Top 10 Reasons You Should Be Photographing Babies

Top 10 Reasons You Should Be Photographing Babies

Newborn photography is one of the hottest genres of photography today. And with more and more babies being born everyday, the demand for talented newborn shooters has never been higher. Here are ten reasons from Stephanie Cotta on why you should be photographing newborns.

Top 10 Reasons to Photograph Newborns From Newborn Photographer Stephanie Cotta:

  1. You have just secured yourself a “lifer” client.  Once you make a connection with a family and make the experience a positive one, you can pretty much guarantee that you will be seeing the family again for six and twelve month images, with subsequent yearly shoots for those holiday cards.
  2. The art of newborn photography is a science.  Unlike other types of sessions, the newborn session can be done the same over and over….which is why Stephanie’s ultimate tutorial is so imperative to aspiring and seasoned photographers.  She sets forth the exact directions to give to parents prior to the session and provides the photographer the exact steps to follow each time to ensure a successful session.
  3. Newborns don’t talk back.  The goal of the newborn session is to be able to successfully pose a sleeping newborn.   Once this is accomplished, the photographer can follow the steps and truly concentrate on just posing the baby, rather than chasing around an energetic toddler or utilizing every skill in the book to attempt to get a smile from a pouting five-year-old.
  4. There is NEVER an off-season in the world of a newborn photographer.  Babies are born every day, all year round.  You won’t find yourself having to run crazy discounts in January because it’s too cold to shoot outdoors and everyone just spent money on holiday sessions back in November.   
  5. You don’t need thousands of dollars of expensive equipment.  Other than a giant reflector and a posing bag, when starting this genre of photography, the only other props you need are a few blankets.  
  6. New parents.  New Baby.  Tons of emotions.  Rarely will any other type of photographs evoke such pure, raw joy (complete with tears!) than newborn photography.  And not only will this leave you as the photographer feeling amazing, but those new parents will want to wrap their arms around you thanking you for capturing the new addition to their family…. And then want to purchase every single image in their gallery to remember how little they were those first few weeks.
  7. Their house.  Your house.  No studio needed.  All you need is a small room and a window to make this magic happen.  No need to invest money into renting studio space. 
  8. People with babies generally have friends with babies.   And then they have usually have more babies.  So securing that one new family on your client list can easily lend itself to scoring their friends.  
  9. The hours.  As the instructions for getting a newborn sleepy don’t require any specific time of the day (and you don’t need any gorgeous sunset for this), you can truly schedule these shoots whenever is convenient for you.
  10. The new art.  It’s currently the hottest genre of photography out there right now and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down any time in the near future.  With the steady flow of newborns, the low cost of investment, and the science that Stephanie has turned the art of posing newborns in to with this tutorial, it’s the perfect storm for a successful start to your business.

The Ultimate Newborn Photography Tutorial Now On Sale and 25% OFF

We've recently made the most in-depth tutorial on natural light Newborn Photography that exists. There is nothing in the world like it. We spent over two weeks filming 6 newborn photo shoots, a two-day workshop, post production in Photoshop, an audio podcast focused on pricing and promotion, and also created an entire interactive posing guide that can be used on set for composition. Check out the trailers below. The tutorial is currently on-sale in the Fstoppers store and currently 25% off till next week.

About Stephanie Cotta

Stephanie Cotta is an award winning newborn and family photographer based out of the mid-west. Stephanie has proven to be one of the most successful and sought after photographers, innovators, and educators in the industry. She’s constantly teaching workshops nation-wide and runs a busy newborn photography studio in her home town of St. Louis.

Gary Winchester Martin's picture

Gary W. Martin is a commercial photography producer and founder of PRO EDU. His company creates documentary style Photography and Photoshop tutorials with some of the best photographer/instructors in the world. Gary has spent 20% of his life abroad and once made a monkey faint in Costa Rica. He speaks English and Romanian.

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11. There are basically 3 poses and types of pictures people take with newborn so once you have a hat, a basket and a wide lens you're golden

Stephanie does like 17,actually

i hate babies...

real men shoot babies

Real men make babies ;)

Every reason make sens but this type of children photography is horrible. Don't get me wrong. technically pictures are great, lighting, composition etc. But its treeing kids like objects, stripping them completely from any individuality, every picture looks the same. its basically a product photography. awful just awful

I agree, no personality is shown at all. Parallel with

how do 5 day old babies have personality?

My problem is not with the photographer in the article, but the style of infant photography that is being discussed.

That being said, newborns have plenty of personality when they are awake, in their home where it's comfortable. Not when they are asleep, posed like stuffed animals.

I know how hard it is to photograph children, I live it everyday. I've been taking photos of both of my two boys since they were minutes old. My first born was the reason I worked hard to become a photographer, the reason I've spent thousands of hours shooting, editing and learning, and thousands of dollars to amass an arsenal of photo equipment so I could make a living from what I love to do most, even though I shoot weddings & commercial work and not other people' children.

