Taking beautiful, professional portraits of brand new babies is what many of the photographers listed on our platform do best. For most it is a passion and a craft that has been honed and perfected over many years. Booking a newborn photography session with your new baby is an important right of passage for all parents and the memories are truly one of the best investments you will ever make. You can click here to view our database of professionals from around the country.
We were said to hear that due to many of the Covid19 lockdowns around Australia in 2021, that many families were missing out on capturing images of their precious babies in their first few weeks of life. Some professional photography newborn sessions have had to be rescheduled for months down the track and some have been missed completely. It truly is devastating!
If you can’t get to your newborn photographer just yet, we hope that this list of tips to help you capture some lovely photos at home on your smart phone might help. As the months roll on, there are also lots of other milestones in your baby’s life that you will want to capture in beautiful images. While you’re waiting for your next session with your local professional to arrive, you might want to take a few snaps yourself at home (or a few thousand, who are we kidding!)
We all know that our DIY images will never truly replace the experience of having images taken by a professional, but we hope that this list of tips might help for the time being. It won’t be long until the studio doors are open again and your photographer can welcome you back for some gorgeous, professional images.
It all starts with the right light
First things first, let’s talk about light. Take a walk around your house and have a look for space near a window where things are a little brighter. We’re not talking direct sunlight … it’s all about filtered light – that soft glow that you get in a well lit room. A white sheet hung on your window or sheer curtain will help turn your room into the perfect soft box if the light is too harsh!
Just to be clear, the best light doesn’t always come from the biggest window! Sometimes a small space will do just fine. Just know that the bigger the window, the less directional the light will be.
Get your props and setups ready
Before every session, photographers walk around their studio and get everything set up and ready to go. There is nothing worse than having a lovely calm baby ready to be photographed but nowhere to put them! Sometimes all you have is a short window of time so best to be prepared!
There is lots you can use from your home to create beautiful imagery. Fabrics on the floor make a great backdrop. Add a scarf or piece of fabric to create a layered look. Pull it tight for a block coloured effect or ruffle it up to create texture and shadows. It’s a great idea to have small hand towels or clean socks at the ready to pop under baby’s head and to help position them comfortably. A quick colour change in a setup or wrap over the top can change the entire look of the image without disturbing your little model.
Safety first, always!
You must always photograph your baby in a safe location. No ifs or buts. Making sure that your surroundings are safe and suitable for newborn or baby photography before you begin is an absolute must. Make sure that your big camera has a strap that is secured around your neck or if you are using a smart phone, don’t hold your camera directly on top of your baby at any time in case it falls.
Never photograph a baby at a heigh without constant supervision and don’t try any of those trick shots that you see on Pinterest! You know the ones … babies hanging in in a dream catcher or sitting on a tree branch. These are composite images created in Photoshop! No baby should every be placed into these kinds of positions.
A warm baby is a happy baby
Did you know that newborn babies aren’t able to regulate their own temperature? That’s why it’s so important to keep your little ones nice and toasty during their photo session. Parents intuitively think that their babies are too warm and that a nice cool breeze is the answer. This might be in the case in the older months but for newborns, a nice warm room is key!
Many newborn photographers simply pre-warm their studios with a small air heater and then turn it on and off during the session as the temperature changes. If you have reverse cycle air-conditioning, even better! Use your discretion though of course to avoid overheating. It’s a fine balance.
It’s all about the timing
If you’re a new parent I’m sure you have already realised this one, but baby is the boss! There’s absolutely no point trying to take nice photos if your little one is hungry, overtired and irritable. When babies come to visit me at the studio, we just go with the flow. There’s a plan, but it almost never goes to plan!
Listening to your baby’s needs is so important. A well fed, happy baby will be a lot more cooperative in your photo shoot! If you’re after sleepy shots, you’ll definitely need to time it right! Get your setup ready, camera charged, baby dressed (or undressed) as you’d like them in your images, fill that belly, pop on some lullabies and then … wait. You’ll know when the time is right and if you’ve prepared correctly, you should be able to transition your baby into position without too much fuss!
Wrap ‘em up
Babies and other little people love to feel safe and secure. Wrapping your bub at the beginning of their photo session with you is often a great place to start! It helps to keep those flailing arms and legs contained which is definitely a challenge when trying to take a nice photo!
If you’re trying to encourage your baby to sleep for their photos, start with a wrapped bub with a pretty layer or two over the top that you can remove as your go. This way you’ll be able to capture a few different looks without waking the baby! If you’re lucky, you might be able to take that final layer off and try some nude belly shots but you’ll need to work slowly and calmly.
Once photographers have their little models in position during a professional shoot, they try not to move them too often! The easiest way to get a lovely gallery of images is for the photographer to do the moving, not the baby! You should be able to get 5-6 different angles from each setup or location. Try close ups, wide angle shots, tilt left, tilt right, portrait orientation, landscape orientation and more.
If you have your baby on a blanket, pillow or beanbag, you can always slowly turn your settled model to change how the light falls in your photo. Try the light coming from behind the baby and then switch to see how it looks. Pro tip – don’t ever shoot up the baby’s nose or with light shining up their face. It’s called ghoul lighting and it’s not pretty – even on an adorable newborn baby!
Let baby take the lead
You really do need to keep an open mind when you are photographing little people. You might have an idea in mind of an image you want to capture, but baby might be having nothing of it. Relax! Adapt. Get creative. There is no such thing as a perfectly posed baby. Babies are perfect exactly as they are!
If an arm slips the wrap, capture it! If they sneeze or stretch or change the direction that they are facing, work with it! You might find that some of your favourite images are the ones you thought weren’t worth capturing.
Keep it simple
Baby photography has certainly changed in style over the last decade. Once upon a time, bright coloured props and sunflower headbands were all the rage, but nowadays it’s all about capturing your baby exactly as they are. Details. Close ups. Natural baby. A moment in time. If you’re trying to take some photos at home, keep your images simple, timeless and classic. A nice fabric backdrop or wrap never goes out of fashion!
Be present in your photos!
A whole book of baby photos is a gorgeous keepsake, but it’s even more lovely when you are in it too! Get the whole family involved and make sure that you feature in a few photos too! You’ll love looking back on these moments as a whole family so don’t forget to be present at your baby’s milestones.
We hope that these tips have helped you with your amateur in-home newborn photography during COVID lockdown or while you are waiting for your next session with your local professional. We truly hope you are back in the studio very soon!