How to get unique perspectives with lifestyle newborn portraits

lifestyle newborn photogrpahy tutorial by Michael Kormos

Like many family portrait photographers, we started off capturing newborns with props, blankets, swaddles, and accessories galore. Sophie loved the excuse for late-night shopping sprees on Etsy, and browsing antique stores soon became a weekly family outing. However, as we started getting more and more newborn bookings, we realized that something was missing for us. We’re both go-with-the-flow personalities, and with the endless attention to styling and perfecting tiny details, they’d sadly become our least favorite sessions. We no longer felt that butterflies-in-our-tummies giddiness for newborn sessions, and we wanted to figure out how to get that feeling back!

mom and baby photography by Michael Kormos

We spent an afternoon reviewing our galleries and quickly realized that our favorite images were always the portraits of parents cradling their newborns. Duh, why hadn’t we realized this before?! Although they were posed, they still captured the intense love and emotions that totally takes your breath away. We both felt such a tenderness and sweetness in capturing this precious bond, and we decided that we wanted to focus on these moments.

lifestyle newborn and family photograph by Michael Kormos

So, we gradually shifted towards a more lifestyle approach, and honestly, we couldn’t be happier. Now we can’t wait for our next newborn session. Although we still take the time and effort to capture a few posed portraits, we spend most of our session capturing the interaction between parents and their brand-new bundle of joy. These are the portraits that have the most meaning to us, and we leave feeling fulfilled. We’ve definitely lost those clients that love the baskets and swaddles but we’ve opened doors to a whole new world of clients who share our appreciation for preserving the “story” of this special time. For anyone else who’s been thinking of dabbling in a lifestyle approach to newborn photography, we thought it might be nice to share some of our personal insight.

First off, there’s no better place to create precious memories than a home filled with the love and excitement of a brand new baby. We’ve also found that the comfort level of our clients tends to be much more relaxed in their own environment, which really shows in the final images. Not to mention, parents have spent so much time and effort perfecting their baby’s nursery and it’s a pity not to feature all of the adorable details. I enjoy finding creative ways to incorporate home décor, nursery accents, and family memorabilia to really personalize the portraits.

lifestyle newborn and family photography at home by Michael Kormos

family photography at home by Michael Kormos

We allow the session to unfold naturally which yields images full of raw, genuine emotion. We may help Mom and Dad get comfortable on the sofa, and get them into a position that allows me to shoot from a variety of angles, but once they’re set, we don’t interfere.

As in cinematography, I always start out with a wide establishing shot that sets the tone of the story. Sometimes I shoot through a door, or closet, to create a sense of undisturbed observance (fancy word for a simple concept). Few shots include direct eye contact, and the images flow like a story.

lifestyle newborn photography by Michael Kormos

lifestyle newborn photogrpahy tutorial by Michael Kormos

I love to capture the same moment from different angles. With unique crops and perspectives, the possibilities are endless. For example, if baby is lying in the crib, I’ll shoot on eye-level through the bars, top-down through the crib mobile, and even a wide-angle portrait through the chandelier. If Mom is feeding her baby in the nursery, I’ll shoot wide-angle to include the setting, and close-up to capture the emotions.

lifestyle newborn photography tips by Michael Kormos

lifestyle newborn and crib photograph by Michael Kormos

If parents are having an intimate moment of cuddling their baby on the sofa, I love to have a bouquet of flowers or cute home accent in the foreground to add depth. I also like to shoot over the shoulder to capture the parents’ view of their sweet newborn. This is usually a great time to switch to my macro lens for close-ups of tiny toes, little fingernails, and feathery eyelashes. Yet another favorite technique is shooting a mirrored reflection of an intimate moment. This often works beautifully for portraits in Mom and Dad’s bedroom. It’s almost as if we’re “peeking” into our clients’ lives to capture those natural, candid moments that hold so much meaning.

lifestyle mom and newborn photograph by Michael Kormos

newborn and family lifestyle photograph by Michael Kormos

Mom and newborn photograph by Michael Kormos

framing with foreground objects and newborn detail photography by Michael Kormos

Years from now, Mom and Dad will look at these photos, and be reminded of the sweetness of their newborn baby, those first cuddles, and their tender emotions. It may just be a short story of one lovely afternoon, but it’s a story that will be treasured for a lifetime.

Michael KormosMichael Kormos, New York
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Michael Kormos a portrait photographer based in NYC. Working together with his wife, Michael has a fun and fresh approach to family photography. He has two beautiful children who keep him very busy and constantly inspired. Like him on Facebook and follow his blog to continue being inspired by his beautiful work!


