5 Tips for photographing 3 month olds

I’m just gonna put it out there: 3-month-olds are blobs.

Cute little blobs, but blobs nonetheless.

I’m not a huge prop-junkie, so posing opportunities seemed limited to me at this age. As such, I persuaded my newborn clients to come back to me at 6 months instead, when their little ones hit the beloved “potted plant” stage (after babies can sit up but before they can crawl/walk/run away).

But with my outdoor sessions still a few weeks away, and another 3-month inquiry coming in, I finally caved. I’m glad I did!

A few things I’ve learned along the way…

1. Set realistic expectations with clients.

I work on-location, and primarily outdoors. I don’t own studio lights, and and while I do tote along a beanbag set-up for indoor baby portraits, my backdrop is not large enough to accommodate family shots. So I’m upfront with clients: should they choose an indoor session, much of it will be lifestyle in nature.

If young siblings are involved, baby’s safety and toddlers’ cooperation levels must both be considered, i.e. a perfectly-posed sibling portrait is unlikely. I focus instead on capturing interactions between the children, and the unstaged moments are always some of my favorites!

2. Be patient and flexible.

Most 3-month-olds are not yet on a sleep schedule; stick around awhile (I was there almost 3 hours) and use this to your advantage. While they’re not as squishy and sleepy as newborns, and therefore can’t be coaxed into as many different positions, many are cat-nappers.

You may be able to use the same basic poses both awake and then asleep if baby starts to doze off. Of course, some babies may not sleep, in which case it’s easier to keep them comfy (usually on their backs at this age) and move yourself around to shoot from different perspectives.

3. Involve Mom and/or Dad.

A win-win scenario. It’s the early connections between parent(s) and child that always tug at my heartstrings when I begin my editing. As an added bonus, baby is usually most content in mommy’s arms or on daddy’s lap.

4. Sneak a few solo shots of big brother(s) and sister(s).

Engage little ones in play or conversation. Let them show you their favorite toys or books, or ask them silly questions. I’m a big fan of “whatever you do, don’t look at my camera!” to get eye contact (and giggles) from a toddler.

5. Capture the everyday moments.

Diaper changes, feedings, tickles, just chillin’ in the bouncy. Again, experiment with shooting from different angles for a more unique perspective on the ordinary. And don’t be afraid to “guide” these everyday moments towards the best light – babies are very portable, as are bouncy seats and activity mats.

So there you have it.

My apologies to the masses of cute little blobs out there and my thanks to one beautiful baby girl and her sweet family who helped change my mind about 3-month sessions.

About the Author:

Christina McGuire is a natural light children’s photographer, born and raised in the suburbs of Detroit. Always an artist at heart, it wasn’t until Christina became a mother that she found the inspiration and freedom to return to her creative roots. She now paints with her shutter, most often documenting the shenanigans of one blue-eyed babe and another brown-eyed girl. When she’s not busy wrestling the red channel on her Nikon D700, Christina enjoys date nights with her hubby, playing Lego with her daughters, and swapping recipes with girlfriends.


  1. Courtney Chebat Mar 23 2012 at 2:38 pm - Reply

    Awesome tutorial! I love your images, so beautiful and awesome examples. Great advice!

  2. Ellen K in MD Mar 23 2012 at 6:40 pm - Reply

    He-he! ‘Blobs’ are hard, but really fun, IMO. These beautiful shots actually give me ‘baby fever’ more than newborn shots. 🙂 Oh I could drool…

  3. Sarah Wilkerson Mar 28 2012 at 7:55 am - Reply

    WONDERFUL article, Christina! Three months is definitely an age that I think of as one of the very hardest to work with … but this article shows that it's all in how you approach it. Beautiful work and great advice.

  4. Gigi McGill Mar 28 2012 at 8:09 am - Reply

    Beautiful work as usual Christina! I adore the everyday moments you captured. Excellent tips I can't wait to use on my new little one.

  5. Anne Wick Mar 28 2012 at 9:30 am - Reply

    There are great tips, Christina ! Thanks for sharing. And can we say cutest baby girl EVER ?!!

