This post first appeared on www.SnowPixiePhotography.com. It is shared here with permission.
In this time of social distancing, I wanted to help clients and friends by offering some tips for photographing your newborn at home. I miss all my tiny clients and beautiful families and look forward to seeing them all again once this period of social distancing has passed. In the meantime, for all of you having babies who will not be able to have your newborn photographed by a professional photographer, I hope these tips will help you capture beautiful memories of your new baby.
How to Photograph Your Newborn
1. Use Soft Lighting – Indirect Window Light Is Perfect
In my studio, I use natural light from big windows, but you don’t need giant windows to get beautiful soft light. Any window with indirect light will work. Turn off all artificial lights in the room. Position baby close to the window and have the light fall down baby’s face so that there is a small shadow underneath baby’s nose. This will create soft shadows defining baby’s little features.
2. Smooth Blankets Under Baby
For a professional look that keeps the focus on baby without distracting blanket wrinkles, make sure the blanket or cloth baby is lying on is smooth. You can do this by using big plastic backdrop clips, or even photographing baby on a tightly made bed.
3. Wait Until Baby is Content
In the studio, I spend a lot of time soothing babies, in part because I have a 2-3 hour window to work with baby. Here are a few of the simple things I do to keep babies calm and content. First, make sure baby has a full belly! I always ask my clients to give baby a full feed right before they leave for my studio, and to be prepared to feed baby as needed throughout the session. Second, I keep my studio nice and warm, around 80 degrees. Third, I use white noise. I use a Baby Shusher and a white noise machine, and sometimes a vibrating pad. Fourth, notice what time of day your baby is most calm. For most babies, morning is best. The nice thing about being at home is you have time. If photographing baby isn’t working one day, try another day when both of you are feeling well. Take your time and have fun.
4. Newborn Safety is #1
The most important rule is to keep baby safe at all times. This goes without saying, but it is worth emphasizing. Never leave baby unattended, and always make sure that baby is fully supported in whatever pose you are photographing baby. In any wrapped poses, baby should be wrapped snuggly but never so tightly that it impedes circulation or baby’s airway. Newborn photographers do extensive training to learn how to safely pose babies in the cute poses you see in photographer’s portfolios. If you are not trained, I suggest simple, natural poses. They are the safest and the best!
5. Be In (at least some of) the Photos!
Make sure to hand the camera to your partner or friend so that they can capture YOU with baby at least for a few photos. And, capture your partner with baby! Do not worry about what you look like. Do not worry if you have a little belly, or dark circles under your eyes. However you are is part of your motherhood journey, and it is beautiful. For the most flattering angles, I suggest having your partner shoot from slightly above, looking down at you and baby. Images of mothers and fathers snuggling their newborns close are favorites of mine. The trick is to position baby so that baby’s face is high up on mommy’s shoulder, so that their faces are right next to each other. This creates a beautiful, intimate portrait. Another shot I love of parents and babies are silhouette shots, where daddy or mommy is holding baby looking at baby’s face. I have an image like that of me and my youngest that I treasure.
6. Document All The Tiny Things
Before you know it, you won’t be able to remember how tiny your newborn was, it goes so quickly. I suggest capturing all the little details, your baby’s lips, eyelashes, fingers, hands, and don’t forget my favorite, baby toes! It is also fun to incorporate a part of you in some of these images. For example, you can capture baby’s tiny hand holding your fingertip, or your partner’s hand cupping baby’s feet. These types of images show how little baby is, and are so sweet to have as memories. Capture baby’s face – awake, milk-drunk, forehead wrinkled, yawning – it’s all adorable.
7. Get the Full Effect!
While you are capturing all of the sweet close-up details, remember to step back and capture what I call the “full effect.” Step back and capture baby swaddled in her crib in her nursery, or your partner cuddling baby on your couch with baby things strewn everywhere. In the hospital, capture the hospital room, baby in his bassinet, the chart with baby’s weight and birth information, the card with baby’s name on the bassinet. Capture the nursing, the bottles, siblings with their baby sibling, and grandparents. Capture the mess – it is all part of this beautiful time!
8. Neutrals are Timeless
I love photographing babies against neutrals like soft whites and greys. However, this is your baby, and your photos should reflect your style. If you love vibrant colors, photograph baby in your favorite jewel tone. When choosing colors, think about what colors you would like to see on your wall. In general, whatever you choose, I love a monochromatic set up, as the simple color background keeps the focus on baby.
9. Capture the Moment With Whatever You Have
You might not have the perfect lighting, the perfect camera, or the perfect angles. It doesn’t matter. The important part is capturing your baby and this special time in your family’s life. I know many of my clients are heartbroken that they cannot have professional newborn photos during this time. I’m heartbroken I can’t take them! However, you can still take beautiful photos yourself that you will treasure forever. Hopefully, my tips will help. And, don’t forget, you can always opt for professional photos for baby milestone sessions later in your baby’s first year!
Read Dana’s Meet-A-Mom feature on South Austin Moms HERE.