Congratulations on your expected or new arrival! It’s such an exciting time, and one full of so many changes, that capturing your new baby’s first few weeks in this world is something that might get pushed down the to-do list, but newborn photography is definitely worth your time and patience.
When we talk about newborn photography, we are generally referring to the period between 7 to 14 days after your baby’s birth. That means if you’re planning to have a professional photographer take your newborn photos, you should contact them in your second trimester with your expected due date to make a plan. However, if you’d prefer to have a go yourself at home, these 20 newborn photography ideas, tips, and techniques will help you to capture beautiful images when you’re ready and help you to prepare for a professional shoot.
Part 1: 6 Ways to Best Prepare for Newborn Shoots
Whether you are choosing to take the photos yourself or have a professional photographer come in to do them, these preparation tips will help you get the best out of the shoot, and therefore the best photos imaginable of your new baby.
1. Awake or Asleep?
While you might want some photos of your baby awake, photographing them when they are sound asleep is far less stressful and usually results in better photos. They are easier to move about and position comfortably, and you don’t get cross-eyed, frustrated, blurry shots from moving or crying babes! If you can keep your baby awake for an hour to 30 minutes before the shoot. Of course, if you’re taking photos at home: anytime your newborn falls into a milky slumber, get out your camera!
2. Feed Your Baby
If you can feed your baby about 20 minutes before the shoot, that will help to send them off into a deep and calm sleep perfect for photos. You do not want to have frantic cries and tantrums right in the middle of the perfect shot because your newborn was hungry. Also try to give them a smaller meal or snacks about 1 hour before, which in turn will help the full meal given 20 minutes before to last longer for the session ahead.
3. Have a Clean Baby
Change your baby about 30 minutes before the shoot and if you’re planning on nude baby photos, make sure nothing is too tight so that red marks are minimized. Definitely take the time to have a loose diaper before the session and make sure they were swaddled before they are fully undressed for the session. This will also help them be warm and calm for an enjoyable shoot.
4. Props or a Theme
Think about a theme that you might want running through your shoot or any newborn photography props you would like included. For example, you might want a clock and calendar showing the baby’s time and date of birth, or special cuddly toys or shawls. If you want to include other family members in the shots, for example, older siblings, then aim to do this toward the end of the shoot so that you don’t disturb the newborn too much.
Soft, neutral cream colors, which can include mild tones, and soft hues, will work best for both the baby and your portraits. Especially for timeless and intimate portrait photos, do not wear jewelry that might be outdated in years to come for intimate photos. Avoid patterns that are distracting and have too strong colors that can be overwhelming.
Whether you’re taking the photos or you have elected for a professional to do so, relax. If you’re taking the photos, the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed and amenable your baby will be, and you’re less likely to make mistakes or forget things. If you have a professional newborn photographer doing it, remember that they are just that: professional. They know what they are doing.
Part 2: 14 Tried & Tested Newborn Photography Tips for Photoshoots
When it comes to getting the shots that you want from your newborn photography shoot, try these ideas as well as look at other baby photos for some newborn photography poses.
1. Choose Simple
The focus of the photoshoot should only be on your newborn at first, and then on the relationships between you, your spouse, and your beautiful baby. Consider solid colored wraps and sheets or hand-knitted hats as your main theme. Newborn baby photos stand out for being classy and even angel-like! By introducing too many different elements at once, your baby will get lost among too many details.
2. Organize the Shoot in Stages
You don’t have to do everything all at once. A professional newborn photographer will have a tried-and-trusted plan. If you’re doing it, you don’t even have to do the photos on the same day. You can take photos of a clothed baby, a swaddled baby, or a bathing baby while leaving the family photos to the end of the session will also help. This way the sound of everyone in the room will not agitate or distract your baby.
3. Turn Off the Flash
Please don’t use a flash around a newborn baby. You don’t want to risk their delicate eyes and completely avoid the deer-in-the-headlights look. Instead, aim for window light which is at times tricky as it changes from moment to moment and room to room. Also, try not to capture any harsh shadows within your photo.
4. Look for Window Light
Pay attention to where the light falls, and when, in your home. It is best to choose the time of day when your baby usually takes longer naps and prep your desired location for your baby to be able to sleep. If you are not sure where you should take your photos, plan ahead by going around your place and taking different shots with the window light. Maybe closer to the window will be better than further away? Aim to have your baby bathed in a soft window light that is falling from the side.
