Newborn photoshoot tips for new parents

Are you finding that there’s too much conflicting information from various newborn photographers? It can even leave you feeling uncertain about preparing for a newborn photo session and wondering if it’s right for your baby.

You have more than enough to think about. Hopefully, this post will help you answer those worries and offer practical tips. I already have one preparation post, but it covers most asked questions.
So after reading these tips, head to my other Newborn photography preparation post

With 13 years of experience in newborn photography, I’ve learned a thing or two! 

1. Choosing the Ideal Time for Newborn Photos

This is the number one question for most parents of newborns. And the one that causes the most confusion. With different photographers recommending various time frames, it can feel overwhelming. 

I always explain this to new parents very simply: plan your newborn photography session for when you feel your baby will be settled, feeding is going smoothly, and you, as a parent, feel ready to venture out. 

Keep in mind, a relaxed baby makes for beautiful portraits, whereas a fussy or hungry baby can be tricky to photograph. Take a little time to get to know your newborn. While your photographer can help to a certain extent, if your baby is uncomfortable or hungry, there’s little they can do.

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Although there’s a general timeframe for achieving that “newborn fresh and squishy” look of around 5-6 weeks, your individual circumstances matter. Premature babies, for instance, may have a more flexible time window due to their smaller size and sleep patterns. Talk to your photographer, they’ll be able to advise you.

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The key to planning your newborn photoshoot is communication

  • If you find out new information from a midwife about when your baby might arrive it’s good to inform the photographer.
  • Once your baby arrives, let the photographer know so they can adjust their schedule and suggest a potential session date.
  • If you need to stay longer in the hospital, don’t worry, you need to get well. But do update the photographer. 
  • When you’re back home, take time to enjoy parenting and observe how things are going, focusing on how your baby is feeding and how you, as a mum, are feeling.
Awake newborn around 5 weeks old

Don’t worry if things don’t go exactly as planned as your baby approaches the 4-5 week mark. You can still have wonderful baby photography and beautiful portraits to treasure.

In summary, communicate with your photographer after your baby’s arrival. Share any updates from your midwife, inform them about the birth, and arrange the perfect time for you. 

Remember, a happy baby results in the best photos, so avoid stressing over minor changes to your plan.

2. Settling, Burping, and Winding Your Baby

You might wonder what baby settling has to do with photography. Ensuring your baby is well-settled and comfortably burped matters more than you might think! 
If your baby is not well settled or has wind and burps in them, they’re likely to be uncomfortable and squirmy during the session.

Here are a few ways to settle your baby:

  • If you’re bottle-feeding, burp your baby a couple of times during feeds.
  • Even if you’re breastfeeding, burping can help; I have found sessions are smoother if you do.
  • Babies release wind differently; find what works best for yours. 
  • There are lots of different winding positions; consider trying different ones. You’ll learn by experimenting (trust me, as a Dad and a newborn photographer, I’ve tried a lot!).

Check out my video on releasing wind from babies

Sometimes these things are easier if you can see them in action. So I’ve created this video where I show a couple of ways to release wind from babies.
They don’t always work, of course, and if we’ve tried several methods in the studio before your photo session, no worries – we’ll just have to wait a little while.

3. Including Extra Family Members and Pets

The thought of including extra family members or pets in a newborn session might seem an unnecessary complication, especially amid the chaos of new parenthood. 
But it’s really important that you consider the importance of these portraits for generations to come. As we’ve learned during the pandemic, life can be unpredictable. 

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This is why I believe it’s so important to seize the opportunity to capture your family together. So, if there is ever an opportunity to bring extra family members, I always say please do it. You never know when you will have the opportunity to have a professional portrait as a whole family again. 

These once-in-a-lifetime portraits will also be so precious when your kids grow up and fly the nest.

How to plan the newborn photos with family

  • The first photos should be pictures of the parents. This means they don’t need to wait around a long time in a warm studio.
  • Consider the different ways parents might want to be photographed together, and ask them for their ideas too.
  • Decide if you want the baby to be naked or wearing clothes in these pictures. If you choose clothes, make sure they fit well. 
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Heartwarming photos of newborns and pets together

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You might feel a bit silly about the idea of bringing your pet to your newborn photography session, but I’ve been photographing newborn babies and dogs together for years.  

Very often your dog is your first baby and personally, I think they should be part of this experience too. Especially since your baby is likely to develop a really strong bond with their partner in crime later :) 
I’ve written a full article on dogs with newborns topic. Do check it out.

dog with newborn baby in Edinburgh studio

What to consider before your newborn and pet photos

  • If you’re planning to bring your pet along, please let the photographer know in advance. Not all photographers can accommodate pets in their studios or may not feel comfortable working with dogs. 
  • If you’re worried that your dog is too lively and energetic, don’t worry, there are special techniques to capture portraits of your baby and pet together. 
  • Remember, if your dog isn’t entirely at ease around the baby or seems unsure, please don’t push them into a photo together. We want a safe and happy photoshoot for everyone. 

By following these suggestions, you can create heartwarming and meaningful portraits that include your beloved pet in this special chapter of your family’s story.

4. Timeless Portraits: Looking Ahead 10 Years

Thinking 10 years ahead might sound a bit much, but bear with me. Over the last 13 years, I’ve learned that the trendy, Instagram-styled, super adorable poses might not end up being the ones that matter most to you as parents. 

Although you might initially be drawn to the cute props and poses, over the years, it’s often the simple, natural portraits that truly resonate.

awake newborn baby during photoshoot in Edinburgh

You’ll find yourself cherishing the natural moments that show the genuine connection between you and your baby. Those “quirky” shots might be sweet, but will they reflect that precious bond with your baby a decade from now? Probably not.

When you look at these portraits in the future, you’ll see the magical moments of your early bond, unobstructed with props and poses. In my experience, my own kids appreciate these heartfelt moments too.

These images are to pass down to them as they grow up too. So even if you’re feeling tired or not at your absolute best, remember that your child won’t focus on those details. What they’ll treasure is that beautiful portrait of themselves and their Mum and Dad. To them, that will be the most important portrait of all.

5. Creating a Well Designed Photo Story

Here’s something many parents forget to consider during a newborn photo session: how the story comes together. Let me explain. Imagine you plan to display your portraits on a wall or in an album. You wouldn’t want one portrait to be light, another dark, and another yellow or red—it wouldn’t look right.

To avoid this, I encourage a bit of planning. Together, we decide what you want the final portraits to achieve. Whether they’ll hang on your wall, be in an album, or sit in a portrait box. With the end goal in mind, we align the portraits’ style to your home decor or album theme. This way, they’ll be easy on the eye and a joy to look at.

By following these basics, you’ll be well-prepared for your portrait session. Always consider the long-term value and meaning behind the portraits you create.

What will give you joy every day for years to come?

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I hope you enjoyed these suggestions and you have plenty of great ideas now! 

Thank you and see you next time.

Warm regards,


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