I have 5,000+ photos of my kids that I have trimmed down from
10,000+ taken over the last 3.5 years and I've never posted one of them
on facebook.

My son was 5 days old when I took this photo, and he looks more alive than any of those creepy Anne Geddes-styled photos that are all the rage today.

While I think a lot of baby photography is repetitive and formulaic, I'm not going to fault the photographer too much nor the writer of the article(who makes excellent points by the way).

Babies at that age don't have personality and there's truthfully not a lot you can safely do with them. You spend 10% of the time shooting and the other 70-80% soothing the baby to sleep in a position that's good for shooting...I know...I've done this.

I do agree to an extent but the truth is, it's a marketable money-maker. Take some infant and put him in some stupid bucket with a hat and there you have your shot.

I am greatly oversimplifying the process of shooting an infant but the point is that it is somewhat based on formula at this point because A) there isn't a ton you can safely do with a 2-week old and B) this is what their families want and are paying for.

Her photography is super simple.

This bucket rocks, imho

These babies are adorable, what are you talking about?

Thomas what are you talking about? I think these photos are amazing and posing a baby is actually quite difficult. Stephanie does a pretty good job of doing it and making it look simple however its quite difficult.

You know WHY it's difficult? Because it's not natural.

I'll praise the first photographer that will photograph babies in their own environment. The home crib, their room, their toys....

Chances are, those toys will mean more to the parents 20 years from now than any "posed" pictures of their kids...

I agree to a certain extent. My favorite photographs of my own son are not the posed portraits and if I tried to pose him like a typical family photographer he would give me "the look". He's a really active and expressive kid so my favorite shots of him are half blurred lol. Or candids.

This sort of cookie cutter photography has been around for as long as I've been a photographer. As I was leaving art school (with a hefty debt, mind you), the reality for my area was I'd make a living in photography taking pictures of families at sunset on the beach in front of sea oats and they were all wearing khaki pants and white shirts. *Gag* I said, "I'll work in another field for money and shoot projects that interest me. But photographers wouldn't be making a living at it if there weren't a demand. Her photos are very nice and well done, just not my personal taste as a mom and a photographer. Blame the market! (Actually, blame Anne Geddes)

Stephanie does great work. One word of caution, if you're a male photographer, you might have trouble penetrating this niche unless you work with a female assistant and advertise it (or your brand is heavily geared toward a Mommy audience). I speak from experience :-) Remember, you're about to handle someone's most prized possession - their newborn baby. Most new Mommies will generally choose a female photographer.

Also worth noting, newborn sessions take anywhere from 3-5 hours, in a hot, 90-degree environment. Patience, and attention to detail is a must, as you'll be changing blankets, dealing with diapers and feedings, all while delivering top-notch product.

Thanks, Michael :) I do agree that right now it is a more female dominated genre of photography but I think we will soon see more and more males enter this field... who says dads aren't just as gentle and talented as moms??

One more thought - when I first started, my sessions definitely took around 3-4 hours. With the posing order that I have crafted, my sessions are now around two hours each time (and that includes about a half hour of feeding time)!

Stephanie. You are awesome. haters always gonna hate!

I've shot only a few babies and I can vouch for this. While someone on the outside may simply view the shot as "well they just put the baby in a basket and snapped away" the reality is quite different.

The room will be sweltering and you'll probably have to stop shooting to change a blanket that the baby went to the bathroom on and you'll probably take 3-4 hours to get all the shots you want in between bathroom changes, feeding, crying, etc. I think people that do this consistently can work that time down to be much more efficient but for anyone new who has never handled a baby you can easily expect that.

And yes, this is definitely a female dominated'll have a tough time getting gigs without direct recommendations if you're a male IMO.

But its treeing kids like objects, stripping them completely from any individuality, every picture looks the same. its basically a product photography. awful just awful

'You have just secured yourself a “lifer” client.'

Not necessarily. They may not be anyone's client in the future. Mainstreet commercial photography (direct to consumers) is in decline, and so is the client base. People who had you photograph their newborns 7 years ago don't have anyone take their portraits now; they do it themselves.

I don't mean to be a downer, but this is something that we need to face as an industry. The industry has changed and many markets cannot support the mainstreet portrait/wedding photographer.

I'm going to have to disagree with you on this one, Jim. From my years of experience, I have found that the people that want to make the investment in a newborn portrait session are the same people that in subsequent years are going to make the same investment to capture their family again. Yes, anyone can buy a dSLR and learn how to use it (or not learn how to use it and have it work to their liking on auto) however, they still can not capture portraits of their entire family as a whole. The families that were ordering large prints and canvases for their walls when their first was born is still going to be wanting something memorable to replace those images with in later years....

Of course you disagree with me...

You are in a major market that can support your current business model...

and, dare I say it, you need photographers to believe the future is sunny and bright— your instructional video sales depend on it.

There really is no vitriol in my comments, but I see the frustration in pro photographers all the time, and it is usually because they feel they have been sold a bill of goods. They feel like someone somewhere was dishonest about the state of the industry and how hard it really is.

