Hiring professional photographers for your newborn’s first photos can really burn a hole in your pocket.
Plus, with Covid-19 still lingering in every corner, you might not want to risk leaving the safety of your home just to get cute snaps of your little one. So, what’s the next best thing? A do-it-yourself (DIY) newborn photoshoot at home.
Now, we know what you’re thinking — is it safe? You’re not a professional after all.
The good news is so many other parents have already tried it. And the results look just as good. It’s as if they were done by a pro.
The other good news is we know just the right tips that will make your DIY photoshoot as easy as a piece of cake. So, what will you need? Keep on reading to find out.
What you need
The key to getting your little one’s best angles in your photos is lighting. No, you don’t need those huge umbrella-like lights on tripods to give your newborn the best lighting. All you need is natural light.
Pick an area in your home where a lot of natural light fills up the space. If there’s a space in your living room that with a clear sliding door or a long window, that might be the perfect spot.
Do not use flash. It will do more harm than good. Trust your natural light. It will truly bring out the beautiful angles of your little one.
When you are choosing your spot, by the way, make sure there is a lot of space for you to move around, so you don’t go knocking the backdrop or the tripod down.
Your smartphone is enough to get this DIY photoshoot going. But, if you want extra help, download a camera app that adjusts the quality of the photo for you. We recommend Lightroom (for both Android and iPhones) or Camera+ (for iPhones). Use a portrait orientation, and don’t forget to turn off the flash.
If you have a DSLR, keep your aperture at 2.8. (To do this, put your DSLR in Manual mode first, then find your aperture settings, and adjust accordingly) If you can’t find it and just end up throwing your DSLR in the trash, never mind the aperture settings.
Breathe in and out first then just look for your flash settings and turn it off. Doing so will automatically set your aperture to its widest setting. Don’t forget to use portrait mode.
Remember: you are doing a photoshoot on a newborn. So, chances are your baby can start crying and fussing while you shoot. Make your life easier by getting a tripod.
Not only does it help in making your photoshoot more hands-free but it keeps your photos steady.
Plus, you don’t want to accidentally drop your heavy phone on your newborn. A tripod makes for a safe and stress-free photo shoot. No blurry photos and injured newborns here.
This is the part that does not need to be overly fancy. A simple blanket will do. Just prop it against two chairs to make it look like a legit background. Even your floor can serve as a good backdrop (if you take photos of your newborn from the top). The simpler, the better.
This is where you prop your little mini-me up while you do your shoot. We advise covering it with plastic, so if and when your baby does a number one or two, your pillow or your bean bag is well-protected.
A fair warning when using these props on your set: Do not leave your baby unattended. They may be asleep while you’re shooting, but a lot can happen while they’re asleep.
Here’s a newborn photography safety tip: You can put a nice blanket over the pillow to make it less slippery or bulky. The blanket adds to the decor too. But, if you are doing this, make sure to use a blanket that does not irritate your newborn’s skin. A cotton or fleece blanket will do.
You want easy costume changes, so you don’t affect the mood of your baby. So, we suggest changing just the accessories for variety.
You can do a headband in one picture and a cute hat in the next. Or put mittens on your baby’s little hands in one picture and without them in another.
Also, when you’re choosing the colour of your newborn’s accessories, get ones that are neutral in colour. You don’t want loud colours that take the attention away from your newborn. So, use beiges, browns and whites.
The last on our list but definitely not the least is the spotter. This can be anyone — your husband, your in-law, your sister, or a friend — as long as you can trust them.
Say you need to pick up another costume for your baby. If you need to move a little farther away from your newborn to get another outfit, you will need a spotter to watch your baby for you.
A spotter is also useful in other situations. Say you have already found the perfect angle to take a picture, but a piece of hair flies on your baby’s face. Your spotter can remove the strand of hair for you as you focus on taking the pictures. Or you may notice your baby’s hand is moving down. Your spotter can move the hand back.
What to do
This is another situation where you will need your spotter. While they watch your newborn, you will have to prepare your set. Make sure to secure everything.
If you intend to use blankets and prop them up on two chairs as a makeshift backdrop, make sure the ends where they are clipped to the chairs are tight. You don’t want your backdrop falling on your newborn during the shoot.
The same goes for your tripod. Your phone or DSLR should be tightly secured to ensure it does not fall on your newborn. Invest in a sturdy tripod. For all you know, this photoshoot might not be the last you’ll do.
An additional tip: in one basket, prepare anything that your newborn will need should they become fussy during your shoot. Keep this basket close. It can include a burp cloth, a diaper, some wipes, some bottles, a pacifier, and pretty much anything that your newborn will need.
Another helpful tip is to play some white noise or any music that calms your baby. Play this sound once you start shooting to help keep your baby steady while you do your shoot.
Make sure to get baby ready
Getting your baby well-rested and fed is extremely important in a shoot. Fussy babies can turn your supposed one-hour photoshoot into a four-hour one. Don’t let that happen. Feed your baby before putting on their cute little outfits and positioning them in your little DIY set.
And here is the moment of truth. Your baby is well-rested and fed. Time to put them on your DIY set. Now, to address the big elephant in the room, can you do the cool poses that those professional photographers make babies do in their photoshoots? The simple answer is: let’s stick to the safe poses.
First, there is a reason only professional photographers do this. Usually, they have assistants who help put the babies in these cool poses then they’re just edited out later, which leads us to our next point.
If you are a first-timer at DIY photoshoots, you might be a beginner at photo editing too. So, you might be able to get your spotter to hold your baby in those cool poses, but can you edit out your partner’s fingers after? If your answer is no, then to you we say the same response: let’s stick to safe poses.
So, what are safe poses? Either you lie them on their backs, swaddled, on their side, or on their stomachs. Being gentle is the key. If you want to move your baby into a different pose, very lightly move their arms and legs. Never tug.
Make sure to take different angles and close-Ups
It’s the little things that count. So make sure to get up close to your newborn when you’re taking your shots. And try your best to capture their little movements, like when they yawn or suddenly smile. But when you do, make sure you will not drop your phone or camera on your bub’s face. So take a close-up shot, but not too close.
Cover different angles too, so you have plenty of choices once you start looking through the fruits of your labour. For example, you can take a side shot, a top shot, a slanted shot, and so on and so forth. You can also set a timer on your phone and join baby in the photo. You can invite dad and the rest of the family too!
And there you have it — your ultimate guide for your DIY newborn photo shoot.
These tips will work whether your little one is a boy or a girl, so feel free to steal these hacks if it means giving your little bundle of joy a quality and budget-friendly newborn photoshoot.