Newborn Photography Tips for Parents
Photographing your new little one can be challenging but oh-so rewarding; pictures taken from your perspective – the mother who loves her baby like no other – are going to have a little something extra special about them. Here are a few tips to help even the most novice of shutterbugs capture some amazing pics.
Take Your Time You just had a baby, so be sure to cut yourself some slack on ‘needing’ to get everything done right away. While most pros might advise that the first two weeks are the best to photograph your newborn, know that you can photograph older babies in the ‘newborn style’ at a month, or even two, so find the timing that works best for you.
Take Lots of Pics
Snap a few photos every day or every other day–don’t feel like you have to complete an entire baby album in one sitting. Gather the materials you’d like to use (see list below) and have them at the ready for when the photo-snapping mood strikes you.
Natural light makes for the best pictures (and won’t startle your little one) so turn off your flash and open the window shades. A good rule of thumb for nice, soft shadows and highlights is to have your baby angled so the light flows from the top of her head on down her body at approximately a 45 degree angle. Look for a soft shadow underneath her nose–this means you’ve got the angle right.
Details, Details, Details
If you have a macro lens, now is the time to use it. Document those tiny fingers and wrinkles and eyelashes.
While you might not feel your most beautiful, think about handing the camera over to someone else and let them photograph you with your baby. Better yet, after a few pics of you with the little one, be sure to snap some shots with the entire family.
After all this work, don’t let the photos sit in your camera. Print them out and share them!
Here’s a list of helpful materials for your newborn photo shoot:
Space heater: The space heater is your best friend. Warm up the room until you’re sweating and then you’ll be able to undress your baby without her getting chilled.
Big blankets: These will be your backdrops. The color is up to you, but make sure they’re soft and comfy to the touch (chunky textures work well in contrast to your baby’s soft, smooth skin). For an easy backdrop, drape the blanket on your bed and up over the headboard.
Electric blanket: Again, warmth is your friend for these photo shoots. Be sure to cover it with a pee-pad (yes, a pee-pad) as this can be used to warm your baby from underneath.
Pee-pads: Pee happens. So does poop. Be ready for it.
Boppy (or other nursing pillow): Use this underneath the backdrop blanket, to help pose your baby.
Sound Machine (or a white noise app on your phone): This can be a huge help. It will often soothe your baby and calm them down. If you’re using an app, be sure to turn it up (loud!) and put the phone right under the blanket where your baby is laying.
Swaddles: Invaluable if your baby is fussy–they don’t have to be unswaddled to get a great pic. Once they’re calm, you can unwrap the swaddle a bit, pull out a tiny hand or arm for him to lean on.
The internet: Browse the web for photos and poses you like to use as inspiration. But remember: many newborn photographers often composite multiple images together to get that perfect shot!
Lori Epstein is the National Geographic Kids Senior Photo Editor behind the heartwarming and inspirational Welcome to the World baby keepsake book. An accomplished photographer herself, she has photographed five books for National Geographic and contributed to dozens more.