Photographing Children with Special Needs

Photographing families with special needs has truly been a blessing and I have learnt some very helpful lessons that have changed the way I prepare for all my phootgraphy sessions. I hope these few tips shared below will help you to have the same wonderful experiences I have had capturing children and their families with special needs.

special needs photography Nicky Mclean



1. Get to know your client’s special needs before the session

It is really important that you get to know and understand your client’s special needs before your session. An initial consulation gives you an opportunity to get to know your client and find out more about them and their family.


2. Use a reward system to connect and encourage children with special needs

A reward system works with all children and particularly children with special needs. It is important to mention this to the parents in your initial consultation. Rewards gives you an extra toll to use while photographing children.  These rewards can vary with each child so it is essential that the choice of reward is discussed with the parent.

You may find that the agreed reward might even come out during the session if you find you are battling to connect with the child. A reward that you ca use to play and interact with gain the trust of a child.


 3. Allow extra time for children with special needs

All family sessions can become challenging due to many different aspects. Sometimes it can just depend on the mood of the child. With special needs, it helpful to have allocated extra time. It helps to slow down as a photographer and allow the child to get to know you. Giving the child a few extra breaks is also very helpful. You want to document the child being themselves. These are the images your clients are truly going to cherish.


4. It is helpful for mum and dad to understand the session flow

Parents are usually quite nervous about a photo session especially parents with children with special needs. This really helps with understanding the process and enjoying the shoot.


5. Know when to end the session

Family sessions with special needs run the same as any other family session. However, you will come across a photo session where nothing is working. You can try every trick up your sleeve, be as prepared as possible but sometimes it can all appear impossible. You cannot force a child to have photos taken.

Sometimes, it is best to just reschedule and try again. It happens. Another day is a different day. It does not mean that it is doomed to fail. It just means, today is not the right day. You will be glad you did not push.


6. Choosing the best location for a child with special needs

Look for a location based on the child’s special needs. If your little client has sensory issues, then a quiet location would be best. Look for a place that is safe and has space for a child to explore.

Consider the child’s personality. If your little client is shy, don’t go for a busy park but maybe a private, quiet space where the child can relax and enjoy.





All that said, a newborn photoshoot is still worth the effort. The 3 hours you’ll spend having your newborn photoshoot will give you a lifetime of joy and pleasure. Every time you look at those photos on the wall you’ll remember just how teeny tiny your baby was and how much love you have for that child.

Two-week-old babies are great for newborn sessions. They are still super sleepy, easy to pose in traditional newborn poses. This is why many people that teach newborn photography use it as the date to gauge when a baby is too old for newborn pictures

Children develop neck strength at different rates but between 12 and 16 weeks is usually about right for a photo shoot. This is such a lovely age, still tiny babies but full of personality.Amazing maternity, baby, infant and cake smash portraits in the best studio in Scotland. Edinburgh and Murrayfield maternity, newborn and cake smash portrait photographer.Award-winning family photographer, specialising in newborn, maternity & family photograph.Edinburgh based baby cake smash photographer Nicky Mclean will captures those special moments that families treasure for a lifetime.

Edinburgh’s most loved maternity and newborn baby photography studio based in Murrayfield, Edinburgh. See why families come back year after year.

Maternity and Newborn photographer Edinburgh. Nicky Mclean Photography specialise in creating beautiful images from bump to baby & beyond! Relaxed newborn baby photography. Professional Edinburgh Newborn Photographer. Family and newborn photographer serving Edinburgh and Glasgow area.

Older Newborn Photo session Baby John 2 months old


(Age: 2 to 8 weeks)

Older newborn sessions capture your baby’s 1st few weeks with a set of beautiful baby and family portraits. Preserving your unique and special memories. The early days can feel a little crazy adjusting to your new life with a baby so it is very normal to waiting to bring your baby into the studio.

What is the difference between a newborn photoshoot (6 to 14 days)

versus an older newborn shoot (2 weeks to 8 weeks)?

For newborn babies within the 6 to 4 days Newborn Sessions, babies are usually more comfortable moving into the different poses. A newborn baby this age with a full tummy and no wind can sleep and moved around quite easily and does not mind being posed in a variety of cute newborn positions.

However, older newborn babies with the 2 to 8 week time period, feed more often so their window of sleep is shorter as a baby this age have longer periods of being awake. Older newborns are starting stretch out and don’t enjoy being wrapped up too tightly.


Why should I consider an older newborn photoshoot?

Your baby will be tiny once-in-your-lifetime and is changing very quickly. This is unfortunately the reality of a newborn baby. Preserving these memories of this unique time in your life is captured in exquisite newborn photography.

Older newborn babies are so adorable as their eyes sparkle and their personality flows through their images. You will obtain images of your baby in good lighting awake or possibly asleep, posed in bowls and wearing specially made outfits. I encourage family images for this age as this is such a wonderful opportunity to mark this beautiful time in your life together.

