As a Newborn photographer it’s a funny time. Business is on pause, life as we knew it has changed dramatically, but life goes on and babies keep coming- little rainbows of hope and joy.
But I can’t do what I do for you all right now. I can’t welcome you in to my little studio, clean, cosy and safe, to create beautiful artworks and capture all those tiny details that change so so quickly. They really don’t stay tiny for long- in fact I find the ideal time for newborn sessions with me in my Cheshire studio is 4-14 days. They sleep for longer, they curl up nice and neat for my baby led, natural posing and they are flexible enough to be snuggly wrapped and safely posed in my teeny tiny props: baskets, crates, nests, bonnets, hairbands, delicate flowers- It’s all here waiting to create something beautiful for you.
I’m generally a proactive person, and rather than focusing on what I can’t do I like to channel myself in to what I can do, so as I received another message announcing the arrival of another little that I am going to have to wait to meet a while longer, I thought I’d put together a little guide of my top tips for capturing your own memories of your teeny newborn on your phone camera whilst I’m unable to create the bespoke, professional photography images you had dreamt of.
I even had a play around with my stunt baby to shoot some iPhone images using only natural light and I’ve included examples below- please note, I do not recommend wrapping your baby in masking tape! My stunt baby has very stubborn arms!
NATURAL LIGHT– Natural light really is the best for photographing newborn skin and its luminance. Find a nice bright room in your home with non-direct light shining through (this is normally a North facing window). If you have sunbeams shining through on a bright day the light is going to be too strong- you can hold a white piece of fabric over the window if this is your only option and this will filter the light and make it softer.
DON’T USE FLASH– Flash is literally the devil when it comes to photographing your newborn on your phone camera. It will be too strong and create harsh shadows. So just don’t. Ok?!
DIRECTION OF LIGHT– Look how the light falls across your baby. You want the light to cascade down and across the baby for the best results. Never “up light” the baby, with the light source shining from under their chin and up- this basically is the worst light, creating shadows where you don’t want them. You know when you were a kid telling ghost stories on a camping trip with a torch under your chin? It’s that. Halloween lighting. Baby Frankenstein. No thank you, not today.
CHOOSE YOUR BACKGROUND– A Moses basket placed near your window with lovely crisp white sheets would make a lovely setting for your natural images. Keep things simple and light so the details of your baby really stand out. Take some images with hats/accessories and some without for variation. A simple white baby vest is classic and timeless.
WATCH YOUR ANGLES– Again, this is about down and not up! You know when you video call your Nan and she holds the phone somewhere at her waist level, basically shooting right up her nose and you can play “count the chins”? It’s not a good angle is it? Same with photographing your beautiful new baby. Never shoot up babies nose. Never. You want to be above baby to capture those features in proportion.
TIMING IS EVERYTHING– the best time to photograph baby is when they are most settled- so this means making sure they are fed, warm, clean and happy. I’d recommend making sure the room is cosy, no drafts, they’ve a full tummy, winded and a nice clean nappy before attempting portraits. It’s always easier when they are asleep as they are often so fidgety when awake- head moving everywhere, eyes focusing on two different points in the early days and arms and legs flailing about like Phoebe Buffay on her daily jog. It’s great to capture those funny expressions and those newborn eyes before they change colour, but if you are looking for something for your walls you might want them to be a bit calmer.
CAPTURE THOSE DETAILS– get in close on those tiny feet, little fingers, their little button noses, their lips. These are the things that will change so rapidly. I love to create images with parents in shot so that you get to see the scale of things. Try placing babies feet in your hands, or holding their fingers. You’ll never believe they were so so tiny.
GET YOURSELF IN THE FRAME– simple portraits of parents and their newborns are my favourite. You don’t need complicated posing or fancy backdrops- just clear any distractions directly behind you if you can. Hold your baby in a way that feels natural to you. If you can get their face close to yours that’s great. A lovely pose is holding baby so they are lay on your chest, with they face towards the camera, as you stand about 2ft from your window facing in to the light. Turn your head towards the camera. You’ll have beautiful light falling across you and baby will be close to you. Try looking out of the window or looking down at baby and giving them a little kiss for variation and a natural moment and connection.
POSING YOUR NEWBORN– You may have an entire Pinterest board of ideas you want to try out. Screenshots of professional work you love the style of- babies in crates, baskets, baby in a frog like position with it’s head resting in it’s hands, baby posed on their tummy fast asleep in a tree or carefully balanced on an elephant trunk- there’s a whole world of professional photography out there to inspire you. But that’s all PROFESSIONAL photography for a reason. Baby safety in photography is a passion of mine, and those images you see are often composites- two (or more) images seamlessly edited together to create the final product. You see baby with it’s head in it’s hands, what you don’t see are the three other composite shots, each shot with an assistants hand supporting baby at different points, because, news-flash, newborn babies can’t actually hold their heads up themselves. Seen a cute shot of a baby in a crate? What you don’t see is the parents hand hovering right above them ready to steady them if they startle which I’ve edited out. DO NOT TRY COMPLICATED POSES OR USE UNSAFE PROPS. PLEASE! It’s not worth the risk for a photograph. Honestly. Just don’t. Go baby led with your posing. Baby on their backs, secure and settled is all you need for capturing memories. Keep it simple. Once I’m back up and running we can get creative!
EXPOSURE IS KEY. Photography is essentially science, and theres an array of factors that we use to get different results in images and a lot of it comes down to “exposure” or, basically, controlling how much light you let in to your camera. The easiest way to control this on your phone camera is by tapping the screen in different areas to get the look you want. In the below example you can see where I tapped the screen to achieve a “backlit” image and also where I tapped in the foreground to achieve more of a silhouette. Have a play around and see what look you prefer. It’s all about experimenting.
I bet you have a queue of people desperate to give your new addition a cuddle but that will have to wait for now, and you can wait for a professional shoot too! For now capture your reality and share them with your loved ones to brighten their day.
I hope this little guide helps you a little, but if you have any questions or want to share your results post away! I hope to see you and your bundles soon.