This is my personal preference but I think newborn photos turn out best when it’s kept simple. The focus should be on the baby, not the background or props especially when the baby is only a few weeks old.
I wish I knew this sooner, but lighting is so important when it comes to photography. It doesn’t matter how great your equipment is, poor lighting will yield poor results especially when it comes to portrait photography. This is why so many professional photographers prefer to take photos in the mornings or late afternoons also known as the “golden hour” and not under the harsh mid-day sun.
After some research and experimentation, I found colors look most natural when soft light hits at an approximately 45 degree angle. (But of course, this can depend on your personal style and preference.)
Since I was using a nasty old blanket I wanted as little of that as possible to be visible, so I chose to shoot the 50mm wide open at F/1.8. In hind sight the shot is a little on the soft side, largely due to hand holding and shooting the “Nifty Fifty” wide open (luckily baby shots look best a little soft). If I do this again I will probably try something different – like using a tripod and stopping down the aperture a bit – to get a sharper shot.
Just remember to pay attention to how the baby is feeling, they can get tired of getting their picture taken just like adults can (as is evident in the below shot, ahaha)
I was shooting with my new Canon 6D, a camera that I am still learning coming from the 7D, so this was also fun for me as a way to play with my new camera. The only two lenses that I had with me at the time were my Canon 50mm F/1.8 II and my Canon 100mm F/2, and due to space limitations I decided that the 50mm would be the better option.
I decided that I did not want to wait, I wanted to give what I learned from the workshop a try. The problem that I had was that I did not have my photography gear with me at the time, most of it was at my make-shift studio, and I was the only parent home. So I decided to improvise and use what I had available around the house to apply the principles that I learned from the workshop.
The entry level Rebel series is great for anyone who wants to learn digital photography. I would highly recommend it, perhaps with a better lens if you want better quality photos out of it (Consider the 50mm 1.8 or 50mm 1.4 for portraits. Link on the bottom of the post.) I used the Rebel for at least three years before investing in a better body.
Before I go into too much detail about how exactly I shot this Image I wanted to take a minute and talk about WHY I took this image. Three and a half months ago my wife and I welcomed the newest member of our family to the world, and being a photographer I wanted some of those awesome newborn portraits that I always see on Facebook and Pinterest. I thought I could do it myself. How hard could it be, right?
First I want to begin with a disclosure that I am not a professional photographer and these tips are meant for amateur momtogs like myself. The following tips and tricks are simply what I discovered through research and experience and in no way meant to replace professional opinion. These tips may not work for everyone and I cannot guarantee results. But I do hope that this blog post can inspire you to create your own photos from the comforts of your home.
Baby Noah is now 3 1/2 months old, he does not pose into cute little poses or sleep throughout a photoshoot. That got rid of a lot of the standard newborn poses that people tend to think of with newborn photography, which makes sense since he is not a newborn. Taking this into account I decided it would be cute to set him up and try to get him to react to the camera.
Fast-forward a few months and the team behind the workshops here at SLR Lounge released the new Newborn Workshop Collection. Needless to say I was pretty psyched, we had been talking about it internally for a while and I knew it was coming but I was really excited to check it out and see where I had gone wrong with my attempt at newborn photography.
For this shoot, I gathered a few props from around the house (purchased at Home Goods) such as a basket and few blankets. I threw in a tiny doll that I happened to have in the nursery. These are some photos I got from this look.
Learn from me and don’t be afraid to pose the baby. You get one chance for these photos and your baby will be fine even if he/she looks uncomfortable on his/her tummy or tightly wrapped in cheese cloth. Be patient and keep trying.
As you can see, I own an adjustable backdrop kit with white curtains kindly gifted by my brother for a birthday one year (thanks brother!). These don’t have to be expensive and can cost you anywhere from $40 to hundreds of dollars depending on quality. You can find just the support system for $39 here or a full kit here (amazon affiliate links).
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I don’t know much about Nikon SLR’s because I began with the Canon line. I went from the entry level Canon EOS Rebel series Canon EOS Rebel T5 Digital SLR Camera Kit with EF-S 18-55mm IS II Lens, to Canon 7d to the full frame Canon 5d.
