What do I need for newborn photography?
When we think about newborn photography, the first images that come to mind are cute props, adorable tiny outfits, and all sorts of color coordinated fabrics and accessories. But before talking about ALL of that- we have to talk about newborn photography studio must-haves. In addition to your camera, and SD card, these are the pieces of equipment that will be your building blocks essential to getting the job done. I have also included my personal recommendations and where you can buy them! If you start with these basics, you will have the appropriate tools needed for newborn photography.
**This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Influencer, I earn from qualifying purchases.**
Newborn Photography Studio Essentials – Equipment
As a studio newborn photographer, I will be talking about lighting and other equipment needed here, as well as other studio essentials needed for your typical setup.
- SD/Memory Cards & card reader
- Appropriate Lenses for Newborn Photography (50mm, 24-70, 100mm)
- Studio Lighting & Stands for Newborn Photography
- Newborn Bean bag or Posing Table
- Backdrop Stand and Clips
- Newborn Posing Pillows
- Pee Pads
- Space Heater
- Air Purifier
- Step-Stool (s)
A good camera is important when photographing any type of session. I have always been a fan of Canon products, and ever since I started my photography journey over 15 years ago, I have never used anything else.
My current camera is the mirrorless Canon R5, which I previously upgraded from my Canon Mark III. While I love my camera, the file size can be intimidating for some. I prefer this since I do create larger wall art pieces for clients. If file size is not an issue for you, the Canon R6 is very popular amongst photographers as well and file sizes are more manageable. There is a significant difference in price between the two so this is something to consider as well.
It is worth noting as well that the R5 has a dual card slot that takes both the new CFExpress Cards that are a bit pricier and require a specific card reader, as well as standard SD cards. You can shop both at the links below:
2. Memory Cards & Card Readers
I have always used Sandisk Extreme Pro Line, and prefer the 128GB size or the 64GB. For the CFExpress cards, I go with the 128GB size. I don’t like the larger sized cards, although there are higher available.
My go-to card reader is the Delkin Devices DDReader-56 which can hold both cards and has a quick reading time, given the large file sizes.
- Sandisk Extreme Pro 128GB and 64GB
- CF Express 128GB
- Delkin Devices Card Reader – this card reader has a quick reading and preview time for the larger files- faster than my actual mac when the cards are inserted into the Mac’s slot.
3. Lenses for Newborn Photography
I use a few different lenses for my newborn sessions. My favorite in-studio lens when photographing babies with families, is my 2.8L 24-70mm. This allows me the flexibility of zooming in and out, especially when there are toddlers moving about during a session.
For still baby shots, the 50mm is still a favorite, and the 100mm 2.8L allows you get those dreamy up-close images of the tiny baby details.
- 100mm 2.8L Macro Lens
- 50mm 1.2L DSLR EF Lens – please note for the mirrorless cameras, you will need the RF adapter for the regular EF lenses
- 50mm 1.2L RF lens
- 28-70mm RF Lens or the 2.8L 24-70mm EF (you will need the adapter here as well), what I currently use as I am in the process of upgrading to all RF.
4. Studio Lighting for Newborn Photography
Paul Buff Lighting
I have been a fan of Paul C Buff, and Einstein lighting for quite some time for my studio lighting needs. For newborn photography (and general studio sessions), I use a combination of Einstein and Alien Bee strobe lights. My Einstein is my main light, and the Alien Bees are my secondary lights.
For these, I have quite a few different modifiers- including Softboxes, and PLM umbrellas in different sizes. For family images, I generally use this Softbox, and the PLM in the 64″ size for newborn images. Occasionally I also use a strip box, or a Beauty dish as kicker lights or to fill in some shadows. It is good to have a variety to be able to tackle different looks or lighting.
I also like GODOX lighting as a brand, for cordless lighting, and some fill lights. The continuos light and strip box are used in-studio as well for rim lighting or a hair light when needed. I really love the no-cords of the Godox system and the trigger functions are great as well.
Be sure that whichever system you use, you purchase the appropriate triggers, sync cords, and receivers necessary for each.
