All photography studios in the UK are currently closed as we do the right thing and stay home and save lives during Lockdown #3.
Throughout the whole of 2020 and now into 2021 my heat has broken for all the new parents who have missed out on so much - baby showers, support from friends and relatives, antenatal classes, mum meet-ups, baby groups, birth choices, naming ceremonies, visits from grandparents - it's absolutely necessary, but none the less heart-breaking.
Parents who have recently given birth or whose baby is due in the next few weeks or months will also miss the chance to have a professional newborn photo shoot in those first few weeks of life. Nothing can replace a professional photo shoot however I am determined to do all I can to help new parents capture beautiful photographs of their new babies born during lockdown. Babies change so fast, so taking a moment to capture all their tiny details at just a week or so old is something you will never regret.
This is a practical resource to help you take better photographs of your newborn baby at home with whatever device you have available, typically a phone camera. For safety reasons the images suggested in this guide do not use accessories, props or specific posing. The kind of fine art newborn photography I offer in the studio and which can be seen online, requires specific training, safety knowledge and specialist equipment. Instead, this blog focuses on safe, simple tips which will help you capture some lovely, simple images of your newborn baby during their first few weeks.
If you dreamed of a fine art style newborn photography session, I suggest booking one of our tried and tested Virtual Newborn Sessions. These include video prep guides and a 1:1 video call with myself during which I guide you through capturing your photographs in specifically designed, safe fine art poses. I will then edit these to produce stunning newborn images, in a style similar to those I capture in the studio. They really are the next best thing to a studio newborn session! Find out more about our Virtual Newborn Sessions.
Don't forget to download a more detailed guide with lots of tips and tricks to help you get the most from your photos in a handy PDF document to keep on your phone.
Before you start...
First off, know that your photos are not going to look the same as professional photos, and that's ok! But you are capturing some precious memories at a time when professional shoots aren't an option, and that is all that matters. Babies are energy-based and will pick up on your anxiety and frustration, so just relax and go with the flow!
Turn up the thermostat so the room is warm, then give your baby a good feed, and be sure to burp them, so they are happy and sleepy! But remember that awake baby images are beautiful too!
All the suggestions in this guide can be achieved while keeping your baby's nappy on. It's so much easier (and less messy) that way.
Don't worry if you don't have a camera - you will be able to use this guide to take photos with your phone. If you have the option, try putting your phone on portrait mode if you have it to get some yummy blur. Make sure your lens is clean!
And since you will keep things simple - you don't need any props.
What to wear
Have the family wear comfortable, simple, neutral-coloured clothing. Stay away from logos, words, and characters on shirts, and bright colours. Newborn babies photograph best in just a nappy or a simple white onesie/ vest. Clothes are cute, but they don't fit well and babies can often look swamped. You can add a little hat or headband for variety (but avoid going too big as this takes the focus away from your babies face)
Babies love to feel cosy and secure. Your little one is more likely to stay sleepy and content when swaddled gently, so try a simple swaddle wrap instead
Try to take your photos in the rooms that get the best gentle window light (not direct sunlight). North/south facing windows are great! If there's enough window light, turn off your overhead lights.
When positioning baby close to the window, make sure the light is coming from the side or towards the top of the baby's head.
Always have another adult present to be close to baby while taking photos with siblings. Start with low expectations - they may not cooperate and that's ok. If they lose patience, try those photos again another time.
The safety and comfort of your baby is more important than any photo. Please do not attempt any poses that you see online - these require training and experience to be done safely and are often digital composites of two or more photos.
Pets and siblings should never be photographed with a newborn baby without another adult right there to keep an eye (and hand!) on baby. When you are taking photos above baby with a camera, always wear the camera strap around your neck.
Listen for baby's cues. Your little one may start to tell you they have had enough. And pace yourself - you just had a baby and will need rest! If you need to break it up over a few days, that's OK!
Take loads of images so you can choose the best of the best. To edit on your phone, try Snapseed or Photoshop Express apps. They let you adjust things like brightness and contrast, crop your photos and use simple tools to soften baby skin and remove marks.
Natural Overhead Images
Laying baby down and shooting from above is a simple but effective way to pose your baby for photos. Choose a plain backdrop or one with a sweet pattern like stars or polk-a-dots, but nothing too big or bright as that will take the focus away from your baby. This pose is great for when baby is asleep or awake and perfect for capturing lots of cute expressions, yawns and stretches. Add a blanket for a 'tucked in' look and for hide their nappy.
On the Bed
Your large bed in the master bedroom is the perfect setting for some relaxed newborn photos. It's safe, soft and comfortable for your baby. Place baby on the bed alone to show just how tiny they are or use it to capture sibling and family images (use a mini tripod and timer for these).
Older Siblings (4+ years)
If you baby has an older sibling you will want to capture some special photos of them together. Siblings who are old enough to safely hold their little brother or sister (usually 4 years and up) can sit cross legged with baby in their lap. This is the perfect position for kisses and cuddles too! If there are two or more siblings they can be added in, with everyone cuddling in towards the baby. Safety is always a top consideration with siblings so have an additional adult close by and position on a soft rug on the floor or on a large bed.
Older Siblings (any age but especially under 4 years)
Siblings under 4 years of age are safest photographed lying down and cuddling their new sibling. Again always be sure to have an adult on hand in case they decide to get up suddenly. This also work well with more than one sibling or even twins!
In Daddy's Hands
You will always want to remember just how tiny your baby was in those first few weeks! A great way to capture this is to place baby in daddy's hands for comparison. This works with details such as a tiny fist holding daddy's finger too! Be sure to take some photos showing daddy's expression when interacting with your baby too.
Parent and Baby
Make sure that as a new mum, you get in the picture too. It's very easy for mums to always be the ones holding the camera and never appearing in the photos! Hold and interact with your baby while angled towards a window (avoiding direct sunlight) and ask daddy or someone else to snap away.
Babies look very different lying on their tummies! I think it's because we are so used to them sleeping on their backs (very important for safety) and being on their backs in car seats etc. For something a little different, place baby down on their tummy in the same position that they would be in lying against your chest. cover with a blanket to hide their nappy and make them look cosy. Then experiment with different angles or try including your partner's hands in the photo. Remember to never leave your baby unattended while sleeping in this position.
Don't Forget the Details
It's the tiny details that you will soon forget but will most want to remember as your baby grows and changes. Don't forget to capture those tiny toes, wrinkly knees, sweet eyelashes and curly fingers. If you can, take your photos from the opposite side to the light source, so that the light gently wraps around and defines the details. Personally, I love to edit these detail images in black and white.
I hope these tips will be helpful you as new parents who cannot have a professional newborn session at the moment. If you are considering taking newborn photos at home don't forget to download our detailed pdf guide with lots of extra guidance, tips and tricks to help you.
Feel free to get in touch if you have any questions and I will be happy to help. Your photos may not be perfect, but they are a record of your perfect, unique newborn during this amazing time and you will treasure them always.