With these factors in mind, this is how I set up my temporary home studio.
Remember that you just had a baby! You need to take time for yourself to rest and recover from the childbirth experience, so please do not rush and try to do everything in one day. I have learned the hard way that this will end in exhaustion and frustration.
Mastering Manual Photography starts 7/30 with Marissa Gifford
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.
I am an on-location photographer and most of my work is done in the great outdoors. Who says you can’t take a new baby outside, too?
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Overall, I am satisfied with the way the photos turned out, but wish I planned it better and had someone to help me.
I use Adobe Photoshop and Lightroom to edit all my photos. I’m not an expert and am still learning as I go.
A good rule of thumb for nice soft shadows and highlights is to have your baby angled such that the light flows from the top of baby’s head on down their body at approximately a 45 degree angle. Look for a soft shadow underneath baby’s nose to verify that you have this right.
Instead of rushing to change your setup or reposition your baby, try getting up and walking around your baby to see what unique angles you can photograph. Try walking behind your baby and shoot some pictures from the shadowed side – you may end up with an image that you love! Exhaust all of your different angles and perspectives before moving on to a new pose or setup. This is an easy way to get variety out of a single pose.
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).
Don’t forget to document all of those sweet little details that make your baby unique! That little upturned nose, her rosebud lips, his crinkly little chin, those tiny toes and fingers – these are all things that you will not want to forget as your baby grows.
As photographers, I think it’s safe to say that most of us are more comfortable being on the back side of the camera, but it is so important for our children that we get in front if it once in a while, too. 🙂 My 14-year-old daughter, Calista, took this image for me and I absolutely love it!
In addition to these three things, I have found that most babies (including my own) are much more cooperative and ‘lazy’ in the morning hours than in the afternoon and evening hours. Try to do your shooting between breakfast and lunch, and I think you will agree that this is the best time for most babies.
Feel free to experiment – for more dramatic lighting and shadowing as in the photo of my husband’s hands holding Gabriel in the photo above, go for a more drastic angle. Have fun playing with different angles and perspectives, but do not, I repeat, do NOT up-light your baby!
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.)
When I had Gabriel, I would shoot for a short period of time using just one or two setups every other day or so. Not only did this keep everything low stress, but it allowed me to capture the subtle changes as Gabriel changed over his first few weeks of life.
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.
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.
If you have a macro lens, now would be the time to pull it out of your bag, dust it off, and put it to good use. If you are having trouble getting the images you want from your macro lens, here are a few tips.
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.
Older children may be able to hold their new brother or sister, while simple laying down poses are perfect for younger children. This will make your older children feel special and involved as well, which is always a bonus when there is a new baby in the house getting a lot of attention!
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.
The newborn days are so precious, yet so fleeting. As photographers, we can appreciate how quickly these days go by and how important it is to capture all of the sweet details of our new babies, while they are still little.
Close down a bit – when you are working as close-up as you will need to be to do a macro shot, shooting wide open will give you a very small depth of field. Unless that is what you are going for, try closing down to f/5.6 or even further.
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.
Experiment and have fun! When I was shooting Gabriel’s newborn photos, I kept my macro lens sitting on the table next to me so I could easily swap out lenses and snag some macro shots during each of our ‘mini shoots.’ I found this to be much easier than trying to get them all at once. If you have an extra camera body, you could leave your macro attached to it to easily grab those macro images as you go.
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.
You do not need any fancy studio equipment to get this right. Almost all of the photos I took of Gabriel were done either in my garage or in front of one of my living room windows utilizing natural light.
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!
The alternative is to crank up the thermostat in your house while you are shooting. Luckily, Gabriel was born during the summer in Arizona, so I didn’t need to do anything other than head to my garage. It was like an oven!
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
The third trick probably goes without saying but make sure baby has a nice, full belly and is not hungry during your shoot.
Some of the sweetest and most endearing photos you can take of your new baby will be the ones you get with his or her older siblings. I set out a task for myself to get an image of Gabriel with each of his nine older brothers and sisters. I still have two to go, but I am getting there!
Pictures on a computer screen are nice, but a huge 30×40 canvas hanging in the entryway of your home is even nicer. Trust me on this. 😉
Please, for the love of all that is newborn photography, do not leave all of your beautiful newborn photos sitting on your hard drive. Print those babies out!
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.
This goes without saying, but please make sure your baby’s safety is the number 1 priority while you are taking his or her photos. If you are trying a more difficult pose or working with props, have someone there to help you and to spot baby.
It is in the sky above us. Therefore, seeing a person who is lit from below is very unnatural looking. It is so unnatural looking that it is often seen in horror movies or to depict something frightening. We definitely do not want our baby to look like they belong in a horror flick!
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.
In addition to closing down, take that lens out of auto focus and try using manual focus. I had much better results with my macro using manual focus! Do not worry too much about your ISO. If you need to crank it up to avoid underexposing your images, do not be afraid of doing so.
