how to take newborn photos at home
How to take newborn photos at home: Newborn Photography Melbourne
You spent months dreaming about what your newborn will look and be like, you’re feeling so many emotions during the global pandemic and making back up upon back up plan. You found your dream newborn photographer and beyond excited to see your family journey captured. The idea of not having any newborn photos is simply not an option, its just NOT!
Capturing those precious first few weeks of a newborns life is my absolute passion and I don’t want families to miss out on having some priceless memories. I want you to stay safe and well at home, so I’m going to give you a few of my best tips on how to take your own newborn photos at home safely.
I do want to stress the importance of staying home during this time. Some photographers are secretly keeping their doors open, leaving families at risk and clients confused. If you’ve booked a newborn session and the photographer has insisted it’s okay to go ahead and trying to reassure you, it’s NOT.
As a Registered Nurse I believe in been an advocate for my patient’s. As a parent I’m my children’s advocate and putting my children’s health and safety first is always the priority. Choosing to attend a professional newborn photography shoot during this time is not worth the risk, its simply NOT.
The newborn photos I offer in my studio are very specialised, it’s taken years of study, time, hard work, commitment, special equipment, money and understanding on how to work with newborns. I certainly can’t teach you my specialty what I do in a single blog post. I will however, show you how to use what you have on hand in your home to take a few simple and natural newborn photos, no matter your photography experience.
So, what do you need to start?
A DSLR, small hand held digital camera or the camera on your phone. If you have a DSLR fabulous, use your kit lens and if you don’t have a good understanding of photography then pop it into AUTO mode. If you only have your phone, then that’s okay, use the best portrait feature mode your camera phone has. Make sure you clean any camera/phone lenses as well.
A simple baby wrap or a gorgeous baby outfit is perfect. Custom name plaques, birth announcement card and any special teddies can be added for a personalised touch. A bassinet/cot, cot mattress, favourite blanket and your nursery if you’ve decorated one.
If Mum, Dad and siblings are having photos then set aside an outfit, a plain white, grey or cream T-shirt is perfect. Use your Maternity dresses, even baby shower outfit if you had one. Using soft and light colours will always give a classic and timeless feel.
This is key and we are aiming to not have to edit photos, so finding those beautiful spots of natural light in your house for the newborn photos is really important. Look at the windows in your house, notice the lighting coming through and what time of day, make a little note so you can plan what room and what time you’ll do the newborn photos.
Ideally you want to be parallel to the lighting, have it fall from above your head and fall across the face. Think of the sun, coming from above you and on a 45-degree angle down, we don’t want lighting coming from directly above your head down or from toes up to face.
Don’t be to close to the window either, especially if there is a lot of light as you’ll get very harshly exposed spots on the face. Instead just step away from the window and you can even hang up a sheer curtain to diffuse the light coming through.
You can shoot into the light, I recommend this for parent and sibling photographs. Where your standing or using the nursery rocking chair. The effect can be beautiful, with all the subjects of the picture in full shadow and a blown out background. These are beautiful as black and white photographs and create a timeless feel.
SETTING THE SCENE
I think the nursery is a beautiful backdrop if you’ve decorated one, however you do need natural light. If there is no natural light in the nursery, then move the props you want to use to area with good natural lighting. The master bedroom or even the lounge area if it’s all set up and styled.
Decide on the newborn photos you want to take i.e. just single newborn, sibling and newborn, parent and newborn or full family. It just helps to plan, so that it isn’t stressful and you know exactly what you want, when and where.
Safety is always the first priority and no newborn photo should put a child at risk. Even though these might seem obvious, you’d be surprised.
DO NOT leave a newborn unattended
DO NOT leave a newborn alone with a sibling
DO NOT leave a newborn on a high unstable surface, or risky position
DO NOT try to wrap your newborn like a newborn professional photographer does
DO NOT leave your newborn on a cold, hard flat surface
DO USE the camera/phone strap at all times
The angle you take your photographs from will make a big difference to the end result.
The angle will also depend on your chosen setup. For example, let’s look at this setup.
It’s a single newborn photo, the newborn is placed down on a blanket, with a cot mattress underneath. The setup is placed parallel to the window. You would come from directly above and have the camera directly looking straight down at the babies nose. You can also see here the light is flattering falling from the side and across the face.
Next you might be taking a photo of Dad, Mum, sibling and bub in the nursery chair. Find the taller person’s nose and come from slightly above shooting down and then move in for a closer photo looking directly at your newborns, parent or siblings’ nose.
