How to photograph your newborn baby

April 29, 2015

best-newborn-baby-photography-tips-for-parentsProbably the most memorable day of my life was the day I gave birth to Anya.  How could it not be?  And afterwards Richard and I got to take this tiny bundle home and stare at it wondering what to do next?!  But as the days passed, we slowly learned to become parents as do most first time parents.  The one thing we didn’t do properly though and I sincerely regret to this day is take any great newborn photo’s.  In that crazy haze that is the newborn days (especially with the first baby) photo’s didn’t seem like the priority or even much of a thought for me.  Thankfully Richard took some but I wish someone had told us, warned us, advised us that don’t miss capturing those precious first few days.  So today, that’s what I’m doing for you – telling you that no matter how you feel, don’t forget to capture those incredible first few days of a new life.  And to help you today’s photography post is on the best newborn baby photography tips for parents by Suzi Bowles – an incredibly talented photographer.

I have yet to meet Suzi in person but I already feel like I know her through our many online interactions.  Suzi specialises in contemporary family photography including newborns, maternity and children.  Her style is distinctive, bright and very fresh.  The expressions and little details that Suzi manages to captures in newborns is second to none.  She snaps those exact newborn moments that you want to remember forever and so I am very excited to have her here today telling us exactly how she does it.  Now over to Suzi.

I love photographing newborns.  Those euphoric first few days of a child’s life are so very unique and special.  Capturing these moments to immortalise those special memories is one of my absolute favourite parts of my photography life.  There are so many magical new moments to capture with the arrival of a baby but there’s nothing more frustrating than snapping away only to find that your picture is missing the very detail that you were hoping to capture.  These ten tips should help you immortalize those memories of the days when your precious bundle was still tiny, fresh and very new.

1. The ‘best’ time to photograph
The best time to photograph is between 6 and 10 days.  In photography terms your newborn is only considered to be a newborn for the first two weeks – sounds crazy doesn’t it!  But some of the reflexes that they are born with, which make them all curly and new looking, disappear after that time.  Many babies develop baby acne for a while around the two week mark and they become more alert and aware of the world around them each day so achieving those classic newborn images are much more difficult after the first two weeks of life.  Having said that, there’s something delightful about a curious newborn stare and capturing those little eyes looking back at you so there are still plenty of other special shots that you can get after this time.

tips on how to photograph newborns

2.  Keep your camera close
Keep the camera close to hand so that you don’t miss an opportunity while you’re fumbling around around trying to remember where you last left it!

3.  Find the light
Pay attention to the light in your home.  Think about which rooms are the brightest and and which times of day they have the most light.  Daylight will generally produce a much prettier image than artificial light so daytime is your friend.  Turn your baby towards the light source to photograph her.  Diffused, indirect light consistently produces good results so having your baby facing towards a window but not in the direct sunlight is a great option.  Have her head nearer to the light than her feet as this will produce shadows that fall in a natural looking direction.

4. Keep it warm and toasty
Babies inbuilt thermostats don’t work very well and they can get cold really quickly. Also they love being bundled up all warm and cosy.  If you’re planning to photograph your baby au naturel, crank up the heating – a lovely toasty 28 or 29 degrees is what I recommend for my newborn sessions to keep them content while I’m shooting.  The parents and I are usually peeling off our layers but baby is cozy and content.

best newborn baby photography tips

5. Capture the details
As well as photographing the big picture, don’t miss those tiny details as babies change so very quickly! Make sure you capture tiny hands, feet, eyes, nose, rose bud lips and the top of their head so that you can always remember it exactly as it was.  These kind of shots of my kids still transport me right back when I look at them today; I can almost smell that newborn freshness!

6.  Think about family and friends
Who is visiting to meet the new arrival?  Document those precious first cuddles with grandma, those story times with siblings and those evenings when your baby barely moved from your other half’s chest.  And whether it’s mum or dad who is taking the lions share of the photographs, don’t forget to hand the camera over sometimes so that you exist in some of the pictures too.  You will really cherish these in years to come.

newborn baby photography tips for parents

7.  Keep it simple and let your baby be the focus
If you trawl through pinterest you’ll find a plethora of ideas for posing a newborn – dressing them up as Oscar the Grouch, covering them in lipstick kisses or putting them in a tutu.  Personally I’ve found that no matter which props parents bring to their session, the most treasured images and the ones that my clients usually choose from their gallery are the simplest ones.  Brand new babies are so very gorgeous as they are and props can often just distract from their fresh and captivating beauty.

how to photograph newborn babies

8.  Make your baby feel secure
Sometimes a newborn’s startle reflexes can go in to overdrive as they may not be comfortable with their arms and legs being free.  If your baby won’t settle while you put him down to photograph, try swaddling him as he is more likely to relax when he feels secure.  A bit of white noise can also help him relax – it will drown out some of the background highs and lows and send him right back to the womb.  There are a couple of great white noise apps that you can download on your phone – I like White Noise Lite on the iPhone.

9.  Print your images
Don’t leave those beautiful images of your newborn sitting on your phone or computer.  Print them out and put them where you can enjoy them!  Frame them, share them with family or have them made into a photo book like the quick and easy Pop Books that were mentioned in a previous photography article.

photographing newborns best tips for parents

10. Keep that baby safe
I’ve intentionally saved this point till the end because it is the most important point by far.  It may seem obvious, but I’ve heard of several unfortunate incidents where proper safety precautions have not been taken.  Always keep within reach of your baby.  If you are taking the photograph, have someone else as a spotter to give their entire focus to your baby’s safety.  Never place your baby near the edge of a surface which they could roll off or in a glass or ceramic bowl which could shatter.  Always carefully check any baskets, crates or other props you use for sharp edges, snags or anything which might hurt your baby.

Some of the poses that newborn photographers create such as the baby leaning up on his elbows with his head in his hands, or hanging from a branch in a muslin hammock, aren’t what they first appear to be. Some are composites – that is, they are made by stitching together two or more images in Photoshop to create the final picture and others are shot from above with baby lying on their side to give the illusion that they are suspended in mid-air.  This is absolutely vital for safety – babies necks aren’t strong enough to hold up their heads at this age, they shouldn’t be placed anywhere that there’s a possibility of them falling, and certain positions will require a hand to hold them at all times.

Thank you Suzi for these very helpful newborn baby photography tips for parents – I just wish I had these when Anya was a newborn.  But you have them now so once again I say don’t miss capturing those precious first days of your babies life with these helpful tips.  Suzi has also recently started photography workshops in Surrey for beginners, bloggers and intermediate photographers so if you’re interested in learning more check them out at A Happy Capture.

There are lots more handy tips and ideas on photography in my previous articles which you’ll find here:
How to organise your digital photos
How to grow your instagram following
How to photograph moving kids
The best photo filter apps
How to photograph kids using an iphone only
A mini photobook

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