There is nothing more precious than bringing a new baby into the world. The excitement felt by parents is so vast that taking photos of your bundle of joy is a no-brainer. When taking pictures, it is important to follow certain guidelines so you can get the most high-quality photos possible. Whether you are taking the photos yourself or hiring a professional photographer, the steps below will ensure an easy and successful photoshoot.
Equipment Needed for Baby Photo Session
The baby will likely be moving quite a bit when you try to take your photographs, so it is a smart idea to have everything you need before you put the baby down for their session. Doing so will ensure that you get the best shots right off the bat and will make the session shorter so the baby doesn’t get overly anxious. Here is what you should have beforehand:
- Blanket or swaddling material
- Item(s) to draw baby’s attention (rattle, stuffed animal, etc.)
- Lighting rig (if necessary)
Basic Camera Settings for at Home Photography Shoots
If you are an amateur photographer with limited experience and only a few lenses from which to choose, then you may want to rely on a few basic camera settings to get the job done. What makes this scenario different from adult portraits is that babies are constantly moving so it won’t always be easy to get the best shot. That will likely mean that you will be taking many fast shots, so select these settings so all you have to do is click the button:
- Aperture: For a single baby, the aperture should be f/4, which will put the baby in focus and blur the background. For group shots, it should be f/8.
- Shutter Speed: A setting around 1/200 should work fine for moving targets as it will limit the blurring in the shots.
- ISO: Set this low enough so that it does not affect your shutter speed.
You can really take advantage of these camera settings by photographing your baby during the day when you have the most vivid natural light filling the space. Direct sun will likely cause harsh shadows, but by moving the baby away from the window a bit, you will get great soft light.
Best Angles to Photograph Newborns
Since you may be photographing your baby only a few days after their birth, they may not be able to give much effort during the photo session. On top of their lack of muscle, your baby will also likely be wrapped in a blanket or in an outfit where their head is really the only part that is exposed. There are several angles that you can shoot from to get the best photo:
1. Straight on. Instead of standing on top of them to take the photo, it is best to get on their level. When you take the shot, opt for a long lens because that will give the impression of more space instead of looking like you are right in front of the baby. There is also something dramatic about being at the baby’s level at this early stage of their life.
2. Lower Level. When the baby is propped up, you lay on the carpet as low as you can and then take the picture with the camera slightly pointed up. This is a chance to get nice shots that are a bit more on the creative side.
3. Bird’s Eye View. Another option is to take the picture while over or higher up than the baby. Shooting downward can give you amazing shots of the baby sleeping, at bath time, or just when they are playing around.
There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to how you take pictures of the baby. Try all three methods above and mix and match to make a nice collage of your little bundle of joy.
Tips to Calm the Baby for Photoshoot
Patience is essential when photographing your baby, especially if they are newborns or on the younger side. They will likely not sit still if they can help it and if they are not playing around, they may be crying or worked up, so you will want to try a few tactics to make them as calm or happy as possible.
1. You must stay relaxed. The last thing you want to do when a baby starts acting up is to get angry. The louder and more upset you get, the more anxious the baby is going to get, and there is a chance you will be forced to end the shoot before getting any good photos.
2. Swaddle. If you are photographing a newborn that is getting upset, it is a good idea to swaddle the child before you continue. Not only will this make for an affordable photo, but the baby is typically more at ease when swaddled.
3. Rock the baby. Whether you are the parent or a hired photographer, try doing what is natural when it comes to soothing a baby. That could mean rocking them in your arms or even singing a soothing song.
4. Turn up the heat. If your baby is getting fidgety, consider turning the temperature in the studio up a bit. Newborns are used to the warmth inside of their mother’s womb, so not only will you calm the child, but you may get them in a happier mood which is perfect for the photo.
5. White noise. Just like with the warmth, newborns are also used to hearing white noise when they are in the womb, be it the mother’s heartbeat, lungs breathing, or people outside speaking. If you have a white noise machine, consider playing that if they get fidgety.
How to Make a Baby Smile for Photos
While calming the baby is important, sometimes you may want to get that fun smile out of them and getting that emotion will take a different type of effort. Keep in mind that babies don’t typically smile until age 6-10 weeks so if they aren’t doing it before that, don’t fret.
1. Get Silly. Don’t be afraid to ham it up during your photo sessions. Make funny faces, jump about, play peek-a-boo, whatever it takes to get that desired emotion.
2. Toys. If your silly antics aren’t getting the desired result, then try bright colored toys or noise-makers that might elicit a response.
3. Interact. If nothing else works, try interacting with the baby with light touch. That could include bumping their nose with a stuffed animal or tickling them with a feather.
Remember To Keep It Simple
Even if you follow the tips discussed above, it can be easy to get too wrapped up in the experience, but remember that these photos should be relatively simple. After all, you are trying to capture the beauty of your baby, so it is not necessary to worry about elaborate lighting rigs, special poses or over-the-top outfits. Just a baby in their blanket will be amazing.
As for the color of their clothes, most experts recommend going with neutral colors, such as blues, grays, and creme as they typically translate best on film. Avoid neon or black as these colors can appear heavy or distracting.
That goes for backgrounds as well. Your best option may be to have the photoshoot in the baby’s nursery, which will look natural with the crib and decorations. If the baby’s room is blue or pink, it will create the perfect pastel background.
Include Other Family Members in Photos
While you want to shoot plenty of solo shots, it is also important to get the baby’s siblings into some of the photos as well. This will be an endearing experience for all your young ones and they can even help by holding the baby in place or laying next to them. As an insider tip, take the pictures that include the older kids first so they don’t get fidgety and they can go and play afterward.
Once the kids have been photographed and the solo shots are done, it is a great idea for mama to get a few select photos. There is something so special and innocent about a photo of a mother holding a baby in her arms and it is a picture that you will treasure forever.
If you are the photographer and you want to be in the picture, then you’ll need to either hold the camera or set a timer. You don’t want the camera to be shaky, so it is a good idea to use a tripod to keep it in place. You’ll want to set up the camera at the perfect level (see the angle section above) before you bring in the baby so you aren’t juggling everything at the same time.
All in all, these are the basic steps for photographing your baby with the best possible results. Don’t let this be a one-time event either. Make it a habit as the years go by to take new photos as you and your babies grow. It can be a wonderful annual event that will create new memories that you will cherish forever.