I set up the shot with the blanket draped over the back of the couch, and placed the “boppy” pillow under the blanket. The big sliding glass door was on camera left and on the right I had my 4yr old son Michael holding a piece of tin foil for me as a reflector. I originally tried a piece of white fabric, but it was not reflective enough and Michael had to stand to close to the baby for enough light to fill in the shadows on Noah’s face, so I switched to tin foil.
Don’t have the right equipment? Why don’t you try renting a camera and lens for the shoot?
So as soon as I could get my hands on the new workshop I sat down and watched it through, beginning to end. I was happy to see that it was not all that complicated, and I was able to see where I had gone wrong in my first attempts.
I did have to make some tweaks to the highlights, which were a little too powerful for my liking, and add some sharpening. But overall it was really a quick “under-10 click” edit.
With these factors in mind, this is how I set up my temporary home studio.
The processing on this shot was a breeze thanks to the new Newborn Presets that come with the Newborn Workshop Collection. After loading the shot into Lightroom I simply loaded the “NB Standard Import – Color + Profile” preset and that was pretty much the hardest part of my editing process for this image.
Like anything else, you will never become a better photographer unless you practice. So grab your camera, play with various settings and start shooting before the big day. Whenever I have down time, I google various techniques for photography to learn from articles and blogs of professional photographers.
Tip 3: Set up home studio What you need for DIY photoshoot A sleepy baby A camera (I used Canon 5D Mark III with 35 mm prime lens) Backdrop in any color of your choice. I personally like white. You can use also use sheets , fabric or blankets for this.
Support system to hold up the backdrop (you can use back of a chair or a large poster board) Cushions or pillow A Boppy or pregnancy pillow to place baby Props (blankets with different textures, baskets, dolls, accessories, etc) A pacifier Soft music or white noise Photo editing program.
Try Adobe Photoshop, Lightroom or Canva. I used Newborn creative Lightroom preset Lots of patience!
Ideas Photo Photo Book Yearbook Wedding Engagement Bridal Shower Baby Baby Shower Home Decor Living Room Bedroom Dining Room Kitchen Bathroom Gifts Holiday Mother’s Day Father’s Day Halloween Christmas Graduation Shop
Overall, I am satisfied with the way the photos turned out, but wish I planned it better and had someone to help me.
For best newborn photos, professionals recommend to do the shoot no later than two weeks. I found that on or before 10 days is best because by two weeks babies become fussier while sleeping. This depends on the baby of course, but it is important not to miss this window of time because this is when they sleep longer and can be posed more easily.
From planning to posing, lighting, newborn safety, camera techniques and everything in-between. This 8 hour workshop collection will teach you everything you need to know to capture and create beautiful newborn photo as well as how to process them to perfection. Click here for more details.
I began using a SLR camera once my kids were born. I was never trained formally and just taught myself from home because I wanted to take photos of my kids while staying home with them. For me, this was the best investment and choice I made as a mother.
After it was all set up I placed Noah on his belly and propped up his front with his arms over the pillow. He got the idea down pretty quick and soon he was holding himself up just fine. We tried to get this shot for about 30 minutes, and it took quite a bit of hand waving and talking to keep his attention but eventually I got what I was after.
Wrong, the results were terrible. I mean really terrible. The lighting didn’t work and I just couldn’t get the posing the way I wanted it, and baby Noah was not the easiest subject in the world. I was really discouraged and my wife was also really bummed that we could not get the sort of results that we were hoping for.
I think lighting looks most natural when it’s not directly above or below you, when it hits from the side creating natural, soft shadows and highlights that frame the face. For this reason, I chose the nursery window draped by sheer white curtains.
It just goes to show that you don’t need expensive equipment or adorable props to create great imagery of your newborn baby. You don’t need to be a professional newborn photography nor do you need to be trying to be one, but if you are a photographer and have a new baby coming or recently had one I highly suggest you check out the new Newborn Workshop Collection. It will save you a lot of time, disappointment, and help you create the images that you dream about.
