How to take your own Newborn Photos at Home Guide
Unfortunately due to the Coronavirus lockdown 2020 I’ve had to cancel a lot of clients recently and I feel terrible for those new parents who are missing out on their precious photos. I’ve created this blog to put all my experience into one place to help those of you trying to do your own baby photos at home. Hopefully some of this information will help you get the best possible pictures you can during lockdown.
My top tips for taking newborn photos at home:
- Feed well and Warm the room
- Wrap Baby or keep them dressed
- Use textures for your background
- Light from the top down
- Simple poses will be more effective
Ok let’s delve into each one in a bit more detail!
Feed & Warmth
When I photograph babies I typically begin by undressing them (keep nappy on!) and then asking parents to feed so baby can fall into a nice sleep. You can put a blanket or muslin round while feeding but not too many layers otherwise when you take them off the cool air will wake them up. I have the room very warm - typically around 26 °C if baby is nappy only and a bit less if in an outfit or a thicker wrap. You know that baby is sleepy enough to start posing once their arms are floppy and can be moved about without them stirring. For settling techniques I use see my blog on soothing babies here.
Next you need to decide what baby will be dressed in. I tend to use a variety of wraps sometimes for draping over the bottom area and sometimes wrapped around the baby. However you can also do more natural lifestyle type photos with baby fully dressed. If in a sleepsuit it is easier to do poses on their back or side as their limbs won’t bend as easily and they can’t curl up for tummy poses. The wrap I used for this came from Sally Slack Props but you can also use scarves or pashminas or even cut up an old piece of stretchy clothing. I recorded a video earlier of how I wrap a baby: see below.
Once you decide on a room (tip: choose a room with lots of light or with a large window) you can prepare the area. The room needs to be nice & warm and have a soft place next to the light source for baby to lie on or for posing. An ideal place would be some blankets on the floor next to patio doors or a bed next to a large window. You don’t want direct sunlight to go on their face (or in their eyes) so try to move along a bit until you’re just out of the direct sun but still have plenty of light. Then put down your top layer, the one you will photograph the baby on. Textures can work really well for this and one of my favourites is a flokati - a kind of fluffy rug that is soft but gives interest to the photo. If you only plan on doing back shots then you can just lay it flat, make sure you smooth out wrinkles if using a smooth material. If you are attempting tummy poses then you will need the back of the fabric to go up. You can either peg it to something or ask your partner to lift the back when you’re ready to take the photo.
Light from the top down
Lighting is one of the most important things in photography (more important even than which lens or camera you have!) and will make or break an image. When lighting a baby it’s super important that the light goes from the top of the head down otherwise you end up with ‘horror lighting’ (think Blair Witch Project). I’ve included a few examples below of where to position baby next to the window so the light goes the right way.
Simple Poses are more Effective
When photographing I often find that parents come in wanting the elaborate propped poses and end up loving the simple fabric photos instead! If you really want to use a prop then please ensure it is safe - weighted down, no sharp edges and baby is in the middle on their back. A basket for example photographed from above. Please don’t attempt the head up styles in props as it can be very dangerous unless you know how to properly support baby and photoshop the hands holding baby afterwards. Some simple but effective poses I recommend are:
Baby on back
Place baby on their back making sure the light is going from the top down. They can be wrapped or dressed. Stand over the baby with a leg each side and photograph straight on. You can do close ups of their face or long range shots. You can also raise the background to shoot from the side of the face. A variation of this is Nightie -Night pose when you place the lower half of the blanket over baby as if they were in bed.
This is easier if they’re naked although you can keep the nappy on and drape fabric over to hide it. Lay baby on their tummy with their and arms out to each side. Gently lift babies head and tuck the arm underneath the face. The cross babies feet and tuck the knees up and under. If baby is still sleeping soundly then place a rolled up towel or fabric underneath the blanket to raise babies head a little. Photograph from the side with the back of the blanket raised up to create the backdrop. Get close ups and long range shots in this pose.
Head on arms
This one can be trickier so I recommend trying the other ones first. Create a ‘shelf’ under your top blanket by using rolled up towels for baby to lie on. Put baby on tummy facing you with their head on the shelf. Gently lift the head slide their hands one at a time under the chin and rest babies head on their arms (it will tilt to the side, you can use extra blankets under your top layer to push that side up a bit more). The light from the window should be coming from the side onto their face. Make sure you have another person next to them as a spotter in case they startle. Never ‘balance’ babies head, it should be fully supported at all times by their arms (or your spotters fingers if you know how to photoshop them out afterwards).
I hope that helps! Please don’t hesitate to ask me any questions on social media or by using the contact page. I would also love to see your pictures! Good luck, stay safe Sandra x