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.
Contrary to what you may have heard about the first two weeks being the best time to photograph a newborn, it is very possible to photograph older babies in the ‘newborn style’ as well. I was still capturing Gabriel’s newborn photos when he was over a month old.
One of the benefits of photographing your own newborn is that time is on your side. Unlike shooting a newborn session for a client and having a 3-4 hour window in which to work and create a varied gallery, you have days – weeks even – at your disposal.
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Weather permitting, take your baby out of the studio and into nature – you can get some amazingly beautiful and unique newborn photos this way. I get bored easily and was definitely over blankets and beanbags, so my husband and I took a little drive and did a few images of Gabriel outside. They are definitely some of my favorites!
Remember, time is on your side! Take it easy and don’t over-do it. If you pace yourself, you can capture an amazing variety of images of your sweet new baby.
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.
Don’t have the right equipment? Why don’t you try renting a camera and lens for the shoot?
Related: Less is More: Mastering the Minimalist Style of Newborn Photography
So what do you think? Would you consider doing your own newborn shoot?
Some things to consider shooting with your macro lens: noses, lips, eyelashes, ears, toes, fingers, belly buttons, hair, and fuzzy shoulders. Those details will change so fast as your baby grows and this is a wonderful way to preserve those memories.
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.
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.
My newborn photography style is simple and organic with more natural posing, so this was not an issue for me. If you need help from someone, make sure that you ask for it. My husband has been an excellent spotter in the rare times that I’ve needed one. Remember that many of the more difficult looking poses and setups are actually composite images, and not created from a single image.
Born as a safe place for Founder Kendra Okolita and a small group of friends to talk photography, Clickin Moms has blossomed into a community of over 16,000 professional photographers, aspiring professionals, and women who are simply passionate about capturing the lives of their children.
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.
Related: 11 pictures to take of your baby in the first month
Gabriel didn’t move an inch between these two shots, but look how different they are! The first was taken from the front as a nice close-up of his sweet little face and hands. In the second image, I walked around behind him, loved how the lighting looked, and took another picture from that angle. It ended up being one of my favorites!
Trust me. This will be a priceless treasure for your new baby as he or she grows up.
Photographing your own newborn can be challenging but also so very rewarding.
There are a few simple things you can do that will ensure a happy baby and a productive photo session. The first is to keep your shooting area warm – really warm. I have successfully used my quartz infrared space heater that we use to heat our bedroom in the wintertime, but any small space heater will do.
While some may opt to hire a professional to photograph their baby, some of us are excited at the prospect of capturing our baby’s first days ourselves. My 10th child, Gabriel, was born on June 24th of this year, and I was determined to get some amazing photos of him myself.
I would love to share with you some tips and ideas to help you create beautiful images of your own baby and to make this experience an enjoyable and stress-free one for the both of you.
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.
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.
Being outside in nature opens up a whole new realm of possibilities and creative freedom that you may not have shooting indoors. Bring along some simple props to place baby in and have fun! I have found that many babies tend to sleep more easily outside on a warm day than they would indoors in a studio setting.
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.
Whether you’re photographing for a client or for yourself, one of the things that can make or break a photo is your lighting. Think about the most natural source of lighting we have – the sun.
Related: 6 ways to photograph a newborn after the first 10 days
I know firsthand how difficult it can be having photos taken of yourself, but please, hand your camera to someone else – your husband, an older child, or a friend – and get a few pictures of yourself with your new baby. No one cares that you still need to lose your pregnancy weight, or that you are tired, and don’t feel that you are looking your best – just do it.
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
The 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. Just take it slow, and be sure to get a lot of rest. You just had a new baby. Enjoy your baby!
I feel a bit hypocritical telling you this, as I myself have been absolutely horrible about printing my own images, but just do it. Do not wait to design the perfect wall display, or to choose the perfect picture. If you see a good canvas sale going on, just order something. You will love it – I promise!
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.
What am I doing with all of Gabriel’s newborn images? I am making an epic baby album for him, of course. I cannot wait to order it and have it in my hands! There is NO substitute for the actual finished product for you and your family to enjoy.
Bringing a new baby into your family is one of life’s most amazing and wonderful moments!
In addition to having a warm shooting area, white noise does wonders for keeping baby asleep. I downloaded an app to my iPhone called ‘Sound Sleeper‘ which has a number of soothing sounds that you can play for baby while you are shooting. I would just tuck my phone underneath the blanket I was shooting on and it would keep Gabriel happy and snoozing!
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.
One of the most common mistakes I see in newborn photography from pros and amateurs alike is improper lighting. If I had a dollar for every up-lit baby I saw floating around online, I’d be a very rich woman.
These days go by so fast – before you know it, they’ll be heading off to school, learning to drive, getting married, and giving you grandbabies. I’m not even kidding! It seems like just yesterday I was bringing Clint home from the hospital, and now we are working on a driver’s license. It goes by in the blink of an eye!