Some tips Focus on the eyes Avoid shooting the face from bottom to top (nostrils shouldn’t show. This isn’t flattering) Take both close up and wide full body shots Take photos of details such as ears, hands and feet Experiment with various angles Tip 10: Limitations of DIY newborn photography You may be tired and in pain You may not have enough energy for a photoshoot.
I was only able to shoot 30 minutes at a time. You may be so focused on baby’s comfort that you find it difficult to freely pose the baby for the photos. You lack the experience and know-how of professional photographers Final reminders Figure out what poses you want for the baby but be flexible Take it easy and don’t overwork your body If it doesn’t work on the first day, try again the next day Have props and backdrop prepared before you give birth
Tip 2: Use natural light Use natural light by a bright window when sun is not too harsh A good rule of thumb is to let the light hit baby’s face at a 45 degree angle Be sure light source isn’t directly above or below the baby’s face
Today I want to share with you my tips and tricks for doing a newborn photoshoot at home. With little bit of preparation and creativity, any mom can do these at home without breaking the bank for new photoshoots at every milestone. Of course there will be times when you want to hire a professional photographer but in my opinion, these tips and tricks are great to know for any momtogs who love to capture moments of their little ones.
With this set-up, these are some of the photos I got. This was my first attempt at day 7 so there were some limitations. I wasn’t fully recovered so I didn’t have too much energy and it was hard to move around freely. I wish I took more time to perfect every shot, but because I couldn’t push myself, I was only able to take what the baby allows.
Overall I am really happy with the results of this shoot given that it was on the fly, with (mostly) everyday household items. Friends and Family alike have not stopped gushing over the image(s) from this shoot that I posted to Facebook, and the wife is happy to now have some great baby photos of Noah. I am excited to give this a try on another day with more planning, preparation and props.
When I planned to do the newborn shoot myself, I didn’t realize how much pain I would be in. I was not only in pain, but also lacked the energy I needed to set up the home studio, pose the baby, take photos and breastfeed in between. So if you plan to do this at home, be sure you have someone to help you and listen to your body.
I made the mistake of being afraid to pose the baby. I was so concerned with my baby’s comfort that I didn’t have the heart to close his fingers, move him around, put him on his stomach, wrap him tightly in cheesecloth, you get the idea.
Despite some limitations, I saved money by doing my own newborn shoot and can now tell my son that I shot his first photos myself! I was still able to get some nice photos and make a birth announcement for family.
Overtime, I’ve taken thousands of photos of my daughters, many of them I now consider to be priceless. For these photos alone, the SLR camera was worth the investment.
In this case that happened to be an old ratty “use to be white” blanket which probably cost about $20 brand new at Walmart, a “boppy” feeding pillow, and a piece of tin foil from the kitchen. Throw in a big sliding glass door and the back of my couch and you have probably the cheapest newborn set known to man.
As always, if you found this post helpful in any way, please pin the image below. It helps other parents find this article and supports this blog. Thank you!
The Newborn Photo The Newborn Photo Equipment and Settings Canon 6D Canon 50mm F/1.8 II, hand-held 1/320 sec @ f/1.8 & ISO 2500 Manual Exposure, Daylight WB, RAW 1 Ratty “Use To Be White” Blanket 1 Piece of Tin Foil Why We Shot The Baby Photos
You also need cushions or pillows to provide some padding because your little one will most likely not stay asleep on a hard surface. I used a cushion from one of my sofas and a Boppy pillow I use for nursing.
I use Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom to edit all my photos. I’m not an expert and am still learning as I go.
Before we jump into how I shot this image I just want to reiterate that I am not a professional newborn photographer, nor am I trying to be one. I am just a photographer who wanted to get better images of my new baby than I was able to get on my own.
So what do you think? Would you consider doing your own newborn shoot?
These two programs have so many capabilities and functions that are useful for basic photo editing such as brightening photos, making them black and white, cropping, etc. I sometimes use filters to make editing easier. For the above photos, I used the Newborn Lightroom Preset from Creative Market for $19.