I am planning on doing a homemade baby photography for a 3-week-old baby (my daughter :)).

I count on a Nikon D40 (I know, need to upgrade!) and 2 lenses: 18-105mm and a fixed 50mm f1.8.

Which lens should I use and at what shutter speed and aperture levels to get best picture for this specific shooting?

  • 3
    \$\begingroup\$ See this question for an additional consideration: flash. photo.stackexchange.com/questions/6250/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 1:45
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ Also photo.stackexchange.com/questions/16411/… \$\endgroup\$
    – Michael C
    Commented Jan 26, 2014 at 2:12
  • \$\begingroup\$ No, you don't need to upgrade from a D40! You must have read too many internet forums with gear heads! At this point you likely will get the most benefit from three things: 1.An external flash unit 2.Reading photography books 3.Experience. \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 14:26

2 Answers 2


At three weeks they tend to sleep a lot and don't move much when they are awake. You will find in the coming months and years that this will change rapidly! Use whatever shutter speed you need to keep the ISO low. Depending on the amount of light you may need to use your tripod and either the timer or a remote cable release to prevent camera shake.

For the newborn I would go for the 50mm f/1.8 lens and use a wide aperture like f/2 or f/2.2 - wherever the image sharpness improves from the normally slightly soft wide open f/1.8 on most of those type lenses. Focus on the nearest eye. I'd try to set up a spot in a neutrally colored room (white or light gray walls) with a window that receives direct sunlight, but place the baby in a spot that is only getting diffused light from the window.

When photographing newborns the perspectives given by using closer shooting distances aren't necessarily bad. With most other people close shooting distances result in goofy looking distortions. But with a 50mm lens on an APS-C camera when shooting babies I've not found this to be the case. If you do find the perspective of tighter shots using the 50mm lens to be a little odd looking, then back up and use the zoom lens in the 80-105mm range with the aperture set as wide as it will go.


First and foremost: don't use flash. This really startles the babies and often makes them cry. Trust me - I have four kids and made this mistake myself.

You should probably use focal lengths of 50mm or more - otherwise the proportions might get distorted too much. Usually the lenses work best when you close the aperture one or two steps.

If you don't want to constantly switch lenses, I would use the zoom, because it is more versatile.

While not really a lens topic: try to not only take photos down to the baby, but get on eye level with the child. Also, the parents will love pictures from them with the baby. If you take these shots make sure to close the aperture so that the baby and the mother/father are in focus.

Also a parents finger inside the baby's fist is a nice (if somewhat cheesy) motive.

Be aware that small babies change very fast. If you miss a shot you can't really recreate the situation weeks later. So plan before you shoot what shots you are going to take. And be patient.

And BTW: I don't think you need to upgrade your camera. It's not the camera that makes great photos it is you (and vice versa ;-) )

All the best for your shot.

  • \$\begingroup\$ I completely disagree that a blanket statement of "don't use flash" applies. If you use flash improperly you will have poor results and yes can upset babies(as well as adults); but used correctly is a very useful and important tool for newborn photography. I like the added line: "trust me" which is another way of saying; I have no proof of this logic being valid, but only an anecdote that is useful to no one. Also see: photo.stackexchange.com/questions/16411/… \$\endgroup\$
    – dpollitt
    Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 14:20
  • \$\begingroup\$ I agree: I do not have absolute proof that this is true for every situation. However I prefer not to experiment with my kids. The nurse took a photo with a polaroid camera of my first child, which did upset the baby very much. So I avoided flash for her. When the second kid arrived and I had a bit of experience with photography I bounced the flash off the ceiling and it still shocked my baby. Then I stopped taking photos of newborn babies with flash. \$\endgroup\$ Commented Jan 27, 2014 at 15:39

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