Top 5 Secrets to Successfully Photographing Newborns Outdoors

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Top 5 Secrets to Successfully Photographing Newborns Outdoors

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Once the weather gets nice, I get very excited to bring newborns outside for some portraits.  I love the bright colors of all the flowers and the soft natural light. Many people ask how outdoor newborn sessions are done. This article will cover a few tips and tricks to take pictures of newborns outdoors.

1. Set it up inside first:

I always start with the studio portion of my session first. Once I know that the baby is sleeping nice and soundly I place them into a safe prop set up. Once they are placed the way I want them I have the parent carefully carry their baby in the prop outside. All of my outdoor work is done right outside of my studio. You do not need a large outdoor space for outdoor images. A small tiny garden or patch of wild flowers can look huge when cropped in.


 2. Safety first!

Once we get outside I always have two spotters. I have one person on either side of the baby while I am photographing them. One person is assigned to watching the baby and ensuring that they do not move and stay sleeping soundly. If the baby begins to stir I stop what I am doing and head over to soothe them. I have a second person beside the baby holding shade over top of the baby and keeping an eye on the surroundings making sure that there are no bugs flying around. I cannot stress enough the importance of safety for these shots and how having two spotters is very important. As you can see in the pullback shots below of the twins the spotters are VERY close by. You can even see a set of feet in the images, to give you an idea of how close someone should be to the baby.



3. Make your own shade if you don’t have any!

Newborn skin is VERY sensitive and if you are not shooting one hour before sunset or in shade then you will need to make your own shade to protect their delicate skin. Two great ways to do that are either having someone hold a scrim above the baby or what I do is have one of the spotters holding a very large beach umbrella. I always make sure that the baby is completely shaded in order to protect their skin. NEVER place a newborn in direct sunlight.


4. Make sure it’s warm out!

I am very lucky to live in a state that gets very warm early in the year and stays that way through September or October. Just as you would want your studio to be kept warm it is VERY important that you do not attempt to do an outdoor session in the cooler weather. I never go outside unless it is at least 85F. Newborns can lose body heat very quickly and you never want to take them outside in cooler weather, especially when they are in their birthday suits.

5. Make it noisy!

Just as I keep my studio noisy with white noise I also have a white noise app on my iPhone that I carry in my pocket so that the baby always hears that soothing white noise playing. I often hide my iPhone behind the prop so that the baby can hear the white noise while I am shooting.

tree stump

Photographing newborns outdoors can be very fun. Just remember to keep it safe at all times. Never attempt to pose an alert baby in a prop outdoors.  Always keep their skin safe from the sun and always have at least two spotters just an arms length away. Parents love to help out and this is a great way to get them involved!

*** Check back tomorrow for a step-by-step edit of an outdoor newborn photo.

This article was written exclusively for MCP Actions by Tracy of Memories by TLC.  Tracy Callahan is a fine art portrait studio specializing in newborns, young children and maternity portraits.  Website | Facebook. Tracy edits her newborn images with MCP Newborn Essentials Photoshop actions.

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  1. January 26, 2015 at 12:36 pm —

    Great article on outdoor newborn photography!

  2. Mandy
    July 18, 2012 at 11:41 am —

    Where do you get your props from. I love the fur in all those pictures. I am just getting started and I am trying to get some props.

  3. Jean
    July 7, 2012 at 2:39 am —


  4. July 5, 2012 at 1:21 pm —

    Wish I had read this this morning! I just got back from a newborn session, and I wanted to take her out in this waaaarrrm weather, but I just wasn’t comfortable and decided against it. These were some great points, and reaffirmed what I (thought) I had already known.
    Thank you!

  5. July 5, 2012 at 11:22 am —

    Great article! I shot a newborn shoot outdoors just the other day- thankfully had a huge shade tree 🙂
    can make for much more interesting photos.
    thanks for sharing.

  6. July 5, 2012 at 10:32 am —

    Love this article!!! Thank you so much!

  7. July 5, 2012 at 10:21 am —

    Great, useful article.
    Sadly a lot of the newer photographs looking to get into this market are unaware or unwilling to take the precautions and have extra people on a shoot.
    I have seen too many photos of newborns who have not had their heads supported while being photographed.

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Top 5 Secrets to Successfully Photographing Newborns Outdoors