newborn editing

by Bree Franklin

Newborn photography has become hugely popular in the last few years. What we once only saw in the books of Anne Geddes has now become readily available for everyone everywhere. And with newborn photography becoming increasingly popular within the photographic community so come the questions from photographers. How do you keep them asleep? How do you pose them? And biggest of all – how do you edit them?

No fear fellow photographer! I am here to rescue you from the yellow and red madness that is newborn skin. The biggest problems that seems to come from newborns is acne, redness, jaundice and flaky skin. When you look at a newborn they look clean and sweet but when you start taking photos things that were not very apparent in real life are suddenly magnified on your monitor. Today I’m going to explain my process with shooting and editing newborns.

The single most important part of photographing newborns happens before you open your editing program. It happens during your photo session and that is – proper white balance and exposure. If you have proper white balance, lighting and exposure then editing is simple.

Here is the SOOC (straight out of camera – unedited) image. If you look you will see the white balance is true to life, there is a soft shadow down the babies camera left and exposure is proper. I tend to slightly underexpose when I shoot and bring it up in post.

newborn editing photo

The first step for me is smoothing the babies skin. I copy the background layer and run Portraiture at default. I then adjust the opacity, usually around 60-70%. Add a mask and mask off the important areas like eyes, lips, and hair.

newborn editing photo

The next step is to clean up flaky skin and baby acne. Hold down Ctrl+Alt+Shift then press E. This will make a new layer that merges your previous layers. You also have the option to just flatten the image but I like to keep all layers separate while I am editing. Here I will use the healing brush for small areas or the patch tool for cleaning up larger areas.

The next step is I think what makes people love my images so much. Under adjustments open a levels layer. Take the middle slider and slide it to the left (for this image it was 1.18). Then take output and change it to 10. This raises the midtones and shadows on the image and makes it nice and airy.

newborn editing photo

The final step is to remove redness from the babies. Since we shoot in very warm rooms the babies will sometimes turn pretty red. I do not like to remove red under saturation because this can make the babies lose too much color, babies are pink after all!

Open a new Hue/Sat layer under adjustments. Change the drop down from Master to Reds. Take the bottom slider (darkness/lightness) and slide to the right to lighten the reds. For this image I slid it over to +24.

newborn editing photo

And you’re done! As mentioned in the beginning – white balance, exposure and lighting are KEY when shooting anything. If all these are proper your time in Photoshop is minimal.

newborn editing photo

newborn editing photoBree Franklin, California
website | blog | facebook | twitter | pinterest | ask a pro
Best known for my light, airy and organic look I like to keep things simple and clean when it comes to portraiture. I specialize in newborns and love watching my clients grow into little people full of personality and spunk! My goal with my photography isn’t to just take a pretty picture – it’s the experience of meeting new people and having a great time together while creating beautiful works of art. When I’m not taking photos of babies I love spending time with my family, watching movies and playing with my sweet pup Bruiser.


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

20 Responses to “newborn editing”

  1. Mary Jo
    Aug 27 2013 at 11:16 am #

    I don’t believe I have ever seen such beautiful photographs of infants!

  2. Jen
    Aug 27 2013 at 12:48 pm #

    I always mask back in the color of the blankets so they don’t quite match the babies skin tones. :)

  3. Aug 27 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    Wonderful tutorial! Thanks Bree :)

  4. Laura
    Aug 27 2013 at 1:38 pm #

    Are you usually using Auto white balance? A problem I run into is the changes as clouds pass by and what not, I have to manually mess with the white balance for each set of poses, or more often. Better to set a single WB setting for newborns?

    • Bree
      Aug 27 2013 at 6:27 pm #

      I set my white balance at the beginning of the session. If I shot natural light I would re-set it with each “set” since the sun can move and change. I use strobes so only need it set once. I highly recommend using a white balance card if you struggle with white balance. Just take a shot of it before each set and use it to set white balance on all pics in ACR or Lightroom. :)

      • Laura
        Aug 28 2013 at 2:53 pm #


  5. Aug 27 2013 at 1:39 pm #

    Fabulous tut! I love seeing the Before and After side by side. :)

  6. Stefania
    Aug 27 2013 at 1:55 pm #

    Great tutorial, thanks for sharing! I love how clean and simple you keep your editing.

  7. Aug 27 2013 at 2:27 pm #

    Awesome tutorial, Bree! Thanks for sharing :))

  8. pam
    Aug 27 2013 at 3:14 pm #

    Sweet pose! Thank You for sharing your post processing!

  9. Aug 27 2013 at 3:31 pm #

    I never knew about the merging layers tool without flattening! That is AWESOME!

    • Bree
      Aug 27 2013 at 6:28 pm #

      I remember when I first found that out too. I use it with every picture now. I never flatten until Im done and am saving as JPEG. :)

  10. Aug 27 2013 at 10:00 pm #

    Wow!! What a fantastic tutorial – thank you so much!

  11. KimG
    Aug 28 2013 at 3:32 am #

    Wow I’ve never used portraiture before other PS edits, always later in my process. I will see how this works with what I do! Thanks for the tips!

  12. Amy
    Aug 29 2013 at 1:01 am #

    I use Lightroom and PSE11 for post-processing. What is Portraiture?

  13. Jelli
    Sep 08 2013 at 1:59 pm #

    I’d love to see a similar tutorial using Lightroom!

  14. Sep 08 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    Thank you so much! Love the levels trick – so simple!

  15. Chabon
    Feb 11 2014 at 4:52 am #

    What editing software do y’all use?

  16. Jun 05 2014 at 12:39 am #

    Great tips! I also love Portraiture but always have a hard time deciding what opacity to run it on. Going to try to levels tip!


  1. Wish I’d Known That: Editing Newborn Photos » Kathryn Farritor - Jan 23 2014

    […] Clickin Moms: Newborn Editing […]

Leave a Reply

Optionally add an image (JPEG only)