborn Nest) and place baby closer to the center of the bean bag to insure that if the baby’s head does start to fall over, the baby is safe and will not fall off of the prop.

I also shoot this image very close (with my 35mm), which allows me to be within very close proximity of the infant at all times in case I need to use a steadying hand.

Oftentimes when doing this pose I’m just moving my hand slightly to capture the images and rapidly shooting to get as many as I can in the shortest amount of time.


When the baby is in this pose (and really, when you’re putting the baby in any pose where you’re posing the feet and/or hands), pay close attention to circulation.

If baby is in one position too long and I see the baby’s hands and/or feet starting to turn red or purple, that’s an indication to me that their circulation is starting to change. When this happens, I gently adjust the baby again to restore good circulation.

This is why I try to shoot as quickly as possible, so I don’t have to leave the baby in a certain position for very long.

Head-On-Wrist Pose (also known as Froggie Pose)


Photo Credit: Hope Brown Photography — used with permission.

This is a pose I do not do for a variety of reasons; however, I ultimately believe that if this pose is done with safety in mind, it will not harm baby in any way.

First and foremost, when it comes to approaching this pose, I believe it should always be done as a composite. This is because newborns have no control over balance and could easily topple over in the middle of the pose.

Secondly, prior to doing this pose with a newborn, it is crucial that you ask the parents if their newborn has been diagnosed with Congenital Hip Dysplasia (CHD), as the positioning of the legs could cause the infant’s hip to become dislocated.

CHD is found in 1 – 1.5% of the population and according to Dr. Melissa Murphy, DC,

An infant with unrecognized congenital hip dysplasia will risk full dislocation if placed in that posture.  Dislocation can lead to chronic pain and life-long problems with mobility, so make absolutely sure that doctors have ruled out CHD before placing an infant in that pose.

To do this image as a composite, hold the baby up by the wrists (shown below):


Photo Credit: Jennifer Snook Photography – used with permission

Then, once the baby is positioned safely with you bracing their wrists, take the image quickly.

Next, hold the baby up by their head (shown below):


Photo Credit: Jennifer Snook Photography – used with permission

Then, as before, once the baby is positioned safely with you bracing their nead, take the image quickly.

Once the session is over and you’ve moved on to post-production, merge the two images in Photoshop to get the final product:


Photo Credit: Jennifer Snook Photography – used with permission

shoot, hold the baby up by the head, shoot, and then merge the two images during post-processing in Photoshop later.

By creating a composite image, you will guarantee that the infant will always remain in a safe position for the duration of the pose.

In the end….

Infants and newborns are exceptionally fragile, and their safety during the session is in your hands.

It’s up to you to always make sure that you have their health in mind – from making sure you’re healthy and prepared to work with the newborn before the shoot even starts, to posing and working with the newborn during the session.

And finally, if you don’t feel comfortable or familiar with a particular prop, shooting location, or pose – DON’T DO IT! It is not worth the health and safety of the baby if (heaven forbid) something should go wrong due to your inexperience and/or lack of knowledge.



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Soft, Even Lighting for Newborns

Simple pose

Today’s feature is from .

Keely says:

“This sweet family came all the way down from Maryland, just for me, and braved 8 hours of traffic along the way.

I was so flattered! It made me feel even more special that they drove through all that traffic because they love my work that much.

Mom brought some wonderful props and I was happy to use some of them in pictures.  She let me do a lot but her umbilical cord was a little sensitive, something that I always try to be aware of (and make sure you are too!). ”

Keely’s Photography Tip:

I use studio lighting with all my newborn sessions. I have a Westcott Recessed Mega JS Apollo (50 x 50″) softbox and Paul C Buff AlienBees B400. The angle that I have found that I like best is called feathering, which corresponds to my style.

To achieve the feathering style, all you have to do is place your light source about 6 inches from the side of your setup and 6 inches from the front of it.

For example, mine is on the left side when I’m shooting in my studio. It’s basically right next to me when I am taking the shot.

And, If you put a little distance between your background and your subject, the background will turn out darker.

By following this setup, the light will trickle onto your subject, creating even lighting and soft shadows.

Taco pose


Princess in Daddy's arms

Vintage Coke crate

Keely used a Canon 5D Mark III with a Canon 50mm f/1.2L lens to capture these images.

