We welcomed our 4th, and last, baby on April 29, 2020. Think back… that was the thick of Covid unknown. Businesses were shut down, our hospital had cancelled all elective surgeries, my prenatal appointments at North Florida Women’s Care were far different from what they were at the start of my pregnancy. Everything was different and there was a bit of time when we weren’t even sure if my husband would be able to be present at the delivery. It was a strange time to be welcoming a baby into this crazy world and I knew that I’d be needing to take my own newborn photos at home.
I mourned two things that would be different from my previous three deliveries. The first was not being able to have our parents come meet our new baby in the hospital, and the second was not having a photographer come take photos of us once we brought her home. Newborn photos are my THING. They are the heart of my business and I am deeply passionate about photographing new life and the bond of parents with their new baby.
Newborn photos are my thing!
I cherish the photos from my other children’s newborn sessions and was so sad that we wouldn’t have any of all of us from our time with our brand new, perfectly squishy, Tilley girl. Thankfully, I’m well equipped to take plenty of my own newborn photos at home and knew that the only way we’d have some of her in her early days was if I took them myself.
Maybe you’re on the fence about hiring a lifestyle newborn photographer. Or maybe you want to but it’s not in the cards right now. Maybe you have one lined up, but know that you’ll want to document your baby each day/week as they grow. I’m going to share with you some of the most important things to keep in mind to take your own newborn photos at home. We’ll go over a few things:
- What you’ll need
- Getting the light right
- Where to take newborn photos at home
- Phone Settings
- 10 photos to take
What you’ll need
- phone or camera – unless you’re a hobby photographer, for ease of use, i just suggest you bring your phone. they do a decent job these days.
- swaddle for baby – don’t go overboard with big, bright patterns. keep it simple. my traditional self loves a baby pink for girls and baby blue for boys. a matching little cap or headband is always a good idea.
- white onesie for baby – clean and pure
- special stuffed animals/handmade quilts
Getting the light right
- Turn off the lights! That may seem counter intuitive when I just told you that light is good for cameras, however, it has to be the right kind of light and the right temperature of light. Generally, sunlight coming into a window is more neutral/blue, while most indoor lights are more yellow. When these compete with each other it does strange things. No matter what you do to try and edit it out, it will never look as good as if you just turn those yellow lights off. The only exception is if it’s a very dark, dreary day.
- Open the curtains and blinds! The most important thing is to let all that beautiful light spill into the room. Do this during a time of day when the light is not coming directly into your window. This is usually between 10am and 2pm. Diffused light = good, even light, softer shadows. Direct light = harsh shadows, bright whites (too bright).
Where to take newborn photos at home
When I arrive at a client’s house, we usually plan to photograph in one or two place: the nursery and the master bed. After that I look for the place with the best light.
Any professional photographer will tell you that light is king in making or breaking photos. Not only does good light flatter a person, but it also helps cameras (even basic phone cameras) work their best. If you want to take great newborn photos at home, pay close attention to the light in the room.
Next clear any clutter. Move extra things off nightstand tables beside the master bed. Move the extra diaper boxes out of view in the nursery.
Before you grab and start snapping 20 pictures of the same set up, do a few things. Practice photographing something by framing the picture as you want it to appear, then tap on the spot that you want to focus, this is usually the baby’s closest eye to the camera. Once you tap on that spot, a box with a little sun will appear (this is what appears on my iPhone, android devices may be different). While holding your finger on the screen over that box, you can adjust the brightness of the image by dragging your finger either up or down.
This makes a huge difference in the appearance and brightness of your images. When you take the photo, hold very still. Stillness is especially important for sharp, clear images. If you find that your photo is blurry, even after focusing on your baby’s closest eye to the camera, you likely need more light. Move that baby a little closer to the window, or wait until there is more light coming into the room (just not that harsh, direct light). The best light will be between 10am and 2pm.
what to do
- wipe off that phone’s camera lens. this alone will make a big difference. Those things get dirty fast.
- If you have portrait mode on your phone, this is the time to play around with that.
- Download Lightroom Mobile app. You’ll use this later to edit your photos
10 newborn photos to take at home
Baby laying in their crib, pulled back with the wall/wall decor above them
a picture of baby through the slats of the crib
Overhead photo of baby laying in their crib
Unswaddle those toes but keep them wrapped loosely in the swaddle and take some pictures of their toes, then their fingers. Focus on the closest toe/finger to the camera
Ear. Baby ears are fascinating to me the way they are squished up against their head from all that time curled up inside of you
move baby to the master bed or rocking chair and take a photo of them laying on it. This shows their small size well.
Add in the family pet!
Add in siblings! Even young siblings can be in a photo with their new baby. If the sibling is a toddler, simply place your newborn on the floor in a soft place (with good light) and ask big sibling to lay next to them and maybe give the baby a kiss. Always place the big sibling further away from the window light so they don’t block the light on baby.
In yours, and dad’s arms. Take turns taking these of each other. Snuggle that newborn close and have dad hold the camera just slightly above your eye level to angle down at you (think “flattering selfie” angle). Then have dad wear that white shirt and jeans, hold baby standing parallel to a window and take a few of him facing toward you holding baby, then some closer ones focusing on just baby in daddy’s arms.
Once you have these, you can just play around and take more, but those are the most basic, must have newborn photos at home.
Also, give yourself some grace. You’re not a professional photographer so these won’t looks like they would if I were to show up and do a full lifestyle newborn session with you. Remember when I’m there to take your photos I’m bringing 11+ years of experience plus thousands worth of equipment.
How to edit picture of baby
You should have already downloaded the Lightoom Mobile app to your phone. There are even presets (like instagram filters) that you can apply to images to enhance them. There is a plethora of knowledge available on how to do that by simply searching google, so I’ll not be going into that. Some presets I like are from Mastin Labs, VSCO, and I’m even working on my own set to have available soon. Be sure to sign up for my newsletter to know when that becomes available.