How to Get Started in Lifestyle Newborn Photography

Lifestyle photography is about telling the stories of people through your camera, and this genre has been around since cameras were first invented. But early lifestyle photos were usually seen in newspapers and known as photojournalism. At that time, portrait photographers would usually capture subjects posed to make them “perfect”.

tips for baby photography

As DSLR cameras were introduced and were available at affordable prices, everyone grabbed them and started using them. The rise of digital photography gave birth to the rise of a new kind of portraiture—what we call lifestyle photography—as it allowed people take pictures freely without having to worry about film running out or the cost of getting it developed. Now that electronic devices such as smart phones have their own cameras, it’s become mainstream to constantly take photos and document your life in a visual way.

What we consider to be genuine lifestyle photography is much more than just taking candid photos, however. Lifestyle photography is about telling the story through images that show personality, feelings, and relationships.

Essential Gear for Lifestyle Newborn Photography

Traditional or posed newborn photography requires a lot of basic and essential gear to get started. At the very least you need to have a beanbag or some other posing prop, some lighting, backgrounds, and a dedicated space to put it all in. Posed newborn photographers will also typically have a wealth of props such as wraps, tiaras, hats, and more. This can potentially cost thousands of dollars to set up your business. Not to mention the other expenses such as the camera, lenses, tripod, and more.

newborn photography with props

Lifestyle newborn photography comes with a much simpler setup. If you want to focus entirely on lifestyle photography, which generally takes place in the client’s home or some other destination chosen by them, all you need is a camera, reflector, and perhaps a flash. Keep in mind that natural light works better than a flash, as a flash may startle the baby. It’s better to use a reflector to direct the natural light wherever you want.

baby with stuffed toy

Before the Photography Session

At NPM, clients are given small tasks after they book their home newborn photography session. They are told to watch how natural light moves around the house to determine the best time to do the photo shoot. I prefer natural light photography and try my best to not use artificial light, such as a flash or an overhead light. Hence, it’s essential that the session is scheduled for a time when the house is receiving the most natural light. I like to set up photo shoot in the parent’s room or in a nursery, so clients are asked to monitor the light in these rooms particularly. When they take note of when there is the most natural light, we schedule a session around that time. For me, natural light is the key for a successful shoot.

baby nursery

Well, sometimes the client’s house can still be dark even when rooms are at their brightest. Occasionally it may just be a dark day, and there is less natural light indoors. A tripod comes handy in these conditions to steady the shot in low light conditions. It’s rare that I need to use the tripod, but I’ve always been glad to have it for those times I do need it.

Capture Parents’ Intimate Moments with Baby

Parents have a lot of attachment with the newborn baby and you can capture these intimate moments with your lifestyle photography. Being in their home gives you a chance to photograph the private moments, like holding the baby’s hand, hugging, or cuddling on the bed. These are prime intimate and special moments that are perfect to capture. You also have the chance to use some unique angles that will preserve their privacy, while making it look like you are peeking at this moment. Capture pictures of them sitting by the baby’s cot, through the bars of the baby’s crib, behind the door, and more.

baby and parents photography

Capture the Macro Details

After photographing their cute face, take some time to photograph tiny details unique to a newborn baby. I’ve personally photographed newborns aged between nine hours and five weeks old, but I recommend clients book a session when the newborn is around two weeks old. I feel this is when they look their best in photos. It also gives parents enough time to get their baby home and settled, while still being early enough to capture all the unique newness of the baby. Newborns are also prone to developing baby acne after two weeks, so it’s best to get them photographed before this can happen. Don’t worry if they do have baby acne, though, as you can always edit that out!

baby feet

Newborn babies’ cute tiny fingers, toes, feet, ear, nose, lips, etc. are the most adorable to shoot with macro details. Babies grow incredibly fast, so it’s important to photograph these tiny details and capture it for a lifetime. I prefer laying newborn in the room with the most light for this part of the session and use the macro lens for photographing these tiny details. Macro lenses are incredible for close-up shots and magnifying the adorable details of the baby.

Newborn Shots with Mom

Mom has waited for nine months to see her baby, so be sure to photograph them together. Get her to cuddle the baby and gaze at her precious little bundle. Keeping baby and mama together like this creates incredibly maternal photos. It’s important to consider the comfort of the mother as well as the comfort of the baby. She might be weary after the long pregnancy but motivate her to be part of this photo shoot. Ask her to move into a more comfortable position if she is not at ease with a pose. Work from there to create something that works best for both mother and the baby. Photos will be most natural when both mom and baby are comfortable and relaxed.

mom and baby

Capture Newborn with Whole Family

The great thing about lifestyle newborn photography is how it captures the precious moments of both parents and siblings with the newborn. Parents—not to mention their children—will look back one day and see just how they were holding and playing with the newborn baby. Try to get everyone in the family shot, including siblings and grandparents, if present. This will make a great family photo and would also look wonderful in an album.

newborn and family


You’ve probably taken a number of photos, so carefully choose which ones you want to edit. A small amount of over exposure gives shots a softer, creamier look. Newborn lifestyle photography tends to look great in black-and-white. You can offer color and black and white versions of each photo to the parents and allow them to choose which one they prefer. Make sure the white balance stays consistent. The best thing about newborn photography is that it always looks beautiful no matter what you do.

lifestyle photography post-processing

Do you also do lifestyle newborn photography? I’d love to hear any other tips and tricks that you might have and see the photos you’ve taken, so please share them in the comments below!

About the Author:
Sarah Milton is from Newborn Photography Melbourne. NPM provides high quality newborn, baby and family photography services. Their photography studio in Melbourne has state-of-art equipment to capture the stunning shots of your baby along with the whole family.

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