Photographing your Own Newborn
Writing this post hurts…It breaks my heart knowing that I cannot be right there with you…My amazing clients. Meeting your new additions and capturing this amazing time. But I am here for you and I am here to help. You are not alone in this and together we are going to capture some amazing memories of your precious baby. The only things you need? A swaddle blanket, a plain onesies, a window and a cute baby!
This is a guide meant to help with basic photography tips…So lets get started.
1. Just take the Photo!
This is my #1 tip because how can you capture the time if you don’t actually capture the time? I learned a long time ago that almost always my favorite photos are the imperfect photos. But they are my favorite because I just took the picture and captured so much feeling and emotion with it. Now with newborns it will be slightly different. Things are much more calm and serene but seriously…please just take the photo.
2. Grab that DSLR, point and shoot or even your iPhone
Whatever type of camera you have awesome! If you have a DSLR this is what I recommend using. What is a DSLR? A DSLR is what I call my big girl camera. It’s a camera in which you can change lens, change your settings etc. If you have a DSLR and choose to use it keep it simple. Try shooting in aperture priority mode so that you can bring the aperture down for your lens. Typically to change the mode you are shooting in there is a turning knob at the top of your camera. Mine says Av (I use Canon). A great resource to learn basic understanding of this is google. Looking for a video of your specific camera and shooting in Av mode. For example I shoot with a 35mm lens…Prime lenses are my favorite…it can open up to 1.4 and I typically shoot at 2.0. I never shoot high (ie 4.0) because in my opinion the lower the aperture the smoother the skin and the more emotion that is evoked because you get that background blur (also known as bokeh). If you have a DSLR you can keep that aperture low which will help let in light as well as you can change your ISO (again if need to know how to do this google a video for your specific camera) as needed to help bring in more light. You do not want to go too high with this (a lot depends on your actual camera that you have) because the higher that you go the more grain/pixelation you will get.
If you do not have a DSLR…no worries…You can take photos with whatever equipment you have. If you’re using an iPhone I know there is portrait mode. I actually do not recommend utilizing that for these purposes because it can cause the images to be a little wonky. Also, on your iPhone if you need to adjust the amount of light coming in click on your subject (ie the baby) and a yellow box should appear (see below) with a sunshine slider next to it…You can adjust the amount of light coming in by sliding it up and down.
You can see the little yellow box with yellow sunshine slider next to it
Save the filters and just shoot. Then you can edit the photos after with various editing apps.
Short of actually taking the photo… light is going to be your most important tool. What you are looking for is diffused light. So think a window that has an overhang on the outside so that bright direct light isn’t coming in. Or a window that has sheer curtains. If you have super bright light flooding in from the window it will give your images a super harsh feeling versus that wonderful soft feeling of a brand new baby.
So to start. Find that window. Once you find that window you can move a chair, ottoman etc close to it. This will be your “studio”. When shooting you always want the top of the babys head or the side of the babys face towards the window. Try to not have the babys chin towards the window. This will give you ghoul light that isn’t the most flattering.
You can also utilize backlighting. This can be more tricky with a phone but it can work and if you add contrast in with editing you will be able to achieve lovely images.
All of these images are taken on the same couch using back light. Mom and dad barely moved but we got lots of wonderful photos. Big tip…get close! Snuggle…with the baby…with your big kids and with each other. Get super duper close.
Light coming in from side of babys face. I also love this shot because it shows how teeny tiny they are in comparison to dads hands.
You can see how theres a large window to the side in the first photo that has sheer curtains. It is coming into the side of my subjects and with just the siblings I’m just closer to them. Remember…move around!
Light coming in from top of babys head.
Laying on the couch. The window is directly behind the couch so is coming down on the top/side of this sweet boy.
Don’t forget to capture those sweet details on your baby. Detail shots are typically my favorite in all sessions but in a newborn they are so important. Those tiny features change so quickly. Capture their toes, ears, nose, eyelash, lips, hands and even the tops of their heads if you love that sweet little swirl like I do.
5. Family Shots
For now focus on siblings, mom and baby and dad and baby. If there is someone else who lives with you who can take family photos that is wonderful but if not make sure to take turns capturing one another with your precious baby.
6. Move Around!
Move. Place your subject (ie your baby) in the light that you want to use. This can be their crib, a blanket layed on the floor close to a window, your bed, a couch, anywhere with some soft light coming in. Once your baby is set up take a photo…Remember angles…you don’t want to be pointing up there nose ;). But then move. Get a far away shot, a close up shot, a shot using a mirror, one from straight on, one from the side…Etc. This will give you so much variety.
Three different images and mama and baby did not move.
Again mommy and baby didn’t move. Took a shoot further away and then moved in close.
Basic editing is all you need. If you’re using a phone I personally love Pic Tap Go to edit all of phone photos. You can play around and decide what you love for your images. If editing from a DSLR/point in shoot I personally use Lightroom. There are free trials but then there is a monthly fee after.
8. Do not Stress!
Please do not stress. When taking your own photos do not focus on a 3 hour straight stretch of taking photos. Take a little time and when you’re tired take a break…wait till the next day and just relax. Your sweet baby will thrive off your ques. If you are calm and collected your baby will feel that. Plus…please make this a memorable experience. Photographing your own newborn can and should be fun. This is a unique time in our history and something we will remember forever. Enjoy it and make the most of it. I wish with all of my heart I could be there with you but since I can’t this is the next best thing. Capturing newborns is my favorite. It’s so sweet and calm and relaxing. I want you to have that too!
So now…images…With each image I will give a little snippet at what you are looking at. Happy shooting ya’ll!!!
Notice how the window is on the side wall where the top of the babys head is facing. This makes for wonderful light. There is no bright direct light coming in. There is an overhang on the window which brings in nice soft light.
Older siblings?? Then play and have fun. These make for my favorite photos. Since you may be capturing just mom and kiddos or just dad and kiddos you can snuggle, play, kiss, tell secrets..just have fun.
Mom sitting on the edge of the bed and she is facing the window. This works with that wonderful diffused light and will give you a beautiful brightness to your images. Pro tip…this makes the best selfie light too 😉
Snuggle and this is where not worrying about perfection comes in. Little dude need a break and wanted some juice so we let him have some juice and this is one of my favorite images. It’s real and happy and cozy feeling.
Again they are sitting facing the window which gives that nice soft light. If you need to pull a chair close to a window and then you can side light and front light and even back light all from the same spot.
A white comforter or blanket and a wrapped baby is always a favorite. Notice how the light is coming from the top of his head. This photo was actually taking by his big brother.
Moved this sweet guy so the light was fully lighting his face. He is facing directly towards the window.
Laying in his bassinet. The window is directly behind those pillows (again soft diffused light). So the light is coming in from the side of his face.
Get outside for a few!
Soft light coming in. Snuggles and tickles!
I truly hope this helps during this unprecedented time. You all are in my heart and thoughts. Have fun photographing your own baby…Make it memorable and if you need anything I am here!!!