Capturing Newborn Pics: 8 Things a Pro Wants You to Know

All images used with permission and copyright Kerry Goodwin Photography.All images used with permission and copyright Kerry Goodwin Photography.For National Photography Month, I sat down with North Shore, Mass. professional photographer Kerry Goodwin to talk about her essential advice and newborn photography tips for parents when photographing baby, and hiring a professional photographer to capture the magic of their newborn.


Hi Kerry! Given your experience with all of the types of photography that you do, what makes photographing newborns particularly unique?

I think the thing that sets newborns apart from all the other photography I do is that newborns are best photographed asleep. There is nothing better than a swaddled, cozy, happy, sleeping baby. It just melts your heart. One other big difference for me since I don't photograph in a studio is that newborns are photographed inside their homes where the rest of my work is generally done outside.

Related: Aww! 10 cutest beach baby pictures

Why should parents consider hiring a professional to take portraits of their newborn?

A professional will (hopefully) have a lot of experience and know how to handle and pose the baby. Patience is key in any photo session but even more so with newborns. If a baby isn't settling to sleep a professional will have the tricks and patience to get the baby to sleep.

A professional will know how to use their camera in order to take an in focus, properly exposed, and well composed photograph worthy of framing in your home.

Timing is an important thing to consider too. As hard as it can be to imagine inviting a stranger into your home or traveling to a studio immediately after you have come home from the hospital, I can assure you it's something you will never regret. A year later you won't remember how tired or anxious you were (well, maybe you will). You'll only remember exactly what your precious newborn looked like at five days old. Not only will they will never look like that again, but they are much more sleepy and easily posed and have little to no baby acne.

What should parents look for when selecting a professional photographer?

It's always great to get a referral, someone who has given a friend a positive experience. In order to recommend someone that will fit your need to determine a couple of things first.

First, what is your style? Lifestyle? Studio/backdrop? A mix of both? No one can say which is better. It's a completely personal opinion and very important to find a photographer who excels in which ever one you prefer. Look through a potential photographer's gallery on their website. If you aren't swooning over their photos my advice is to move on to the next even if your best friend recommended them.

What is your budget? Traditional? All-inclusive? You need to decide which one you are most comfortable with. With the traditional structure there is a relatively low session fee where you can purchase prints and/or digital files through the photographer. There is generally a minimum print order and some offer packages combining different size prints. All-inclusive is a more modern structure with digital sharing in mind. In this structure the photographer will have a (sometimes significantly) higher session fee but it includes all of the digital files for you to print and share as you like.

It doesn't matter if the photographer you're considering has won awards or belongs to certain professional photographer's groups or even if they went to photography school. None of that matters if you don't like their pictures!

What can parents expect from a professional photography session?

I'm sure most photographers differ in their typical session but for me I arrive at the client's house and we chat about what we hope to accomplish. Basically I have two different types of pictures I'm trying to take; awake and asleep. At that point the baby is in charge. If she's awake I'll use that time to do some awake pictures.

Eventually it's time to feed the baby a lot of milk to get him to sleep in a very warm room. A session can last anywhere from 1 to 4 hours depending on how sleepy the baby is and how many different setups the photographer attempts. I bring all of my own blankets, hats, headbands, and wraps but I also make sure to incorporate special items from around the house. Parents can also expect me to re-arrange their house! If there is a table in front of the best window, I will be moving it. They can also expect that I will move it back.

What photography styles work best for newborns and babies?

This is another question that depends on your own style. Personally I believe that natural and neutral colors work best. Naked or wrapped in fabric is the best look for newborns. Parents are always excited to put their baby in the cute outfit that Auntie bought but outfits really don't photograph well on a newborn. They are generally too big and baggie and end up being unflattering.

How can parents prepare newborn or baby before his or her photography session to make it go as smoothly as possible?

The only thing I ask parents to do ahead of time is to gather important items they may want to use in the session.

Any other tips or recommendations you have for new parents?

Whoever you decide to use as a photographer I can promise you they adore word-of-mouth recommendations. Talk about them on Facebook. Share the photographer's Facebook page and encourage your friends to like it. If the photographer shares a picture from your session on their page with their logo, never crop out the logo. Always respect the photographer's terms. Another thing to seriously consider is scheduling regular sessions throughout the first year. My clients generally book maternity, newborn, 4 months, 8 months, and 12 months and I'm able to offer those at a discounted rate. Trust me when I say it's worth the investment.

Thank you Kerry for all of these amazing tips and advice for capturing the magic of newborns on film!

- By Keiko Zoll

For 10 of the most adorable "sleeping baby" photos, visit Disney Baby!

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