Natural Newborn Photos: A Complete Guide to Natural Light Lifestyle Newborn Photography

Natural Newborn Photos | Philadelphia, PA & Surrounding Areas

parents laying on a bed with their twin baby girls and three older siblings during a Natural Newborn Photos Session

As a Professional Newborn Photographer, I specialize in simple, natural newborn photos that speak to the heart. I don’t pose newborns because focusing on their expressions and movements and all the little moments of connection you share with your baby is what feels true and honest to me.

My style of newborn photography is also often referred to as family-centered newborn photography, simplistic newborn photography, baby-led newborn photography, unposed newborn photography, or lifestyle newborn photography. When there are so many different terms used to describe the same style, it can easily get confusing! So I’m here to provide as much clarification as possible so that you can find a newborn photographer who matches your style.

My goal as a newborn photographer is to capture your baby in a way that is genuine, so I don’t try to make babies fall asleep for their newborn photos or pose them with props. The way they grab onto your finger with their tiny hands. The crinkly yawn face. How he nuzzles into your chest with a big sigh after a good feeding and a burp. The full on crying face in one shot followed by a sweet little gassy smile in the next shot. That moment she discovers her hand and can’t tear her eyes away from it because it’s the most fascinating thing she’s ever seen. And possibly my favorite detail (one that many newborn photographers sacrifice for the sake of posing): those wide open eyes as they explore their world with wonder.

Whether you already know you’re drawn to natural newborn photos or you’re still unsure what style you’re looking for, this guide is intended to help you understand newborn photography more fully so that you can choose the perfect newborn photographer for your growing family.

Here’s a quick overview of the topics I’ll cover in this guide:

  • Choosing a Professional Newborn Photographer
  • Newborn Safety
  • The Two Main Approaches to Newborn Photography
  • Where Your Newborn Session May Take Place
  • Popular Editing Styles for Newborn Photography
  • Types of Light
  • Angles of Light
  • Individual Baby & Family Photo Ideas
  • Best Age for Newborn Photos
  • Selecting Outfits for your Newborn Photos
  • My Best Tips for Beautiful Natural Newborn Photos

Choosing a Professional Newborn Photographer

The once in a lifetime newborn days and weeks just after your baby is born are a whirlwind of memories and emotions! I don’t think I’ve ever met a family that regretted their choice to invest in a professional to document the sweet newborn moments that fly by faster than you can process and absorb them. But choosing which professional newborn photographer is right for your family can be overwhelming. Anyone with a camera can take pictures, but when I’m looking to hire a professional photographer here are 3 key things I look for to ensure my investment is well-placed:


One of the first things I look for when I’m hiring a professional photographer for my family is a professional and informative website. Even if I initially learn about the photographer through a personal recommendation, Facebook, or Instagram, I always visit a business’s website to review all the details about their sessions before I send an inquiry. There are some photographers who operate their photography business solely on social media, and this is often because they’re just starting out and building a website is a daunting task.

Maybe it’s because I was born right on the bubble between Generation X and Generation Y, but I personally don’t hire a photographer who doesn’t have a website. In the rapidly evolving technological world we live in–where turning to Google for answers to every question that pops into our minds and having all the information we desire right at our fingertips is daily life–I’m wary of photographers who operate their business without a website. A great, organized website can tell me quite a lot about a photographer I’m thinking about hiring. Do I love their style and get excited when I look through their portfolio? Are they in my budget? What services do they offer and what’s included in my session price? And most importantly for me–is this photographer a true professional whom I can count on to deliver the beautiful images that I have my heart set on?


Another key indicator for me that a photographer is a true professional is whether they require me to sign a contract. Newborn photography is a professional service, and I would be wary of any photographer who operated their business without a contract. A contract provides a clear and detailed overview of what your investment includes and when your images will be delivered. It is general practice for photographers to collect their session payment in full either before or on the session date, and having a contract sets clear expectations for when your photographer will complete your editing and deliver your final images. I have a better experience working with photographers who provide a clear contract because my investment is protected, I know exactly what to expect throughout the process, and I can relax and enjoy the experience.


The information on a photographer’s website is what helps me decide if I want to reach out to them for more information on their sessions, but how they communicate is what ultimately makes me decide to hire them. In my own business, I set a high priority on responding to all inquiries I receive promptly and thoroughly, and this is the same kind of communication I expect when I hire a photographer to photograph my own family. If a photographer’s responses to my initial inquiries and follow up questions are consistently prompt, friendly, and thorough, I know I’ll be able to count on them to take that same care in editing and delivering my images.

I know many of us would opt for an email over a phone call because emails are just so convenient and easier to fit into a busy schedule. But if your photographer offers the opportunity to connect over the phone before your session, take them up on it! One conversation will answer any questions you may have about whether you and your photographer are a good match. And when your session day arrives, you’ll already have all the details covered and a connection with your photographer established so you can relax and focus on soaking in all the baby snuggles!