  6. Mara Vaughan Mar 28 2012 at 9:48 am - Reply

    Thank you for this article, Christina! I love your tips! When my sister's baby turned three months, I wanted to photograph him but shyed away from it because you're so right – it is challenging! But now I definitely will be more prepared if I ever get the opportunity again! 🙂 Also, I love your photos!

  7. Mindy Mar 28 2012 at 10:52 am - Reply

    yes, such a weird in between stage to photograph! This article definitely helped with some pointers, thank you!

  8. Ashley Spaulding Mar 28 2012 at 10:53 am - Reply

    Wonderful advice, Christina, and beautiful work!! I love the 'everyday moments' images you've shared here!

  9. Melissa Mar 28 2012 at 11:23 am - Reply

    Perfect timing – I am shooting my daughter's 3 month pictures in 1 month and have been stuck trying to come up with ideas.

  10. Inga K Mar 28 2012 at 1:05 pm - Reply

    Great article, thanks for this Christina. Will hopefully help me when taking some photos of friends babies, as I have a few at this stage and I struggle to take photos without the photos all looking the same x

  11. Elena Mar 29 2012 at 8:30 am - Reply

    Love the "potted plant" description! LOL! This came at the perfect time, I have a 3 month old tomorrow! Thanks!

  12. Jodi Mar 29 2012 at 5:46 pm - Reply

    Awesome tips, Christina! I love the clean everyday life images you encourage in your sessions!

  13. Stephanie Mar 29 2012 at 11:33 pm - Reply

    Wonderul tips! I never know what to do with a baby under 6 months! Thank you!

  14. Bethany Kittle Burge Mar 30 2012 at 12:49 am - Reply

    Amazing shots and great advice, Christina! I continue to be inspired by your work and talent for capturing the essence of a moment!

  15. Bevin Meadows Mar 30 2012 at 9:10 am - Reply

    This is indeed an awkward age for photos. Thank you for the advice and ideas! 🙂

  16. Lacey Apr 01 2012 at 9:30 pm - Reply

    This is so timely! Thank you for this advice, Christina!

  17. Antigone Apr 02 2012 at 2:09 am - Reply

    Christina, this is awesome advice. Beautiful photos 🙂

  18. Terri C Apr 02 2012 at 6:04 am - Reply

    Excellent advice and beautiful pictures! Thanks! 🙂

  19. Danie Apr 06 2012 at 2:03 pm - Reply

    Christina, these are awesome! I LOVE the "potted plant" stage — what a great way to put it! And your images are so gorgeous.

  20. Vivian Tyson Apr 15 2012 at 6:55 am - Reply

    Great pictures. thanks for sharing

  21. Tara R Apr 15 2012 at 5:47 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the wonderful post! It was great timing and much appreciated!

  22. Rudolph Jump Oct 15 2012 at 11:51 pm - Reply

    I love it when people come together and share opinions. Great website, keep it up!

  23. Kimberly Jan 04 2013 at 11:41 pm - Reply

    Great tips! Thank you so much for sharing. Do you mind telling me what you use for your cushions/positioning with the blanket set up for the baby? Looks squishy but firm, and perfect!!! Thanks!!!

    • christina Jan 05 2013 at 10:58 am - Reply

      Hi Kimberly, I use a large puck bean bag (jcpenney) and drape/clip my blankets up to a portable closet organizer –very high tech 😉

      • christina Jan 05 2013 at 10:59 am - Reply

        and I should mention that I double-stuff the bean bag w/ 2 bags of filling

  24. Sue Immel Aug 11 2013 at 3:34 pm - Reply

    Thank you for the info. I, too, shoot on location, in the family home with natural light. This is new for me. I’ve had a studio, lights and everything that I closed about 2 months ago and have decided to shoot newborns. I’m shooting my 3 month old nephew in a couple days and I’m concerned about getting the little “blob” into the right position. Thanks!

  25. Terry Apr 25 2014 at 1:48 am - Reply

    Wonderful! I love the warmth and simplicity of your photos. How do you get the colors of your photos to be so balanced? My photos are usually too warm.

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