Newborn Photography Tips

Being able to capture those fleeting newborn moments is a really special and important thing for parents, and we’re here to help! Whether you hire a photographer or take them yourself, Kristen Duke is sharing some great newborn photography tips to think about.

1. To get PRIME newborn pictures, take them within the first 2 weeks of life, if possible. Babies are more sleepy and easier to pose.

2. I like to use the background of my clients home, to make it more personal. Sometimes the baby room, sometimes the family room. It is fun to include elements in the home such as the crib, a rocking chair, dresser, or rug. I like to freeze the moment in time and capture the scene to tell their story at that time in life. The only downside to that is new parents often have a little bit of a mess, but I try to mention ahead of time that I’d like to use the nursery of somewhere in the home in the shots.

3. I like to use parents as a backdrop as well. Babies are cute by themselves, but parents are important and need to be documented, too. Most moms won’t love the way they look, but I think it is important to include them, if only a brush of their face, or part of their hand. 4. Use a blanket as a backdrop. I used to have a backdrop set up at my home, and have clients come to me, but I have stopped doing that. This is the only type of session I actually enjoy the look of a backdrop… but still prefer the backdrop of the home.

I really enjoy the photojournalistic side of newborn sessions.

5. I often bring a handful of blankets with texture, solid black furry blanket, and beanbag. I will also throw in a few diaper covers (crocheted or cloth diapers), hats, etc. but I like to use the special blankets or hats that the parents have bought for their child instead of using mine and then leaving with it. But I do provide it as an option.

A Boppy pillow is also a great place to set the newborn with a blanket in between. I also tell parents to wear solid colors (prefer black) to be a makeshift “background” as they cradle the baby. Long sleeves are best.

6. Keep it warm! I often suggest to crank the heat up in the home so baby will be cozy and happy. Have them fed (and happy) just before the shoot, but if crankiness occurs, I just plan to sit and chat while they are fed–and am constantly reassuring the parents that this is normal. Binkys on hand are great, white noise, but I am regularly rocking and shushing (in a rhythmic way) the baby myself and will place them in the spot I have in mind.

7. Eyes opened/eyes closed. I like both. I do not have the sleep-baby-posed-just-so-with-hands-tucked-under-chin pose down. There are videos on you tube, I’ve seen people do it, but I guess I don’t try enough because it isn’t my thing.

8. I often bring my bean bag as close to a window as I can with the baby facing it, grab a kitchen chair to stand on, get above the baby and shoot down below. Great angle. Great Light. The above shot is just that.

9. I am not a big fan of “baby outfits.” You have newborn portraits taken to see that fresh new baby-ness, not the cute little outfit you bought with just a head poking out. I like to shoot partial nudity. Naked with a diaper/diaper cover on. It is a good thing to discuss ahead of time with the parents so it isn’t an awkward thing there. If they are completely against any form of nudity then I love the clean look of a white onesie. If possible, strip them down to the desired look well before the shoot/before feeding and wrap them cozy in a blanket so as not to disrupt that peaceful phase as you being shooting.


10. I take close ups of the feet, and often cradled in mom or dads hands to show the size difference.

11. Pee and poop is inevitable. Embrace it, friends, and laugh with it. Those can be fun shots, too! I also like to capture a little cranky face. Seems sad at the time, but I enjoy viewing that raw emotion later.

12. Unless there is a lot of colorful home decor, I often show the majority of my images in black and white. There is something so pure and simple about that look, and often the baby skin has blemishes that are hidden with black and white.


My name is Kristen Duke and I blog over at Capturing Joy. I started blogging by sharing sneak peeks of my portrait sessions, but now share so much more: home projects, recipes, parties, and fashion!

Kristen Duke


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  1. AWESOME post!
    FINALLY another photog that isn’t into those baby proped up poses!
    Thank you Kristen. I took a lot away from this post, our styles are sooooo similar!

    1. Thank you, Sandra! Yes, I love the natural and more candid for babies!

  2. The pictures are beautiful. Thanks for the great tips. I may have the opportunity to put some of your advice to work in August. : )

  3. Love your work Kristen. I have never been brave enough to venture into someone’s home, I’ve always done it in my little basement studio, but I don’t have that in Germany. I’ll definitely be needing some of these tips. Thanks!

  4. Thank you so much for this post! I learned some really key things!! I love your style. The touching noses photo is priceless. :)

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