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  • Writer's pictureLindsey

Taking your own newborn photos-- tips for doing it at home

I've been wanting to write a post for a while about newborn photography tips. And since I've had to cancel all my shoots this month because of a worldwide pandemic, now seems like a good time to do it since most people will have to be taking their own photos for now. So here are a few rules I always follow to make my photos look good!

1. Control your setting

The most important aspect in ANY photograph is light. When deciding where to set up in a client's home, I don't look for a well-decorated room. I look for the room with the best light. You need to be able to get close to a window, so it may be necessary to move a chair or something out of the way. I always set up about 3-4 feet from a large window (but make sure the light is soft and not direct sunlight). Bonus points if it's a white room-- then you don't have to worry about color casts!

Another thing to remember is to turn all lights off in the room-- you want the window to be your ONLY light source. Artificial light is a different color than natural light and even if just a small lamp is left on, it will make the shadows of the skin look yellow.

Babies love heat so I turn up the thermostat and use some white noise to help them sleep. I always wait until the baby is in a deep sleep to do the photos-- they're much easier to pose that way!

Below is an example of a perfect room for pictures. A bed is a great place to do photos if you have a large window close!

2. Prepare the baby

Babies do best for photos when they're in a heavy sleep, so I always tell my clients to keep the baby up for at least an hour before I arrive and then feed them right when I get there. With a full belly, they are usually happy and go right to sleep! I start with swaddled shots since wrapping the baby helps them fall asleep. My swaddles are just jersey fabric from any fabric store cut to 18" by 40"-- nice and long for wrapping. If you want to have the baby dressed instead of swaddled, make sure you use stretchy, tight-fitting clothes-- no button down shirts, dresses, jeans, or ties. Most outfits will swallow the baby and get in the way for pictures so I use very simple clothing like the ones shown below.

3. Get the lighting right

Back to light!

To get the best pictures, you need to position the baby's head at about a 45 degree angle to the window-- the window should be towards the side/top of the baby's head and the light should be coming down onto his brow. The position of the window relative to the baby is shown here:

What you look for is light on the baby's cheeks and eyes. One side of her face should be lit well but you should be able to see a patch of light on the cheek and eyelid farthest from the window. If not enough light is falling onto the far cheek, turn her head a tiny bit more towards the window until you see a nice light patch. I've highlighted the light on these images below:

This light makes for beautiful pictures because it allows enough shadows to give some definition to their faces but allows light to fall on their beautiful cheeks. All of the pictures I post of newborns have some variation of this lighting.

4. Take the shots!

Now for the fun part! Like I said, I normally start with the baby wrapped because it helps them fall asleep and keeps their limbs under control. I slowly unwrap the baby through the shoot as she gets into a deeper sleep so her hands and feet can show. Good backdrops include quilts, rugs, bedspreads, cribs, and if it's cloudy I love to take the baby outside in the garden.

One last trick as you're posing the baby is to tilt the head to the side (ear to shoulder)-- it gives a nice variation and is usually more aesthetically pleasing than having a stick-straight baby. You can get the head to stay in place by putting a rolled up burp cloth under the side of the baby's head under the blanket you're shooting on. Some examples are below!

Don't forget to capture all the details! My favorite part is when I start shooting and discovering new angles and perspectives that I love. Here are a few more inspo shots!

I hope these tips helped! I'm so sad to have to miss all my newborn shoots this month but I'm happy knowing that I did what I can to keep my clients safe and healthy.

{Katy newborn photographer

houston newborn photographer

Cypress newborn photographer}

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