Newborn Safety

It might seem surprising that I didn’t address the topic of newborn safety in the last section, but that’s only because newborn safety is important enough to have an entire section of this guide dedicated to it. All three of the factors I discussed in the section above–website, contract, and communication–should be applied to newborn safety. Does the photographer’s website specifically cover newborn safety and go over the steps they take to ensure newborn safety during their newborn sessions in detail? Does their contract address newborn safety? Do they discuss or attach information on newborn safety in their initial response to your inquiry?

Here are a few of the extra safety measures I have in place for all of my newborn sessions:

  • Updated vaccinations, including Covid + Booster, TDap, and Flu – Updated vaccinations are especially important when working with newborns with immature immune systems.
  • Mask for me for all newborn sessions – Even after the CDC lifted the mask requirement, I continue to wear a mask at all of my indoor newborn sessions as an extra layer of protection.
  • Cleaning/Sanitizing System – I wash and steam all blankets, wraps, or other fabrics used during a newborn session, and I use hand sanitizer on my hands and camera before every session.
  • Re-Scheduling Without Penalty if Necessary – I am flexible with rescheduling sessions as necessary due to illness or quarantine, and there is no penalty or rescheduling fee if we need to adjust our plan for health or safety reasons.
  • Training & Experience – I have years of experience as a newborn photographer and am also a mom myself. With my natural approach to newborn photography, your baby will be in your family’s arms for most of our newborn session. But you can rest assured that if/when she’s in my arms during our session, she’ll be safe and adored as well!

The Two Main Approaches to Newborn Photography

Natural Newborn Photos

  • Also known as baby-led, simplistic, family-centered, unposed, or lifestyle newborn photography
  • Most often takes place in the home, but can also take place in a studio setting
  • No props → occasionally special items (such as a baby blanket knitted by Grandma, for example) are incorporated at the family’s request, but wrapping, swaddling, and other elements are typically integrated into the newborn photos in a more natural way

Posed Newborn Photos

  • Also known as traditional newborn photos
  • Most often done in a studio, but some photographers will travel and set up all the necessary lighting equipment and supplies for a posed newborn session in your home
  • Use of props is common → From elaborate themed set-ups to posing a sleeping baby with a small stuffed animal or “luvie”, posing options are endless
  • Wrapping/swaddle techniques are often part of the posing process

Where Your Newborn Session May Take Place

  • Your Home → Here are some reasons you might consider an in-home newborn session:
    • If it’s important to you to document your early memories with your newborn in your own home for sentimental reasons
    • If you like the convenience of staying at home where everything is comfortable and familiar and right at hand
    • If you prefer keeping your baby at home during the early weeks after birth to limit exposure to germs
  • A Studio → Here are some reasons you might consider a studio newborn session:
    • If you like the convenience of going to a studio so you don’t feel like you need to tidy up your home for photos
    • If you want full access to all the outfits, blankets, wraps, and other supplies your photographer may provide at their studio. What can be packed and brought to your home is usually more limited.
    • If you’re worried that your home may not have great light and it’s important to you to have the best, consistent lighting possible for your photos
  • True to Color 
    • Ultimate goal is to produce images that look true to how you naturally see them with your eye
    • Use of light and shadow will vary based on type of shot and specific photographer’s preference
    • Wardrobe colors are flexible → follow your specific photographer’s suggestions for best results
    • Moderate saturation of colors and skin tones
    • Moderate in the range of proper exposure
  • Light & Airy
    • Ultimate goal is to produce clean, bright images
    • Minimizes shadows
    • Light-colored wardrobe → white, ivory, light gray, pastel colors
    • Decreased saturation of colors and skin tones
    • Higher in the range of proper exposure, resulting in a brighter final image
  • Warm & Moody
    • Ultimate goal is to produce rich, earthy, boho images
    • Dramatic use of shadow and light
    • Earthy wardrobe → ivory, taupe, tan, brown, rust/deep oranges
    • Increased saturation of colors and warm skin tones
    • Lower in the range of proper exposure, resulting in a more dramatic final image

Types of Light

Natural Light

  • For natural light photos, the sun is your light source. So a window, glass door, or anywhere the sun shines into the home can be used for indoor natural light photos.
  • The direction of light is fixed, so you must move your subject(s) in relation to your light source.
  • Plenty of soft, indirect light is ideal for natural light newborn photos. The best time of day for natural light newborn photos is in late morning or early afternoon while the sun is high in the sky so that the light coming in through the windows is indirect. This allows plenty of natural light to come in through the windows without the sun shining directly and harshly on the baby. You can control the intensity of light through diffusion. To diffuse, or soften, the light coming in through a window, you can hang a sheer curtain. You can also control the intensity of light on your subjects by where you place them. If your subject is closer to the window, you’ll have more light and softer shadows. If you move your subject farther from the window, you’ll have less light and more dramatic shadows.

