During this pandemic, it can be nerve racking taking your precious newborn out to a studio to have a newborn session. While my newborn studio is thoroughly sanitized, the unknown can be scary. I get it completely 💜 With COVID-19 you could have it without any symptoms and spread it to others unknowingly.
While your home is not a professional studio, I wanted to give some tips to new parents on how to photograph their new baby at home while they wait until this craziness dies down and can get a milestone session professionally done.
You can really use any camera you want. The better quality the camera, the better the prints will be. If you are using your cell phone, you can put it into a portrait mode to get more of a blurred background. If you are using a point and shoot you can use it in whatever mode you feel most comfortable. If you have a DSLR or a camera with detachable lenses, I recommend shooting in AV priority mode. This allows you to control your depth of field. The lower the number, the more blurry the background will be. Do not shoot too low because it can cause your baby to be out of focus too. I recommend 2.8-5.0 depending on your subject(s). Just baby- 2.8, baby in a basket with decorations- 3.0-5.0, and family-5.0. Keep it simple, if you are worrying about settings, just keep it in Auto. The less stress, the more fun!
It is important during a newborn session to have your home warm. I am talking about cranking your heat to roughly 80 degrees in the room that you choose to photograph your newborn in. This helps keep baby sleepy and content. Do this about 1-2 hours before you plan on photographing baby so the room is nice and toasty.
Lighting is so important when photographing any subject. When choosing a room to photograph in, I suggest using a room with tons of natural light. If the light is harsh coming in through the windows, you can always put up a sheer white or white sheet over the window. When photographing baby, make sure your light is coming from the top of baby's head, not the bottom. Photographing light from the bottom can create unwanted and unflattering shadows. You want the light to come softly around baby's face. A 45 degree angle is best, but is not always an option when photographing in your own home.
Picking A Room
When choosing a room, think what kind of photos you want.
Do you want a more "styled" session?
If so, I recommend using a couch with the back cushions removed (if possible) to create more surface space to keep baby safe. Place two towels on your couch to create a head and foot rest. Next drape a thick fleece blanket over your couch. Then drape a solid colored sheet over the blanket. Try to flatten out all of the wrinkles on the sheet. You can do this by adding heavy pillows to the outside of your sheet and blanket. After you have done these steps, you ready to either wrap baby in a swaddle, use your favorite outfit, or do a naked pose with a wrap placed over baby's diaper. I would say one of the easiest ways to pose would be to wrap up baby in a swaddle. There are several videos on YouTube to teach you how to do a basic swaddle. This keeps them from moving a lot, keeps them comfortable, and sleepy. I would stick to a side pose or a back pose for safety and they are the easiest to get your baby to stay in naturally. Move the camera closer, further, from the top (face on), or from the side to create different angles. Try not to photograph baby up the nose. *
Please remember, ALWAYS keep baby close and use a spotter when posing a baby on a couch. Also, do not attempt any unsafe poses, like the froggy pose. This pose is a composite and is created with Photoshop "magic". Another very dangerous pose is putting baby in a sling/flag/scarf. Do not attempt it. It is another pose that is created to look like baby is safe in a hammock, but is actually done on a beanbag and composited later in Photoshop.
Do you want more of a lifestyle session?
These are much more simple as far a posing goes. A lifestyle session captures the details and the baby in their environment. Have your significant other take some pictures of you next to a window with baby, you in the rocking chair with baby, or even near the crib with baby. Take pictures of baby wrapped on your bed or in their crib. Take pictures of their tiny hands, feet, lips, ears, and hair. Use the light from the window and shut off any lights in the house to avoid a yellow lighting
Props can be fun, but can also be dangerous. If you are not a professional newborn photographer, stick with large baskets with baby wrapped on their back. Once baby is secure, you can carefully prop baby's head up a bit with a rolled up hand or face towel. Another option is to use a Boppy and throw a furry rug or sheet over it and place your baby wrapped on it. When setting up your props, remember to keep your lighting angels in mind; light from the top at a 45 degree angle. You can use different blankets and wraps to create layers in your baskets. Also, add fake flowers and greenery to your images for some extra pizzazz 😊
Find a space in your house that has little to no pictures. Use the wall as a backdrop. Cradle baby in a wrap and have your significant other or someone living with you take the picture. You can do the same for all the members in your household with baby. Try not to use your on camera flash. Try to use the natural light in your house.
Sibling photos are so precious! Believe it or not all sibling photos on my page are not how it went down in studio lol Many younger siblings want nothing to do with having their picture taken with their new little sibling. Crazy, right?! 😆 The best way to get those sibling pictures is to lay them down next to each other on a nice blanket, snap some pictures, and hope for the best. Bribing works too 😂 Another way, if big brother or sister want to hold baby, is to have them sit in the center of a large bed with baby.
I really hope this helps you take some photos of baby when you cannot get professional images done. It will be a wonderful keepsake and you can say you took them! You may have to feed baby five times during your session, but it will be worth it in the end. If you're feeling really ambitious, try to edit them in a free photo editing program. YouTube is a wonderful place for parents to learn some basic posing, wrapping, and photo editing. Remember to relax, have fun, and don't try to do any crazy poses 😉Your baby's safety is #1!
Wishing you all the best during this trying time!