Well, here we are. Entering our fourth week of sheltering in place. As much as I wish I was out photographing sessions, I know the best and safest thing to do is to stay home until COVID-19 is behind us.
Photography is considered a non-essential business and, while it sucks, I totally agree. That’s why you won’t see me participating in the “front porch session” phenomenon. Side note: If you’re a photographer and you’re considering offering or are already offering these sessions, read this.
With so much death and economic devastation happening around us, you might feel a little silly grieving the loss of ‘small’ things. But, one thing I’ve learned over the years is that it’s important to acknowledge and name your grief – no matter how small. That’s how we work through it.
So, in the name of transparency, I’ll let you into a little of my grief.
It’s hard to even fathom a spring and potential summer without shooting weddings, but what really breaks my heart is all of the newborn sessions I’ve had to cancel. Sure, I’ll get my opportunity to photograph these sweet babes and their parents eventually, but the pandemic is stealing away time we can’t get back. Babies don’t keep, as they say!
Since I can’t come to your house for a session, I thought I’d do the next best thing and teach you how to take great newborn photos yourself. Below are ten tips to help you along. All you need is an iPhone and a super cute newborn baby!
Tip #1: Take Photos Within First 2 Weeks
Love you some sleepy newborn baby pics? Then it’s best to snap the photos before your baby is older than two weeks. During this time, babies tend to sleep the most during the day (when all that glorious light is streaming in your windows). Also – baby acne might show up around 2 weeks old for some babies, so it’s nice to capture images before this happens.
Tip #2: Dress Them Appropriately
My favorite way to photograph a newborn is swaddled (and there are a plethora of cute ones out there – check Etsy!). When they are swaddled, babies are easy to move around and they feel safe and secure (aka: sleepy). If you have a specific outfit you want to photograph your baby in, make sure you have them in it before you start clicking. The less diaper/outfit changes, the happier your baby will be.
Tip #3: Food Before Photos
The absolute best time to take pictures is right after a feeding when your baby is in that “milk drunk” state. A belly full of milk usually helps babies fall into a deep sleep, making it easier to get images, position them, etc.
Tip #4: Find The Light
The key to taking a good photo is finding the best light. Identify the brightest daytime room in your house and during the shoot, open your curtains and blinds to let that gorgeous light stream through. I’m guessing your nursery, master bedroom or living room might be good options. I know that timing photos with a newborn can be challenging, but I strongly advise against taking photos at night. It’s really challenging to work with artificial light.
Tip #5: Turn Off All Artificial Lights in Your Home
Speaking of artificial light, make sure all lamps and overhead lights are turned off during your shoot. Your instinct might be that artificial light helps to brighten your space, but they actually just cast different colors on your photos.
Tip #6: Choose A Setup
Some of the easiest props to use during your newborn shoot are a bed, blanket or basket. If using your bed, make sure it’s made and that you smooth out any wrinkles in the fabric. If you’re using a basket, place a pillow inside and cover it with another blanket so that most of the basket will be filled. It won’t only help with the look of your photo, it’ll ensure your baby is very comfy.
Tip #7: Positioning Your Shot
Before you start snapping away, make sure your baby is facing your natural light source (your window or door). This will give you the brightest and most beautiful light. Just be careful not to block too much light with your body. You’ll likely be standing in front of the light source during the shoot, so kneel or step the side as much as possible.
Tip #8: Adjust Your Settings
While taking photos, be sure to adjust your brightness on your phone. You can do this on an iPhone by clicking on your subject (usually the face is best). A small yellow box will appear displaying little sun icon. Use your finger to slide the sun up or down to increase or decrease your exposure. By doing this, you will have control over how bright you want your photos, which will really help with the final product.
Also, don’t be afraid to play with portrait mode, which will blur out your background and can create a more polished image. If you choose this, make sure you take a few steps back because you can’t be super close to your subjects in portrait mode.
Tip #9: Don’t Forget to Capture The Details
Don’t forget to capture the details of your little cutie (i.e. the yummy parts you are always kissing – hands, ears, feet, and toes). You’ll want to remember how small and sweet these details were, so get some images of them!
Also, take turns taking photos of you and your partner with the baby. If you want to get fancy, you can set your iPhone up on timer mode so you can both be in the picture. It won’t be perfect, but the realness of this time is what you’ll want to remember. I promise.
Tip #10: Edit Away
After you’ve taken all the photos you want, go through and tag the ones you like best as ‘favorites”. You can do this by clicking the heart icon on the iPhone below each picture. You can play around with editing your pictures within the standard edit options, or by using (my favorite) editing app VSCO. When I’m using VSCO, I usually focus on increasing brightness, contrast and adding a little grain. I very much subscribe to the “less is more” approach when it comes to editing.
While these DIY iPhone newborn photos won’t ever replace a professional photography session, I hope this post has both inspired you and given you the tools you need to get some precious shots of your new baby. In this time of uncertainty, there is much to be grateful for. And your new baby is one of them. Congrats, hugs, and love to you all!