Parents of newborns right now...i’m feeling for you right now for not being able to have your professional newborn photography session during these crazy times. But, it’s just not safe (or even legal) at the moment. I’ve seen some new mama’s recently post their photos that they did themselves with their newborns at home and I think it’s absolutely wonderful that you’re taking the initiative to do that. These first few weeks are fleeting and should definitely be documented. So, to help, I thought i’d post a few tips on how to get some lovely images at home and more importantly, how to do so safely. So many newborn images we see online, while they look simple enough, most times there are some behind the scenes safety precautions happening that you can’t see in the image. There are also many other images that are created with the use of digital editing that you may not know about...many times there’s a parents hand supporting baby that have been edited out for example. I am a lifestyle photographer and I do all of my newborn sessions in my clients home. So, here’s a few of my very simple and safe tips to photograph your newborn baby.
Don’t do it alone. Mom and Dad, work together or at least have two adults in the room. One as the photographer and one as the safety police. When we are looking through a lens, or even our camera phones, we’re only focusing with our eyes and minds on what’s in the “frame” and not as alert to other potential hazards that can be happening. Perhaps a toddler sibling or family pet ready to charge, or baby resting on their arm awkwardly, baby about to roll over, anything can happen. So, have one person on guard to watch for anything that the photographer parent may not notice. Because, if you're photographing, you're distracted.
Keep it simple! Keep it natural!If you see complicated images on the internet, know that there’s more behind the scenes happening that you don’t know about. So just don’t even try it, it could end up in injury to your baby plain and simple. My rule of thumb for my own sessions is that if baby can’t do it naturally and comfortably, I don’t do it. Also avoid props for now until your professional session can happen. There’s too many variables with props to discuss which are safe and which are not, so i’d just avoid them all together. Less is more with newborn images anyway. Lastly, scan your background for clutter, open closets etc. Here’s some very simple and safe posing ideas.
In my opinion, babies look best and most comfortable in the safety of their parents arms. Just hold your baby with their face facing somewhat outward so you can get a clear look at their sweet face. This even works for solo shots of baby, you can move closer in to crop out parents faces so the emphasis can still be solely on babes. And then of course move back to get some sweet mama/baby and daddy/bay shots. Take turns.
Photograph baby sleeping in their crib or bassinet. Open the curtains and let the light shine in for better lighting if the crib is away from the window (as it should be) or move the bassinet closer to the window. You don't need to adjust baby at all, they look perfect just as they are.
Lay baby on a large, soft and simple blanket on the floor near the window light. I prefer neutral tones for the blanket. This is a fun way to photograph an awake and alert newborn and capture all their adorable little expressions. Also makes for great sleepy shots. Try to photograph them while you’re looking straight down at them while standing. If using a dslr, keep the strap around your neck in case the camera slips out of your hand.
Lay baby in the middle of your made bed. Baby angled towards the window, safety police on other side keeping guard.
For a family image, prop your camera or phone at the end of your bed and use the timer. You could lay baby in the middle and have mom and dad laying on fronts, propped by elbows looking and loving over baby.
If you have an older toddler and want to try a sibling photo, use caution. Best to still have mom or dad in the image supporting both of them. You can always move in close to focus just on the littles and a loving parent hand placement keeping them safe is an enhancement to the image rather than a distraction.
Use natural light. Turn off the the lamps and lightswitches and use the light coming in from your windows. Open up the blinds and curtains and have your baby facing that natural light. Avoid placing baby in direct sunlight coming in, place them just outside of that. And, move around a little until you find the best light.
Remember that this too shall pass and there will be plenty of time still for your professional photos later. Every single stage and age is the perfect time to photograph your children.