First of all, congratulations! If you're reading this, chances are you've recently welcomed your new baby into the world and are overwhelmed with joy. You've come so far through pregnancy and managed to survive the birthing experience...this is no small feat, kudos to you!
Now that you're getting the hang of parenting (with your first or multiple kiddos), you're ready to shoot some amazing photos to share with your family and friends right? Maybe you've tried but haven't come up with anything share-worthy? Maybe you need a special photo for a birth announcement? Well, those little babies can be tricky to photograph so don't be too hard on yourself. They're moody, they drool, don't smile or hold their head right...the list goes on. I'm a photographer and mother of 2 boys so I've learned a thing or two about photographing babies over the years :) ...here are some tips to help you get great baby pictures.
First let's answer this question:
When is the best time to take newborn photos?
If you're looking for newborn photos, you'll want to get those done in the first two weeks after birth. Little ones sleep a lot and you can pretty much mold them into any position all while they snooze away.
If you can't get them done in the first two weeks, you can still get great pics but you'll have to go with some different types of poses. They'll most likely be awake and a lot more fidgety so getting that perfect sleeping baby curled up in a ball might prove difficult. Whenever you decide is the right time to get your photos, these tips will help you along the way...
#1 Soft Lighting Is Key To Beautiful Baby Photos
We're going to focus on shooting indoors so choose a spot in your house where there is a nice big window. Shoot at the time of day where the room is bright but there are no streaks of direct sunlight beaming through. Choose the room that is naturally brightest throughout the day so you have a few chances to try if you don't get it the first time.
#2 Try Different Setups
Overhead: You can shoot directly on top of your baby as they lay on the ground or on a bed. Just be very careful to wear the neck strap of your camera...you don't want to risk dropping it on them! If you're using your phone, make sure you keep a good hold on it, even cell phones can be heavy.
Tummy Time: Once your baby is holding his or her head up, you can also shoot while they do tummy time. I like to roll up a towel (or use a Boppy) then put a blanket or sheet on top of it to make a nice place for them to prop up. If your blanket is big enough pull the back side up over some high pillows or the headboard of your bed and it'll double as a backdrop.
For this setup you'll want to make sure to have their face pointing towards the light source / window / door. If the light is coming from the side, you'll get unwanted shadows. Here's a diagram of an ideal setup.
As I mentioned in my blog post about photographing kids, you'll want to get down on their level. Put the camera eye to eye with them, even if that means you have to get on the floor. It's key for getting up close and personal.
#3 Use A Prop
Babies, especially infants, sleep a lot and this can lead to some kind of boring photos. If you're little one is snoozing, try adding a stuffed animal or other prop to add some interest to the photo. A soft plush animal or something hand made by a family member can add some visual dynamics and also some sentimental value.
#5 Keep It Simple
As far as backdrops go, I like to keep things simple. I use a lot of white sheets and have a favorite white fur (faux of course) throw rug that works wonders. Why white? Light is the name of the game here and using a white background will give you the added bonus of some additional reflected light. Plus...babies are little angels and they look amazing in a sea of glowing light. It also makes things easy and readable if you're using the photo for a card where they'll be text on top (hello birth announcement). Also if you go with a fun colored hat or outfit, the white won't clash :)
Make sure you're having fun through this process. It's a great time to bond with your little one and if you're stressed trying to get the perfect picture, they'll pick up on that energy and you may end up with a cranky kiddo. So keep it fun and remember you can always try again tomorrow. Good luck...you got this!