I’m not sure if the birth of my baby boy spurred my love for photography, or if he just made it a lot more fun. Either way, my paparazzi-style parenting is now in full swing.
The very first “photo shoot” I did with Carter was for his newborn photos. I was determined to take the perfect shot to use on his baby announcement, even though I had literally NO idea what I was doing.
If you’re in the same spot, I want to save you some trouble. There were so many things that I could’ve done to make that experience a lot more fun, and a lot less stressful!
So, here are 8 helpful newborn photography tips to help you take the perfect baby announcement photo of your new little bundle of joy.
1. Keep your poses simple & safe
I’m putting this one first because it’s the MOST important thing to note. Beautiful newborn photos like the ones above can be deceiving, but rest assured that Photoshop plays a huge role in these types of photos. When you see a baby hanging from a tree branch or balancing on the edge of a basket, the photo is almost always created by taking multiple shots & piecing them together in Photoshop.
There are plenty of professional photographers who can pull off these elaborate poses beautifully and safely, so if this is the look you’re wanting, I’d consider hiring one of them rather than trying it at home.
2. Consider a timeless approach
The posed newborn photos from Tip #1 have become increasingly popular, but it’s definitely not the only type of newborn photography. In fact, I have a bit of a suspicion that we might all look back ten years from now and feel like babies propped up in buckets and hanging from trees look a bit silly. So, it definitely doesn’t hurt to capture your newborn in his or her everyday environment. Photos of babies being babies will never go out of style.
Some of my favorite spots to capture newborn photos are the places you’re most likely to find them in real life—in their crib, on mom & dad’s bed, or laying on their back on a blanket. A simple white onesie or a swaddle are great options to have your baby wear as you capture them in their natural environment.
3. Be prepared to be patient
Knowing what to expect before you start your shoot will make the whole experience much less stressful. Keep in mind that even for professionals, newborn sessions take up to 4 hours, and are by far the longest type of portrait shoots. It might seem really simple, but most people don’t consider how much time, patience, and snacks they’ll actually need to set aside.
You may be thinking, “It only takes a millisecond to push the shutter and snap a picture, right? What could possibly make a newborn session last so long?” It’s actually getting the baby settled that takes so much time. Sometimes, as much as 90% of the shoot is spent feeding, changing, rocking, and calming the baby.
4. A cozy baby is a happy baby
The best way to make sure your newborn looks content and peaceful in your photos is by getting them into a deep sleep. And the newer the newborn, the sleepier they’ll be—which is why the ideal age for a newborn shoot is within 4-10 days after birth.
Most of the time, if they’re warm and comfy, they’ll be snoozing away in no time. So, crank up the heat in your house (a toasty 80 degrees or so) and use a space heater if you have one. I also use a white noise app on my phone, which is super helpful to drown out background noise.
Swaddling is another great way to help your baby get settled. Even if you know you want a photo of them au naturel, start them off swaddled so they feel secure and can relax. Then, once they drift off into a deep sleep, you’ll be able to remove the swaddle and re-position them much more easily.
5. Posing & positioning
One of the most common oversights in newborn photography is not propping the baby’s head up enough to keep the blanket from covering some of their face. To avoid this, wait for them to fall into a deep sleep, and then use your hand to move the cheek that’s touching the blanket up and away from the blanket. Another trick is to have them rest one of their cheeks on their arm to help keep their face out of the blanket.
How you position yourself when taking a photo is just as important as how you pose the baby. You’ll want to make sure that you’re standing slightly above your newborn, and not aiming your camera up their nose. Try out different angles and positioning, both close-up and far away, so you have a lot of variety in your shots without having to re-position the baby after each photo.
6. Don’t forget the details
Itty-bitty fingers and toes are some of the cutest things you’ll ever see. They stop being itty-bitty so quickly, and it’s easy to forget how little they once were. Make sure to get a few close-up shots, which will not only help you remember these little details, but are also great secondary shots for a baby announcement!
7. Mom was there, too!
I’ve met very few moms who are begging to get in front of the camera with their newborn, and I remember feeling the exact same way. My body is all stretched out because there was a human in there a week ago, and now you want me to pose for a photo? But trust me on this one—you’ll want to remember that you were there, too!
And while you might not choose to put this one on your baby announcement, since you’re already doing a shoot, you’ll be in the perfect situation to get a photo of yourself with your newborn.
So, whatever you can do to get in the photo—whether it’s using a tripod with a self-timer, or having a friend or family member come over and help you out—you’ll be happy you have it.
8. Be creative and have some fun!
Last, but definitely not least, don’t feel limited to posing your baby on a blanket just because that’s the current trend—or some nice lady on a blog you like suggested it to you ;) There are so many other ways to announce your newborn to the world! To get the creative juices flowing, check out our newborn photography inspiration board on Pinterest.
I hope these tips help you have a fun and stress-free photo shoot with your new little one. And if you’re looking for some sweet baby announcements, we have a ton of those too.
We’d really love to see how your photos turn out, and if you have any awesome newborn photography tips of your own, please let us know!