7 Tips For Capturing Emotion in Newborn Photography


June 9, 2023

spring newborn session and tulips

Newborn photography is a special art form that requires a skilled and experienced photographer to capture the beauty, innocence, and emotion of a newborn baby. Whether it’s a sweetly sleeping newborn or a wide-eyed, curious infant, capturing the emotion of a newborn is a challenging yet rewarding task for any photographer. Here are some tips I use every session for capturing emotion in newborn photography:

froggy pose shows emotion in newborn photography

Emotion in Newborn Photography: Small Details

To capture emotion in newborn photography, I focus on the small details and the subtle expressions that convey the unique personality of the baby I’m photographing. This requires patience, as newborns can be unpredictable and usually requires lots of stillness to get the perfect shot (see: standing over a newborn for long minutes waiting for that sleep smile to show itself…and then visiting the chiropractor later that day).

Maryland newborn wrapped in cream with cream bow

Emotion in Newborn Photography: Focus on the Eyes

One important way to capture emotion in newborn photography is to focus on the eyes. The eyes are the windows to the soul, and newborns often have beautiful, expressive eyes that convey a range of emotions. Whether it is a soft, dreamy gaze or a curious, wide-eyed look, the eyes are a crucial element in newborn photography. One of the things I check for when I’m culling images for the gallery is whether or not the eyes are in focus. If not, typically that image will be pitched because focus on the eyes is *so* important.

baby girl in blue/white basket with blue flower headband

Emotion in Newborn Photography: Expressions and Body Language

Another way to capture emotion in newborn photography is to focus on the facial expressions and body language of the child. Newborns are just beginning to communicate with the world around them, and their facial expressions and body language can reveal a lot about their inner thoughts and feelings. By paying attention to these cues, it’s possible to capture a wide range of emotions, from happiness and wonder to curiosity and concern. Mug shots are one of my favorite ways to capture facial expressions – I’ve gotten everything from looks of curiosity to looks of irritation and all the emotions in between. Parents LOVE newborn mugshots (and feel free to ask me what those are, in case you don’t know).

sweet newborn girl in cream with bow

Emotion in Newborn Photography: Get Parents Involved

One technique that can be particularly effective in capturing emotion in newborn photography is to involve the parents. As the newborn’s primary caregivers, the parents are often the best source of emotional connection and interaction with the baby. I work with the parents to create a comfortable and nurturing environment for the newborn, and encourage them to interact with the baby during the parent posing part of the shoot. This can help bring out genuine and candid emotions from both the baby and the parents.

parent hands demonstrate emotion in newborn photography

Emotion in Newborn Photography: Lighting

newborn butterfly pose

As every photographer will tell you, lighting is *so* important when capturing emotion in newborn photography. Soft, natural light can help to create a warm and inviting atmosphere, but artificial light through studio lighting can be beautiful as well. In the studio, I use lighting equipment to create soft highlights and flattering shadows and during a lifestyle session in the client’s home I work with the natural light coming through the windows.

Emotion in Newborn Photography: Help Baby Feel Safe

Another key element in capturing emotion in newborn photography is create an environment in which the baby feels safe and secure. Newborns are incredibly sensitive, and they can often sense the emotions of the people around them. They also react immediately when they don’t feel safe, which can invalidate long minutes of work leading up to that point. By maintaining a calm and nurturing presence, I create an environment that is conducive to capturing genuine, heartfelt emotion in photographs.

newborn girl on tiny swing prop

Emotion in Newborn Photography: Flawless Post-Processing

Finally, I edit with care. Post-processing can enhance the emotion and mood of a newborn photo, but it’s important to be subtle and sensitive in my editing choices. My images look consistent because of the way that I edit, using decreased contrast and increased highlights and exposure to pull the most out of every image I create. Black and white images are also great in conveying emotion – but I’m very selective with the images I choose to convert to black and white. I believe that decision in itself is an art form.

capturing emotion in newborn photography details

Capturing emotion in newborn photography is a subtle and delicate art that requires patience, attention to detail, and a strong emotional connection with your subject. By focusing on the small details, using lighting effectively, helping the baby feel safe, and editing consistently, I create beautiful, emotional photographs that capture the innocence and wonder of these precious early days.

sweet baby girl in pink evokes emotion in newborn photography

Featured on Subkit, Liz Viernes Photography is based near Potomac, MD, and specializes in maternity, fresh 48, posed and lifestyle newborns and first year milestone portraits.

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