- Godox Continuous Light & Trigger
- Godox AD400 Strobe & Trigger
- Godox 47″ Softbox
- Godox 70″ PLM & Diffuser
- Godox 35″ Strip Box
- Light Stand – Paul Buff with Boom Arm – allows you to tilt/angle your light
- Cambo Redwing Boom Arm
- Reverse Stand – I use this to get my light as low as possible to the ground next to babies
- Light Stand with wheels – this is a great one since you don’t have to add casters and the profile of the legs is low and won’t be in your shot to edit out as much as some of the others.
Make sure light stands and backdrop stands have sandbags weighing them down to keep from toppling over.
5. Newborn Beanbag or Posing Table
Depending on your preference, you can opt for a newborn posing beanbag or a posing table. I have used both, but let me be clear, I am not a fan of tables. I do not like the idea of having baby that elevated off of the ground, any ofter safety considerations aside. My posing “table” is actually an elevated dog bed, it allows me the sufficient space to pose baby, and keeps baby lower to the ground. I can also sit on the ground as opposed to being bent over a higher bean bag as well, so it is better for my bag. Overhead shots are also easier to do on this.
The dog bed also folds down to a manageable size for travel too! I pad my platform with memory foam and blanket layers for softness and a nice posing surface for baby.
6. Backdrop Stands & Clips
Of course you also need a set or two of backdrop stands, as well as clips to hold your fabrics in place. There are different options available, but the most important is that you find a stand that extends to varying heights. I have a shorter one to use with newborn fabrics and drops over my posing bed, and a taller one to use for suspending larger backdrops for family portraits.
- Emart Extendable Backdrop Stand
- Fudsey Extendable Backdrop Stand
- Plastic Backdrop Clamps – i like these for clamping fabrics tightly on the dog bed
- Heavy Duty Metal Clamps from Amazon, or you can buy them at Home Depot too!
- Flat Clamps
For seamless paper rolls, you can install a backdrop system, manual or electric, to make it easier keeping your favorite backdrop color rolls up.
- Manual Backdrop roller system
- Electronic Backdrop roller system – 6 rolls & 3 rolls
- Backdrop Weights – these tablecloth weights work great, or you can use standard bar ones – you can find on BH and Adorama.
- Favorite seamless colors: Olive, Thunder Grey, Ultramarine, Pecan, Storm Grey, Chestnut, Super White
7. Newborn Posing Pillows
Newborn posing pillows and aids are ESSENTIAL in recreating the perfect baby poses. There are so many different varieties out there, but the original beans are from The Original Photoblocks Props. They have a big set, or you can get smaller sets. They have additional aids for posing in other props as well. A posing ring is really great for posing babies as well.
I use the posing beans on beds and baskets as well as they are a bit softer in nature, or for micro adjustments under elbows, feet, and behind the neck for support. For general posing, I religiously also use the Hello Little Props “Shapeshifter” posing blocks and bucket adjusters. . These are made of a firmer material that gives baby enough support while not sinking down with baby’s weight.
8. Pee Pads
Pee pads might seem like an odd “essential” here, but accidents happen when you take that diaper off of baby. Because of posing flow and the layering of blankets on your posing surface, you want to prevent any accidents from going through ALL of the layers. I usually put one under the top layer of my posing fabric once baby’s diaper comes off. Make sure the pads you buy aren’t the ones meant for dogs since they contain different chemicals that can be harmful to baby.
9. Space Heater
The appropriate temperature is essential for the comfort of baby. A portable space heater is the perfect tool to keep the temperature, especially when they are wearing little to no clothing for certain poses. around baby cozy. You can heat your overall space as well- but at 75-85, which might be too hot for parents depending on the season.
10. Air Purifier
Because you are working with newborns, having an air purifier – especially during cold and flu season is great in making sure you minimize baby’s exposure to unnecessary germs, dust, and other allergens. Having one with a sanitizing UV function is also a bonus.
I like this one: Germ Guardian Air Purifier
11. Step Stools
Step stools are an important tool, especially if you are shorter or of average height. They are essential to getting the right angle for family images (especially with taller parents) and overhead shots. For back comfort, I also like to sit on a mini step stool when photographing baby alone as well.
