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How to snap the perfect newborn photo

Photograph by Hart Tan
Photograph by Hart Tan

‘Simple, natural, beautiful’, is the philosophy behind Hart Tan’s stunning newborn photography. With eight years of experience, Hart has worked with close to a thousand babies to create beautiful photos their parents can treasure.

Infants transform so quickly. Within weeks of your child’s birth, you’ll be looking at a different face from the one you brought into the world. Thinking about hiring a professional photographer to capture those special, fleeting moments with your new arrival? We talk to Hart about how to arrange an unforgettable newborn portrait.

When’s the best time for a shoot?

“To achieve brand new baby images, the best time is between 5-8 days after birth,” says Hart. It’s essential to choose an experienced newborn photographer to ensure the process is smooth and stress-free. “I remember eight years ago, a typical shoot would last 4-5 hours, mainly due to my lack of experience,” says Hart. “These days, a session only takes about 1-2 hours to produce the images my clients have in mind.”

Hart keeps his shoot process surprisingly simple. He arrives at the agreed venue, talks with the parents and simply takes over handling the baby. “My shoots are usually filled with lots of chatting. I am curious about people, I love learning more about them so I can get a sense of what they want,” he says.

Why newborns?

Newborn baby Jovyn naked on hammock
Photograph of newborn baby naked on hammock

When asked why he’s passionate about photographing newborns, Hart says he feels a sense of achievement when he helps preserve the memories of a family. He also loves spending time with people of all ages and backgrounds and bearing witness to their lives. “It’s amazing to look at a newborn’s potential, witness the joy of one-year-old, stubbornness of a two-year-old, confidence of a five-year-old, or watch a toothless six-year-old. Every person, all the way up to a wrinkly 90-year-old, has stories they can share.”

Taking the perfect picture

As far as technique goes, Hart is highly skilled. Black and white photography is his forte and medium of choice. Hart believes there is elegance to black and white photography, which emphasises light and emotion. “Looking at someone’s face, or into his or her eyes, without the distraction of colour can provide a stronger emotional connection to the subject,” he says.

Simplicity, is another trademark of Hart’s photographic style. He prefers the minimalist approach, wrapping a baby in a textured cloth or using light to highlight the detail of a sleeping newborn.

Photograph of newborn baby Jocelyn wrapped, as if still in the womb
Photo of newborn baby wrapped, as if still in the womb

“It’s easy to create beautiful backdrops using props. But these tend to take the attention away from the reason I’ve been hired – the precious baby should be the focus and nothing else. Simplicity is often the most difficult to achieve. It requires a mastery of lighting and expert handling of the newborn,” says Hart.

Of course, with every stylistic choice, Hart puts his clients preferences first. “It is not about me, it’s about my clients. They respect me in the work I pioneer, and I respect what my clients want to hang on their walls.”

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