Many congratulations on your new baby! I was very much looking forward to capturing your new little one in the first couple of weeks of her life, but unfortunately, 2020 had other ideas!
First please let me reassure you: Whilst the very curly, sleepy newborn photographs you have seen will have been taken in the first 10 days, it is always possible to capture gorgeous photos of your newborn baby. I have photographed many babies in the newborn style up to 8 weeks of age, and in a more relaxed way past the 2 months mark. It is never too late to get professional photos and I will be delighted to see you as soon as the lockdown is eased up.
However, newborns do change quickly, and simply because you can’t access professionals right now doesn’t mean that you should not capture the very few days of your baby’s life.
I would love to share with you some tips and ideas to help you create beautiful images of your own baby and to make this experience an enjoyable and stress-free one for the both of you.
Take your time
The great thing about photographing your own baby during the lockdown is that you have all the time you need. There is no rush, and it doesn’t all need to be done in one sitting.
When my daughter was born, I decided to take her portraits myself and it took me nearly a month to capture all of the photographs I had planned to get. I had had an emergency C-section and getting the right angles sometimes meant bending down in a way my recovery didn’t allow. So please take your time, there is no rush, no visitors.
Taking your time will also allow you to capture your changing baby. This is a luxury I don’t have in the studio! How often parents come and see their images 2 weeks later telling me their little one is already so different. You can document these changes and this is very special!
Remember, time is on your side! Take it easy and don’t over-do it. If you pace yourself, you can capture an amazing variety of images of your sweet new baby.
Choose the right room
You might be tempted to photograph your little one in whichever room they fell asleep, but the location is probably the most important thing to consider. Lighting is everything in photography so the room you choose need to have good lighting.
If the camera you are using has a flash, start with disabling it. They tend to give a very unnatural look to images.
The best lighting is natural light coming from a window. It is better if the sun isn’t directly shining onto baby, as it will give you harsh shadows.
Go around the house and try to find the brightest, undirect sunlight – remember this will change depending on the time of the day.
It’s also much better if the light is parallel to baby, rather than coming from above. This is why photographing baby either on the floor by patio doors work well, or even better, on a bed by a window.
Keep baby parallel to the window for the best lighting. Watch the shadows, they should be nice and soft.
Set up your space and your camera
Once you have found your light, you will need to set up a “background” to your images. I would suggest a plain, light blanket or even a duvet without a cover, plain and white is perfect.
You can capture lovely images just with your phone, but make sure the flash is disabled. If you have a digital camera, try and put it in manual mode, chose the wider aperture (the smallest “f” number) your lens will go to and a speed of about 1/160. Choose an ISO of 100 and check your image. If it’s too dark, bring the ISO up until you are happy with the light.
If you have already been to a session with me, you will already know my little tricks to keep baby happy:
- Make sure baby is fed and content before you start. It may work better if daddy settles baby to sleep before you take photos. It will give you time to prepare, and babies tend to fuss when they can smell their mummy.
- Use some white noise, there are plenty of free apps you can use, or simply turn the hairdryer on 😊
- We are lucky to have had gorgeous weather during this lockdown, but if it isn’t so nice when you photograph your little one, turn the heating on just for an hour or so before you start
- Babies tend to sleep better in the morning. I would suggest getting everything ready and just take some photos whenever you feel baby will cooperate!
Whilst many photos you will see on my website will seem simple and natural, posing a newborn requires training and a comprehensive understanding of their anatomy. Some images are also composite, when baby is held throughout and pictures are put together in photoshop afterwards.
I would advise that you keep it simple!
It is easier if someone else is on hand to spot baby, especially if baby is on the bed.
Capture the tiny details
Don’t forget to document all of those sweet little details that make your baby unique such as:
- belly buttons
Don’t move baby too much
Repositioning baby may cause them to fuss, so once baby is settled, it is better if you move around her to get different angles and perspectives. Make use of little hats you’ve been gifted, gently cover your little one with a soft blanket for a different look.
I tend to start with baby curled up on their front and change the angles and the blankets, hats, headbands. Once you’ve exhausted these, slowly move baby to their side. One little trick is to make sure they feel held at all times, so make sure their arms and legs are softly held together as you move them. Otherwise they may startle and wake up. Finally put baby on her back for some profile pictures and shots from above. This is the time when you can bring their siblings in the photo!
Don’t forget siblings, daddy and yourself!
For siblings, the easiest thing to do is to ask them to lie down next to their baby brother or sister. To vary it slightly, put them “head to tail” or ask them to kiss baby on the forehead.
For younger siblings who may be reluctant to get too close, a raisin, chocolate button or other tiny treat hidden behind baby’s head or body may just be the incentive their need to approach baby 😊
Finally, make sure daddy captures a few of you with baby. These can be lying on the bed, or perhaps feeding baby. Trust me, you will treasure these. Remember, these don’t have to be too staged. The more natural, the better!
Remember, these tips will work whatever your baby’s age. So whilst we are all stuck indoors, perhaps try and grab photos of your little sitter to mark this development milestone. I will be on hand to do family photos as soon as the lockdown eases, most likely starting with outdoor family sessions. If you’d like to be notified as soon as these are available, do let me know. In the meantime, I would love to see the images you captured using this little guide!