Mar 2, 2021

As a portrait studio that specializes in Newborns, we’ve found literally every mama has the same questions and we’re here for it.

What do I need to know about newborn photos?

-Every new parent, ever

At what age should newborn photos be taken?

The best time for newborn photos is between 7 and 10 days after birth. The first few days are hard, you’re just meeting each other and figuring each other out.

If you carried your baby, you’re also still bloated and frankly tired.

The younger the baby, the more naturally they pose like they are still in the womb. That’s how you get those curly, womb-like newborn poses.

Now, all that being said. Anytime is literally the perfect time for newborn photos.

Frankly, my first daughters’ newborn pictures were done at 6 weeks, I didn’t have this amazing guide to tell me I should do them sooner. And my second daughter was 6 weeks premature. Since we always recommend adjusting, hers were also done at 6 weeks.

I love and cherish our newborn photos as much as if they were taken between 7-10 days.

Our recommendation is to book your newborn photo session in advance based on your due date, then adjust as needed. They’re only this little once, so getting them as close to the 7-10 days as possible ensures you capture them before they grow too much!

What Safety precautions should be taken with newborn photoshoots?

Currently there are no safety regulations in place for the newborn photography industry which we think is rather crazy.

Literally, anyone who owns a camera can begin photographing newborns with no training or knowledge of the special needs of infants. What, I know it’s super crazy!

Baby safety should always be the number one priority when selecting a photographer. Literally, number one. Babies can startle and move easily so it’s very important to be prepared to anticipate and always be close enough to put your hand on the baby.

Some things a trained newborn photographer will consider are room temperature, baby’s temperature and well-being, compositing only for certain poses, or only offering baby-guided posing and posing safely.

Your newborn photographer should be insured, honestly, it’s about professionalism. This ensures you are working with a professional and not a hobbyist.

Should newborn portraits be done in the hospital?

Nope, no, definitely not.

Ok, that might be a bit harsh. Here’s the deal, in the hospital no one is comfortable, it’s simply not home. Not home for you and not home for your baby.

You’ve just been through a trauma, either through vaginal delivery or a c-section. And they frankly have just entered this very new, bright and incredibly noisy world where they are expected to eat and all sorts of other crazy new things.

From a technical perspective, hospital lighting is very harsh and not designed to make baby and mama look amazing. You’re bloated and trying to figure out how to feed your baby. They are trying to figure out literally everything in this new place.

Also, they don’t do family portraits. This means you won’t be in the images and frankly, that makes us sad. You’ll look back and want to see the wonder you feel for this tiny little creature that just changed your life. One of my favorite images ever is of my oldest daughter in my husband’s hands, you get to see just how little she was.

And a nurse is waking you (or both of you) up every two hours. Now does that sound like a recipe for amazing images that you want to cherish forever? Nope, take your time at the hospital to simply meet and be with the new love of your life.

Can my wedding photographer or family photographer shoot my newborn photos?

Great question. The answer typically is no, your wedding or family photographer should not take your newborn photos. Your newborn is literally the most precious thing in this world and ever so fragile.

Do you hand your newborn to simply anyone to hold (ok, if it’s your fourth child, maybe)? But all kidding aside, it takes years of training and practice to know how to safely handle and pose a baby. 

It is not something every photographer is trained to know how to do.  Think of it like this, you baked a cake for your BFFs birthday, can you now run a world-renowned bakery? Of course not (but you do deserve cake because you just literally grew a human).

Now if your wedding photographer is a total unicorn and does event-based photography like weddings and newborns, check out their credentials and training and if they’re experts go for it!

What are good newborn photo props?

You. Your baby. Your partner. Siblings.

Nothing else, we have a firm belief that simple is always better. Too much ‘stuff’ distracts from your newborn which is what you ultimately care about.

When you look back on these images in 20 years, you will care that they have that same smile or the same little freckle. You will care how little their fingers were.

You won’t care about the theme or the balloons or the background.

That’s why we believe in clean, simple backgrounds that are timeless.

Ok so now that my philosophy is out of the way, let’s chat logistics.

An expert in newborn photography will have a ‘bean bag’ or the likes that is a soft place to pose the baby. Some are on the floor and some are on tables (just make sure someone is always,  ALWAYS, touching the baby as they can roll at any moment).

They will also have props specifically designed for newborns – bowls, baskets, etc. These are specially made for newborns to ensure they are the right size, appropriatatly shaped and weighted for safety.

An expert newborn photographer will also utilize weighted bags to ensure the props are just right for your baby’s weight and size. Bottom line, work with an expert. They have what they need. You should only need to show up.

What are good Newborn photo poses?

Every newborn is different. You’ve heard it a million times every pregnancy is different and if you’ve had more than one you totally understand what that means.

An expert in newborn photography will work with the baby, NEVER forcing a pose.

The baby will naturally want to move a specific way. An expert understands that and will safely pose a newborn in a way that’s natural to them. These are the images you are going to love, because it’s how the natural sleep or engage with you. This is how you curate memories.

What is the newborn froggy pose?

Ok so let’s take a moment to talk about the froggy pose.

It is the one that the baby’s resting their head on their hands.

Have you ever seen a baby do that? Nope, it’s because they literally are not capable of holding up their own head yet. So that pose is not safe unless it is done through what is called a composite. That means the newborn photographer takes a picture of the baby with their hand on the top of the head holding it up and with the hand on the bottom of the head holding it up and then photoshops the two together.

Here’s the million-dollar question, did you know that? If not, trust an expert because a photographer who’s not fully trained might think they can just take that pose and that’s not safe for the baby.