Artificial Light

  • For artificial light photos, something other than the sun is your light source. A few common light sources newborn photographers may use include an umbrella light, strobe lighting, or a flash on the camera.
  • The light source itself can be moved without needing to move your subject(s).
  • Hiring a professional photographer with the experience and necessary equipment is essential so they can set the light at a proper intensity and place the light at a flattering angle for photos.
  • The time of day for artificial light newborn photos is flexible. As long as your photographer has the necessary lighting equipment, great light is available any time of day.

Angles of Light

One of the most important things to consider when creating an image using natural light is the angle of your light source in relation to your subjects. To demonstrate the different types of lighting, I’ve selected black and white example images because I feel it makes it easier to see these lighting principles at work.

Side Lighting

  • Side lighting is the type of lighting I use most often as a natural light photographer because it allows for strategic use of light and shadows, which can result in a beautiful, dramatic image. Here these new parents were sitting on their bed with the window light coming in from the side of the room, casting beautiful highlights and shadows across their faces as they smile down at their baby girl:
a black and white picture of new parents sitting on a bed and feeding their baby girl a bottle as they smile down at her during a lifestyle newborn photography session

Back Lighting

  • Back lighting is the next most frequent type of lighting I use. With back lighting, I can produce a dramatic, glowy look that can be especially stunning in black and white images. In this image, there are sheer curtains hanging over the wall of windows in my Natural Light Studio. These sheer curtains serve two important functions: to soften the light and to create the white background rather than seeing what’s out the window. In this image, the back lighting creates a beautiful silhouette of this new mom sharing a sweet and tender moment with her baby girl:
a black and white backlit photo of a new mom holding her baby girl in her arms and smiling down at her during a natural newborn photoshoot
  • Getting proper exposure in camera is key for back lighting. Underexposing can lead to a softer focus and more grainy final image; whereas, overexposing can blow out whites and highlights, which means details cannot be recovered during editing.
  • Sometimes you may need a secondary light source or reflector to bounce some light back into the shadows to preserve and properly expose the details of your subjects when back lighting.
    • A great secondary light source may be another window on an adjacent wall or on the opposite side of the room.
    • Or a hand held reflector or natural reflector (like a white sheet, for example) can be used if there are no other windows that will work as a secondary light source.

Front Lighting

  • The goal of front lighting is to minimize shadows and create even lighting on all parts of the face. Here the family is sitting on the corner of the bed in my Natural Light Studio. So their faces are all angled toward the wall of windows just off to the right of the frame, providing even light across all of their faces with minimal shadows.
a black and white picture of parent sitting at the foot of a bed while dad holds his newborn daughter against his chest and the two older sons snuggle with mom during a lifestyle newborn photography session

Up Lighting

  • It’s generally best to avoid up lighting. We’re so accustomed to seeing light shine on people from above that shining a light up into someone’s face from below has an unnatural effect. Do you remember shining a flashlight up from beneath your chin when telling ghost stories as a kid? The reason this looks “spooky” is because it’s unnatural. The sun never shines on us from below, so we’re hard-wired to recognize that something isn’t right about this type of lighting without even needing to be told. I don’t have an example of up lighting to share because I avoid this type of lighting in my professional photography work.

Best Age for Newborn Photos

  • Natural Newborn Photos are very flexible when it comes to the age of the baby because the baby doesn’t need to be in a deep sleep to pose them for photos.
    • 1-2 weeks old – If it’s important to you to capture your baby when she’s the tiniest she’ll ever be, then this is the perfect time to schedule your newborn session. You typically get more photos of the baby sleeping in those first two weeks after birth, so we’ll want to schedule your newborn session soon after the baby is born if you’re hoping to capture your baby in that tiniest sleepy newborn stage.
    • 3-4 weeks old – If you have your heart set on a mix of sleepy and bright-eyed, expressive newborn portraits, I recommend scheduling your newborn session for around 3-4 weeks old. Most posed newborn photographers will tell you this is too old for newborn photos, but that’s only because they need the baby to be in a deep sleep to pose them. Many of the families I work with who share my love of natural newborn photos take me up on this recommendation and absolutely love all the variety and sweet expressions we capture at this age.
    • 5-8 weeks old – Some of the babies you see in my newborn portfolio are even 5-8 weeks old, and they are some of my favorite sessions! This is right around the time when babies start smiling and interacting with their parents, and I guarantee your heart will melt when you see your baby smiling at you in your image gallery. Whether it’s the unpredictability of pandemic life, extra time spent in the hospital after birth, or families who reach out to schedule their newborn session after the baby is born, there are so many reasons why doing natural newborn photos a little later might be perfect for your family.
    • I’ve written an entire blog post on this topic, so if you love natural newborn photos you can click HERE for more examples and information about When to Take Newborn Photos.
  • Posed Newborn Photos are typically done at 5-15 days after birth because babies sleep longer and more deeply in the first week or two after birth. A sleeping baby is necessary to place them in poses without upsetting them. Posed newborn sessions do occasionally take place later than this, but only when necessary due to extenuating circumstances. And photographers usually will not guarantee specific poses or shots beyond the first two weeks after the baby is born.

