Congratulations on your new arrival! Whether you have just become a parent for the first time or you are adding to your family it is such a special and exciting journey and as a mother of two young daughters I remember it so well.
It is such an intense and tiring time but it also passes so very quickly (every parent will vouch for that) and it is important to capture some of those early fleeting moments. I am very fortunate that I get to photograph lots of newborns and their families both in my studio and at my client’s homes. Unfortunately the current Covid-19 situation has meant I have had to postpone and miss the opportunity to capture some special newborn memories for many of my lovely clients.
It is possible for you to get some lovely pictures yourself at home that you can look back on and treasure in years to come. I have put together some hints and tips to help parents capture some photographs in the safety of their own home. As I wrote this I varied my use of the male/female pronoun ‘his’ and ‘her’ for ease and will jump between the two.
Ideally I like to photographs my client’s newborns at 10-14 days where possible as they are often quite settled and sleepy around this time but if your baby is a little older than that don’t worry, be sure to give it a go anyway. Although they might seem to have grown so much since birth they are still teeny weeny and when you look back in a few years time you will be pleased you captured them whilst they were so small.
Light is absolutely key! Go near to a window where possible. Shoot during the day time and in a well lit room. Switch the flash off on the camera. Use a wide aperture if you can (this is the F stop on your camera) You don’t need a fast shutter speed as the baby won’t be moving very quickly.
Camera settings I often shoot newborns at around F2.8 (aperture) and shutter speed of 200 but this depends on the available light. If you are shooting in manual mode be sure that your “iso” (light sensitivity) is not set too high as images can become grainy. No more than 400 iso should be fine but this does depend on your camera model as some will allow you to go much higher without too much graininess. If you don’t have a camera you can use your mobile phone and still capture some precious memories, with the current iPhone models you could try using ‘portrait’ mode.
In terms of ‘posing‘ I would start with baby on his back – I tend not to use any unusual baby poses as I don’t think they look very natural. Lay baby with the light falling on him from approximately a 45 degree angle. You then want to photograph him from slightly above – i.e down his nose rather than up his nose (as this is never a flattering angle) Go low, get down to his level and get in nice and close. You can try him on his side which looks cute or on his tummy with his hands up under his cheek – this pose is similar to how he would sleep on your chest.
Shots to get – take some pictures of her tiny hands and feet, you could try taking some photographs of her in one of her parents’ arms (Daddy doesn’t need to be in the photos – just use his hands/arms) A picture of tiny newborn toes in Daddy’s hand works well, place Dad’s hand into a ‘bowl shape’ and pop baby’s feet in.
Try using a special cuddly toy or a treasure item in some of the pictures so that as baby grows you can see how much he has grown (as a size comparison) Incorporate special hats/blankets where you can, I like to include gifts or handmade things if possible as the photos then make great presents or thank you cards plus you will probably save those special items for years to come so it is nice to see baby with them whilst little.
Make sure the house is really nice and warm…you might sweat a bit but it really helps get the best sleepy shots of a newborn. Give the baby a good feed prior to taking your photographs or try to shoot once she has had a bit of awake time and you feel like she may be heading for some sleepy time. Use your double bed as it a large safe space to position baby. Plain, light or white bedding works well if you have it. Don’t worry if not, you can lay a white sheet or blanket down first – avoid busy patterned or coloured backdrop as these can reflect and create colour ‘casts’ on your baby’s skin. You also want the focus to be on baby.
For a family shot why not try setting the timer on your camera 🙂
Details – if congratulations cards/flowers/balloons etc are still on display then photograph them too as it is a nice way to remember this special time. Clothes wise I would recommend opting for neutral tones, avoid wearing lots of dark clothes or too much black as this can contrast with pale baby clothing or if baby is just in her nappy.
Hopefully you can have some professional images taken with me once I am able to reopen my studio, I look forward to welcoming lots of families back to capture their story.