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Baby Led Photography: What Is It, and Why Is It Important?

If you’ve been shopping for a newborn photographer for your little one, you’ve probably come across the term “baby led photography.” But what exactly does that mean, and why does it matter?

I pride myself on being a baby led photographer. There are several reasons that this phrase and the ideas behind it shape my work as I capture images of precious newborns for Oahu families. In this post, I’ll explain what being a baby led photographer means in general terms, as well as how I use this core principle in my work and how it will influence your own newborn photography experience.

What is Baby Led Photography?

Baby led photography is a style of newborn photography that emphasizes prioritizing baby’s needs above other concerns. While some types of baby pictures emphasize cute poses and lots of props, baby led photography focuses on natural moments with your newborn, using the positions and environment they’re most comfortable with.

newborn in natural pose with white swaddle during baby led photography session

Why is Baby Led Photography Important?

Letting baby be the guide during a newborn photo session is important for several reasons:

Safety ~ First, the priority for any newborn photographer should be to make sure your infant is safe during their photo session. Most of the poses you see on social media require extensive training in newborn posing and safety on the part of the photographer, and also rely heavily on editing and digital software. By using only natural poses, it’s a simple matter to ensure that your baby will be safe throughout their session.

Comfort ~ In addition to capturing precious memories, you also want to make sure baby is comfortable during their photoshoot. Not all babies are happy in every pose, and a baby led photographer will never force a baby into a pose they are not comfortable in.

Good Memories ~ While you probably have a vision of what you want the final product to look like, it’s also important to enjoy the experience of a newborn photoshoot. A baby photo session should leave you not only with beautiful pictures, but with good memories of snuggling your baby, watching them sleep, and feeling comfortable while your photographer captures those moments for you.

Timeless ~ Baby-led photography also tends to result in images that are classic and lasting. Poses, props, and colors often make up a big part of highly posed studio newborn sessions. And although they can be fun, elements like these go in and out of style. A more organic approach, focusing on natural poses and interactions between you and your little one, are much more likely to stand the test of time and be photos you can treasure for years to come.

Mother seated by window holding infant during baby led newborn photography session in Hawaii

What Does This Mean for Your Newborn Photography Session with Papica Photography?

As a mother of three children, and with years of experience photographing newborns, I know a thing or two about babies. And I also know that when baby is unhappy, everyone is unhappy. The last thing I want during a photography session is a crying infant and a stressed and frazzled mother. The most important thing for me is the well-being of your precious baby. So I’ll tell you upfront, whether we are doing a Fine Art Portrait session or a Newborn Lifestyle session, baby is in charge, not me.

Being baby led means I listen to what the baby wants. Although I will absolutely try to get every pose you’re hoping for, I will never force a pose that baby doesn’t seem comfortable in. Although this means that you may not get every pose you wanted, it’s far more important that your baby is happy and that you have good memories of the time we spend together. Don’t worry, we will still get plenty of beautiful photos! Your newborn is not the first to decide they aren’t going to cooperate with a particular pose, and there are still plenty of ways we can create a gorgeous variety of images for you.

In addition to listening to what baby wants, I also believe it’s important to listen to what you, as the parent, want and need during your newborn’s photo session. Some photographers prefer parents not to hold their infant during a session unless needed, but as a parent myself, I know it’s so hard not to be the one comforting your baby when they seem fussy. For this reason, if baby is crying, I will hand them over to you so you can calm them. Of course, I can swaddle and rock your baby to sleep, but I know you’ll probably enjoy our time together more if you can interact with your little one naturally, just as you do every day. After all, those everyday moments are the true magic, and they are what we want to capture.

I want you and your family to have great memories of your newborn photography experience and to know that I care about your baby’s wellbeing. Feeling confident in your photographer, relaxed during your session, and thrilled with your final artwork is so much more important than getting one perfect shot or recreating someone else’s memory that you saw on Instagram.

At Papica Photography, my work is all about helping you remember and hold on to this special time in your life. That is my ultimate goal, and I find that the best way to accomplish that is to be in tune with what you and your baby need. When you book your newborn session with me, you can rest assured that you are in good hands. With my signature style of baby-led photography, I will gently guide your family to create candid, joyful images, and document those sweet interactions that happen naturally as you enjoy time with your newborn in your own home. I know how precious each and every baby is, and I’m so honored to document your family’s journey. Thank you for choosing me to create these personalized works of art based on your own unique story.


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