Keely Julson is a Des Moines, IA Maternity, Gender Reveal, Birth, Newborn, Baby, Cake Smash & First Birthday photographer.

Newborn Safety Tutorial, Part I


Today’s tutorial is from .

Anya is a Madison, Wisconsin and Brooklyn, New York Maternity, Birth, Newborn, Baby, and Family photographer. She’s had years of experience working with newborns, and has written a two-part series on Newborn Safety just for Belovely You.

Newborn safety is a concern for photographers that work within this niche. The fear of injuring a precious, little one stops many photographers from entering this niche. Take these tips into consideration.

Anya says:

As a professional newborn photographer for the past 7 years, a mother of 5, and a midwife, the safety of newborns at every newborn session I shoot is critical to me.

In this two-part tutorial series, I’ll walk you through some of the most important aspects of infant and newborn safety, and some of the best practices I use to make sure I am always keeping the health and safety of my little client in mind.


Before the Session Begins….

First, foremost, and arguably most importantly, I fundamentally believe that if you are around newborns, you should be updated on at least two critical vaccines – DTaP (for Diphtheria, Tetanus, and Pertussis) and MMR (for Measles, Mumps, and Rubella, which is also known as German Measles).

Both Pertussis and Measles are very dangerous to newborns, and whereas previously there had been little to no threat of either disease, recent outbreaks in numerous states have been reported. Newborns are especially prone to such sicknesses, as their immune systems are not quite developed yet, making it incredibly easy for them to get sick.


Secondly, keep your nails clean and well-trimmed with no chips in your nail polish (if you choose to wear it). This will help reduce the spread of germs, as a multitude of bacteria and dirt can live underneath your fingernails and spread to the newborn during handling.

I always carry unscented hand sanitizer to every newborn session and use it liberally.  Additionally, prior to beginning every newborn session, I always let parents know when I wash my hands as I believe that shows how important the health of their baby is to me.

If you are bringing blankets and/or wraps with you, make sure they are clean (launder them between each and every session), sanitized, and have been washed with unscented detergents or dyes. To find a good, unscented detergent, look for labels that state that the detergent is “Free and clear of perfumes and dyes.”


If you are traveling to the client’s home and know you’re in for a long day, it’s a good idea to pack and bring your own snacks, as I always do. However, if you choose to do so, make sure they are nut free, as a lot of people have nut allergies, which can be fatal.

When preparing your clients for their in-home session, tell them to prep the room by increasing the temperature to about 85 degrees (which is what I personally suggest for my clients). Babies lose heat rapidly, as they are still figuring out how to thermoregulate their body temperature, so the added warmth helps them stay comfortable during the shoot.  

During the Shoot…

As already mentioned, it’s a good idea to keep the room you’re working in relatively warm.

Besides heating up the room temperature, a lot of photographers also like to use warm air from a space heater blowing on the baby to keep the baby warm.

While I think this is ok, always be aware of how close the heater is to the baby, as well as placement of the heater. Make sure the heater is securely placed, not too close to the baby, and does not have the potential to tip over, causing a hazard.

If you use a heating pad to warm your newborn posing space, it should never come in direct contact with the newborn. Newborn skin is extremely delicate and can easily burn, and by placing the heating pad in direct contact with the newborn, you run the risk of injuring their delicate skin.

If I use a heating pad (which is rare) I place the heating pad on my beanbag until baby is ready to be set down, which warms up the beanbag. I then remove it prior to placing baby on my beanbag.


Whichever method you decide to use to help keep the baby warm, make sure that when you’re not posing them you gently place a blanket over them, which will help keep them warm as well as keep them feeling safe and secure.

Keep in mind though as you’re making sure that the environment is comfortably warm for the newborn that you’re not letting the little one get too warm, as it is possible for the infant to become overheated.

Make sure to keep a close eye on the infant for signs of overheating, such as consistent rapid breathing.

Prop and Newborn Safety

There are so many available props out there for newborns.  I personally prefer to stick to natural poses, which is just personal preference based on my style of newborn photography. Any props I do use tend to be very simple (and of course, safe).

The prop I use the most often would be my large wooden bowl that I use to gently curl the baby in so he/she feels safe like in the womb.


Other great props that you can use for simple, natural posing would be something like Shoot Baby bean bags or Newborn Nest Newborn Posing Bags.