Individual Baby & Family Photo Ideas

Every newborn photographer has developed a set-up for individual newborn photos that works for them. Some photographers may use a bean bag, a posing table, or a customized set-up they created specially to suit their shooting and editing style. For my studio newborn sessions, I use a bean bag layered with blankets for individual photos as well (as many other family combinations). For my in-home newborn sessions, I bring a bowl-shaped chair that folds up so I can easily move it anywhere in the home where the light is good. Then I place a donut-shaped pillow on the chair and cover it with blankets to create a secure and cozy nest for the baby to snuggle into. This set-up works great for me because it’s safe, cozy, and portable, so we can take advantage of the best natural light no matter where in your home the best light happens to be.

Simple, Natural Newborn Photos

  • Top Half of Baby Laying on Their Back Taken From Above (aka the “Mug Shot”) – This type of photo taken from above that focuses on the top half of the baby works great either on the bean bag in my studio or in the bowl chair I use for my in home newborn sessions. I love taking photos of babies laying on their back because it allows me to capture all of the baby’s sweet expressions…
a baby girl wrapped in a floral swaddle blanket wearing a pink headband and looking directly at the camera during a natural newborn photos session


a black and white picture of a by boy wearing a long sleeved romper with white and black stripes yawning during a natural newborn photoshoot

…and yawns…I truly don’t think I could ever get enough adorable baby yawns if I tried!

Yawning newborn baby boy in a white textured swaddle laying on a white backdrop during a natural newborn photos session
  • Full Body Photos of Baby Laying on Their Back Taken From Above – I love taking full body baby photos to capture all the natural newborn movements and stretches. I usually do these photos on the bean bag in my studio, or in the crib for in home newborn sessions. These types of full body baby photos look best when your window light is coming anywhere from above the baby’s head to the side of the baby. It’s best to avoid placing the baby’s feet toward the window as that will lead to up lighting, which is not ideal for photos. In this case the window was to the right of the crib (above the baby’s head). Babies often look toward the window light like you see Townes doing here, so I that’s also something I try to use to my advantage when deciding where to position the baby for a photo in his crib like this:
Newborn baby boy laying in his crib on a white crib mattress with green leaves and reaching above his head toward the light of the window during a natural newborn photo session

Here are a couple more examples of a full body photos that were taken on the bean bag in my studio with the window light directly to the side of the baby:

  • Newborn Photos With Backlighting – Yet another way I love to capture newborn photos is with backlighting. In this case, little Justin was laying on the bean bag in my studio, and I shot across his body directly into the window light (which in this case was covered by sheer curtains to create that white high key background). I especially love backlit silhouette photos like this in black & white because the dramatic contrast between the dark shadows draws your eye right to little baby Justin’s sweet expression. When you’re set up for backlighting, it’s also a perfect opportunity to capture the baby at different angles and capture some sweet close up detail shots.
a black and white backlit picture of a baby boy laying on his back on a white bean bag in front of a wall of windows during a natural light newborn photography session
  • Including Parents’ Hands in Newborn Photos – Whenever I’m taking individual newborn photos of the baby, I love bringing mom and dad’s hands into the photos to capture that connection. Seeing how tiny the baby’s hands are when they grab onto their parent’s finger also reminds you just how little they were as you look back on the photos in the years ahead.
a baby boy laying on a white backdrop and grabbing onto his dad's fingers with his hands as he looks right at the camera during a natural newborn photoshoot

Full Family Newborn Photos

My recipe for full family newborn photos is pretty simple: snuggle, snuggle, snuggle! With young siblings, I try to keep things moving and just have fun tickling & kissing the baby. I usually start with young siblings in mom’s lap while dad holds the baby, and then we swap laps for a second sequence. I never go into my newborn sessions expecting young kids to sit and pose nicely for the camera–that’s just not real life in my experience, and those shots are never my favorite anyway. Most often I use a bed and the bean bag in my studio to capture a variety of family photos. I keep my shutter speed high, set my camera on continuous shooting mode, and click away so that I can freeze the sweet moments as they come!