  • Heather says:

    These are absolutely gorgeous Michael! What I wouldn't give to have had a session like this done when my girls were born. Thank you so much for sharing what you have learned!

  • Colie J says:

    Stunning work.

  • Gorgeous work (gorgeous family, too!) and wonderful tips! Thank you so much for sharing with us, Michael!

  • Katie W says:

    These are gorgeous pieces of art! Thanks so much for taking the time to share.

  • Danielle says:

    GORGEOUS, Michael! Your ideas and tips on creating different perspectives are fabulous but your use of light is fantastic too. What a great blog post!

  • jennifer says:

    Gorgeous work Michael!! Thanks for sharing with us! :)

  • celestejones says:

    beautiful family and images.

  • Sarah says:

    Love it! Thanks for posting your own journey into lifestyle newborns. Definitely something I want to strive toward as I too am feeling less than satisfied with only providing prop/basket/blanket type shots at my newborn sessions.

  • Melissa says:

    This is so beautiful that it is mind blowing. I am really new to taking photos, but I am actually seriously considering doing photography on the side once the kids are in school. I actually have a two year getting ready to go into business 'fantasy' plan — probably only a dream that keeps me reading, studying, and fantasizing every spare moment I have. The only reason I am saying this is that seeing this post is a game changer for me. I had an idea of what I wanted to do and the reason I wanted to do it but I wasn't sure how to accomplish or fulfill that goal. This makes sense to me. This is the embodiment of what I want to capture. Before, there was so much information and styles to study. So, at least, now I have a name and a style to study up on — which is information I didn't have before seeing this. Thank you!

  • Phillip says:

    amazing shots. insightful article.

  • breannapetersonphotography says:

    beautiful images & thanks for sharing all of this information on lifestyle sessions!!

  • deborah says:

    Love the lightening and all the tips – fab!

  • Leah Cook says:

    absolutely breathtaking work!! huge fan of yours, Michael.

  • Sonja says:

    This is EXACTLY the type of photography work I love and love to do for others. Thank you for the article. Now I just need to find clients that like this too.

  • petersonclan says:

    These are beautiful!

  • angela says:

    Just beautiful! Thank you so much for sharing!

  • Charlie says:

    Thank you for a timely post as my friend just had her baby and wants me to do her photos!

  • Andrea Hurley says:

    Gorgeous and inspiring!!

  • creatingmohr says:

    I love the photos, however whenever I do a newborn shoot at someone's house, their house is a mess (as my own was immediately after having a baby), the lighting is poor, and no one's house is so stylishly decorated. But when all these elements are just right, it's definitely fantastic.

  • pam says:

    Very refreshing. Beautiful picutres.

  • Ashley Maple says:

    wow…..just stunning images, and awesome tips! I love your perspectives and angles!

  • Lacey Meyers says:

    These images are AMAZING. They just make my heart swell! Thank you for sharing, Michael!

  • jodi says:

    i love your philosophy about your approach, and your images are absolutely stunning! thanks for sharing with us, michael!

  • Sara says:

    This post was exactly what I needed to read. I've been on the fence if I wanted to really get into newborn photography and pursue that as my focus. There was always something nagging at me a little about the posed shots on a bean bag. Don't get me wrong, still adorable, but I didn't know if it was really MY style and the direction I wanted to go. Although the client wants what they want I still need to do what inspires me and pushes me to grow. I don't have a lot of experience with newborn photography…yet…but this post has given me the motivation and encouragement that while newborn photography is still the direction I want to head—-props don't need to be my sole focus and I love the organic feel of not relying on them.

  • kelly garvey says:

    these images are STUNNING!!!

  • Bobbi-jo says:

    Wow, thank you for this post. First of all, I love these images. So pure and raw and real.

    Second, you just help me to believe that it was OK that I am not in love with newborn photography. Well, not the posed baby-in-basket type. I never look forward to these sessions, however when a client is asking for more of a lifestyle approach, I relax and enjoy it.

    I always thought I had to do both and have been at the point of deciding whether or not to just say I do not do them at all. My husband thinks I am too “new” to do this, as most newborn sessions turn into later clients and I do agree.
    However, after reading your post I feel better now and think I will only offer a lifestyle approach to newborns. And that is ok!

    Thank you

  • Courtney Perkins says:

    thank you so much for this…beautiful moments you captured.

  • Beautiful work. I myself prefer the more relaxed style of newborn photography. I’ve never felt comfortable dressing babies up in hats that are not their own or trying to get them to sleep just to put in a perfect pose. I’ve not shot as wide as you have done here, so its given me some great ideas. Thanks.

  • dorota says:

    Hi, I just love this session. Do you us Lightroom or photoshop to create this worm golden edit?

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