With Melbourne going into another 6 weeks of Lockdown, I'm incredibly sad that I won't be able to photograph newborn babies for my clients until their babies are much older.
Eventhough babies are gorgeous no matter what age they come into my studio, it is still important for families to have 'good' photos of their baby at their squishy early newborn age.
I have put together a few tips on how to capture some 'good' photographs of your newborn baby at home, even just with your phone cameras.
All the examples below are taken with my iPhone 7, without any editing.
Tip 1: Window Light Is Best
The best light for photographing your baby in your house is near a window. The light is direction yet soft, perfect for capturing your baby's soft newborn skin.
If you have a floor-length window, the safest way to photograph your baby is placing him on soft blankets on the floor.
If there is no direct sunlight coming through the window, you can place your baby right next to the window.
If there is harsh sunlight coming through, then either photograph at another window in your house, or move your baby away from the window into the shade closest to the direct sunlight.
If your window is not floor-length, you will see that there is an area of darkness on the floor right next to the window. As you move away from the window, there is an area on the floor that is brighter. Place your baby on that bright patch on the floor.
Alternatively, you can place your baby in his cot of bassinet near the window.
DO NOTever place your baby on a chair or bench or any other edge-less surface while you photograph him, UNLESS your partner is with you and is given the sole responsibility of keeping your baby safe throughout the process.
Tip 2: Direction of Light
Place your baby with his head close to the window and feet away from the window.
Make sure the top of his nose and cheeks are brighter than the area near his nostrils.
If his eyes are open (i.e. not sleeping), check that the catchlights (bright reflective spots) in his eyes are near the top left or top right corner.
Do not place your baby with her feet closer to the window than her head. This results in very unflattering 'up-lighting' effect.
Tip 3: Camera Angle
Always photograph your baby with his head closer to your camera than his feet.
Think of how you often raise the camera higher than your eyes when you're taking a selfie? Same reason. We don't want to photograph up your baby's nostrils, and we don't want your baby's body to look disproportionally larger than his head.
Tip 4: Capture The Details
Don't forget to photograph those tiny hands and feet!
Move your baby so that the light is coming from the side of your baby's hands and feet. Shallow side lighting will enhance details that you'd want to remember, like their little wrinkles and flaky skin.
You can photograph them as they are, or wrap a swaddle around them to remove background distractions.
Tip 5: Safe Sibling Poses
Make sure there's another adult present when you're attempting sibling poses with your newborn. Young children (no matter how 'good' and 'careful') can move suddenly and unexpectedly. Always have another adult nearby who is in reaching distance to your children when you're behind the camera. Please please please don't risk the safety of your precious newborn baby.
The safest pose is the 'lying down together' pose. Makes sure your newborn baby is swaddled so he doesn't wriggle. Have your older child lying down first, then have the other adult gently place the baby in her arms while you take a quick snap, then remove the baby from her arms straight away when you're done snapping.
If you have a much older child (Age 4+), then you can ask her to sit with her legs crossed and hands on her knees palms up. Make sure you tell her to 'stick the back of your hands to your knees and don't lift them ok?'. You can then ask the helper adult to place your swaddled baby gently on her crossed legs, head in one of her palms and feet on the other palm. This is a good pose for multiple older siblings.
DO NOT do not do not do not do not attempt poses you've seen on professional photographer's websites, other than poses where your baby is lying on his back. Any photographs that you've seen where the baby is hanging or sitting are trick photography composites using photoshop. The 'potato-sack' poses and 'chin-on-hand' poses are also photoshop composites. Even with the fairly common baby-in-a-basket pose, newborn photographers are trained to make sure your baby's head is not placed at an angle that compromises his breathing. DO NOT compromise the safety of your baby for a photograph!