- 2-Step Ladder, 2 Step, 3 Step – for getting the right height or angle for family shots and overhead shots
- Step Stool – this is what i use for newborn posing on the bean bag
Newborn Photography Studio – 13 Baby Care Studio Essentials
During a newborn photography session we also have to keep in mind baby’s total comfort throughout. This includes catering to the needs of the babies you are photographing. Of course parents will have their own baby bag and supplies, BUT, it is always a great idea to have additional items on hand. In one of the first trips out of the house, parents may forget pacifiers, not bring enough diapers, or mom might need some breast pads if she’s nursing. There are also some key pieces of baby gadgets that will help your session run smoothly!
Things that are nice to keep at the ready include the following:
- Baby Shusher, Hatch, or other machines
- A vibrating pad, like the Lulla-vibe, or the Rock-it
- Diapers & Wipes – I like to keep newborn through size one on hand
- Changing Pad
- Diaper Cream
- Hand Sanitizer & Masks
- Bottle Warmer
- Bottle Soap/Detergent
- Breastmilk Pads
- Breastmilk Cookies & Snacks
- Extra Bottles
1. Baby Shusher & Other Sound Machines
I absolutely love my Baby Shusher – I have had this for 6 years, and Iswear every parent asks me what it is and where they can get one. This little miraculous blimp looking gadget just works wonders on baby. It is what it says it is, a recorded shushing sound that you can adjust volume and time on. I swear by it, and parents love it too. It is extremely portable too.
Other sound machines I like, include the Hatch Rest – which has different white noise sound options that is totally programmable and bluetooth controlled (and a soothing night light that changes colors, if you’re using it for a nursery!).
2. Vibrating Pads
I love a vibrating pad to just give baby a little extra soothing when they just might be having a harder time falling asleep. Just like the butt pat, a vibrating pad gently “rocks” them to sleep and helps soothe in between poses if baby is a little fussier. My favorite is the Lullavibe, but many also like the rock-it (which can also be hooked up to a stroller!)
3. Extra Pacifiers & Pacifier Wipes
It is always good to have extra pacifiers on hand. Many new parents may not yet have introduced a pacifier, are skeptical about potential nipple confusion, or simply forgot to put one in their bag. Sometimes, however, a pacifier does just the trick to help with fussiness in between poses, and honestly, babies have them in for such a tiny blip of time during sessions that most parents are ok with using one briefly if it helps with the flow.
I like keeping these in the 0-3 month size on hand: Phillips Avent Soothies. They are what most hospitals also provide and use for babies, and most babies seem to take to them well.
Pacifier Wipes are also helpful for the inevitable drops, that will happen when baby fusses or spits out the paci. I like the Munchkin brand wipes.
4. Diapers and Wipes
Diapers and wipes should be an essential of any toolkit in size newborn and 1. Brand is a personal preference, I like pampers myself. For wipes, again brand is a personal preference, and I find many clients prefer the Honest brand.
5. Diaper Cream
Triple Paste was my favorite diaper rash cream for my babies, combined with Vaseline to keep it “sealed” onto their bottoms. My pediatrician had recommended this combination after trying a few different pastes, and this was a winner. Shop Vaseline, and Triple Paste here.
6. Changing Pad
I like using portable changing pads during my sessions since accidents happen, and most times I am changing the baby directly on the posing table or next to the prop I am using. I like the skip hop brand that has the compartments attched for wipes and things, but prefer the simple ones that have no other accessories attached.
- Portable Changing Mat
- Ubbi Wipeable Changing Mat
- ComfyCubs, Little Fox, and Skip Hop Changing Mat with Compartments
7. Hand Sanitizer & Masks
Newborn health and safety is very important to me. For this reason, I always wear a mask during newborn sessions, even if I am perfectly healthy. As a mom myself, I know the littany of germs that kids can bring home from school, or that you can be exposed to on a daily basis. While this is just a fact of life, and exposure helps to build your own immune system, some bugs can be very harmful to a new baby’s developing immune response. Most of the time, by the time we show symptoms of being sick, we’ve already carried that virus around and spread it while we still look or feel “healthy.”
I personally like the KN95 masks since the nose clip helps to keep them in place, and they are less flimsy than the typical pleated paper ones. I like that they actually cover the essential parts of your face as opposed to hanging or sagging open like the other ones. As this is a necessary evil- I prefer colorful ones like these, so they are not such a bummer to wear! If you don’t care about that, basic white ones are more economical.