Gorgeous older newborn was 8 weeks in this video.

A baby led approach to older newborn photography

As I work through the session I’ll take a baby led approach. I will pickup from you and you baby what your baby’s preferences. For example many babies do not like to sleep on their tummys.

I will never force your baby into a position that they are not comfortable in. My priority is that your baby is comfortable and safe throughout the shoot.

Before your shoot we will discuss your preferred colours of blankets and wraps.

At the studio, I have a huge selection of gorgeous blankets in soft, neutral and a variety of colours. Freshly laundered before each session.

Usually I work with colours that work lovely together and will achieve a cohesive look throughout your image gallery. This will make your time a lot easier should you wish to create a print or canvas collection for your wall, the images will work well in your home or you may want to create an printed album.

Before the session, we will discuss which colours you would like to choose and if you are not sure I can help you with your decision.

Choosing the colours will also help with determining which colour wraps and outfits you would like me to use in your images. The main goal is to use colours, wraps and outfits in order to bring the best focus to your baby. Usually simple backgrounds and texture achieves this very well.

Including Sentimental Items in your Photo Shoot

Special crocheted blankets by granny or a special toy or any special item can brought tot he studio. I always ask if you share an image of of this before you come to the studio so I can plan to co-ordinate it within on the setups. 

These are your images of you memories. Sentimental items are always welcome. 

Do I need to bring clothes for my baby to wear at our older newborn session?

You don’t need to bring anything for your newborn baby to wear during the session – just an outfit to take them home in afterwards.

During the session, I will use blankets, wraps and specially created outfits you’ve chosen from my collection to wrap your baby and keep them comfortable and secure.

newborn baby asleep with brother

What should the rest of the family wear?

Choose a colour palette

Having a co-ordinated colour scheme to base everyone’s outfits on can really help to bring your photographs together and give them more impact.

I recommend choosing a maximum of one or two colours that you will base everyone’s outfits around. Neutral colours always work best with newborn images which include greys, whites, creams and navy wor well.

Once you have chosen your colours, choose an outfit for each person that fits into the colour scheme.

Keep it simple

It helps to avoid patterns and clothes with writing, logos and pictures on them as these are very distracting and will age your images far more quickly.

Co-ordinate, rather than match

When choosing each member of the family’s outfits bear in mind that the goal is to co-ordinate and not to match. You don’t need everyone to wear the same thing just for everyone to look good together.


older newborn
older newborn
older newborn

What do we need to bring with us?

At the studio I have some of the things you may need like a changing mat, feeding pillow, nappy bags and water wipes. So you don’t need to bring these things unless you want to.

The things that I recommend are:

  1. Nappies – bring more than you would normally just you baby is having a day where they are going through more nappies than usual.

  2. If you are bottle feeding, bring a few extra feeds that normal as we may need them.

  3. If you are using a dummy, please bring it a long because this is very, very useful to soothe your baby while moving between shots.

newborn baby with father and brother

What happens on the day of your shoot?

On the day of your session, you can park infront of my home and take advantage of our free parking. Once you are in the studio, your can make yourself comfortable and we will briefly chat about how the session will flow. You will also have an opportunity to have a look at the selection of props that I have set out for you and see if there is anything you don’t want in your images.

During the shoot, I will bring the family into some of your images. I’ll include each parent, sibling portraits and pictures of the whole family.

At the studio, I have tea, coffee and bottled water and plenty of biscuits for you to enjoy whilst I am photographing your baby. Feel free to bring your own if you want to.

I also have samples of albums, prints and frames items I offer. You may find you might want to look through these too.

How long does an older newborn session take?

Older newborn sessions typically last 2 to 3 hours. 

The reason for this is every bay is very different and every day with each baby is very different.

Sometimes babies are settled through all the photographs. Sometimes they need a couple of breaks for a feed, nappy change or just a cuddle with a parent in which case things may take a little longer.

I work with each baby’s pace and individual needs. I try and create a good variety of images for your final gallery so it all depends on how you baby is on the day. I safely allocate a minimm of 4 hours so I am able to deliver the best possible images to you at the end  of your shoot.

older newborn boy with knitted rabbit in bowl

How do we see our images?


7 to 10 days after your session I’ll send you your private online gallery where you can see your fully edited gallery of photographs from your session. 

Your USB will be prepared and will be delivered to you by Royal Mail and processed as “1st Class, signed for”.

Should you wish to choose albums or any other printed products this could take up to 4 to 6 weeks.

How much does an older newborn session cost?

Your can find my current older newborn session pricing here:

This is great,  how do I book?

If you are ready to book an older newborn session for your baby, please send me a message below.

I’ll get back to you within 24 hours. Once we’ve settled a date for your session, I’ll send you a booking agreement and invoice for your session fee and when these are returned your session is confirmed.

Then we can get started with planning your session!