Props or items/locations that are considered not safe for posing the baby include any of the following:

  • Props made of glass or any other type of breakable jar
  • Putting the baby on a bookshelf or high up
  • Putting the baby in unstable baskets (make sure they cannot tip! – always have a spotter)
  • Putting the baby in a mailbox, refrigerator, or any other type of appliance.


Be VERY careful posing babies with animals.  Always remember that they are animals and have animal instincts, and it is not the animal’s fault if he/she is upset by the baby.

My typical scenario when the family wants to incorporate a pet (dogs specifically) is to shoot lifestyle, like the image below.


 And finally…

Don’t forget about mom! Make sure mom has plenty of water, snacks, is sitting down most of the time, and is not getting overheated either. I routinely check in with how mom is doing during the shoot as well to make sure she’s having an enjoyable experience all around.

The second half of the Newborn Safety Tutorial will discuss infant posing do’s and don’t’s, so be sure to check back next week for the second half of the tutorial!



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Advice on First Year Toddler Sessions


Today’s feature is from .

Sarah says:

“Since this little one’s newborn session I have photographed her quite a few times. She is such a sweet and curious baby and so much fun to photograph.”

Sarah’s Photography Tip:

First birthday sessions are very special and memorable for your clients – the parents.

Therefore, I make sure to treat this session as special as their newborn session. After all, they have made it through a joyful year – yet most likely with a few challenges along the way.

To make the overall experience a memorable one, I suggest including the parents in the fun. Letting them choose the colour theme and helping them pick the wardrobe will make for a session the parents are sure to love.

For the session itself, I typically run through 2-3 setups without the cake first and then finish off the session with the cake smash. Baby will most likely get a bit messy (hopefully!) so the session will be done once the cake smash portion is over.

As a final note, remember that not all babies will smile all the time.

And that’s okay.

Parents love those curious little faces just as much as the smiles. So don’t hesitate to capture all of the moments of the session, not just the smiling faces.


Sarah used a Canon 6D with a Sigma 35 1.4 and Canon L 70-200 2.8 lens to capture these images.

Sarah Martin is a Hamilton, Halton and GTA Newborn, Babies and Family photographer.

See more tips on Working with Children.



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Dreamy Babies & Toddlers Portraits by Amy Pate

Angel in white

Today’s feature is from .

Amy says:

“This baby was a dream to photograph and the creative juices just flowed with him! He was putty in my hands! I used a mixture of studio light and natural light to achieve the looks I wanted.”

Amy’s Photography Tip:

I am such a believer in informing the parents on how to prepare the baby. It is so crucial! The four components I stress the most are:

  • Heat
  • A Full Tummy
  • A Sound Machine, and
  • Warm Hands

And to take it one step further – use gloves when holding the baby. Seriously the best trick I have ever learned!

I also send the parents a questionnaire to fill out before the session. It helps me pick the colors and props I will use for the session so I can get them ready to go before the parents arrive. Plus, allowing the parents to choose the color scheme will mean that the color in the images will compliment the colors of their nursery and home. It also makes parents feel like I’ve really listened to them and what they want.

As already mentioned, make sure to have everything ready to go before the clients arrive. That way you can move from one prop to the next. However, I would suggest keeping things to a minimum – don’t overdo it and think you have to give the parents all these different looks.

If you follow this advice, you’ll have a full, warm, sleepy, easy-to-work-with baby that will be a dream to work with. He’s under your spell for two whole hours!

Little Man
All Cozy
Little Pilot
Future Pirate
Boy Blue
Amy used a Canon 5D MKIII with a Sigma 35mm lens to capture these images.

Amy Pate is a Birmingham, AL Family, Newborns, and Senior Portraits photographer.

See more tips on Client Direction.



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Beautiful Babies & Toddlers Portraits by Martie Hampton

Little Halina

Today’s feature is from .

Martie says:

“This little blessing was an extra special session. This couple spent 3 years working to get her here. With the help of a surrogate their prayers were finally answered. She is the most beautiful, tiny girl I have come across in my studio. She has gorgeous, long lashes with a head full of dark curly hair. It was wonderful to get to capture these images for them to always cherish.”

