When I found out I was pregnant, the photographer in me was bursting with excitement over all the ways I could capture our little one. Throughout my pregnancy I pinned cute newborn posing ideas on Pinterest and browsed Etsy for fun newborn hats and accessories for pictures. My husband and I decided this baby would be our last, which added pressure to be prepared so I wouldn’t miss a thing! In fact, (don’t judge me for being crazy obsessed) I was actually taking pictures from my hospital bed within hours after the delivery of my baby!
My baby is almost five months old now and I have learned a few things about photographing your baby for your own newborn photography! Here are 10 tips on photographing your baby. (Forgive me for the overload of pictures of my baby)
1. Prepare while you are pregnant.
You want to gather props (i.e. baskets or blankets), clothing, or accessories you want to use to photograph your baby. Mentally prepare yourself with the look you are going for and what you will need to achieve it. Remember, do this before you have the baby. You will not have the time or energy to run around to stores looking for things as a new mom! This crocheted hat spoke to me when I saw it on Etsy. This was one of the first pictures I took of my little guy after I brought him home.
Also while pregnant, if you plan to send out a baby announcement, start thinking about what kind you want. If there’s a certain pose, angle, or colors that will look best with a particular announcement, you will want to consider this in your planning. I saw this pose on the web and knew I had to try it since I had four kiddos. I used this photo on my baby’s birth announcement.
2. Recruit an assistant for your newborn “session” at home.
I did one formal session at my home with props and careful posing when my baby was about a week old. You will need someone to hold a reflector, pull the binky out of baby’s mouth, wipe spit up, fix baby’s positioning while you hold the camera, etc. Trust me, you cannot do all this alone! My 8 and 11-year-old daughters were my helpers.
Note: newborn sessions should typically be done when baby is 1-2 weeks old if you want those sleepy newborn shots!
3. Don’t worry about always getting the perfectly posed shot or you will miss the “real” moments!
Keep that camera handy and use it anytime your heart speaks to you. Capture the magic of all those special relationships. One morning I had my baby in my bed lying naked with only a diaper on. My five-year-old son came in and wanted to take his shirt off too. Then he climbed into bed and snuggled with his baby brother. Seeing them lying there together was too precious not to capture!
And don’t forget the details that tell a story. This cute drawing by my daughter was waiting in baby’s bed when we came home from the hospital.
4. Capture all the “firsts” and milestones.
Remember to grab your camera when your baby does something new. First bath, first smiles & giggles, first time eating food, sitting up, crawling, etc. And don’t forget about the video camera. We tend to take less video footage because I do so many still shots. There’s certain things that are better captured in video…like my fav, baby’s first giggles.
5. Remember to photograph MOMMY and DADDY with baby too!
Grab a friend/family member to take some shots or set up a tripod and use your self-timer or interval shooting. You will love these images when your baby gets older I promise! We had a photographer (Bella Baby Photography) take some pictures of my husband and I with the baby at the hospital. I will treasure these forever. I also love looking back at old photos of what my mother looked like when I was born. Your child will love seeing what you looked like when he/she was born.
6. Use your phone camera if your nice one isn’t handy.
I usually have my phone sitting next to me in case someone tries to call while I am nursing or otherwise occupied. Often times I want to freeze a special moment and the camera phone is better than nothing! A few weeks ago I had my baby snuggled in my arms while he was sleeping. I didn’t want to put him down. I could have stayed like that all day! I grabbed my phone and snapped a quick one.
FYI- There’s apps out there that let you do minor editing on your phone like I did on here. A couple of my favorites are Camera+ and Instagram. Camera+ lets you change the white balance, crop, add creative processing and add borders. These apps are fun to play around with before you post your mobile pictures to facebook or the web.
7. Schedule your baby’s “sessions” every month on your calendar.
Make photographing your baby a part of your monthly routine. As a tired new mom, if you don’t plan ahead, you most likely won’t get it done! I like to do a little shoot each month on the 11th, since that is the day my babe was born.
Another idea I saw on Pinterest and have been doing with my baby… I take a picture each month of him wearing a white onesie, laying on the same white blanket. I printed up some stickers that have each month printed on them that I stick to the front of his onesie. I will do a wall display/collage of the whole year when he turns one to see how he’s changed.
8. Set your aperture low for those creamy soft backgrounds.
For example, f/2.8 and use a good portrait lens, not a wide angle, which can distort. You don’t want baby’s head or feet to appear larger than normal. Recommended focal lengths for photographing babies are 50mm and 85mm. Also, the 100mm macro is great for close up details like fingers and eyelashes.
9. Keep it simple and cheap!
You don’t need elaborate backdrops or expensive lighting equipment. Babies look best when photographed in soft, natural light. Use reflectors to get catch lights in their eyes or to fill in shadows. Use a plain painted wall or a piece of bead board as a backdrop. Or my favorite, an inexpensive piece of mat board from a frame shop as your background. I have these in many colors and they come in handy a lot! Here’s a pulled back shot of my mat board setup the other day.
10. Lastly, keep in mind one of my favorite quotes, “Don’t let comparison steal your joy!”
Shoot from the heart and don’t worry about what other photographers are doing. Your images will speak to you if you let intuition guide you. Although you may be sleep deprived and feeling un-creative most days, take advantage of those nudging feelings to grab your camera quick. What is it that impressed you today? Baby’s smile, his eyes, the way he holds your finger, or his chubby little toes…
One of the greatest gifts as a photographer is being able to capture precious images of your own children. Take advantage of your talent and bless your family with your heart-felt images of your little one!