What we don’t want is to ever be shooting up someone’s nose or from that low angle, which result in unflattering portraits. See the below example of what angle we don’t want, this is taking the photograph from a lower angle and shooting up the nose and compared to the previous photograph, unflattering.
BEST TIME FOR YOUR NEWBORN
Ideally anytime in the first few weeks you’re at home with your newborn is the best time.
Wait for a settled or sleeping period in your newborns routine, don’t force it. If the day isn’t going well and bub is unsettled then just wait until the next day.
Newborn photos with siblings are just priceless, here the most important thing is safety. Consider the age or ages of the siblings and what the safest area and setup would be. For example, I wouldn’t sit an active 2 year old in a nursery chair, holding a newborn by themselves. Besides the falls risk, they might not be able to support their head well enough. However much older siblings that can take instructions well and support the newborn, may be able to have newborn photos in the nursery chair.
The best option is on the floor, I suggest putting a cot mattress down and your favourite blanket on top as a backdrop. Lay the siblings down first and have them in position, with a parent there at all times and a separate person taking the newborn photo. Then you can carefully place your newborn and make sure their head and neck are supported at all times. Again, however do not risk it, if the siblings aren’t following instructions, not supporting the newborn, putting the newborn at risk then ABANDON immediately. I would then suggest doing a sibling peaking into the bassinet, or holding their fingers or with parents’ photo.
TAKE THE PHOTO
I must stress to not put pressure on yourself to take the newborn photos immediately. Settle in at home, get to know your newborn first, make a mental note on their sleepy and settled times during the day.
Then one day put your favourite blanket aside or outfit for the photos, decide on a time, only do one setup and a few newborn photos first.
Then just see what those photos are like and you can do some more the next day or the next week.
Do this until you have a beautiful collection of newborn photographs.
The aim here is to use good lighting and good angles to avoid any need for editing. Photoshop and lightroom are very specialised and professional editing requires specialised computer equipment and knowledge. I can’t teach you years of learning in 1 blog post.
However, all the photos I used for this blog post are unedited and taken straight off my camera.
If you have knowledge of how to edit on a desktop, then fabulous and have adobe photoshop or lightroom brilliant. I suggest using a preset free or paid, that suits your style and taste, as when you have a newborn you are time limited.
I don’t use presets in my workflow but I think the presets from The Modern Market Co are beautiful and natural. These are paid but can be used on a desktop or mobile phone which is great for those camera phone photos.
If you’re after free editing presets, I’d do a google and find some free ones that suit your style there is a lot out there, I simply can’t go through them all here.
Ultimately the idea is to not worry about editing but if your keen to try them, go for it.
However you’ve taken your newborn photos, once you have them in their final digital JPEG form BACK THEM UP! Put a copy on your hard drive, a separate hard drive, online storage and USB. Ideally you actually want 2-3 digital back ups in case something goes wrong or gets corrupted. Then print your newborn photos, now I do suggest to avoid cheap pop in service centres, the quality isn’t there. However I do understand we feel limited by options right now, if you know of a more higher end professional printing house that is open and open to the public that would be my choice and do it all online.
Alternatively if your in Australia, I would be happy to recommend my professional printing house, they are still open and it can all be done online with free standard shipping.
You can also use the newborn photos you took to create birth announcement cards, either physical cards or email them out.
Still look for a newborn photographer now or postpone your session until the lock down is lifted. You can capture your newborn now and then a professional photographer can capture your baby and family in your dream way once its all settled.
If you’ve been dreaming of a newborn photography session then please do support us if you can, when this settles. You’ll appreciate our process and all those gorgeous memories once it’s better out there, knowing we got through a global pandemic together.
HOW I CAN HELP/OFFERS
FREE PDF guide, I’ve condensed all this into a TWO page PDF guide. Just send me an email and I’ll send it straight to you.
If you’ve taken some photos and want me to help you print them while we are in COVID 19 lock down restrictions, I’m happy to help and refer you. This offer is for Australian residences only and is a great way to get your newborn photographs printed on beautiful fine art papers.
If you’ve been thinking about all your digital files from your wedding, or precious professional shoots and never got any prints, wall arts or albums then now is the time. Our memories are now even more precious to us now, let me help you see your life stories everyday.
I will edit the best 5 -10 images from your own at home newborn photoshoot, when you book a photography session with me later in the year. The session will have to be once the restrictions ease back to a level 1-2 in Australia and I am allowed by law to start working again.
Free email consult, if you want to get in contact with me and discuss more about doing your own newborn photos at home we can have a little chat.
If your dreaming about having a session with me in the future I am accepting inquiries for maternity, newborn and family photography sessions.
Please stay home and stay safe during this time, feel feel to have a no obligation chat anytime.