Let’s face it. All babies are cute. And you are going to love the happy snaps you take of your newborn because your baby is the cutest and most beautiful baby ever!
Having said all of that, many new parents ask me for advice on how to take better photographs at home. They feel that they just can’t get the right angle, or the right feel to the shots that they want. They are disappointed when some of their photos look a little awkward, which is not how they want to remember their newborn.
So, I have compiled some tips on how to make the most of it every time you pick up your camera.
This is the most basic part of photography that everyone knows about. If you have a digital camera, it will have auto focus making it nice and easy. However if you are always using a Smartphone to take your shots (like I do with most of the personal shots of my kids) then you must remember to tap the screen where you intend to focus the shot.
The best part of your newborn’s face to focus on is their eyes. Whether they are asleep or awake, tap on the screen as close to their eyes as you can and hold the phone as steady as you can. When used properly, Smartphones these days can make better cameras than some point and shoot digital cameras. So go crazy and get loads of shots.
ANGLE IS EVERYTHING
This is the best tip of all that I will give you, and one that can make a huge difference to your photos immediately.
To start with, pretty much all of the photos you take of your newborn will feature them lying down, either asleep or awake. Most people prepare to take a shot by immediately walking to the front of the baby and angling the lens up into the baby’s face.
Rather than angling the camera up into their face, walk around and angle the camera looking down onto their face. Next time your baby is asleep, experiment with this and you will see a huge improvement in the look of your photos. Angle the lens so it is looking down your baby’s nose instead of up into their nose (which is fondly referred to as an “up the nose shot” by Photographers). Take a few shots from above too – these always look great and accentuate your baby’s small size. Once you master this, you will never look back.
LIGHT IT UP
Of course, light source is one of the most important elements of photography. You cannot beat the beauty of natural light for home photography. The great thing about photographing a newborn is that they cannot crawl away, so you will have a moment or two to think about the light source and how to optimise it. You can swivel them around to face the window or open a few curtains to create more light. If you are planning to take some shots of your baby, think about the best time of the day in your house for natural light. For example, do you get morning light or afternoon light in your house? Is there a particular room that has fantastic light? I once did a location newborn photoshoot in someone’s bathroom. I am not kidding! The light in there was fantastic and it was the best light in their house to use that day.
MANIPULATE YOUR ENVIRONMENT
It is great to take photos of your baby in your own environment at home. They are such natural shots and they will conjure up wonderful memories for all of you later in life. However you can still take a few moments to manipulate your environment for a more minimalist look. Be aware of the objects that are in the frame and move any away that might dramatically detract from the shot. It can make a huge difference to being happy with an image. Sure – it’s great sometimes to have a realistic record of your life – warts and all. However if you get a beautiful shot of your kids that you want to frame, you might reconsider that if it also means staring at a pile of dirty clothes that were on the floor next to them. Especially when you could have easily kicked these out of the way and out of the shot. I can’t tell you the amount of times that I have taken a great shot of one of my kids only to wish that I had moved one item that was in the frame that detracts from the image.
Thinking about the objects around your baby can also help you start to think about composition. There are many theories and “rules” around composition and this article isn’t big enough to go through all of them. Once again it is about stopping and pausing before taking the shot. If using a smart phone, move it around and experiment with negative space. Look at the lines and shapes in the shot – where are they leading? The most classic composition style follows the “Rule of Thirds” and if you are interested in photography, I recommend you hit up Google and find out more information about it. There is a more in-depth article about the Rule of Thirds here.
ACCENTUATE THE TINY
Newborns are so tiny but this can sometimes be lost in photos. One of the easiest ways to accentuate your baby’s tiny size is to have your hands (or your partner’s hands) in the shot. Holding their tiny hands or feet in your big adult hands can make for a very cute shot. Alternatively you could place another everyday object close by to show the size difference, such as a teddy bear, or something else meaningful to you and your family.
GET SOME PROFESSIONAL SHOTS DONE
I am not recommending this just because I am a Newborn Photographer. Having a newborn is an incredibly special time and also one that passes way too quickly. Of course, this is part of the reason I do what I do – I strongly believe in the importance of having this amazing time in your life captured properly. It is something that you will never regret having done and will bring you immense enjoyment, forever!
However – If you don’t want to get a professional shoot done, then here are some tips on how you might try a few professional style shots at home.
Position your baby on your bed, or on a nice rug or blanket on your floor.
Plan your shoot a couple of days in advance if necessary. It sometimes takes a while to get your head around it (after all, you are caring for a newborn which uses up almost every brain cell and energy reserve you have in your body). Think about when your baby is at his or her best. Are they better in the morning, or the afternoon? When are they usually guaranteed to have a great sleep? eg straight after a feed is often a great time.
Have everything ready to go and choose the right time of day. When choosing clothing, rugs or blankets, think simple and neutral – something that doesn’t detract too much from your star subject.
As previously mentioned, always think about the light source. Doing your photoshoot near a big window is ideal. Angle your baby towards the light.
Baby can be positioned either awake or asleep. As long as they are happy, comfy and settled, you will get lovely shots.
If you want to do clothes off shots, the most important thing to think about is warmth. For newborns, the ideal temperature for a baby without clothes on is 28 degrees Celsius. This may sound very warm, however newborns cannot regulate their own body temperature therefore it is imperative to maintain warmth for their little bodies.
For clothes off shots, have some towels and wipes handy and be prepared to do a bit of extra cleaning and washing. Babies have a knack of going to the toilet the moment their clothes are off.
Safety is of the utmost importance. If your baby is propped on a cushion, never leave them unattended. Remember that some of the newborn poses you see online from baby photographers are not actually “natural” poses that a baby can get into. I am talking about shots where the baby is in a froggy position (propped up, looking like baby’s hands are supporting her own head). These types of shots are achieved by supporting the baby’s head with the parent’s hands, which are then removed via photoshop. They shouldn’t be attempted at home. Personally I am not a fan of these unnatural shots. Stick to natural poses so you can remember your beautiful baby for who they really were.