Hand sanitizer is important, especially if you’re cleaning up messes, changing baby, or have to help a sniffly toddler sibling during the session.
- Go-to General Hand Sanitizer: Purell Soothing
- Babyganics Alcohol Free Foaming Hand Sanitizer – best for baby contact
8. Bottle Warmer
For moms who are formula feeding or pumping and bottle feeding, a bottle warmer is super helpful to have on hand for feeding baby. During a newborn session, multiple feedings may take place and this will make it easier for mom to prep bottles. I’ve always liked “The First Years” Bottle warmer.
9. Baby Bottle Soap/Detergent
Again, to make it easier for moms during the session, who HATE crusty, semi dried milk bottles to take home, baby bottle detergent is a nice bonus to have on hand. I like the Dapple brand.
If you have a microwave, you can also use the Medela quicksteam sanitizing bags to clean bottles too!
10. Nursing Pads
Nursing pads are nice to have on hand as some moms may need extra, or experience unexpected leaks during the session. These are also nice to have on hand to layer under any gowns to prevent leakage that may occur. Again, brand is a personal preference, but both Lansinoh and Medela nursing pads are nice.
11. Lactation Cookies & Snacks
Parents will love a snack or two during often long newborn sessions. Keeping a variety on hand, (and water), is a nice touch. Consider nut and nut-free options in case of allergies, as well as kid-safe snacks.
For moms, lactation cookies are always a nice treat. I personally love the Munchkin Milkmakers Lactation Cookie bites in the chocolate salted caramel flavor! The Cheddar crips are pretty good too. They also have other flavors like Oatmeal Chocolate chip, and Oatmeal Raisin, though I haven’t tried those.
12. Extra Baby Bottles
If you have space, having a few extra bottles on hand can be nice. Bottles can be a very specific preference as every baby seems to prefer one over the other. Personally I really loved the Maam Anti colic bottles, and Lansinoh Breastfeeding bottles for moms who may be doing both. The nipple shape of the Lansinoh bottles is a bit different and more pliable in feel which I think helps it feel more like a natural nipple shape when in baby’s mouth.
13. Storage Caddy
A storage caddy (or two!) is essential for keeping everything in place and within reach. Bonus if it is on wheels. My favorite type is the 3 tier, wheeled ones. The compartments are sizable and can keep all your baby needs, as well as posing aids and other tools in place. Mine is from Ikea, but the below are two comparable options as well:
Newborn Photography Studio Props and Accessories
No studio is complete without an array of newborn props- whether it’s backdrops, buckets and beds, the perfect newborn outfits, and other accessories. A well stocked newborn studio will have a variety of offerings to satisfy individual preferences. I definitely have favorite go-to vendors that I love to shop with.
I’m working on a separate blog post that will detail some of my favorite go-tos for newborn sessions like:
- Best Newborn Fabric Vendors
- Best Newborn Prop Vendors
- Best Newborn Outfit vendors
- Best Newborn Accessories vendors
- …and much more
In the meantime you can check out this related blog post of my favorite props: 11 Best Newborn Props
The Most Important Newborn Studio Essential
We’ve covered all of the material things above, but what is absolutely essential before starting your newborn photography journey is EDUCATION, & SAFETY.
I highly recommend taking mentorships, training courses with photographers that specialize in newborn photography that you up to, and learning about newborn safety. There are a lot of newborn safety resources available, including The Milky Way, & Accredited Newborn Photographers Association, and MyClickMagazine, where you can read corresponding articles on baby safety.
If you can take an Infant CPR course, this is a great benefit to have at your disposal as well. If you’d like a refresher on Infant CPR, you can visit the Red Cross’ site here: Infant CPR, or here: Infant CPR .
Hopefully, this list of newborn photography studio must-haves will get you on your way to an appropriately stocked studio for all of your newborn session needs, and ensure the comfort and safety of your tiniest clients!
**This article contains affiliate links. As an Amazon Influencer, , I earn from qualifying purchases.**
Related Newborn Photography Articles
Sofia Ribeiro is an NJ Newborn photographer serving Somerset, Essex, Sussex, Bergen, Morris, Union, Monmouth, and Middlesex counties in North and Central New Jersey. Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram & Facebook!