10 tips how to photograph your own newborn

One of life’s most amazing moments is welcoming a new baby into a family.

If capturing some of the big milestones for your family professionally isn’t possible right now, you absolutely don’t want to miss documenting this special time yourself.

As a photographer and a mother, I can so appreciate how fast those first days/ weeks go by.

There are so many ways you can capture your baby beautifully, without needing any professional camera and setup. 

  • Take your time!!!!

Time is on your side, there is no 3-4 hour slot in a photographer’s diary. Remember, you just had a baby and resting should be the no 1 priority. If you worry about missing the 2-week window that many newborn photographers (including me) advise to capture newborn-like poses, I can assure you that I’ve photographed even 9 week old baby in those poses. Having said that, please don’t try to replicate what you see professionals do, there is lots of skills and training involved to do it safe. However, you can absolutely capture some amazing variety of photos in natural style in your own time without feeling frustrated or pushed by time. You have plenty of time, it doesn’t need to happen in one day!

  • Light is essential

Choose a room with plenty of available natural light. Draw back curtains, open blinds/shutters fully. Make sure no direct sunshine is coming onto baby and surrounding surfaces as this will cause a burnt out highlights. Any artificial lighting is turned off. Place a blanket or throw on the bed (if close to window/doors) or on the floor. Soft lighting works best, creating not too harsh shadows on baby’s face but feel free to experiment – move closer to window for more intensive shadows or photograph against the light capturing the profile.

  • Get comfortable first

Make sure your baby is feeling happy and you will feel calm too. There are a few things that will help to add to the comfort. One is the temperature of the room. It needs to be warm if your baby will be naked. 

Make sure that your baby has had a full feed, is changed and burped. I only photograph newborns in the morning and I find that usually babies are more settled and catch up on sleep (sleepless nights anyone?). But of course you have the benefit of all day, so don’t worry if that morning your baby is fussier than the previous day. Try again later.

  • Let your baby lead you

Don’t worry if he/she is awake or sleepy. The best kind of photos (without the skills to pose a baby) are the naturally posed ones by your baby. I think it goes without saying that you should only pose baby if you are confident to. It takes time and skill to be a newborn photographer and baby’s safety is always the no 1 priority. Also to remember that the more difficult poses are often a composition of images, not a single image. And often photographers have assistants to watch baby all the time.

Not every baby likes to be posed the same way, some prefer laying on their back and may happily explore the world from the side, others are more comfortable on their tummies. But every baby loves to snuggle on our chests. The possibilities are endless!

at home newborn lifestyle photoshoot
  • All the angles

Photographing from different angles will give you a variety of shots. You can take so many different images from a single pose without moving your sleeping baby. Try walking around and see what unique angles you can see to capture.

Make sure the angle you are photographing from and the light is coming “down the nose” – meaning you are not looking up the nostrils, otherwise you may end up with horror-like-images that are far from flattering.I know it seems obvious, but I have seen too many circling around not to mention it 🙂

The sun is shining down!

  • Focus = sharp images

Your focus should be at the closest eye to you. You can set focus on your camera by toggling to the eye or on your phone tapping on the eye. Don’t let the camera take the control! It’s easy to point and click but that does not guarantee the result you envisage, especially in close-up images.

Just a note if you are taking photos with your phone. I would advise you to avoid ‘Portrait’ mode because it’s not a reliable tool to create the “bokeh” (blurry for/background) we all love. I would urge you to take this opportunity to explore the settings on your phone and play with the ‘Pro’ mode, it makes so much difference!

  • It’s all in the detail

Try the macro mode on your phone that you always wondered about – it’s all about the small details that makes your baby so unique. Their button nose and sweet lips, hair on their back and that flick of hair, those long fingers and toes – these are the details you don’t want to forget about.

  • Get in front of the camera

Including older siblings is like second nature to us but please please include yourselves in the photos too! Some of the most endearing photos I have ever captured are with the parents and older siblings. Older children are able to hold the baby, for younger children simple laying down pose is perfect to capture them together. Try to resist asking them to look at the camera all the time and instead let the moment unfold, with gratitude appreciate any of their co-operation. Remember, this is not their idea of fun. And then just snap away, making sure you set your focus to avoid blurry photos.

Did I mention not to forget to get in the photos too!

One of my biggest regrets when it comes to documenting my little family when we had our first baby was not stepping in front of the camera often enough. Well, hardly ever to be honest. I was busy snapping away and ended up with thousands of photos of my baby, not being all that much different from each other. For them, the ones with us will become the most important photos above any others with their cute expressions that we love! Even priceless!

  • The outfit

It’s the most common question I get asked, no matter the type of photoshoot.

It’s really tempting to dress your baby in beautiful romper suit or a cute dress, but for this occasion, a simple white vest is probably the best choice. Clothes are usually too big for them and tend to drown the baby, plus you can capture all the details without much effort to take parts of clothing off. Sometimes just a nappy will be fine for the shots of waist up or just cover the bottom half with fav blanket or muslin. Make sure the colours of any throws or blankets are subtle otherwise it may overpower the overall image and cast unwanted tone on their skin.

  • Go outdoors

Weather permitting, why not try some outdoor family photos? Find some shaded area in your garden or on your daily walk to capture some more lifestyle images of each other or set a timer up to grab a photo of the whole family.

Hopefully these few tips will help you to plan and execute some very cute images of your little baby. It may be challenging but will be very rewarding and so worth it. And please remember, those moments are unfolding in front of you all the time, pace yourself! The greatest disadvantage of digital era is the sheer overwhelm of data. Our intentions is to document it all but unless we are mindful, we will end up with a stack of usb keys or external drives never to be looked back on! 

That in mind, please print your photos! Don’t let them gather virtual dust on your computer or phone – they will eventually break! Why not creating a beautiful keepsake album together with some of your images from pregnancy, scan photos and perhaps some foot and hand prints too. That’s what I have created for each of my babies.

Good luck and please get in touch if you need any help or decided that you’d like to treat yourself to some lovely moment with your growing family on this occasion.

You can find more about newborn photography here.

Little disclaimer: none of these photos were taken with a phone. However they were carefully selected to inspire natural looking images.