A Not-So-Sleepy Baby | A Newborn Photographer’s Worst Nightmare

A Not-So-Sleepy Baby | A Newborn Photographer’s Worst Nightmare
By Phoenix Arizona Newborn Photographer, Keri Meyers

Being a Professional Newborn Photographer is a pretty awesome job. We get to cuddle with adorable, sleepy babies and photograph them in creative set-ups sending the cuteness meter off the charts. Let’s be real though, not every session goes as planned. We can plan every detail and give parents all of our “Successful Newborn Preparation Instructions”, and still get a not-so-sleepy baby.

So, what do we do? Well, we have to throw our carefully planned workflow out the window (see my typical workflow here) and get a little creative. You might think, well, we can always reschedule for another day in hopes that baby will sleep better… but, there are no guarantees. You just spent several hours working with this sweet little not-so-sleepy baby, and the very same thing could happen next time. Question is, do you want to find out? Or, do you want to make the best out of the current session and still give your clients a lovely gallery of images that they will surely love. I always choose the latter.

It is possible to get a beautiful gallery images with a not-so-sleepy baby. You may have specific poses or set-ups you really want to do, but if baby isn’t feeling it, baby isn’t feeling it. In these situations, we have to think simple. Simple really does go a long way. Just remember, parents will fall in love with the images because they are images of their newborn child. So, don’t stress out. Just dig into your bag of tricks to maximize each simple set-up to provide the most images in order to fill up a gallery for your eager client.

In these “Not-So-Sleepy Baby” situations I fall back on the following in my back of tricks:
-Simple posing
-Macro shots
-Camera angles
-Creative wrapping
-Parent-baby shots

Simple Posing. We all love the trendy poses, such as the chin-in-hands pose aka “froggy”, the taco, etc. These poses take a lot more adjusting and movement of baby and with a not-so-sleepy baby these poses might not be possible. In these situations simpler posing is needed and absolutely OK. Poses like the “tushie-up”, side-lying, head-on-hands facing forward and wrapped may be all you can achieve. There are so many minor tweaks you can make with each of these simple poses to create something new and different to add to your gallery. Get creative and use a variety of hats, pants and wraps with each pose to create variety in your gallery.

Macro. Invest in a good macro lens. I suggest the 60mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens, the 105mm f/2.8 Nikkor lens or the 100mm f/2.8 Canon lens. Get close-ups of baby’s lips, fingers, feet, lashes, ears and hair. These shots are quick and easy to get and required no movement of baby and can add anywhere from 3-6 images to your client gallery. Score!


Camera angles. Learning to shoot the same pose at different angles easily gives you a variety of different looks without having to disturb baby… especially important when baby is not in that deep slumber we all hope for. Finding the most pleasing angles takes practice, so experiment and move around taking different shots to see what you love best. My favorite poses to shoot at a variety of angles are the taco, wrapped on beanbag and tushie-up. Really, you can shoot a variety of angles with any pose, but some are more limited than others.



Creative Wrapping. Wraps can be a huge help with not-so-sleepy babies, so invest in a variety of colors and textures. The use of wraps and layering pieces can turn any pose into something completely new. In most cases all it required is some simple tucking.


Parent-Baby Shots. Who doesn’t love an emotional portrait of a parent with their newborn? The beauty of parent-baby shots is that baby does not need to be asleep to capture an emotional and beautiful portrait. Encourage your clients to take part in parent-baby shots because they can take up 5-10 images in your gallery. I like to photograph a variety of mom with baby, dad with baby and mom and dad with baby. I always suggest that parents wear white or cream – something simple. If baby is extremely fidgeting then use a simple cream wrap to calm baby while photographing parents with baby.


With these simple tricks, you can easily capture beautiful and emotional images for your clients that they will LOVE. Don’t feel discouraged if you have a string of not-so-sleepy babies. It happens to the best of us, even with years of experience. Babies can sense tension and frustration, so remember to take your time and have patience. You can still rock your session and provide your clients with images they cannot live without.

Keri-Meyers-7About Keri Meyers:
Phoenix Newborn Photographer, Keri Meyers, is a multi-award winning newborn photographer and educator. Keri’s work had been featured in OK Magazine, MSN Wonderwall, Mozi Magazine, Professional Photographer’s Magazine, BabyTalk Magazine, Chic Magazine, Millers Professional Imaging and others.

Past clients include Simon Helberg & Jocelyn Towne (Big Bang Theory), Ian & Erin Ziering (Beverly Hills 90210, Sharknado), Megan Fox (Transformers, This is 40) & Brian Austin Green (The Wedding Band, Beverly Hills 90210) and others. See more celebrity work at www.keriandjen.com.

Keri also the cofounder NewbornPhotography.com (with partner Jennifer Blakeley), a supportive environment for newborn photographers to meet, share images and stories, learn from one another – and most importantly unite the industry as a whole and market the importance of hiring a professional newborn photographer.

DISCOUNT CODE ALERT!! USE CODE MOZI15 to receive 15% off of A Newborn Portrait Session with Keri Meyers | Keri’s Newborn Session Posing Video!

The artist: Keri Meyers
The biz: Keri Meyers Photography
The location: Phoenix, AZ
See more of Keri:
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4 thoughts on “A Not-So-Sleepy Baby | A Newborn Photographer’s Worst Nightmare

  1. Great tips!! Would have loved to have seen not-so-sleepy babies featured in the images to get a good idea of the variety and poses you’ve been able to achieve with a newborn who just doesn’t want to sleep! 🙂

  2. Thanks for the encouragement!
    I recently had an adorable, wide-awake baby who I actually went back to shoot a second time in the hopes of getting him at a sleepy time. I tried all the tricks…had mom feed him right before I showed up, had the area really warm, had some nice white noise in the background, he was all swaddled up but nothing worked. After an hour of shooting I packed up my gear and Mom placed her baby on her shoulder and instantly he fell asleep!!! I got a few shots of him on her shoulder asleep and only then did I find out that he had been sleeping with her every night since she got him home from the hospital!
    They were thrilled with the photos of their precious little boy and they chose all the shots where he was wide-eyed!

  3. This is a very cool and honest article. I’ve never been into the newborn photography (I normally photograph older kids), but when I got my baby I really wanted to make a beautiful photographs of him. What happened is that he was a baby with extremely light dream since day one. He would wake up from the sound of my camera in a heartbeat! Not to mention how pointless was trying to pose him. I felt like a total looser and kept wondering why on earth I can have even one “newborn” photo of my son? I tried everything: white noise, warm surrounding, music…In the end I solved that problem by simply making a wonderful, documentary type photographs of my son. The good news is that he is 20 months old now and posing like a pro:-)

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