Parent’s Guide to a Successful Newborn Photography Session

I have been a professional newborn photographer in Orange County, CA for more than 10 years. Throughout the years, I have learned some tips and tricks that parents can do before, during and after the session will help make a great newborn photography session. When it comes to newborn photography, the baby is ALWAYS in charge. That means that sometimes, no matter what we do, the baby may not be up to having their picture taken haha No worries though, because a professional photographer will always be able to pivot and suit the session to baby’s needs.

Before the Newborn Session

Sleepy Newborns are the Best Models

The best newborn sessions happen when baby is nice and sleepy. I will try to get images with baby’s eyes open toward the end of the session, but, for the most part, we want baby sleepy because that’s when they are calm and cooperative. Babies that are awake for their session tend to move so much that we can’t get our best shots unless they are wrapped up.

Please try to keep baby awake for at least 1.5 hours before you leave the house for the session. If baby is awake before the session, they will likely sleep well during the session. If you’re baby is having a hard time staying awake before the session, here’s a few things that you can do to wake them up:

  • Change their clothes. Nothing wakes up baby more than taking their clothes off for a diaper change.
  • Tickle their feet or give them a good foot massage.
  • By far, a bath is a great way to wake them up and prep them for the session. A nice, soothing lavender bath right before their session is a great way to relax them.

dressing the newborns

Once you’ve given baby a nice long bath, dress them up in a button-up or zip-up outfit with NO ONESIE underneath. Taking off a onesie usually require more manipulation, which means there;s more chance to irritate the baby. This will make it easy for them to be undressed when we start the newborn session. Some of my favorite outfits are the two-pieces with magnetic closures from

Dress in Neutral Colors

I always encourage families to join in the newborn session to document the new family dynamic. Neutral colored clothing works best for family pictures- white, cream, black or grey are my top choices. You will most likely only be photographed from the waist up, so don’t worry too much about your shoe choice.

Fill ‘Em Up

We’ve all heard of the expression ‘Milk Drunk.’ Well, milk drunk babies are the best kind of babies when it comes to a newborn photography session. Try to feed baby as much as possible just before you leave the house. This should keep baby nice and full (and asleep) during the session.

Soothie Secret Weapon

I know that parents have different opinions when it comes to using pacifiers. When it comes to newborn photography, a pacifier can make all the difference in the world. Sometimes all a baby needs is a few seconds with the pacifier to settle into a pose. In my opinion, babies tend to do best with the soothie type pacifiers. I ask that parents bring a pacifier to the session even if they think their baby won’t use it. If they forget, I have individually wrapped, sterile pacifiers for baby to use.

During the Newborn Session

Wrangle the Toddlers

If big brother or sister is going to be joining us in the studio for the session, it’s important to try and keep them as entertained as possible so that they don’t interrupt the newborn session. Newborn photography sessions can take up to 2 hours, depending on the baby’s temperament. So, siblings may have a hard time sitting still for that long. I do have toys at the studio, as well as a television with streaming programs, but sometimes bringing a small, new toy might help to occupy the child and feel extra special.

If you have a very active toddler, it may even be a good idea for another family member to take the sibling out for a play date to a local park while we photograph the newborn.

If all else fails, I have some snacks and candy that can be used to bribe them haha

Take a Nap

One of the best things you can do during the session is to take a nap. What? Yes! This is your time to relax, knowing that your baby is being well cared for during their session. I actually take it as a huge compliment when parents are able to fall asleep while I work with the baby during the session. Whether it’s due to their complete trust in me or utter sleep deprivation, I love it.

Trust the Photographer

Another way parents can help make the session a success is to trust your photographer. I’ve been photographing babies for more than 10 years and my experience has helped me trouble-shoot and streamline the process. I always welcome parent’s ideas during the pre-planning, but sometimes when we try to add things during the session or change set-ups, it can lead to an even longer session. Be sure to discuss any color, props, or pose preferences with your photographer prior to the session.

Keep Talking to a Minimum

I create a soothing environment in the studio as a way to keep the baby as calm as possible. This includes diffusing essential oils and playing white noise and keeping talking to a minimum. If baby requires a feeding break, that’s my chance to chat with the parents, but, other than that, o keep chatter to a minimum so that I can focus on the session. It helps so much if parents keep speaking with me during the session to a minimum.

After the Newborn Session

Share your Sneak Peeks

Photographers share sneak peeks from sessions so that clients can see a bit of the magic that happened during their session. It’s also a great opportunity for parents to show off their new bundle of joy. One of the best things you can do for a photographer is to share their work directly from their social media. For example, if they post a sneak peek on Instagram, share the image directly from their feed to your feed.

If you don’t share directly from their feed, or if you share images after you’ve received them, be sure to tag the photographer’s page. It means the world to photographers to have our work credited when sharing. One of the biggest endorsements we get as photographers is a personal referral. When you tag a photographer, you are helping their business more than you may realize.

Give them Feedback

Photographers love to hear feedback when we send out images to clients. You’d be surprised how many times a client doesn’t let their photographer know if they liked their pictures or not.

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