Here we are, starting week 6 of this COVID-19 pandemic and many families have already had to make hard decisions in regards to their birth plan. Mamas are changing their birth environment from hospital to home to avoid exposure to the virus, they had to narrow down their support team to only one person, and some have even had to cancel their professional newborn photographer. As a professional birth, newborn, and family photographer, I know the value of a single photo. They preserve a moment in time, they bring back feelings and emotions, and they also help to put a person right back in that moment remembering the aura, sounds, and smells of that single day!
To me, it feels more crucial than ever to document these very special times, but unfortunately, photographers are not essential and therefore are forced to STAY-AT-HOME. I am spilling all of the tea and providing tips on how to capture amazing newborn photos with their phone or basic camera. All you need is an extra set of hands to get started!
Prepare and Plan Ahead
Make sure that mom and baby are in comfortable and non-distracting clothes. Avoid clothing with patterns, huge logos, and super bright colors. Try to stick with neutral tones and/or a solid colored shirt. (Ex: basic tank or t-shirt, leggings, robe, white basic onesie or sleeper).
Take photos sometime during breakfast to lunchtime. This allows for lots of natural light to flow through your space. Open up the curtains and/or blinds.
Feed the baby. I know this one is common sense but I like to have mama feed the baby about 10-15min before I arrive to ensure the baby’s belly is full and they are happy. I expect that they will feed again during the session, however, feeding beforehand allows for us to jump right into the photo session when I arrive.
Turn OFF ALL the lights. The lighting in our homes and hospitals are fluorescent, which gives off a warm tone in the photos. By turning off the lights, you are only capturing the natural light that is coming from the windows.
Increase the temperature in the room to around 80 degrees. Babies have been in a warm, tight, and cozy environment for at least 36-40 weeks, and so they love being swaddled and warm. If the baby is cold, it’s extremely difficult to get photos.
Declutter. Before you start taking photos make sure that the area is clean. Move any bags, shoes, food, people, or anything else that is in the background. Bonus Tip: If you know where you’re going to have photos taken, try to coordinate what you wear to flow with the colors in the area but not too matchy matchy.
Calm sounds are optional but helpful. You can use a baby shusher or download the “Sound Sleeper” App to help keep the baby calm during the session.
It’s Time for Photos
Start with putting your phone in portrait mode. Portrait mode allows for the background to be blurry while your subjects are in focus.
Start with the baby unswaddled in the bassinet or on a bed to get the details of their hair, nails, feet, fuzzy shoulders, ears, hair, eyelashes and etc.
Angles are important. Bring a step stool to expand your view. Getting high above them gives an amazing perspective. Walk around the subject in a 360-degree manner and just snap some photos. This helps you choose a preference of perspective to see what angles you like best. Make sure that all subjects are facing the light no matter what angle you choose. Also, do NOT shoot up the nose of your subjects.
Move the subjects closer to the light. When you do this, you are creating more dynamic lighting and depth which creates flattering images.
Use gentle prompts to help with candid moments. Ex. Kiss the baby toes, put your nose to the baby’s nose, cuddle her, sing to him, and etc. You can also just sit back and take photos of the family while baby is being fed, changed, bathing, and any other happenings where the family is being bonding.
Here is a list of potential images to capture.
You may not do every single option listed and that’s okay. Get creative!
- Baby Alone: Full body swaddled and unswaddled
- Baby Alone: Features and details
- Mom with Baby – sitting on bed or couch
- Mom with Baby – standing
- Dad with baby – sitting on bed or couch
- Daddy with baby – standing
- Mom dad and baby – sitting
- Mom dad and baby – standing
- Siblings with baby – sitting
- Siblings overlooking the bassinet
- Mom, dad, sibling(s), and baby while standing or sitting
I am hopeful that these tips will help families that are preparing for birth or who’ve already given birth during this difficult time to create some amazing soul-healing newborn images to look back on. Maybe, just maybe these images will remind families of their test of faith, strength, flexibility, but ultimately the details and circumstance surrounding their birth experience too!
Please share and tag all families that are expecting during these are unprecedented times.
Thank you for your time, stay safe, & healthy,
Motherhood Portraits by Tiana Lashae