Top tips on how to take photos of your newborn at home during lockdown...
2020 had us all in a crazy time called lockdown, where we were all isolated from family and friends, possibly feeling slightly lonely, missing all the day to day things that we used to do and take for granted. Perhaps you have or are due a lockdown baby, and were hoping to have a professional photoshoot with your baby, to capture this beautiful time. I want you to know that all is not lost, and I'd like to show you why.
I'd love to give the confidence to capture your baby in the first two weeks of life, in the comfort of your own home, so below I have detailed my top tips for doing exactly that, and marking this huge milestone in your lives.
Before we even begin
There are a few things that I need to tell you before we even begin. I am a fully trained newborn photographer and I have been handling and capturing babies for many years now. Whilst training to do this wonderful job, I learned all about newborn safety, when posing and taking care of your babies in my studio. Everything from safe posing and ensuring baby is comfortable, to safe wrapping and handling. Without this knowledge and training, most poses are unsafe to do. I am going to show you what you can achieve at home with some really simple set ups that anyone can do without training. So let's get started!
Lighting is the most important part of any aspect of photography. It can make or break and image and here's how. Can you see how the low light on the left hand side creates a shadow right up through the face and gives the face a sinister look?
The middle image is the light directly on the face which can often be quite harsh and flat and you can lose the lovely details and curves of the face. The right hand image is the most flattering and is taken from the side angle and really shows off the persons features.
When shooting your newborn, these principles are really useful, and although I work in studio with a large strobe light, I do often shoot newborns in peoples homes and so natural light is my only light source. I NEVER use a flash on a baby, as the light would be way too harsh and you would create shadows behind your subject that are just not pleasing to the eye.
Here is a set up that I can recommend in your home for capturing your baby. Place baby next to a window - if you have sheer white curtains, draw them as this will diffuse the light even more and give you a really soft light on the face. Remember, the larger the light source, the softer the light - so choose the biggest window you can find... bog glass patio doors work great for this!
Experiment with angles - go right up above the baby, on a stool if you have one (but please ensure baby is safe and is on a safe surface). Also get close into baby, capture hands and feet if they are sleeping and still, ears and lips are also lovely to capture. One golden rule for angles is to never shoot up babies nose, as this just isnt flattering for baby. Instead stand over baby or at an angle where you are coming down the nose. Have a play and see what you look, if baby is asleep you have the time to snap away.
You don't have to have a fancy camera to take these images at home. Yes I use professional equipment as I work with pixels and I want the best quality of image for you, so that if you want to resize and blow your images up large for your wall, this is achievable. But for you at home, to snap away a few images, a camera phone is sufficient. If you have an SLR at home, have a play with the settings and research what the best settings are for your set up. Ideally you want to have your aperture wide so you can get that lovely depth of field and your ISO high to the image isn't too bright - but honestly just use your phone and don't get too worried about that for now.
Like I said earlier, we aren't looking at achieving professional, highly posed images for you to try out at home, just some really simple set ups that baby will be comfortable in. Lay baby on a comfy blanket on the floor or on your bed (but please stay near baby) and keep it as simple as possible. If baby is asleep, play with his legs, pop them up near his belly, pop a little towel under his bum and place him hands on his chest. I like to straighten out fingers as it really makes a difference in the images (if he will let you!)
Take some images of eyes wide open from the side view, see if you can capture a windy smile, focus in on those eyes and if she falls asleep, place those hands over her chest.
Wrapping and swaddling is a also a great way to get baby to settle and relax (and sleep!) so you could also give this a go. Again I am trained in newborn wrapping, so just wrap how you would if you were feeding and settling and ensure baby is happy and comfortable. If its warm in your house, don't wrap in too many layers so baby does overheat. If baby is happy wrapped, you could place them on a blanket to capture some images.
Props and clothes aren't essential like above and it's different in the studio so keep it simple, whites and greys will work well at home. A simple white baby grow or wrap is all you need to get started, or a fluffy rug and a naked baby (watch the wee and keep baby warm!). A nice piece of fabric laid across babies nappy also works really lovely.
This image below is shot from above babies head so we have the lovely blur on his legs.
A quick one on room temperature. Babies feel the cold more than us, so keep baby nice and warm and if you have a fan on hand to warm the room, that will help (especially as we are in winter right now!)
Thank you and enjoy this experience with your baby - it's a lovely chance to bond, cuddle, talk to your little one and make some memories. Don't be too disheartened if it doesn't work the first time either - you have the gift of time to keep trying it out. I know that professional photos can't be replicated and its a disappointing time if you had your heart set on them, but you can achieve some lovely results yourself, and when the time is right, you can go along for those professional photos and who knows - baby might be ready to smile by then, and they will capture something all together different and just as gorgeous.
Good luck, and I'm always here to help and ask questions!