Before I jump into this article, I think it's important to clarify that I shoot lifestyle newborn photography. These tips and thoughts apply to that style. I don't think a crying newborn in a fluffy basket with a seamless white background works quite as well.
Newborn sessions can be quite stressful. The newborns don't always cooperate. Sometimes they are hungry, sometimes they poop, and sometimes they cry. In my shoots, when a newborn cries, I usually keep snapping away. I often tell the parents that they may not appreciate these crying photos now, but I promise that they will in the future. After all, a photo of a clearly miserable kid isn't that appealing right? However, I don't think the goal of lifestyle newborn photography is to simply make beautiful photos.
I think lifestyle newborn portraits should tell a story. There are a lot of emotions that come along with having a little baby. I think it's important to capture those emotions in my photos. Sometimes the baby will crack a smile, or sometimes the parents might heartily laugh at something the baby does, and sometimes (usually) the baby might cry. It's all part of having a newborn. I think it's important to capture all of it while taking photos. Parents want to look back on the photos and remember all of the moments and details with the precious newborn, good and bad. As a parent, I can attest to the fact that having a newborn is a bit of a blur later down the road. The photos can help parents document all of these precious moments with their little one.
Another reason that I love the crying photo is a bit more technical and pedantic. When it comes down to it, photography is all about contrast. Dark & light, warm & cold, big & small, etc... To me, there is just something amazing about a perfect little baby in a perfect setting so clearly upset. I especially love photos where the newborn is in their white nursery, in their white crib, with lots of white light and the only dark spot in the photo is the babies open crying mouth. I think it really sucks the viewer into the photo.
Ultimately, I've had multiple parents tell me that they thought they didn't really like the crying photos when they were delivered, but after some time, they grew to be some of their favorite photos.