  • Sitting and snuggling on a bed:
a family sitting on a bed with their baby boy cradled in dad's arms and their young daughter sitting on mom's lap during a lifestyle newborn photography session
  • Backlit with baby laying on the bean bag in my Natural Light Studio:
a black and white backlit photo of a baby boy laying on a bean bag with his parents and big brother smiling down at him during a lifestyle newborn photoshoot
  • Laying on the bed together:
parents laying on a bed with their twin baby girls and three older siblings during a Natural Newborn Photos Session
  • Big sister holding her baby sister while sitting on mom & dad’s lap – This is an adorable photo for families with young siblings who may have trouble holding the baby safely on their own because mom and dad are there to wrap up the whole family in a big hug and provide support as needed:
a black and white picture of young girl holding her baby sister in her arms as she sits on her mom and dad's lap during a lifestyle newborn photography session
  • Siblings laying on mom & dad’s backs – This is a fun way to keep young, energetic toddlers in the frame for a little longer to capture some sweet family photos. Toddlers LOVE getting to climb on mom & dad:
a mom and dad laying on a bed smiling down at their baby girl while their two older sons sit on their backs during a lifestyle newborn photoshoot
  • Sitting on a bench in front of a window for a silhouette shot with baby in the middle – Standing in front of the window would work just as well for this shot if you don’t have a bench or a low enough window, too. I love telling dads to make fart noises to get a sweet reaction from big sister like you see below:

Sibling Newborn Photos

  • A bed is one of my favorite spots for sibling snuggles, especially when there are young siblings who may have trouble holding and safely supporting the baby on their own. In this case, these kids snuggled up on the bed in my Natural Light Studio for some snuggles with their twin baby sisters. It’s always nice to capture a sibling smiling at the camera, but my favorite sibling photos are usually the ones of them smiling down at, kissing, and cuddling the baby!
twin baby girls laying at the foot of a bed with their three older siblings laying behind them smiling down at them and kissing their toes during a lifestyle newborn photography session
twin baby girls laying on a bed with their three older siblings sitting behind them as the two brothers smile down at the babies and big sister smiles right at the camera during a natural newborn photos session
  • For young siblings who may not be able to safely hold the baby on their own, I love taking close-ups of the older sibling holding the baby on mom & dad’s lap. This works great for families with young kids because mom & dad are there to offer extra support in helping their toddler hold his baby sister safely and securely:
A newborn baby girl grabbing onto her big brother's finger during a natural newborn photo session
  • Another one of my go-to shots for young siblings who may have trouble holding the baby safely is shooting from above. In the photo below, I laid the older sibling on her back and nestled her baby brother in her arms for a snuggle. This shot can be done on a bed if the light is good in one of the bedrooms:
A big sister smiling at the camera and hugging her newborn baby brother while he yawns during a natural newborn photo session
  • Or it can also be done on the floor next to a window for better light if necessary. The photo below was taken on the rug in the family’s living room next to a large window, and all we needed was a couple of throw pillows to create a sweet snuggle spot for this big sister and her baby brother:
Older sister laying on pillows kissing her newborn baby brother on the forehead at a natural newborn photo session
  • I also love to invite siblings over when the baby is laying on the bean bag in my Natural Light Studio. I especially love doing backlit photos that highlight the sweet expressions and capture that split second moment when big brothers swoop in to give their baby sister a kiss and a cuddle!
a backlit picture of a baby girl laying on a bean bag in front of a wall of windows with her two big brothers smiling down at her during a natural light newborn photography session
  • A few more tips for newborn photos with young siblings:
    • Try swaddling the baby to make it easier for young siblings to hold the baby.
    • For a very active toddler who’s having trouble with the suggested shots above, sometimes I’ll place the baby on a bed or blanket or bean bag and ask daddy to pick up the toddler and “fly Johnny in from above to tickle the baby’s toes.” Sometimes you can get some really sweet sibling shots with this flying game when you have a young, active toddler who is just not able to sit still and hold their baby brother or sister safely on their own.
    • If a young sibling isn’t cooperative and is pushing the baby away, hitting the baby, or unable to handle the baby safely, I don’t force the issue. I usually start with a few full family shots and sibling shots for this very reason so the older sibling(s) can take a break to play and have a snack. I find siblings often warm up and get curious about what we’re doing and voluntarily join in on the snuggles a little later in the session even if they’re hesitant at first.

Mom & Newborn Photos

One of my favorite parts of every newborn session is capturing moms as they snuggle with their new baby. Giving him sweet butterfly kisses, breathing in her newborn scent, and seeing your expressions as you gaze adoringly at your baby–these are often my favorite images to deliver! Here are some of my favorite ways to capture mom & newborn photos:

