Preemie Newborn Photography

Many moms believe that because their baby was born early they can't or even shouldn't bring them in for a newborn portrait session. This has typically been promoted by photographers who are either too afraid of working with a preemie or don't want the perceived hassle. The truth is that there is no reason specific to preemies not to photograph them.

Let's look at a few of the typical questions we receive regarding photographing preemies and a few tips for preparing yourself, as well as baby, for their moment in the spotlight.

Preemie Newborn Studio Portrait

When to photograph your preemie

One of the most frequently asked questions about photographing preemie babies (all babies really) is when to bring them into the studio for their session. The best time to photograph a newborn is within 5 to 10 days after birth. This is rarely possible with a premature baby as many of them spend their first weeks or even months in the hospital. In cases that prevent us from photographing a baby within this ideal time we advise parents to schedule their session as soon as baby is out of the hospital or is able to travel. Sometimes this means the following day after they come home from the hospital.

While this is usually a stressful time for new parents it's also the time when baby is sleepiest, and most cooperative. We always do our best to allow mom and dad to relax in our lounge and allow us to take care of baby for a few hours, only disturbing mom's rest for feeding time.

Preemie Newborn Studio Portrait on white fur

How to prepare for a preemie photoshoot

In many ways the preparation needed for a preemie's photo session is the same as any other newborn session. I suggest reading the 'How to prepare for your newborn photography session', but the highlights are as follows:

Schedule Your Newborn's Photos ASAP!

Have a Vision for Your Baby's First Portraits

Communicate With Your Photographer

Embrace the Exhaustion

Pack Your Bags

"Feed Me, Seymour!"

Dress For Success


The only real amendment to these tips is that communication with your photographer now becomes critical. As soon as you can let your photographer know that baby is coming or has come early. If you are working with a professional photographer they will already have a plan as to how to proceed and will communicate with you how they handle preemies, in some cases you may have discussed this process during your consultation.

In addition to these tips we also suggest that you prepare to bring any outfits you might want baby to wear during the photoshoot. We try to provide a nice selection of outfits and accessories for our newborn sessions but due to a preemie's size some of the options may be limited. This is something that you should expect with any newborn photographer.

Preemie Newborn Yawning

Preemie portrait process

The process of photographing a preemie is no different than photographing any other newborn. It's always difficult to allow yourself to relax when you've got a newborn and it's doubly hard when you've got a preemie, but it's important to know that baby is in good capable hands. 

Since your newborn session is likely to occur after baby is more than 10 days old baby is less likely to remain sleeping during the photo process. This can affect some of the poses we choose to do.

Sleeping Preemie Studio Photo on white fur

How long is a preemie newborn session?

We always have parents plan on a minimum of 3 hours for a newborn session. This usually only involves about an hour of photographing the baby and 2 hours of feeding, pacifying, and rocking to sleeping. With preemies the session can last a bit longer as they are less likely to remain asleep so it is wise to plan on an additional hour.


Follow these tips and trust your photographer and you'll likely walk away with some beautiful photos of your new bundle of joy!


For scheduling information with The Shelby Studio please call 832.582.1983