Tips to Photograph your Newborn at Home during COVID-19

Being in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic life as we know it has changed. We are all self isolating to do our part to limit the spread of this deadly virus.

Non-Essential businesses have closed affecting photographers worldwide. 

Parents and soon to be parents are finding themselves having to accept the reality that they will not be able to have their newborns photographed like they had wished for. This BREAKS my heart you guys!!!

Photographing newborns is my life passion, and to know that new moms and dads are unable to realize their dreams of having their newborns photographed is gut wrenching for me. I feel your frustrations, sadness and understand how this just doesn’t seem fair. Please know I hear you and empathize with you. I know this isn’t how you imagined bringing your new baby into the world. 

The purpose of this blog post is to pass along some tips to help you create memories at home. That is what it is all about anyways right!?

Capturing your new baby in all their perfect glory.

I know you dreamed of your photo session and this isn’t to substitue for that experience but hopefully you can take some of these tips and capture your sweet little one.

Trust me you will be grateful that you did. Especially during this time in the world when we have all had a harsh reality check on what is really important, and what truly matters.

First off I am going to start with this phrase
“KEEP IT SIMPLE” 

Don’t try to recreate poses you see on photographers pages or instagram feeds.
To pose newborns is a learned and perfected skill,
you should not attempt to pose your baby in props or complex poses.

We are simply trying to document this amazingly special time in your lives, so again “KEEP IT SIMPLE”

For my example all I am using is my daughters bed, 2 sets of my husbands socks and my iPhone 8 Plus
in normal picture mode.

My lovely baby “Lilly” is stripped down to mimick a baby wearing a simply white sleeper, or onesie. She is wearing a bonnet just to keep her insanely wild hair at bay lol. 

The first thing to look for is Good light! Lighting is the number one most important thing
to acheive a beautiful photograph.

I chose my daughters room as the light from the window is north facing which creates nice soft lighting.
She also has beautiful white sheer curtains on her window to further diffuse the light source.

You do not want to use direct sunlight as it will be too HARSH and you don’t want a light source that is too
small or too high as the light will not be enough to achieve the look you are going for.

Different times of the day will result in a different quality of light. So before you start photographing your little one.
Look around your home and look for lighting that is soft and abundant. You can pose your baby on your bed, a couch or an ottoman. Bassinettes, cribs and moses baskets can be absolutely beautiful as well.

You may have to do some light rearranging of furniture to create a space to take your photos. Mama’s employ your hubbies for this task, no heaving lifting for you mamas!

North facing window with sheer curtains
Subject close to the light source


Babies head angled with the light source coming down across the top of the head and face as demonstrated in the above photo.

Placement of your subject is key to achieve good lighting. You want your subject as close as you can to your light source. The closer to the light source the softer the light.
You  also want your subject to be placed so that the light is falling down across the face, think of the light coming from the top of the head towards the chin.
You are looking for a small shadow on the side of babies nose. When you see the small shadow you know you have the proper lighting for your portrait.

You can also side light your subject by having the light on one side of the face, this will give your subject shadows on the opposite side of the face.
You DO NOT want the light coming from the bottom of the babies face up towards the top of the head this is called “ghoul lighting” think of when you place a flashlight underneath your chin.

 

Light coming from the top of babies head and across the face
approximately a 45-50 degree angle to the window. “Note the small shadow by the side of babies nose“.

Light coming from the side of babies face
approximately 70-90 degree angle to the window.
Note the small shadow by the side of babies nose“.

Light coming from the bottom of the babies chin towards the top of the head. So from the feet to the head.

This is considered “Ghoul lighting”. This is the most unflattering way to light your subject.

Now if you are still finding too much shadows on your subjects face you can use a “reflector” to bounce light back onto the shadowed side of your subject.
A reflector can be anything white. For instance a pillow, a sheet, a piece of white poster board any larger item that is white in color.
Place the reflector on the shadowed side of your subject to bounce light back onto their face.
In my example I am using a large white pillow from my daughters room. You may need to enlist your hubbies help to hold the reflector so it doesn’t fall onto your subject.

 

 






Now once you have a found a suitable light source and somewhere to pose your baby you can get started.
I would map out the time of day that works best with your light source then, feed baby nice and full prior
to starting and work at babies pace.
In terms of colors to use during your session I would
suggest using neutral colours such as
whites/creams, perhaps greys.