Here are a few quick references for a beginner pose verses an expert pose. Now that’s not to say that an expert doesn’t do a beginner pose, it just means that you won’t get an expert pose from a beginner.

Is it easier to take newborn photos at home or at a photo studio?

We get this question a lot because expecting moms always think it will be so much easier to just have it done at their home.

But if you’ve ever been with a mom who’s literally only home from the hospital for a few days you’d know. Home will look like a war zone.

Things will literally be everywhere.  So, the thought of having to clean your home is honestly bananas to us.

Here’s why newborn photos should be done in a studio?

Here are some additional important factors that an in-studio session provides.

The studio is temperature controlled, especially hot for a newborn who’s teeny tiny and changing wraps.

The studio’s light is controlled to make you (and your newborn, of course) look amazing.

Your homes style. Is it pinterest worth? Ok if it’s not, but that means you aren’t going to get those images you’ve seen on Pinterest.

All exterior distractions are gone. And this is a big one! You aren’t thinking about the laundry, the dishes, who just called, the dog barking, or what Amazon just dropped off.

With a studio session, all you have to do is get yourself dressed, no small feat, and get to the studio. Then there is an expert newborn photographer that takes care of everything else!

Oftentimes, at home and lifestyle newborns are synonymous. What this means is that the photographer won’t pose the baby. You will hold the baby the entire time.

So, if that’s your jam, this might be a good fit for you. Just remember, you have to clean and have super cool décor to pull this off.

What is the best time to take newborn photos?

10am. I honestly don’t know why but it’s the magical hour for newborns. They are sleepiest at 10am! And as an added bonus it gives you time to get up and shower (a total luxury) before your session!

Should mothers/fathers be in newborn photos?

Unequivocally yes mom, dad, and siblings should get in the photo.

We know you might not feel your best. Heck, you might not even be cleared to drive yet. But you will never regret having those memories. And you can’t get them back. Don’t regret it. Get in the picture.

Again, this is why you go to a newborn photography expert. They know all the perfect angles and posing to make sure you look amazing, even if you are not feeling the best. These images really highlight your connection with your partner and your newborn!

What are the best outfits for new moms to wear to their newborn photo shoot?

Your body just grew a human and most of us don’t bounce back in a day. So, don’t try.

Honestly, don’t try to get back into your pre-maternity jeans. Just don’t. Wear your maternity jeans, they will look amazing because you will simply be glowing.

And since you are going to an expert, they will know all the most amazing angles for a new mom. For example, one of our favorite poses is mom draped around dad or a close crop of you snuggling your new love.

Don’t wear black, it isn’t slimming. Did I just totally blow your mind?

It’s true, unless you have a lot of very black hair, don’t wear black it will look harsh. Wear thick fabrics with structure and think about lots of texture. We also recommend soft neutral colors; it lets your baby be the star.

How long should a newborn photoshoot take?

Simple answer less than 2 hours.

The first hour should be for the family.

This is when older siblings should be invited and we all know what happens when a toddler is involved, in literally anything.

So, when the energy is high, the newborn is in your (or your partner’s) arms which means they are snuggled in and very content to go back to sleep no matter how loud the toddler is! This gives big brother or big sister lots of time to be them. Then they are invited to leave, do you like how I phrased that? But in all seriousness, toddlers have been through it too. All of a sudden they are expected to share mom and or dad with this new person. And the schedule is all off. And all the things. Asking them to hang out for a 2 hour session is really asking too much!

The second hour should be images of just your baby

This is when the energy is low and it’s nice and calm.

They’ll be sleepy and sleep most of the session. When working with a professional newborn photographer they will have a specific workflow.

This allows them to wrap the baby nice and tight, which reminds the baby of being in the womb. Then they’ll slowly unwrap the baby for additional poses. This ensures the experience isn’t jarring for the newborn.

Think of it like this; do you like to be woken up to someone ripping the covers off of you. Um, no. Neither does a newborn!

Should I reschedule my newborn photo shoot if my baby is fussy?

Don’t put off your newborn photos because your baby is fussy!

We are trained professionals and will know the best ways to sooth a cranky baby.

We are also trained in newborn massage which can help with relaxing your newborn baby.

99% of the time if the baby is well-fed, warm, and swaddled they feel comfortable so there is nothing to worry about! We will capture amazing images for you, that’s why you chose a professional!

Final Thoughts

There is so much to think about when you are expecting a newborn.

Everyone has an opinion (and oh so willing to share)! Choosing how you are going to remember them is a really big decision. So, let me boil it down – choose an expert, love their look and book before you deliver!

Deets Here

Ok, I hope we’ve answered all of your questions regarding Newborn portraits but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We recco Main Line Family Education as an amazing resource for new parents, they have all the expertise you need!

About the Author

Lara Aman Mattey

Founder I Owner I Ivory Tree

Lara is the coolest person alive, according to her husband, Nick, & two little ladies, Caitie & Lorelai. But she thinks her time is limited on that statement as they continue to grow older. Lara comes from a large family, with whom she is still very close with & you’ll often see shared through the blog and on social media. She went to Penn State (We Are…) where she met Nick.

Ivory Tree's very own photographer, Marcy shot her newborn photography sessions & Lara was hooked! Lara is not a photographer, super weird, we know. But lives for the experience, creative direction, and meeting all the cool folks who come through the Ivory Tree Portraits studio!

In addition to studio awards, Lara was also recognized at a Women of Influence on the Main Line in 2023.

Follow along as she shares studio antics, personal antidotes, & fun stuff going on in the community.

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