Newborn Photography: A Specialty for Serious Business Owners

In episode 4 of our season discussing various specialties in portrait photography, Erica and Connor sit down with Sharon McMahon, a total boss and dominating force in the world of newborn portraiture. Even listeners who think they are not interested in doing newborn work will find a wealth of incredible advice and information from this incredible business person and photographer.

Sharon McMahon (pronounced McMann) has been a full time portrait photographer on the shores of Lake Superior for more than six years. She’s been named a Hot 100 Senior Grad Photography ICON multiple times, has been named one of the country’s 50 Most Inspiring Photographers, been voted best photographer in her region on five separate occasions, and runs a popular and profitable newborn studio that attracts clients from hundreds of miles away. She is a former high school teacher, and has four children of her own.

Website: www.threeirishgirlsphotography.com

Facebook: facebook.com/threeirishgirlsphotography

Instagram: @3igphoto

Other social: threeirishgirls on Pinterest


  • Tell us about your background in photography. Self-taught or college educated?

  • Tell us about your career as a newborn photographer. What drew you to newborns?

  • Newborn photography is a niche that takes some special equipment for being able to better pose babies, make them comfortable, etc. What sort of specialty items should a person looking into this type of portraiture consider getting? Do you have any particular items or brands you love or stay away from?

    • Backdrop stand

    • Stretchy fabric for background

    • Firm surface for baby - posing beanbag, Ikea ottoman, card table with foam

  • What safety advice can you share with those interested in photographing newborns?

    • Have an assistant to help you so you can stay with baby

    • Composite complex poses to ensure baby is always supported

    • Ensure heat pads and space heaters aren’t too hot occasionally

    • Always support baby’s head

    • Secure your equipment and backdrops

  • Do you have a preference for natural light versus constant light versus strobes? Why one over the other?

    • You can  use any of the three, but preference is toward strobes. Specifically Einstiens + PLM.

    • Usually placed with light source parallel with the backdrop and move baby around

    • Also works well with the light being a little off axis to create some shape.

  • What business advice do you have for someone interested in building a newborn photography business?

    • Build your skillset first and foremost & build solid portfolio

    • Develop sustainable pricing system

    • Develop brand & recognition

    • Exceptional experience

    • Exhibit at baby & child fairs

    • Structure giveaways to collect data

    • Network

    • Partner with others

      • Children’s Boutiques

      • Hospitals can be good but typically bring in less business

  • Do you partner with local companies in your area? If so, what kind of companies do you think are best for networking, referrals, and collaboration?

  • What pricing advice do you have for those interested in newborn photography? What are common package options? Do you prefer in person sales or all encompassing collections?

    • Know your Cost of Doing Business

    • Decide how much you want to make

    • Figure out how much time you are putting into a session

    • Be confident in yourself and your pricing

  • What do you think is THE most important tip for someone considering being a Newborn photographer?

    • In person mentoring with skilled newborn photographers

  • Can you recommend any newborn courses or workshops? Any courses or workshops you’d like to advertise?

    • I’ll be an instructor at the upcoming Milky Way Family retreat online

    • Newborn specific

      • Amy McDaniel - Dew Drops

      • Nicole Smith

      • Sunkist

      • Sandra Hill Photography

      • Rachel Vanoven

    • Business

      • Sue Bryce

Connor Hibbs