DIY newborn photography
I can only imagine what a strange time this is for you if you have just given birth. If you had a newborn photography session booked it will no doubt have been cancelled. The newborn period is over all too quickly. Every single picture you take no matter how professional looking will become something you treasure forever. Don’t wait for lockdown to be over. Pictures that document your baby as they are now are just too important. Here is a guide to taking newborn pictures using natural light and your smartphone.
Adjust your expectations
Smartphone pictures might not match the quality of those taken by a professional but that doesn’t change the value of these pictures. Most of the photos we have of our first son as a baby were taken on a phone and I honestly don’t love them any less. I truly believe that newborns are beautiful just the way they are and that props and intense posing aren’t necessary when taking beautiful pictures of them.
Lighting is key
Light is the most important thing to get right in a photo. If you try to take photos in a poorly lit area you will end up with grainy pictures. Start by finding the biggest source of even, natural light (usually a window). Position the baby so that they are facing the light and as close to it as possible. Move around to get different angles but try to make sure that you are not shooting into the light, otherwise your baby will be silhouetted. If someone else is taking the picture of you holding your baby, get as close to the light source as possible.
Where exactly in the house you take the pictures will depend on the lighting. You need to be where the light is best. Generally speaking the master bedroom and front rooms in most houses have good natural light. On lifestyle shoots I tend to gravitate towards a double bed in the parents room or the sofa in the front room so that I can get the whole family to squeeze together.
A happy baby
A well fed, sleepy baby makes taking photos a lot easier. If you are trying to get a picture of the baby on their own, don’t be surprised if they become fractious when you try and put them on a flat surface for a photo. In your arms is where they want to be! But things that can help calm them for long enough to take some photos without being held are white noise, music and swaddling them.
Keep it simple. A plain onesie works well. Get some nude or nearly nude shots too but remember to keep the room nice and warm. If you and the rest of your family are in the picture then I recommend muted colours but the most important thing is that you feel comfortable and relaxed in whatever you are wearing.
The real McCoy
“Traditional”, posed, newborn photography entails a lot of editing including skin smoothing, colour correcting and removing so called imperfections. In my opinion this makes newborns look very similar which is why I don’t do it. Instead I like to make sure I get pictures of things as they truly look; The umbilical chord, the little red chicken feet, and the flaky skin. It’s all beautiful. You will never regret having an authentic documentation of your baby.
Get close up
To capture just how tiny they are, get close ups. Try taking pictures of their little hand wrapped around your finger or their tiny feet next to yours for a sense of scale.
Use a timer to get in the picture
If you want to get a photo with yourself, your partner and your newborn then I recommend using a tripod if you have one. If you don't have a tripod just balance your phone on something in front of you and make sure that it is roughly at face height. You might need to experiment to get the framing right. Have your phone so that it is landscape with the phones lens at the top. Use the timer on your phone so that you can get into position. If possible shoot in burst mode.
Take loads of pictures
Believe me when I say that you might look back over your photos and wish you had taken more, but you’ll never regret taking too many. It’s all about quantity. The more you experiment with different facial expressions and poses the more likely you are to come out with pictures that you like.
Use your phone to crop and straighten your images. Experiment with filters and adjust the exposure. If you are feeling particularly keen then I recommend downloading free iPhone editing apps like Snap Seed. These allow you to perform slightly more advanced editing functions like spot removal, vignettes and adjusting the clarity.