  • Laying on mom’s legs:
Black and white image of a mom sitting in a bay window and smiling down at her newborn baby boy during a natural newborn photoshoot
  • In the nursery:
  • Backlit in front of a window – Hanging a sheer curtain allows for this beautiful silhouette of mom holding her baby against a white background rather than seeing what’s out the window:
a black and white backlit picture of a new mom holding her baby boy in her arms and touching him gently on the head during a natural newborn photos session
  • Laying on a bed – I always try to capture these beautiful moments snuggling with mom from multiple angles:
a new mom laying on a bed with her baby girl and smiling down at her during a lifestyle newborn photoshoot
  • Snuggled up to mom’s chest – These snuggle shots with the baby cuddled right up against mom’s chest are usually most successful right after feeding the baby when they’re full and content:
  • Mom nursing the baby – Some moms treasure having these memories of nursing documented, while others prefer to keep them private. I always follow a new mom’s wishes:
a new mom sitting at the foot of a bed and nursing her baby girl as she smiles down at her during a lifestyle newborn photography session
  • Taken from above:
  • Mom with baby & siblings – If you’re also a mom, you know what a treasure a photo like this is. That’s why I invite siblings in to snuggle with mom while she’s holding the baby pretty much every chance I get!
a black and white picture of a mom sitting the side of a bed cradling her newborn baby in her arms as her two older children snuggle in on both sides and her son kisses the baby on the head during a lifestyle newborn photoshoot
a mom laying on the bed with her twin baby girls and her three older children snuggled around her and jumping on her back as they all laugh during a lifestyle newborn photoshoot

Dad & Newborn Photos

Newborn babies look so tiny in their daddy’s big, warm hands! Here are some of my favorite ways to capture dad & newborn photos:

  • Cradled in dad’s arms:
a new father cradling his baby girl in his arms and smiling down at her during a lifestyle newborn photography session
  • Snuggled up against dad’s chest:
  • Kissing the baby:
a new father cradling his baby girl in his arms and kissing her on the cheek during a natural newborn photos session
  • Taken from above:
Black and white picture of a newborn boy sitting in his dad's lap smiling during a natural newborn photoshoot
  • Facing the camera with the baby’s back against dad’s chest:
  • Dad with baby & siblings:

Parents & Newborn Photos

Capturing parents with their newborn baby is extra special. Just take a few moments to snuggle together, take a deep breath, and try to comprehend how you made this perfect little baby together. I know my favorite pictures of myself in these past few years are the rare gems of me looking at my daughter, and it’s hard not to burst with love and gratitude when you see the images of yourself adoring your new little love in your arms. Here are a few of my favorite photos of parents snuggling with their newborn babies:

  • Taken from above – I love to do this shot on the bean bag in my Natural Light Studio with baby laying on a bean bag while parents frame the baby with their heads. But it’s also a really sweet photo with parents sitting and holding the baby or laying on a bed as well:
  • In the nursery:
new parents standing in the nursery and holding their baby girl as they smile down at her during a lifestyle newborn photography session
  • Baby nestled against one parent’s chest while the other parent snuggles in for a kiss:
  • Snuggled on the bed together:
new parents sitting on a bed with their baby girl in their arms and smiling down at her during a natural newborn photoshoot
  • Comforting baby when he cries:
parents comforting their crying newborn son during a natural newborn session
  • Backlit in front of a window with baby nestled between mom & dad:
  • A close-up of baby taken from above in that same spot next to the window snuggled in between mom & dad:

Newborn Photos With Pets

My fellow pet lovers out there know that pets are family, and they’re itching to get in on the newborn snuggles with their people too! One extra benefit of doing a newborn session in your own home is that your pets can join in on your family photos. Here are a few of my favorite newborn photos with their furry siblings for inspiration:

a new mom standing in the nursery cradling her baby boy in her arms and smiling down at him while the family dog lays at her feet during a lifestyle newborn photoshoot
a black and white picture of a new mom holding her baby boy in her arms as the family dog lifts his paw up to rest it on her arm during a lifestyle newborn photography session

Detail Newborn Photos

They will never be this tiny again, and I love capturing sweet detail shots of your baby’s tiny hands, toes, pouty lips, hair, and eyelashes to fully bear witness to these early newborn days.

Photographers sometimes use a special Macro lens for newborn detail shots because this type of lens allows you to get close up and focus on tiny details. Macro lenses also allow for a much more shallow depth of focus, so a photographer can focus on a very tiny and specific part of the image–like the tip of a baby’s toe or an eyelash, for example–and the rest of the image quickly falls out of focus.

Alternatively, photographers may also choose to use a more standard lens such as a 35 mm or 50 mm prime lens for detail shots, especially if they want to keep more of the image in focus. I own and use both macro and prime lenses during my newborn sessions, but I personally tend to keep my prime lens on my camera for most of the session because it’s the most versatile and I don’t want to miss any other sweet moments that happen to arise throughout the session. I often take detail shots of little fingers and toes throughout the session and don’t switch out my lenses for just a single shot, but I have my back-up camera ready with my macro lens on it so I can grab it quickly when I see an opportunity to get some sweet close-up detail shots. The choice of lens for any given shot is ultimately up to the photographer and what style of image they’re trying to achieve. Lenses are simply tools photographers use to create the photographs they envision.

