More Newborn Photography Tips for Rookies
This handsome little fella is already almost 3 weeks old (where did the time go?!) and he still has me totally heart-eyed. You guys were right, being an aunt is AH-MAZING!
When my sister asked if I could come over and get a few photos of Owen as a newborn, I was so excited for the
opportunity excuse to play Auntie Paparazzi. I did however remind her that I’m not ((even CLOSE to)) a professional photographer and that she should definitely invest in a real photographer if she wanted professional quality photos. She insisted that my photos would be perfect for her. #awww
When Casey welcomed her nephew into the world with a newborn photo-shoot, she learned A LOT (and documented the tips in this post). That newborn photography post is actually one of our most popular posts, which is why I decided to build on that post with 10 MORE newborn photography tips. <– plus, any excuse to show off this cutie is okay in my playbook!
We don’t think our photos are close to professional quality, but we do feel that with enough practice (and lots of trial and error), new moms + friends can get some pretty amazing photos of their precious babies. And to us, that’s what it’s all about. We hope some of these tips help you capture the special baby in a stress-free environment <— we say that from experience. Newborn photos can be STRESSFUL, and to us, that stress defeats the whole purpose of these special photos.
1. Stay home!
If possible, we do encourage you to stay at home to take these pics… for a few different reasons.
- Taking these photos at home will ensure that mom and baby are comfortable, in a comfortable temperature, and have access to anything the baby needs (i.e. diaper, bottle, new blanket, pacifier, nap time, etc.)
- We know we’re a bit biased, but we do think it’s important to capture hints of the home when possible in these photos. The house that you bring your baby home to is SPECIAL and is now officially a significant part of your family’s “story”. On the parent’s bed, in the little one’s new nursery, with a pet, whatever the case… being home is the perfect backdrop in our opinion.
- New moms are just that — NEW to the mom game. It’s important to take this transition slowly and being able to capture these photos in the comfort of your own home (and at the pace you want) is extremely important to keep this experience as stress-free as possible.
2. Have a general plan, but be flexible
I told Katie that I was there to take the photos, but I would take whatever photos she wanted to or do whatever she had planned. She made a very general plan of what she wanted the afternoon to look like, which helped me because I never felt like I was invading on her or Owen’s schedule. Plus it helped her because she had a few of the blankets, props, and “looks” ready for the photos before I came over. However, it is important to note that this plan should be very, very…. very flexible. Being flexible is key. If you don’t get to one of the “outfits” or one of your Pinterest ideas doesn’t work out, IT’S OKAY! There’s always tomorrow, right?!
3. Natural Light + Warmth = Winning combo
Casey mentioned this tip in the original newborn photography post, but it’s so important that it deserves to be re-emphasized. If you’re new to the photography game, the biggest piece of advice we can tell you is ALWAYS shoot in natural light. Never at night, never with a lamp on, and never when the light in your home is less than bright. Having a space that is full of natural light is important to capture gorgeous photos. <— That goes for all photos, not just newborn photos.
Keeping the baby nice and warm in this bright space is probably the biggest tip we have specifically for newborn photos. From our limited experience, keeping baby warm and cozy is key in keeping him comfortable and photo-ready! (More heating tricks here)
4. Go with what’s YOU
Pinterest is a magical place, isn’t it? We love Pinterest and turn to it for inspiration all the time. However, Pinterest can become stressful and overwhelming when you are looking to replicate an EXACT look rather than using that look as inspiration.
Spoiler alert: you’re never, ever going to replicate an identical photo — and that’s OKAY! We want you to create your own gorgeous photos and feel proud, not look back at these same gorgeous photos and feel disappointed that they don’t look like photos on Pinterest. So use Pinterest for ideas, but get excited to put your own spin and style on them. Photos that reflect you, your style, and this adorable little baby are way more perfect anyway!!
5. Get your light right
Super important. When you’re a rookie like me, getting the settings right on your camera may take an extra second… or 12. I find that it’s helpful to get your camera settings perfect before putting baby down to photograph. This way, you’re ready to shoot right away and you’re not wasting precious time. Let’s be honest here, every second counts when this adorable little guy in front of you cracks an unexpected smile. =)
6. Include mom
Of course getting “mom” in the photo is important & so special to have for years and years to come. Plus we all know that moms are NEVER in photos because they’re always busy taking them! Not cool. So for obvious reasons we want mom to jump in the photo BUT we also think mom should be in the photo for some selfish photography reasons. Having mom in the photo almost immediately calms baby and provides that warmth that is so important to keep him calm and happy.
Owen was by far the calmest when he was being held by Katie, so getting her in the picture was a WIN-WIN!
7. Edit in black and white if you have an “oops!”
Like I said, I’m a rookie when it comes to newborn photography so there were times my camera wasn’t on the perfect setting or the shadows/colors were a bit off. Because of those minor issues, the photos of these super cute moments were less than perfect (to say it nicely). However, editing the photos and converting them to black and white helped make-up for some of these rookie mistakes.
If you LOVE the photo but don’t love the photography skills behind it, try converting it into black and white and you may be surprised with the outcome! <— maybe not the answer for the entire batch, but an option for at least a few! #ourlittlesecret
8. NO pressure…
If we’re being completely honest here, all you need out of this “photoshoot” are 5-10 photos you love. So forget having to do 12 outfit changes at 5 different locations — that’s too much and totally unnecessary to put this newborn through at this point!
Allow me to personally reassure you that if you take ENOUGH photos (even just with one blanket!), you WILL get 5-10 amazing ones (how could you NOT, these babies are so darn cute!?). So don’t feel pressure to get the “perfect” shot. You only need 5… let’s keep that in perspective. Five amazing photos of this perfect little human?! Forget the pressure… you’ve got this!
9. Don’t overlook the details
Don’t overlook the details! Mini toes, fingers, nose, hair…. all of these details are adorable and can be a fun touch to the scrapbook, photo stream, or baby announcement. So while you’re shooting away, don’t forget to snap a few pics of these tiny details that won’t always be so darn tiny.
10. Embrace the imperfections!
This picture… can you even?! I feel like Owen is saying, “MOM!! Ewwwww…. don’t kiss me in front of my friends!”. Is he 16 already?!
These imperfect faces and funny “mishaps” are actually the best part of some of these photos, so embrace the not-so perfect pictures! These moments are the ones that you’ll be extra grateful you have documented years and years from now.
So last but not least, when baby faces, baby postures, or ideas aren’t going exactly how you envisioned, just keep going with it because you may be surprised at how special these photos really turn out to be. Imperfect is the new perfect.
Our Photography Favorites
For your information, here is our all-time favorite photo equipment & what we use to take all of our pictures (affiliate links used):
- Our Camera with this lens and this lens is what we started with
- This lens was a splurge but we’re obsessed with it!
- This reflector is really helpful for newborn photography
- We have this light kit, but don’t really use it for baby pictures
P.S. Have you seen Owen’s adorable “Happy Camper” Nursery?! Take the full tour here!
I’m Casey Finn, the voice behind The DIY Playbook. I’m married to Finn & mom to Rory and Ellis. Together we’re creating our dream home in Chicago, one DIY project at a time.