5. Stand Over Your Baby
It’s a big mistake to think that you will produce gorgeous-looking photos that go straight up your baby’s nose! Do not shoot at an angle but literally stand over your baby and shoot from above, in this way you will avoid accidentally exploring their nasal cavities. And of course, secure your camera with a strap over your neck so that you never drop your gear on your baby. Take some face-only photos but also try to switch it up by taking a little wider shots with the pillows or crib frame. Also, some shots where your baby is in the middle of the frame and a couple where they are to the side.
6. Embrace the Errors
You are going to make mistakes. Whether it’s over-or under-exposure, shooting up a nose, or even capturing the precise moment that your baby chooses to urinate, they will happen. Don’t be discouraged or embarrassed. Just accept it as a part of the process. And as you learn where your ideas were not quite right or the lighting was not as good, you can always try another day again – this is the beauty of digital photography!
7. Keep Your Baby Warm
Do everything possible to keep your baby warm and comfortable. Blankets and wraps aren’t just useful for swaddling to keep them warm and safe, but can also be used for supporting them comfortably. Heat pads will warm a bean bag, pillow, or cushion in preparation for receiving a baby. And white noise is excellent for keeping them calm and settled.
The textures of different blankets and wraps, for example, honeycomb knits and waffle weaves, form fabulous contrasts to your baby’s super soft skin. If you find that a blanket or wrap is a bit on the long side, don’t worry too much. It’s easy enough to tuck it away or arrange it so that forms a part of the background.
A professional newborn photographer will probably give the parents tasks throughout the shoot to keep them occupied and help to maintain calm for the baby. Always engage the spouse and the children with activities to keep them occupied–and to help you–until they get to join the shoot. This can be prepping the room by decluttering or bringing their favorite toys or important props that the whole family loves.
10. Discuss Wardrobe & Color Palette
If you’re planning on a professional shoot, it’s important to think about the entire wardrobe and color palette before the day, so that you co-ordinate and nothing is overwhelming. Although neutral creamy colors are a great option, to begin with, sometimes adding your baby’s room colors via toys, sheets, pillowcases, blankets, other props, or simple colored clothing items, such as onesies, hats, headbands, or baby socks, goes a long way to create your unique photoshoot.
Consider which, if any, props you’d like included in your shoot. Baskets are wonderful for nestling babies but think laterally, too. How about cradling the baby of a baker in an enormous mixing bowl? Cuddly sheep or cows for farming families? Towels and scarves are great for wrapping your baby and looking adorable, as well as supporting limbs or stopping them from rolling over. They can also serve to pad out any props that you might use to keep the baby safe and warm, comfortable and visible.
12. Newborn Photography Poses
Keep an eye out for any particular poses you might want for your newborn. However, you must be extremely careful when setting up newborn photography poses. The baby’s comfort and safety is the most important concern at all times. Do not forget to let the stretches, yawning, and movement happen which will also help you capture something unique and amazing. Lots of the cute-looking images are also manipulated in post-processing so even if it feels like a mistake, you might reconsider afterward. If you’re planning on including some nude shots, don’t undress them too early. And keep clothes and wipes on hand to mop up accidents, because they are all too frequent!
Get out your macro lens and capture those tiny fingers and toes, button noses, and rosebud lips. Let’s note that you can also focus on the little bits of baby’s hair on their shoulder or their cute small ears! The best time to take these very detailed close-up photos is when the baby is in their deepest sleep stage with usually only 10 minutes at hand, you can definitely get all the shots you need.
If you want to get creative, think about creating a themed background, perhaps with motifs that are special to your family or a color that you think will work well. It can be something as simple as a wrap in the right color, or a more detailed handpainted backdrop made by you, a family member, or a friend.
Newborn photography presents you with as many possibilities as the exciting life opening up for your new baby. Embrace it. Of paramount importance is keeping your baby safe, warm, and comfortable. After that, remember to relax and enjoy the experience. It should be fun, not stressful. When you’re wound up, the baby will be, too, which won’t lead to the images you’re expecting. It’s about capturing the beauty and wonder of new life. Have fun!