With how much the industry has changed in the last 10 years and how much it will change before these newborns are seniors, there are no 'lifer' clients, not anymore. The digital revolution in photography is not over. And telling people to base their business models on how the the industry worked 10 years ago (or on the same kind of client relationships you established 10 years ago), is like telling them to bet that things will stay the same when the indicators clearly do not demonstrate this.

That's all, I just wanted to give what I think is a more realistic counter point.

Yuk! I'd rather clean the grease trap.

Newborn photographers are some of the most unoriginal, generic shooters out there.

Quick, put the baby in a stupid etsy beanie and a 'taco pose', you creative superstars. After that, really shoot for the stars and put it in some kind of random wrap/hammock. For the crescendo, fellow momtographers, let's sit the baby on a fur liner in some kind of hilariously random container - maybe a pumpkin, maybe a suitcase, maybe even a vintage scale!

Then composite a 'leaning chin on hands' on some kind of earth-toned throw rug, throw a cheesy photoshop action over it and call it a day.

You manage to copy the same trite crap so religiously that you give 'food photographers' a run for their money. Way to commoditise your own industry, chumps.

I'll take it one further. Clients of newborn photography are the unoriginal ones. Along with clients for weddings and clients for senior portraits. They only want what they have already seen— not something unique, creative, or (in a photographer's opinion) interesting.

It's one reason I left the business this last year. It was wearying to me to try to shoot within the clients' "taste".

*** Edit: No, not all clients are like that, but in a lower middle class/working class town, they overwhelmingly fall into that category.

#11 There is no such thing as a babyzilla...they are cute no matter what they do.

There is a lot of vitriol in this discussion, I think it's hard to appreciate either side of the fence.

Young babies are very difficult to work with, as you can't exactly expect someone to pose when they cannot even control their own arms. What you end up with is posing them while they sleep, and the limited number of options thereafter - such a laying on, being supported by, or propped up against some object.

Additionally, it's hard to even discuss particular nuances of the craft without sounding incredibly condescending. I will be the first to admit that before having a child, I had no appreciation or even comprehension of the craft or significance.

What matters is the documentation of a very special slice of time in a very rapidly changing person. Yes the baby in a pumpkin may have been done innumerable times, but it's a combination that only works here. You simply wouldn't do that for senior, bridal, or editorial portraits.

What if you had a really, really big pumpkin?

now see, that could make for a great editorial shoot.

I think most of these commenters either don't have kids of their own, or they're too focused on creativity (dare I say this?). They should think of this from the parent's perspective. It's not about the pose or the props, this is their child! "He's adorable! The light is soft and cozy! These first weeks have been so hard, yet so wonderful and we want to remember him when he was so tiny and new!"

That's a hard fact of life when you serve clients - they are paying you for something that they want, and they really don't care about your vision if it does not get those results. Graphic design, photography, or underwater basket weaving - you have expectations and boundaries to work (and try to be creative) within.

I don't think that you have to only canned generic shots, but given that this time frame really, truly, cannot be re-shot, having some standard "crowd pleaser" shots in the mix is pretty imperative.

Yep. I'm a full-time graphic designer doing photography on the side. Maybe that's why I see this from a "giving the clients what they want is more important than satisfying your creative expression" viewpoint. If I don't meet the client's needs with my design work, then I've failed.

The challenge, of corse, is to be creative and unique will meeting the expectations. Failing to do so means that clients will see you as a commodity and basically unskilled laborer. "Can't you just do your photoshop thing?" Failing to meet the client expectations, however, means you won't be getting paid / referrals / future success!

I think most of the negative commentary is simply the result of a sensationalist headline: … why you SHOULD be photographing… this or that.

The fact is, you shouldn't be photographing anything you're not completely passionate about. Simple as that.

I find it fucking HILARIOUS when they try and make the infant pose like a grown human...

Those kids look like they're not even a few weeks old.... don't pose them holdind their heads and all... it's simply not natural and I don't get people who think it looks good....

I can't be the only one...

The most boring photography out there. Repetitive is not the word. Like its says " Their house. Your house. No studio needed. All you need is a small room and a window to make this magic happen" Anyone with a half a brain could do it. No technical skill needed! it's a marketable money-maker.

STEPHANIE would you agree that a good measure of newborn photography is in one's ability to market, not only to parents of newborns, but then on a continuing basis to keep the same family coming back? I watch & loved Julia Kelleher's recent creative live workshops and -- while I'm not interested in getting into newborn work -- was very impressed with her business skills. To say that a family will just keep coming back to you doesn't take into account a lot of follow-up work required. And most new momtographers simply don't grasp that part of the business.

"My style has been described as very organic."

Compositing babies into poses because they're not developed enough to hold the poses on their own is not what I would call organic. :P

Great fun comments from you all.

I'd rather shoot myself.... and not with a camera. I'm lucky that my old assistant is great at it and appreciates the referrals.

I've got nothing but respect for you people who shoot this niche, it's like photographing a wild animal.