My name is Ashley McLaughlin and this is my blog, Edible Perspective. To learn more about my journey head on over to my about + FAQ pages. I'm thrilled that you stopped by. Enjoy!


For the latest details be sure to check my book page!  


Baked Doughnuts For Everyone: From Sweet to Savory to Everything in Between, 101 Delicious Recipes, All Gluten-Free


« sweet and savory brussel sprouts | Main | breakfast bakes, revisited »

photography 101 {newborn photo kit}

Entering the world as a photographer you have to know one thing.

It’s an investment.

Camera bodies will run you anywhere from $500-2000 and higher.

Lenses typically range from $300-$2000. 

The flash I want is $450.

Lighting kits start around $200.

Editing software is $200.

Props for food photography add up quickly.  $5 for a bowl here, $8 for a plate there...

Props for newborn photography can also add up quickly. 

  • backdrops
  • space heater
  • multiple blankets
  • bean bag
  • backdrop stand
  • clothing props
  • …and on + on

Getting into this business you have to realize you may not make much money for the first year or so.  Most of the money earned [at least in my case] will be spent upgrading + adding to your list of equipment + props.  While it’s not the camera or lens alone that produce a great image, quality tools are important.

In a perfect world, I could invest in the best of the best right now but that’s just in the cards.  I’ve been working with the same two lenses for 2.5yrs, waiting for the day I can add a few to my bag.  While you can’t really skimp on lenses, there are other ways you can cut photo shoot costs.  In particular, for newborn photography.

What I’ve created below is a basic newborn photography kit that cost right around $70.

It’s not 100% ideal, but it gets the job done.

(1 of 9)

  • backdrop stand [expanding clothing rod] = $18
  • bean bag chair = $15
  • clamps to hold backdrops = $5
  • puppy pee pads = $5
  • space heater = already owned
  • fuzzy blanket = $15
  • plain black sheet background = $5
  • white blanket = $15

(2 of 9)

The way this little set up works, which is very similar to a professional setup, is by clamping the backdrop onto the clothes rod. 

(3 of 9)

Then, drape the blanket over the bean bag chair. 

notes: The cheap beanbag chair does the job, but it wasn’t as soft and moldable as I would have liked.  The higher quality bean bags cost around $90 from what I’ve seen.  I think adding more “fill” to this will help.

The beanbag helps prop the baby up higher, so you’re not shooting on the floor or other random surface.  It’s also a nice cozy spot for the baby.  Being moldable helps get the baby in the position you want.

(4 of 9)

Underneath the blanket?

Puppy pee pads!  Believe me you will need these!

(5 of 9)

Ideally, you will be able to find a well-lit area in the house by large windows or sliding glass doors. 

After you have everything in place pose your model.

(6 of 9)

Okay, maybe more like this.

(12 of 24)

(4 of 24)

(15 of 24)

The look I wanted to create was to have a seamless background.

Having a space heater is also crucial for a happy baby during the photo shoot.  I kept it at a safe distance away, keeping this little guy warm + cozy. 

notes: I also used a heating pad to warm up blankets and the bean bag chair before placing the baby on them.

(7 of 9)

After the newborn-only shots were done I extended the clothing rod to it’s full height.  Having the extendable rod was key!  The blanket was not big enough to stretch all the way from the fully extended height over the bean bag.

I bought a plain black flat sheet and clamped that to the rod.  Perfect for the family shots.

note: While the adjustable rod worked really well, the one flaw is that it’s only 5’10” at the fully extended height.  I need to figure out how to squeeze a few more inches out of it for those tall dads!  If you have any ideas on an extension piece let me know!  The black sheet was a great deal for $5 and worked well in my opinion.

Adjustable backdrop stands cost around $50 on Amazon.  This $18 clothing rod did the trick, at least for now!  I didn’t want to invest a ton of money not knowing how many newborn photography shoots I would be booking.

(8 of 9)

Black backdrop images.

(23 of 24)

(17 of 24)

(20 of 24)

The last helpful item is some sort of white noise machine.

If you have a smart phone you can download a free white noise app with all sorts of different sounds.  If you have a newborn you may want to download this as well!!  I have fun annoying Chris with this app, because you can play more than one sound at a time.

Water + Wind + Flute!!

(9 of 9)

And that’s that!  It’s about the cheapest newborn photography set up you could put together.

I hope someone out there finds this post helpful.  Maybe a newbie photographer, like me.  Or, maybe a mom/dad trying to take shots of their little one!



Reader Comments (80)

Wow, I find this incredibly helpful! The clothes rack is especially brilliant. Thanks for posting!

LOVE THIS!!! Thanks so much!!!!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterViv

Fantastic post! Thank you for sharing!

Also: the photos are stunning! :D

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterZarah

Where was an iphone and free white noise apps when I had a newborn..that woulda been awesome.

And i LOVE how resourceful you are. Every time I buy a new lens, it's so bittersweet. It's wonderful..but it's such a huge investment and sadly I've bought a few that I don't "love". I guess I could return them, or could have tried, but you don't know til you play with it for awhile if you're going to love or not love them for certain functions. Great lenses, just not what I thought I was going to love. The only lens that gets my love stamp is my 24-70mm f/2.8 Love that thing :)

I love your fuzzy blanket and green clips idea!

That is so creative! Definately something to try out especially if you don't have money. Is there anything that could be used instead of the bean bag chair?

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNadiya

You are so talented!

Since it appears you are taking head shots (at least upper body) of the families, maybe some cinder blocks under the clothing rack? A quick tip to Home Depot may be the answer?