Martie’s Photography Tip:

To light this session, I used a 5’ x 4’ soft box placed perpendicular to the baby, shooting down the baby’s body, not up the nose. One large reflector on the opposite side of the light (parallel). Patience! Patience! Patience! Once you have a pose, get the shot and then go back and perfect it. This is the time to act like a perfectionist, wether your are one or not. Pay attention to every finger, toe, hair…

When it comes to editing, editing newborns can be a little different because they tend to have a lot of red tones in their skin. Reducing the reds (with a preset, action, or on your own) will help create that beautiful creamy look to their skin. Sharpen and Darken the eyelashes and lash line to show off those lashes. I also love to use a soft pink brush to add just a touch of color to their cheeks. This helps make for a healthy, beautiful looking baby.

By following these tips and lots of practice you will be able to produce images you and your clients will be proud to have.

Precious Pearls
Pretty in Pink
Sweet baby cakes
Tiny Teddy Bear
Pink Cheeks

Martie used a Canon 5D Mark II with a Canon 24-70L 2.8 lens to capture these images.

Martie Hampton is a Frisco and Dallas, TX Newborn photographer.

See more tips on Editing and Lighting.



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Peaceful Babies & Toddlers Portraits by Renee Barber

Peaceful sleeping newborn

Today’s feature is from .

Renee says:

“This was a newborn session with an 11-day-old little sweetie named Carter. His dad is in the Air Force and they had recently moved to the area. I did an on-location sessions for them in their home, which was beautiful. I set up while Carter’s mom nursed him. I used a one-light setup with natural light coming in from the windows close by. Carter fought sleep for a while but I soothed him until he fell asleep. Once he was out, he didn’t wake up for the entire session. He was a dream!”

Renee’s Photography Tip:

As photographers, we tend to stay constrained to studying photography books and materials. As a newborn photographer, and this is true with every type of photography, there is so much more to a session than just “taking pictures.” It is very important that we anticipate client problems and prepare for them ahead of time.

For me, soothing newborns didn’t come easy at first, even with a child of my own. Being awkward at soothing them proved stressful to me, the newborn, and the parents. I have to admit that I was less than thrilled when a local newborn photographer asked me to read “The Happiest Baby on the Block” by Dr. Harvey Karp before assisting her on a session. Surprisingly, reading it was one of the single best things I have done to improve my newborn photography.

This newborn session is the perfect example of this. Little Carter did not want to go to sleep for his parents after his mom nursed him. After I wrapped him, shushed him, and rocked him for about 10 minutes, he slept soundly for the entire session. Reading this book (and a couple others) not only helped me to better soothe newborns, it gave me confidence in what I am doing and parents now see me as a newborn expert.

Studying resources outside of the realm of photography will help you be more prepared to manage customers which will lead to smoother, less stressful sessions.

Newborn sleeping in a basket
Newborn dressed like a football
Newborn sleeping and comfy
Newborn sleeping on suitcase with hot air balloons in background

Renee used a Canon Rebel T4i with a Tamron 28-75 2.8 lens to capture these images.

Renee Barber is a Miami & Fort Lauderdale, FL Newborn and Baby photographer.

See more tips on Client Direction.


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Whimsical Toddler Portraits by Tricia Schumacher

one year old boy

Today’s feature is from .

Tricia says:

“This session was very special because this little guy was a newborn client. I have been able to watch him grow up. It had just rained and it was still a very overcast day. I was disappointed because I really wanted a bright back lit session. I was more than thrilled with how this session turned out. The trees and flowers in my outdoor studio really had a chance to shine and added color and pop to this session.”

Tricia’s Photography Tip:

I really love photos that incorporate the environment. I especially love the color and texture that plants and flowers can add. My tip is to make your own backdrops by planting flowers around your yard or in planters. Pay attention to how the light falls in your back yard and plant flowers that would add color and dimension to the background of your images. If you do not have a large space you can plant flowers in planters and then place them where you need them. I also love to cut the flowers and use them as props.

By using the tips above, you will be able to add color and interest to your images, and you will have fresh flowers that you can use as props to add a fresh unique touch to your images.

one year old boy with plum tree
one year old boy with sun flowers
one year old boy with stone crop
cake smash
one year cake smash

Tricia used a Nikon D600 with a Nikkor 85mm lens to capture these images.

Tricia Schumacher is a DeKalb-Sycamore, IL Children, Newborn, and Family Portrait photographer.

See more tips on Photography DIY.

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