  • To illustrate the difference between a prime lens versus a macro lens as I mentioned above, here’s an example taken with my 50 mm prime lens. Only the toes on the front foot are in sharp focus, and the back foot falls slightly out of focus:
  • And here’s an example taken with my macro lens with just the tip of baby’s toes in sharp focus. The macro lens allows me to get much closer to the toes, and the depth of field is razor thin. So even though the baby’s feet are just as close together as in the image above, there is significantly more bokeh due to the extremely shallow depth of field:

Here are a few details I love to capture at my newborn sessions (all of the examples you see below were taken with my 105 mm macro lens):

  • Baby’s tiny fingers grabbing onto mom’s hand:
  • Baby’s hair:
  • Baby’s tiny feet:

Selecting Outfits For the Baby

As a Professional Newborn Photographer, my personal shooting and editing style is true to color. I generally recommend and plan for two outfits during my newborn sessions using both the Neutral* and the Bright & Colorful* approaches I describe below.

I’ve also included a basic overview of a couple other popular approaches other photographers take in their newborn photography for comparison. So if one of the other styles sounds like what you’re looking for, do a bit more research using some of those key words to find a photographer who specializes in that style.

  • Neutral Approach*
    • Stick with all whites for a bright & classic look
    • Pair white & black for a dramatic contrast
    • Choose coordinating light-colored neutrals
  • Bright & Colorful*
    • Select one beautiful pattern/color and pair with white/ivory for contrast
  • Light & Airy
    • A light-colored wardrobe is typically best suited to this editing style → white, ivory, light gray, pastel colors
  • Warm & Moody
    • Typically earth-tones are best suited to this editing style → ivory, taupe, tan, brown, rust/deep oranges

Keep in mind that some photographers, myself included, provide a Client Closet with a variety of outfits, blankets, and accessories that work beautifully for their specific shooting and editing style. Make full use of any outfits, accessories, or Style Guide your specific photographer provides, and then place your trust in the photographer you’ve chosen to make your heart sing when you receive your final images!

I’ve written an entire blog post on this topic, so if you found this post helpful and you want to read more you click HERE for more examples and ideas about What to Wear for Newborn Photos.

My Best Tips for Beautiful Natural Newborn Photos

1. There can never be enough newborn snuggles and kisses!

2. Embrace the hiccups!

  • Go into the session knowing it won’t go exactly as you planned it. But if you embrace this and let your baby and kiddos guide the flow of the session, the moments you capture will be even better than you expected. You’ll end up with natural newborn photos that are true, genuine, and authentic.

3. Choose a window or door where the sun isn’t shining directly through the window and hang a sheer curtain to soften the light coming in.

4. Turn off all indoor lights.

  • The sun is a different tone than artificial indoor lights, so trying to white balance for competing light sources is difficult to impossible to fix with editing.
  • Take a closer look around the room and go beyond just flipping light switches. Be sure to turn off other light sources like the TV or night lights because they may cast unwanted colors onto your baby’s skin.

5. Grab a step stool and move your feet to capture all the little expressions and details from different angles and perspectives.

6. Tips to soothe your newborn if the baby gets fussy or starts crying during the session:

  • Take a deep breath and relax. This is normal and expected. Fussing and crying is a baby’s way of communicating with us and is typically not a reason for alarm. Babies can also sense tension. The single most important thing you can do to help your baby and older siblings to have a great session is to relax and snuggle them and love them fully and deeply even through the tears when they come.
  • Feed the baby. Even if the baby just had a full feeding right before the session began, cluster feeding is common at this young age when newborns are changing and growing so fast. Whether you have a bottle ready for a little snack or need to stop for a full nursing session, additional feedings are part of almost every newborn session. And let your photographer know if you want some photos taken of you feeding the baby, too. These tender moments are special and absolutely worth preserving!
  • Try Swaddling the baby. Newborns are too young to follow a set schedule yet, but they do have an ebb and flow to their days. They spend a little bit of time awake, eat a meal, get some burping pats and a diaper change, and take another nap. A newborn session inherently interrupts this natural newborn rhythm. The baby may be getting sleepy and ready for a nap, but changing arms so a new person can hold the baby for pictures or switching to a new outfit may keep the baby awake even if they would have otherwise fallen asleep for a nap. Swaddling a young baby can help soothe a baby so they fall asleep if they’re getting tired, or it can comfort a fussy baby even if they’re not quite ready for a nap.
  • Turn on a sound machine or white noise app on your phone. If you’ve already tried feeding the baby and think they might be getting tired, then this simple step can help the baby fall asleep if that’s what they need right now. They’re used to being in mom’s belly, which is quite a noisy place! 
  • Switch Things Up. Try holding the baby in a different way or even having your photographer hold her for a few minutes. Even as young newborns, babies can recognize their mom and dad by smell before their eyes are even able to fully focus. When someone different comes over for a visit–Grandma, a friend, or even your photographer–babies don’t expect their needs to be met in the same way by these unfamiliar people. There will be so many moments when your baby needs his mommy and daddy to take care of him and give him all the milk and love and snuggles he needs, but at a newborn session there are times when having a moment in someone else’s arms is all the baby needs to settle down and take that nap simply because they’re not expecting something from mom or dad right in that moment. 