Avoid very bright colors as they can color cast onto babies skin. Imagine baby laying on a bright fushia pink blanket that pink color will actually reflect back onto babies skin, giving it an overall unnatural pink color.

Be mindful of what you use. A simple sleeper, onesie or heirloom clothing will make for amazing photographs. Lay baby on a white duvet, or on the beautiful quilt your mom made for him or her. Anything will be suitable as long as it isn’t a bright saturated color 🙂

Now to discuss posing your baby...

I have used my husbands socks to be my “posers” the first will be placed under baby’s neck so that their little face is looking up at me vs behind the back of the head where they are looking down towards their belly

The second set of socks will be used to pose the legs

Using thick socks from my husband as baby posers. Folded into tubes.

One set of socks behind babies neck
One set of socks just behind babies knee
area to keep legs folded

Socks placed behind babies neck to have face “looking up

Socks behind back of babies head
See how the chin is now tucked down towards the chest you want the face to be open and looking up towards you

You will place your “posers” underneath the layer you are photographing baby on. It is super important to have this layer pulled “TIGHT” no lumps or bumps. Thick blankets, like my example or duvets are easy to pull tight as they have some weight to them. If the layer you have chosen to photograph baby on is thin, put some other thicker layers underneath this layer to put your posers underneath. This will keep your backdrop clean and seamless.

Now lets talk angles and compostition

You want to take photos with the focus being babies face. The best way to achieve this is to be directly above babies face when you are taking the photograph.

Eye of the camera over top of babies face slightly tilted down towards the body/toes

Eye of the camera postioned more over babies torso, this angle makes babies belly the focus and largest area in the photo, as well as you can see “up” babies nostrils.

Eye of the camera is closest to top of babies head. Babies forehead is the focus of this compostion instead of babies sweet face. This angle is too high.

Eye of the camera is directly over babies face, this is the best angle to photograph your baby

Posing should be simple and baby led, meaning let your baby dictate what they are comfortable with, you can place them simply on their back and using your posers position arms and legs in natural baby led poses. Holding gentle pressure on babies legs, and or belly while they settle will help them “Keep” in pose.

Patience is key while posing babies, they need to feel comfortable and supported. Be sure the room you are photographing them in is nice and warm. Try swaddling if your baby is being a bit fussy. Also take as many breaks as you need to, enjoy these moments and don’t try to rush things. It may take more than one day to acheive what you are hoping to capture and that is ok.

Here are some examples of simple poses. For variety change your camera angle by tilting it right slightly or left, remember to get close ups too. Focus on their features from the sides as well, and don’t forget their little hands, feet, their milk blistered lips the swirl of hair on the top of their head. Document it all!!!

Legs folded and arms in a natural position

Same as above only unfolded legs, positioned them in their a postion that baby likes. Moved arm slightly in the same manner of the legs.

Close up of above pose, and taken from the shadowed side of the face.

Another close up angle of the same pose.

Same as above simply moved closer towards babies head and acheived this all with the tilt of my iPhone.

Remember to play with tilting your camera, don’t just shoot straight on! Tilt it right and left and forward on an angle. Play with angles, shoot lots of the same pose with multiple angles and don’t forget the close up details!

Simple sibling pose keeping in mind where your light source is. Light is to camera right you can see it coming across almost at a 70 degree angle across the faces of both subjects. You could also wrap baby in a simple swaddle for this pose so you don’t have to contend with all babies limbs in the photo.

For sibling shots please have a spotter handy to be there in case your older child decides to break pose.

Also be sure your spotter isn’t in the way of your light source, as this will create shadows on the faces of your subjects.

Same pose as above only moving the arms above the head to add variety

Same pose as above only tilting camera slightly for a different composition.

Remember to get in some photos too, have your husband or even older siblings take a photo with you and your baby. Sit close to a window remembering the lighting tips you learned above.

Practice first with your husband holding baby or an older sibling to see the lighting and look for the little shadow by babies nose. Once you are confident with your lighting switch with your practice partner and have them get some shots of you and your precious baby.

There is even software available on many smartphones to edit your images (The images I have shown are all unedited but there are many programs available to enhance your images)

My personal favorite is Photoshop Express Photo Editor here is an example

I hope these tips help you to acheive some beautiful memories of your sweet baby once they arrive.

Keep safe and healthy

xoxo – Crystal

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