Outdoor Newborn Portrait

If it’s hot outside, here’s a newborn portrait that you can replicate. Everything is a potential source of inspiration: this one was inspired by a 1980s poster.

It’s a rare day that photographers in the UK can shoot a nude newborn outdoors – the weather just isn’t warm enough most of the time. If you’re lucky enough to time a newborn shoot with that one balmy summer day we get, or if you live in more exotic climes, here’s a shot you can replicate.

This portrait of Chris & Kyra was inspired by an iconic poster image from the 1980s.

L’enfant features a muscled man holding a newborn baby, an image which went on to sell five million posters. The father for my shoot is a top UK cage fighter, so I knew he would have the muscle definition needed for a similar shot aesthetic.

Soft lighting on a sunny day

Chris & Kyra are gently rim lit. Their near sides are in shadow with sunlight kissing the contours of their skin from the far side. Midday sun produces hard shadows and edges, which is not the look I was after, so I shielded the subjects from direct light by placing them in the shade of a tree. I asked Chris to lean back against the tree, to help steady him for the pose and also provide a subtle framing device on the right side of the image.

The blurry shapes in the background of the image are sun-dappled bamboo shoots, helping to further soften the sun before it reached the subjects. They also provide background interest and a sense of place, without distracting too much attention away from the subjects.

The resulting light pattern gives definition and shape to the bodies of the subjects, but in a very gentle way. The image feels very natural as a result: there’s clearly no studio involved, the subjects are wearing nothing but their skin, and Chris’s expression of love and delight is clearly genuine.

Safety first

Remember that nude newborns need to be kept in a very warm environment (approx 27-30 degrees C), so don’t try this shot unless the outdoor temperature is in that range.

Oh, and it helps if your baby is as contented as this little girl was – Kyra’s mum is a midwife, so Kyra was very well looked after!

Camera Settings

  • Focal length: 98mm
  • Aperture: f/4.8
  • Shutter speed: 1/180 sec
  • ISO: 200