7. Tips to help young siblings take beautiful, natural newborn photos:

  • Having young siblings who may be resistant to holding the baby for photos is actually pretty normal and natural. Newborn sessions are difficult for older siblings who are still toddlers themselves. They are used to having all of mom’s and dad’s attention for themselves, and making the transition to sharing that attention when the baby arrives can understandably be challenging for young kids. Newborn sessions are also typically longer than regular family photo sessions, and with so much attention focused on the baby throughout the session, it is the rare exception for older siblings who are still preschool aged to eagerly and actively participate in an entire newborn session. Here are some tips to help young siblings engage in the newborn session to capture the sweet moments you have your heart set on:
    • Have your toddler pick out a special item for “show and tell” when they meet the photographer. Having the toddler take the lead in breaking the ice by sharing something they already love and are excited about is a great way to warm up for photos when the photographer arrives.
    • Swaddling the baby for family and sibling shots can make it easier for your young toddler to hold the baby because they don’t have to manage a wiggling baby. 
    • Have the young toddler sit on mom and dad’s lap so they can help support the baby, and then get in close and fill the frame for a sweet sibling snuggle shot. Then you can just take a few steps back and get full family shots without any rearranging needed, so two of my favorite shots of the session often come from this one combination!
    • If the toddler actively tries to push the baby away when asked to interact, don’t force the issue. Give the toddler a break for a quick snack and a bit of play time before trying another round of sibling shots later in the session. Sometimes a little break is all it takes for a young sibling to get curious and hop on mom’s lap to get in on the snuggles after a little time has passed.
    • Make a game of it! Lay the baby somewhere safe (bean bag, bed, couch, etc.) and have daddy fly the toddler in from above to tickle the babies toes. These are the kinds of silly games that make your heart melt when you’re all snuggling together on the couch on a Saturday evening, so capturing these kinds of candid, natural newborn photos is extra special!

8. Trust your photographer’s advice and follow their Style Guide or take advantage of their client closet if they offer one.


As you can see, there’s quite a lot to keep in mind when it comes to taking beautiful, natural light newborn photos! This guide was designed to help you learn more about what you should look for when you hire a newborn photographer and how to prepare for your own newborn photos. Natural newborn photos are what makes my heart sing, but if you’re interested in learning more about posed newborn photos then check out Newborn Photography Made Simple in 2022: A Step -by-Step Guide (77 Best Tips!) by Matt & Jessica Cramer, the top ranked posed newborn photographers in Los Angeles.

Looking for natural newborn photos near Philadelphia? I’d love to help you capture some of your family’s early snuggles with your new little love! Kristin Brockman Photography currently offers in-home natural light newborn photography so you can relax and soak in all the baby snuggles in the comfort of your own home. For more information, you can check out my Newborn Portfolio and Newborn Session Details. You can also check out my Featured Photo Sessions, to see the full gallery of images from a couple of my in-home newborn sessions and reach out if you’re interested in a Philadelphia lifestyle newborn session.

If you have any questions or want to inquire about my availability for natural newborn photos, please email me at

Kristin Brockman Photography is a natural light newborn photographer based in Pottstown, Pennsylvania who serves clients in the Greater Philadelphia area including but not limited to the Main Line, Malvern, Wayne, Media, King of Prussia, Collegeville, Harleysville, Lansdale, Willow Grove, Doylestown, Pottstown, Phoenixville, Royersford, Chester Springs, Kennett Square, West Chester, Coatesville, Exton, Downingtown, Reading, Birdsboro, Morgantown, Gilbertsville, Boyertown, and Allentown. She specializes in natural, family-centered photos focused on capturing genuine and authentic moments. 

You can also find Kristin Brockman Photography on, ShootProof, Pinterest, Yelp, Fstoppers, Hulafrog, Behance, Flickr, Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Reddit,, Boredpanda, Weheartit, and Imgur.

Kristin Brockman is a Professional Newborn, Maternity, & Family Photographer specializing in natural, family-centered lifestyle photography for newborns, pregnancy, and families serving clients in the Greater Philadelphia area including but not limited to the Main Line, Malvern, Wayne, Media, King of Prussia, Collegeville, Harleysville, Pottstown, Phoenixville, Kennett Square, West Chester, Exton, Downingtown, Reading, Gilbertsville, Boyertown, and Allentown.




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