No need to worry if your baby has facial blemishes on the day of your newborn photos! They’re pretty simple to resolve during the editing process
It’s hard to know exactly what life will be like when you bring your brand new baby home, especially as a first-time mama. You’re adjusting to this new parenting adventure and trying to fit in as many newborn snuggles as you can!
If you’re like most mamas, one of the first big things you’ll do after you welcome your baby is get ready for newborn photos.
Then this happens:
On the day of your newborn photo session, you notice baby suddenly has broken out in angry red bumps all over her face, and you’re worried you’ll have to reschedule your photo session. You so badly wanted to capture her perfect skin, but all of a sudden her sweet face is covered what looks like acne – but does that even affect babies?! Also, will this ruin your newborn photos?!
Baby acne, jaundice and cradle cap: totally normal newborn skin issues
The great news is, baby acne, jaundice and cradle cap are super common conditions that can occur during the newborn phase – and professional photo editing programs make it easy to lessen or even entirely remove their appearance in photos.
The sweet spot for most families for their newborn photo session is anywhere betweek two-four weeks, and this is also when baby acne can appear. It usually clears up on its own, often by the time baby is around three months old.
Below you can see the before and after images of sweet Leo, a little guy who was just past one month old for his newborn session.
The photo on the left is straight out of my camera; this is exactly how Leo looked on the day of his session. His mama requested that I remove as much of the baby acne as possible from his portraits.
On the right, you can see Leo after I edited this photo; the baby acne is gone and his skin is perfectly smooth!
What goes into editing baby acne and other surface skin conditions
When it comes to correcting delicate newborn skin, I can’t say enough about the newborn brushes from Pretty Presets. They make it quick and simple to correct common issues that pop up when working with new babies – blotchy skin, jaundice, red/purple tones in skin, etc.
The first thing I did for Leo is use the Blend Blotchy Skin brush, which evened out the reddish-pink tones in his skin. From there, I used another brush called Kiss Away The Red, which made the red less noticeable. A few clicks with a skin smoother and brightener, followed by adjusting for changes in the tone of his complexion, and precious Leo has a gorgeous newborn portrait that his mama loves!
Although Leo did not have jaundice or cradle cap, it would have been simple to correct these issues, too. I actually have a newborn brush in my editing program that automatically corrects jaundice by carefully decreasing the yellow hues. Resolving cradle cap is similar to removing baby acne. Instead of covering red bumps, I’m removing dry white patches on baby’s head and replacing those spots with baby’s hair or unaffected skin.
Hemangiomas and other birth marks
Sometimes babies are born with unique skin markers that you don’t want to remove – and that’s perfectly ok!!
Our youngest daughter was born with a hemangioma on her right cheek. It looked like a small, circular reddish-purple mark. The kind she was diagnosed with is common and usually fades by the fifth birthday. Now that she’s almost six, you can just barely see where it was when she was little. It’s virtually invisible now to people who don’t know she had it as a baby.
For all of her baby photos and our family photos over the years, we did not have the hemangioma removed because it was unique to her, and we didn’t want to her look at photos as she grows and think we were embarrassed or ashamed of it. It just simply made her extra special to everyone who loves her!
So, if your sweet baby has a birth mark, even if it will likely fade over time, I totally understand if you don’t want it removed from photos.
Tiny scratches on baby’s face
Another very common question parents have is if I can do anything about tiny scratches on baby’s face caused by their sharp, tiny fingernails.
This is even simpler and faster to fix than baby acne! It’s really just one click of a button that removes the scratch altogether. In fact, Luke, the little guy below, had three scratches on his face – but you can’t see even a hint of them now!
Is newborn skin really as perfect as it looks in newborn portraits?
This is a tricky question – but usually, I’d say that most newborn skin is at least lightly edited. I occasionally photograph babies who have absolutely perfect skin, but even then, I usually brighten and smooth a little to enhance their natural cuteness!
Emma, pictured above, is a great example of a baby who had naturally creamy, beautiful skin. I added some emphasis to her eyelashes and a little color to her cheeks, but otherwise, she was this precious all on her own.
This is Tanner, the first baby for parents Trisha and Tucker. I did a little skin smoothing and brightening for him. I also added a little color to his cheeks. The brush I used to add just a hint of color to his cheeks is made specifically for newborns, just like most of the editing tools I use for my tiniest clients, and that means it’s super delicate. I’d never want mama to feel like the photo doesn’t look like her baby, which is why editing tools made just for newborns are so essential when correcting minor skin issues.
Natural light is key to gorgeous newborn portraits!
The best way to guarantee you’ll love baby’s newborn portraits is to photograph them in natural light.
When I’m working in a client’s home, the first thing I do as we get set up for photos is turn off any overhead lights. Most of us have warm yellow lighting in our homes, and it adds yellow-ish tones to your skin. You don’t notice it much as you go about your day at home, but you can definitely see it in photos.
I prefer to use a single light source – sunlight coming in through a window – because it is the most flattering option for adults, kids and babies. But if we happen to be photographing in a room that doesn’t have good access to sunlight, or if it’s rainy/cloudy, I can add extra light on my camera that mimics the pure white light of sunlight.
Here’s one of my favorite examples from Rachel’s newborn session in 2018:
Rachel and her husband lived in a one-bedroom apartment when they welcomed baby Kasen, so they convered their dining area into a nursery for him. It was absolutely beautiful – albeit completely window-free! There was one single light on the ceiling, which only added drab yellow tones to everyone’s skin.
I had never, ever been so thankful for my speedlight, a simple battery-powered flash that snaps onto my camera. It’s much more flattering light than a regular pop-up flash on a consumer camera because I can rotate the flash head to bounce light off the ceiling or the wall. While natural light is always my preference, a speedlight can turn a dark, impossible-to-use room into a light-drenched space that is perfect for photos!
When I’m working with a speedlight, I always bounce the flash off the ceiling or the wall – it’s never pointed directly at my client or a baby!
TLDR: don’t sweat minor newborn skin issues or conditions!
Most common skin conditions are easy to resolve during the editing process, and even if I can’t remove it, I do collaborate with a professional retouching company who could assist if needed. So, if you wake up on the day of baby’s newborn session to find infant acne, cradle cap, tiny scratches or other minor issues, there’s no need to cancel and reschedule your photos, unless you just want to delay a bit!