How to take a professional looking photo of your newborn baby during lockdown
How to photograph your newborn
Whilst professional family photography is currently on hold due to Covid-19 restrictions, many parents feel they are missing out on newborn and family photo shoots they so desperately want. I’ve put together some hints and tips that you can easily put into practise in your own home to capture great photos of your own babies and children – with a smartphone or DSLR camera!
4 TOP TIPS
Photographing your newborn at home
How to photograph your newborn
TIP 1 - WARM IT UP
Newborn babies like it warm and snuggly and are often used to being held close by a parent. Make sure the room you are in is warm and your baby isn’t cold, especially if you plan on stripping your baby down for photographs. I sometimes use a plug-in radiator to boost the temperature if needed, particularly during the winter months!
TIP 2 - FIND GOOD LIGHT
Getting the light falling on your baby from the right direction is perhaps THE MOST IMPORTANT factor in getting a professional looking shot of your newborn. Using light coming in from a window or door, you want it to fall on your baby from the top of the head downwards towards the feet. Lay your baby down on a bed, sofa or the floor with the top of his head pointing towards the source of the light. You should be able to see a little shadow under your baby’s nose! This also applies when photographing your baby being held by a parent or sibling.
TIP 3 - NEVER SHOOT 'UP THE NOSE'
Position your camera level with your baby’s nose or above to get the most flattering shot. You want to take your photograph from above your baby looking down towards his feet, and not from below so you can see ‘up his nostrils’. Imaging if you were both standing up, you’d take the photo from above looking down… its exactly the same concept but with your baby lying down!
TIP 4 - CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME
You know your baby better than anybody, so choose a time in the day when they will be at their best. Early morning is often a favourite when they are wide awake and alert, or during a nap if you want that cosy sleepy newborn look! How to photograph your newborn
6 TOP TIPS
Photographing older babies and toddlers at home
TIP 1 - GET DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL
Get right down on the floor so you can photograph your children at their eye level. It will make the composition of your photo look much more professional, and will allow you to capture details of their environment and what they are engaged in at the same time.
TIP 2 - FACE TOWARDS THE LIGHT
If possible, see if you can face your child towards a light source. If you’re indoors, sit them down with a toy or book facing towards a window. Outdoors is a bit more tricky! Bright sunshine can cast harsh shadows across the face, which can ruin a good photograph. I would always recommend looking for a shady spot under a tree for example. Make sure your child is facing out towards the light of the sun so their face is nice and brightly lit but without the harsh shadows or squinty eyes caused by direct sunlight.
TIP 3 - CONSIDER THE BACKGROUND
When you get down to your child’s eye level and take your photograph from his horizontal viewpoint, be careful to consider what you can see in the background. A beautiful portrait can be ruined with a pile of dirty washing or a dog poo bin visible in the background! If you’re indoors, move anything you don’t want to see in the shot. If you’re outside, change the position you’re taking the photo from. How to photograph your newborn
TIP 4 - NO POSING
I generally don’t worry too much about making very young children ‘pose’ for portraits – it’s practically impossible, and most of the time, the best shots of very little ones are captured as they play independently! If you want to try and capture a more ‘posed’ portrait of your young toddler, I find laying them down on their tummy helps keep them in one place for a moment or two. Make sure they are facing the light and get them to look up at you whilst you take the photograph by showing them toys or books, talking and singing to them.
TIP 5 - REAL SMILES
I never ask little children to smile at my camera or say cheese. If you want to capture genuine portraits that you’d be proud to hang on your walls, you need to get real smiles… and that means you’ve got to work for it! During my family photoshoots I’ll do anything I can to get a giggle from the children I photograph – sing baby shark, pretend to fall over, mention the word ‘poo’… or even better, get somebody to stand behind me and play peek-a-boo or make silly faces!
TIP 6 - EDITING
There are some great photo editing apps for smartphones offering all the basics you’d need. My favourite is Photoshop Express and I use it all the time for my phone photos. You can easily straighten your image, change it to black and white, or make it slightly lighter if its a little dark. Go easy on the filters though… the best editing only enhances what you already have in the photo.
This blog was originally written as content for the Nanny Louenna childcare app – an amazing resource for new parents and families with children under 5 years old. You can find out more about Nanny Louenna here and download the free app from the App store.
Louisa French is a family and children’s photographer based near Cambridge UK. You can see more of her work and details about shoots and packages here.