Have you struggled for ideas on how to photograph a 3 month old baby?

This may not be the most popular time for portraits. But goodness, how can you resist those little smiles and inquisitive eyes?

1. Get familiar.

The 3-month-old is recognizing their parents and will sometimes share a smile with a stranger, too. If the baby is not familiar with you, I recommend spending a bit of time talking to them before getting started.

It’s really no different than how I would engage toddlers or young children on a regular session. It can be scary for a baby to have that big camera in their face.

3 month baby picture by Kristin Dokoza

2. Find a spot with plenty of light.

If you are photographing the baby in a clients home, don’t be afraid to walk around and evaluate the light. Simple portraits of the baby can easily be done on a bed or by laying down a pretty quilt on some floor space.

Try not to have the light coming in directly from behind them. This will create harsh shadows on their little features. Watch for nice big catchlights. I prefer to use soft side lighting working indoors.

3 month old photo by Kristin Dokoza

3. New tricks?

It often feels like babies are changing every day! Ask the parents what the baby has been doing lately.

This little guy had just started grasping on to his shirt and holding on. Mom had mentioned it to me and I thought it was cute, sort of like his security blanket.

Watch for little details. There will be a time when the parents look back on these images and be reminded of these little every day moments. I love little fingers, button noses and toes.

Related: 5 tips for photographing 3 month olds.

Save

3 month baby details by Kristin Dokoza

baby toes by Kristin Dokoza

4. Natural interaction.

If baby starts to get fussy, mom may have to step in for reassurance. Watch how she calms and soothes her little one.

I will often ask the parent to stay in the frame so I can capture a shot of them interacting naturally together. Notice how tiny those little hands are holding on to mommy’s. Such a lovely way to capture connection from the hand holding as well as the baby’s gaze towards mom.

mom playing with baby by Kristin Dokoza

5. Tummy time.

Not all the shots have to be of baby lying on his back. By this age they can hold up their heads for a short period of time.

Tummy time is not loved by all babies so ask the parents how the baby usually reacts to being on their tummy. The window for capturing a happy baby may be small and you want to be ready. I would never suggest putting baby on his tummy if I was told they didn’t like it. It’s never worth it to upset the baby. This should be a fun time that is fairly quick and painless for all!

6. The boppy.

I ask the parents to bring a boppy or nursing pillow. Here, I simply covered the nursing pillow with a neutral print blanket. I had already metered for the light and was ready once mom laid the baby on his tummy.

Mom is always close by, within arms reach just to the side. From this point, watch for facial expressions and how the baby is reacting to his new perspective. Keep talking and encouraging your little subject on how well they are doing. I guarantee you that if you wait just a bit you will capture that proud little smile.

Related: How to photograph baby’s first year.

tummy time by Kristin Dokoza

baby having tummy time by Kristin Dokoza

7. Change it up!

A lot of times the textures from area rugs can make an awesome background. Or possibly a blanket that has repeating lines or a pattern. This is also a good time to play around with different hats, or change of outfits.

Think about your composition and use of space creatively while you are working. I love using negative space to surround my little subjects, placing them just off center.

3 month old on fun rug by Kristin Dokoza

baby feet by Kristin Dokoza

baby portrait by Kristin Dokoza

3 month old baby picture by Kristin Dokoza

8. Bring in mom and/or dad.

I know parents don’t always want to be in the photos. When scheduling the session, remind the parents to wear something they wouldn’t mind being in front of the camera in. Even if they hesitate, ask them to be prepared for the possibility.

I love this moment of mom playing with babies feet. The window light was beautiful and I did position them here. The moment that I photographed was real, it was natural for the mom to start a little song and play with the baby. I was just lucky to be standing there.

My original intent was to step back and get a more posed shot of the two of them but the lifestyle feeling of this image is so much stronger to me.

mom and baby playing by Kristin Dokoza

9. Simple props.

I do not own props, but if I see something within the home that could work it’s fun to incorporate them. It could be a special teddy bear or a favorite blankie.

I noticed the yarn in my sisters home. We had the idea to wrap the two colors together and then spell out his name. I didn’t know if it was going to work but it was worth a try and it was so simple! The plan is now in motion to use the yarn to photograph him at 6 months, 9 months and a year. This could so easily be done using the same toy.

baby with name in yarn by Kristin Dokoza

10. It’s a wrap.

Baby Nolan was such a good little model. It was time to take him upstairs for a nap. The light was hitting this big blank wall in her room nicely, it was begging to be photographed.

I just simply asked her to snuggle and touch noses with him. Documenting how little he is wrapped in her arms, sucking on his fingers preparing for bedtime. Sweet images of a daily routine.

mom holding baby boy by Kristin Dokoza

mom kissing baby by Kristin Dokoza

Sleepy newborn photos are priceless and beautiful. A wonderful time to celebrate new life, and capture all those tiny brand new features.

I love photographing the three month old just as much, if not more!

This is a time where you can capture glimpses of their personalities. Little frog legs that are starting to get tiny rolls on them. Such bright and clear eyes that truly look right at you. Definitely an age that may get overlooked. Parents waiting for them to be able to sit up on their own.

With a bit of creativity there should be no reason to feel confident and ask that the 3-month-old baby be photographed. I think they are pretty darn cute, and certainly worth it!

Thank you to my sister and my new little nephew, Nolan, for being such wonderful models. All the images here were taken with the Canon 5D mark III and Canon 35L lens.