Newborns are my favorite. I love everything about them. I would be remiss to suggest you should skip the professional photographer, and take your newborn pictures yourself.
Not only is it a fleeting time that absolutely deserves to be captured, but new moms are often tired, and too overwhelmed to capture their own newborns on camera. That said, not everyone chooses to go that route, and I completely respect that.
I have learned a thing or two about photographing newborns in the last 8+ years. (By the way, here is another list of pictures you won’t want to miss when your newborn is born!)
*** also make sure you grab your FREE month-to-month printable stickers for your baby’s first year pics!!***
***Wanna know what I am using to take pictures of my family? You can see everything I keep in my camera bag here!***
10+ tips for taking your own
*for your convenience, there may be affiliate links throughout this post, so you can easily find the things i am showing you. by using these links, your pricing stays the same, but i earn a small commission. you can see my full disclosure here
If you haven’t had your baby yet, or a baby shower, or you just have others asking what they can get to help you out, it’s worth mentioning that Amazon now offers Baby Registries. How awesome is that??!! I seriously wish this existed during my pregnancies. You get free shipping, AND you get 10-15% off all of the items in the registry that you end up having to purchase on your own after the shower, etc. Plus, it’s free, so there’s really no point NOT to do it. I mean, it’s basically a wish list, right?!! Go here to set one up now, I’ll wait…
Here are a couple of things I can honestly say I used for my own newborn babies, even when I was taking more natural, day-to-day pictures, just to make them more interesting, or visually appealing, or because they just plain made my baby happy! 🙂
- a sheepskin rug– I have had this exact one for 8 years!
- muslin swaddles– I just love how breathable, and beautiful they are.
- a nice warm room- babies like it warm. Super warm. Maybe that’s why we get along so well!!
- sound machine– can’t even tell you how many people with newborns swear by this, and it is a must have for newborn pictures (you can also get an app on your phone, but if you plan to use it often, it will drain your battery).
- a boppy pillow to put underneath blankets for positioning the baby.
- tons of blankets with all different kinds of textures
Alright, now that you’ve been filled in on all of my favorite things, here are some tips for taking your own newborn pictures. You will see some of these goodies in the post too!
Plan to take those newborn pictures within the first 2 weeks after the baby is born.
I always tell my clients to book before their babies are born. The first two weeks of life, your baby is super sleepy, and much easier to photograph.
Natural light, and plenty of it, is a must!
Look for soft, indirect light.
Turn up the heat, or use a space heater.
I actually do both. I use this space heater, I like it because I can store it easily, and take it to a different room if I need to do that. By the time I am done shooting a newborn session, I am usually sweating bullets, even if it’s the dead of winter.
Patience makes a difference.
My longest sessions are always newborn sessions. I may not be taking pictures the entire time, but I will spend a significant amount of working on making the baby happy, sleepy, warm, etc.
Once I have a nice, sleepy baby, taking the pictures usually goes relatively quickly. Knowing that I may end up spending a significant amount of time working to get to that point, helps me to stay calm and patient.
Skip the baby clothes.
Newborn babies don’t typically fit well into clothing (although, I have had a couple of pretty big babies brought to me for pictures!). Instead, use diaper covers, swaddles, or birthday suits.
Crank up the white noise.
I have used a white noise machine like this one, and white noise apps on my phone. Between the space heater, and the white noise, baby stays nice and calm. I have parents who swear by these even after the photo shoot!
Take time to stop and feed your baby.
It seems like you should be able to plan your photo shoot right after feeding your baby, and not need to feed during your session. It doesn’t always work like that though, and 9 times out of 10 it takes more effort to try not to “top off” your little sweetie than it would to just feed the baby.
Plus, it’s usually right after that second mini feeding that the newbie is milk drunk and passes out. Perfect timing for pictures!
Once you have your baby is nice and sleepy, and you have him positioned, move your body to get different angles.
I can’t tell you how many times I wished I had taken more shots before attempting to move baby. Try different angles, and perspectives in each position.
Use blankets and rugs to add texture to your images while still keeping the focus on the baby.
I don’t tend to use a lot of props when I take newborn pictures. I do, however, use hats, diaper covers, tons of blankets, swaddles– these are my absolute fave, and this faux sheepskin rug— that I LOVE!!
10. Be safe!
So many images we fall in love with of newborns on pinterest are composites. This means someone is actually holding the baby in place, and photoshop is used to merge 2 photos together giving us the impression the baby was in that position all on her own. Many of these “poses” would be very dangerous if there wasn’t a spotter there. Please be careful, and mindful of these things when taking your newborns pictures.
11. Use lightroom to tweak skin tones, or turn your images to black and white.
You may be interested in to know that you don’t have to be a professional to use lightroom or own it. It’s very reasonably priced, and user-friendly. Here are some super awesome things you can use lightroom for, AND some tips for taking incredible black and white pictures.
Bonus tip- if you’re planning on taking your newborn baby’s pictures, and you’re using a DSLR, you should ABSOLUTELY learn how to use your camera in manual mode!!
Of course, you should take all the pictures you can, whether or not you know how to use it in manual mode. BUT.. you will get MUCH better results if you learn how to shoot in manual mode. And, since I’m sure you don’t have much time, and I’m sure you don’t want to commit to anything too demanding right now, you’re definitely going to want to check out my learn manual mode silent course/ ebook.
Got questions for me?? Leave them in the comments. I try to answer all of my comments!
PS- I know there are some of you that didn’t go sign up for Amazon Baby Registries. Don’t forget to go here to set one up now. Like I said it’s completely free, and you can browse as much as you want from the comfort of your own home. Plus, you don’t have to leave the house to add something every time your realize you’ve forgotten something.