Tiny fingers. Sweet little feet. Soft round cheeks. Feathery, wispy, barely-there eyelashes. The awe, wonder and joy of a newborn baby is something parents want to hold on to forever, but those newborn days are gone in what seems like only a moment.
Having a baby is a photography inspiration for many moms and dads. Here are 10 tips for photographing your new baby:
1. Take lots of pictures! These days are fleeting, and those photos will be a priceless treasure.
2. Simple is best. Newborns are overwhelmed by lots of fancy clothes and accessories. There will be lots of time for that, but the newborn days are best suited for simple clothes or just a diaper. Keep backgrounds simple and clean. Do a quick 5 second background check and declutter or move to a less distracting background.
3. Turn off your flash and turn off the lights. Get enough natural light by shooting near a window, or outside in open shade if it is warm enough.
4. Shoot in manual, if you know how. If you don't know how and you have time, learn the basics of manual exposure. It will help A LOT.
5. Get close. Fill the frame with your baby, or even a part of your baby, such as her face only. Close ups with all those precious details have great emotional impact, and you will love looking back at them.
6. Get creative. Try lots of different angles and lots of different composition. Close ups focus right on the details of your baby. Compositions that are further back and include lost of background give context, showing your baby's world and surroundings, and also show scale... how tiny your baby is!
7. Be intentional. Make certain to take photos of your baby with all relatives and important people in your life. You may have to overcome resistance, as mom doesn't feel beautiful after having a baby or grandma hates having her picture taken, but remind everyone of the long term value. These photos will be priceless treasures for your baby when he/she grows up.
8. Have realistic expectations. Aim for nice, clean images of your baby in his/her world, just as he/she is right now. I am sure you have seen the "Pinterest fail" photos that go around on social media. Don't be a "Pinterest fail", seriously. Which leads me to...
9. SAFETY. SAFETY IS THE TOP PRIORITY. Whenever you are shooting photos of baby by him/herself on any surface from which they could possibly fall, use a spotter right there to ensure baby's safety, even if baby is sleeping. Choose only safe poses to photograph. I am sure you have seen newborns hanging in hammocks, lying with chin propped in both hands, in football helmets, suspended from a branch, whatever, etc. Unless you have had extensive training on how to create images like this safely, do not attempt them. If you must have them, pay a professional who does those types of images, and check him/her out thoroughly to make sure they do it safely. Your baby is worth way too much to take risks.
10. Make time and effort to get all the images you want while your baby is a newborn, because they will only be that tiny for a very short time. Consider investing in professional newborn portraits. Being a frugalista, I only had them done for my fourth child, and now I wish desperately that I had hired a pro for each of my babies as a newborn. But, whether or not you hire a pro, take lots of images yourself. Your unique perspective as a parent and life with baby 24/7 will allow you to capture so many images that a pro would never be able to take during a session lasting only a couple hours. Making the effort to photograph your newborn will be an investment that pay off in images you will treasure for your whole lifetime and be able to pass on as heirlooms to your baby when he/she grows up and has babies of his/her own.
Oh... and two more... because I can't resist:
11. Do something with your photos. Don't leave them on your hard drive! Print them, frame them, enjoy them! Make a simple photobook, even if just online at one of the photobook companies, and tell the story of your baby's newborn days along with the pictures. Caption your photos. A photo may be worth a thousand words, but a few words to tell about the photo will make it priceless to future generations who may not know the story behind the image. "You with your great grandmother, Alzada Moore, who lived in Cleveland. She was thrilled to become a great grandma. This was the only time she ever got to hold you, and she loved you so much." What a treasure for your baby to have things like that all written down with the photos!
12. Are these tips way too basic? Are you looking for more advanced and technical details on how to photograph newborns? Check back shortly for my follow-up article that will deal with lighting, setup, posing, shooting details, and how to keep baby asleep and happy through it all!
Jen Moore is a Cincinnati, OH photographer specializing in capturing births, newborns, children and families. You can find her at www.jenmoorephotography.com and www.jenmoorebirthphotography.com .