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Newborn photo shoot: everything you need to know - advice from a photographer

Patricia Burmicky is an educator, founder of PhotoUno Photography School and a New York-based portrait and event photographer with over a decade of experience. She loves working on newborn, baby, and family photo shoots and capturing the authentic moments of family love and joy. Find more of Patricia's work at and
Jan 13, 2022

Pictures of you and your newborn baby taken by a professional photographer give you an opportunity to capture precious memories for your family and remember a wonderful moment in time. You can also think about these photographs as not just for you, the parents, but also for the baby - when your child will be ten or twenty years-old, or when they have their own children, they will have these photographs to look back on and feel all the immense love that their parents felt for them.

Knowing what to expect and how to plan a successful newborn photo shoot will help you get photographs you are happy with and minimize any stress leading up to the session. In the article below, Patricia Burmicky, a professional photographer with over a decade of experience shares her advice for parents on preparing for a newborn photo shoot.

Planning ahead & choosing a photographer 

When to start planning a newborn photo shoot:

  • Typically people plan a newborn photo shoot in their second trimester. If you are also planning to hire a photographer to capture maternity or baby shower photos, you might look for a photographer earlier in the second trimester; if not, towards the end of the second trimester would be a great time to get organized.

Finding a photographer:

  • Some good places to get started are your friends and family who might have recently had a newborn photo shoot
  • Schedule calls with a couple of photographers to learn more about them and see who you like best.
  • Facebook groups, Yelp, etc.
  • Google image search is another way to find a photographer.

Considerations when choosing a photographer:

 Photographer's style:

  • Look through some examples of newborn photographs and see what resonates with you. Are you looking for some posed pictures (e.g., a baby in an artificial flower) or a more genuine style (e.g., family looking at the baby)?
  • Make sure to explore the photographer's portfolio to make sure their style matches your preferences.

Personal fit:

  • You want to make sure you have fun on the day of, so look for somebody with whom you would like to spend a few hours and who will help you feel comfortable and at ease.
  • Make sure your photographer respects your boundaries (e.g., if you are not comfortable with using flash or have some religious restrictions).

Your budget:

  • Think about having the photos done at home or in a studio. In my opinion, most parents prefer to have them done at home as it is more comfortable for the baby, easier for parents and also safer/healthier.
Newborn photo shoot - Leleki

Ideas for a newborn photo shoot:

Ask yourself: what kind of photographs do you want to have and where do you want to display them?

  • On a postcard for a thank you note? Get a few close-ups of the baby.
  • On the wall in your home? Get a few good family portraits where everybody is looking at the camera.
  • Would you like to make an album? Get many different kinds of photos to lay them out in a book.

Make a mood board:

  • Mood board is a collage of the kind of pictures you like.
  • Think about the general idea for style and maybe some poses .
  • See if you have your own baby picture that you would like the photographer to recreate with your baby.
  • Some pictures you saw from your friends' photo shoots or online that you liked.
  • Share all of the above with your photographer.

Some ideas that tend work well:

  • Genuine pictures of parents interacting with and looking at their baby.
  • Baby’s fingers wrapped around parents’ fingers: if you put fingers into baby's hands, she/he will grab onto them.
  • Shots of the older sibling(s) interacting with the baby.
  • Close-up shots of the baby, their little face, feet, hands.
Newborn photo shoot - Leleki



  • If you want newborn pictures where babies are very small and you capture those really tiny fingers and toes, try to do a newborn photo shoot in the first 15 days after birth. After 15 days they start getting more active and look a bit different - at a month, the baby looks like a "baby" vs "newborn." Of course, the key is for the whole family to be and feel well, so it might make sense to push the session back if you need a bit of extra time to recover from the delivery.
  • Typically your photographer will offer to be on call for a few weeks before and after the due date.


  • Plan on spending 2-3 hours for a newborn photo session. Babies sometimes need a break, so know that things might not go super smoothly and that is ok :)
  • The exact time really depends on the dynamics of your family, but make sure to schedule for the first half of the day when there is plenty of natural light.
  • Typically starting the session at 10-11am works well. This gives the family enough time to get ready in the morning. You will be able to wrap up the session by 2pm when babies tend to get fussy. This timing provides plenty of natural light during the session.
Newborn photo shoot - Leleki

Considerations and ideas for the day of the photoshoot


  • Your home (bedroom and/or nursery) would work well to provide a neutral backdrop for photos.
  • Go for neutral tones of bedding / backgrounds.
  • Remove bold colored objects that might be a distraction in the photos.
  • Remove baby furniture, cables, and books that might be a distraction during the session.
  • Get some neutral-colored flowers to use as a prop.
  • Knitted doll or something else that gives you a sense of scale (how big the baby is) is a great prop to have.