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKel@The Kel Show

You certainly wouldn't know it was low-cost by looking at the photos! They're absolutely incredible Ashley!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCait's Plate

I really liked reading this, very creative and helpful. Your photos came out amazing too!!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterkatie @KatieDid

Those clamps plus clothing rod are smart. I was looking for a way to hang more of a backdrop inside that could also be put away quickly.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterEmily @LivingLongfellow

If I lived near you, I'd TOTALLY hire you to do the next kid!!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLindsay @ Lindsay's list

Great information!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLizAshlee

These are stunning, Ashley!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCassie @ bake your day

This was extremely helpful! I wasn't sure how set up a space for baby portraits. Thanks for sharing.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCaitlyn

Thanks! Super helpful! I'm just starting out with a new camera and I'm just starting to learn how to use it. Thanks for the whole photography 101 series! :-)

These are my FAV shots yet! Just breathtaking Ash!!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAngela

Wow! Impressive. I loved this post and the tips that you gave even though I do not plan on photographing a newborn any time soon! The pictures you took are beautiful. It is so interesting to see how the background is created and what it looks like in the final photos.

I am a new DSLR owner and my goal for the 2012 is to learn to use my Rebel T2i to it's fullest potential. Thank you for all the photography posts. I have been printing them out and will put them to use!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commentercarolyn

Oh wow - these are gorgeous photos. What a great breakdown of what it costs to get started in this - definitely not a cheap biz, but the result is wonderful. I know many of my friends get pregnancy & newborn photos professionally done, even if they don't pay for any other photography - so this is a great business!

Amazing Ashley!!

great photos! very resourceful. There really is an app for everything!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJennifer

ashley, you really are creative. I know my comments are just echoes of the others above. I DID want to tell you that YOU starred in my dream last night...i know you don't even KNOW me but, alas, you had a new born baby of your own and very high ceilings...haha, oh dear, your faithful reader, jasper

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJasper Naomi

Awww, I just LOVE your photography posts!! I'm going to have to use these tips to photograph my own little nugget...or just hire you to take really good pictures. :-)

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

I would look really adorable curled up on that bean bag. I'm booking a session.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKelsey

aww that is just the smoochiest woochiest baby boop! a wooogie boogie boo! A woooogie boogie! LOLLL I do NOT apologize for the baby talk. LOL!

Too cute. Great job.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterTONYA

What do you use the white noise app for? Calming down the baby?

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJessy (squeezetheday)

I'm graduating from college in May in photography and I just love your post. Thanks for the moneysaving tips. I'm actually shooting my niece who will be born in May and it will be my first newborn session. These tips will definitely help.

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterChristina

This was really helpful! I'm interested in branching out of food photography and into portrait, so this is a great starting point for what I should look to invest in and how to not break the bank doing it!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAlayna @ Thyme Bombe

so cool, i'm going to have to remember some of these tips. i can totally see how the beanbag works!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered Commentermarci

I love this! It was SUPER helpful. Although I'm not looking to enter into newborn photography, I just got my first DSLR over Christmas and am beginning to invest in better lenses, etc, for my food photos. I'm really loving reading your photography 101 posts. Thanks and keep them coming!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterIrina G (Fit Flexitarian)

Oh my gosh. What adorable photos! Bravo, friend!

Thank you for the tips! As a fellow newbie, they are greaty appreciated. And by the way, I've had the best luck pricewise thus far with quality plates, towels, placemeats, etc. at Bed Bath and Beyond. Hope that helps!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterKelly @ Foodie Fiasco

Love the baby!!!

Wow this is so helpful! I am hoping to improve my food photography, but first I need to get a better camera...mine's on it's last leg. I love these newborn shots, they are fantastic!

January 5, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJackie @ That Deep Breath

new reader here! Love this set up, so easy to put together and you took such great photos. Now I just need a baby around to take photos of...

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterNellie

That's so exciting!! Good luck with it!

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

You're welcome! I'm glad they'll be helpful for you!

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

To keep the baby calm and try and wash out any background noises that may occur, like a ringing doorbell or barking dog that might startle the baby.

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Thanks so much, Katie!! Let me know if you need a photographer! :)

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

That is hilarious!

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Thank you Heather!

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

I was totally baffled when I learned the background/bean bag trick! Congrats on the new camera!

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Thanks Ang. :)

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

You're welcome!

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Aw, thanks Lindsay. :)

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

That is a great idea! I never thought to add something to the bottom. I'm a little worried about the stand falling over if the background sheet/blanket gets tugged on. May have to try it out though!

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

I know people use Boppy pillows on top of the beanbag chair sometimes, so you could probably use a boppy on top of a stool or just on the floor. Taking the photos on the floor is a little tricky though.

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Thank you Zarah!

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterAshley

Great tips and posts for beginners. One thing that I wanted to add... I have been shooting for 6 years and still waiting to make the big bucks. It's a bit different because I shoot weddings but now that the nikon d4 is out that's another 6,000 investment that I will eventually make. Equipment is so ridiculous sometimes. ;)

January 6, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterCrystal Toole

little baby tushy! i love it. hahaha.

That set up is so great. It never occurred to me to use a beanbag as the "base" for the baby.

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterLynne

Wow! This information was VERY helpful! I'll certainly be saving up to purchase a kit! Your pictures turned out very nicely!
I am a somewhat newby photographer. I've been in the realm for about four years but now I am really wanting to buckle down and purchase things like that kit! =)
Thanks again for the info!

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterElsie

PostPost a New Comment

Enter your information below to add a new comment.

My response is on my own website »
Author Email (optional):
Author URL (optional):
All HTML will be escaped. Hyperlinks will be created for URLs automatically.