What to wear:


  • What would you normally wear? Try not to look too casual or too overdressed. Something that is comfortable and makes you feel like yourself would work well.
  • Go for lighter colors, but try to avoid all white. If the baby is fair, he/she might look a bit washed out if there is too much white in the pictures.
  • Try not to have too much jewelry on as it will steal focus in the pictures.
  • No bright colors or patterns; no very dark colors.
Newborn photo shoot - Leleki

Additional advice for mom after birth:

  • Shirts with short or 3/4 sleeves work very well if you are feeling a bit self conscious about your body.
  • Try not to wear anything too baggy - if you are wearing a baggy shirt or dress, make sure it can be cinched at the waist if needed.
  • Denim works very well, but try to avoid leggings (they tend not to look great in pictures, specially dark ones).
  • Shorts or short skirts are a bit constricting, so unless you absolutely love wearing those, go for something longer.
  • Make sure you feel comfortable :)


  • Have 2-4 different outfits ready for your baby.
  • Colors: decide if you prefer gender-neutral or more gender-specific colors.
  • Swaddles work very well - try to choose some with light colors, maybe some texture, and/or a cute light pattern. Also, it's really cute when babies stick their hands out of the swaddle :)
  • If the baby is fair, try to avoid white swaddles so that the baby does not look washed out.
  • Knits have nice texture and look super cute on babies (e.g., Knit hat or a chunky sweater).
  • Newborns tend to get fussy when wearing tutus, so make sure this is not your baby's only outfit option.
  • Newborns have very cute, but a bit funny skinny legs. So, if you would rather not capture the skinny legs - avoid short onesies :) and try to use something that covers baby legs, like pants or gowns.
Newborn photo shoot - Leleki

Prep for parents / mom:

  • Keep your skin hydrated: drink lots of water, use a hydrating mask the night before (please make sure to only use a mask you have tried before - do not experiment with products before the shoot), take some vitamin C for a few days leading up to the shoot if ok with your doctor, since Vitamin C helps freshen up the skin.
  • Use foundation without SPF (light tends to bounce off SPF).
  • Style your hair as you would for a good hair day. For women, it's nice to have hair down to frame the face, but make sure hair does not cover your face.
  • If possible, get your nails done. If using nail polish - choose neutral colors to keep it simple. 
Newborn photo shoot - Leleki

Helping older siblings during a newborn photoshoot:

  • If the family has older sibling(s), make sure to give them lots and lots of attention and perhaps start with the photographer taking pictures of the older kid(s). This helps them feel special and overcome some of the feelings of jealousy that might develop if the photographer goes straight for the newborn.
Newborn photo shoot - Leleki

Pro tip for baby smiles:

  • Let your photographer know if you want the pics of the baby crying or only sleeping/smiling.
  • To get your baby to smile: gently caress the baby's cheek (not 100% success rate, but works most of the time).

Common pitfalls

  • Scheduling very early in the morning if you are not a morning person and/or will not have time to get ready for the photo session.
  • Scheduling in the afternoon when babies get fussy.
  • Having objects with bright colors/patterns in the room that steal focus in the pictures.
  • Wearing bright colors / patterns.
  • Wearing uncomfortable clothes.

Is there a way to do a newborn photo shoot safely during Covid?

There is no easy answer here, especially given all of the twists and turns of this pandemic. This also really depends on your family's preferences and risk tolerance. Here are a few things you could consider:

  • Check with photographer ahead of the session if they are vaccinated against Covid-19 and ask them to wear a N95 mask the whole time.
  • You could consider opening the windows and making sure there is movement of air in the room where you are planning to have the shoot. If it is not very warm out, make sure to have a heater for the baby.
  • If it is warm out, you could also consider doing a photo session outside (e.g., in the park).

Leleki does not provide medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. The resources on our website are provided for informational purposes only. You should always consult with your care provider / a healthcare professional if you have any questions or concerns.