It’s true what they say, they really do grow up far too quickly! And there’s no question that newborn babies grow the fastest. Each and every day they seem to grow bigger and stronger and more alert. And before you know it your little babe-in-arms becomes an adventure-seeking toddler. If you’re a new parent looking to document and celebrate those precious first few days, weeks and months, these newborn photo shoot tips and tricks will help you pause the clock and capture gorgeous images your family will cherish for a lifetime.
1. Be prepared
As you will have already discovered as a new parent, preparation is key when it comes to having a happy baby. This is especially true when you’re planning a newborn photo shoot during the first few days or weeks after birth. It’s important to be well organised with bottles, food, nappies and clothing, but you’ll also want to keep all of your props and camera equipment prepared too, so that you have everything ready to go when your little one is happy and content. You may only have a short window of time to carry out your photo shoot, so go through this check-list and make sure you have considered the following points:
- Is your camera/smartphone ready to grab and start shooting when an opportunity presents itself?
- Is your camera/smartphone battery fully charged and do you have enough memory space for new photos?
- Would you like to use props to dress your scenes (we’ll share lots of ideas on this below)? And if so, do you have them close to hand?
- Do you have items to make your newborn baby safe and comfortable during the shoot? We’ll also share some suggestions on this below.
2. Consider your locations and light sources
In most cases you will be planning your newborn shoots in your own home. The beauty of this is that you can move around freely and get set up in your own time, and leave things where they’ll be most convenient. That said, you may find it easier to bring all your props and camera equipment to wherever your baby is most comfortable, rather than the other way around. And of course, like all forms of photography, good light will always help you take good photos. Perhaps you can move your bed a little closer to a window so you can make the most of the natural light. Or maybe you can put thick blankets down in a different room of your home if the light is better.
Bonus tip: If you do need an additional light source, consider using a constant light rather than a flash. A camera flash may disturb or even upset your little one, and this definitely won’t help you get the beautiful photos you’re dreaming of.
3. Keep warm and cosey
A happy baby makes for a happy photographer. By keeping your baby’s comfort in mind, you will ensure a successful photo shoot. For example, if your baby is hungry and or tired they will likely cry, writhe and wriggle. So try to time your photo shoot for just after a feed and/or sleep, when they are at their happiest and most content – a milk-drunk baby will also make for some lovely photos. If your little cherub feels cold then they will react in the same way, so be sure to heat up the room where you want to carry out your shoot, and also to keep blankets, clothes and snuggly hats to hand.
Bonus tip: Remember to dial up the temperature a little hotter than you might normally if you want to get some photos of your little one in their birthday suit.
4. Plan poses, but also play it by ear
Grab your baby’s favourite blanket and start your photo shoot with a simple swaddle shot. There’s a reason newborns are so often referred to as little “bundles of joy” and this classic shot will forever take you back to those life-changing first few moments after birth. As well as being picture-perfect, babies love being swaddled and will be warm and cosey. Lay them down on your bed, or get creative by popping them in a pretty basket – do this safely and line the basket with soft linens and place it on the floor. Try them on their tummy or side, and if possible uncover their little toes and fingers so you can see them in the shot too. Tuck their hands up under their chin or let them rest naturally and photograph them in their favourite position.
Bonus tip: Although it’s always great to have a few poses in mind beforehand, it’s also a good idea to be prepared to let your baby lead the shoot. From spontaneous smiles, yawns and stretches to air punches and leg kicks, some of the best baby shots are often the ones that happen by accident.
5. Use existing belongings as props
There’s really no need to go out and buy new props for your newborn photo shoot, as you likely have everything you need already. Whether it’s the hat that the midwives put on their tiny head just after they were born or the blanket your grandma knitted as a gift, these are the items that will add the most meaning to your newborn baby photos.
Other props you may want to consider:
- The hospital ankle/wristband put on your baby in hospital
- The first outfit you dressed them in to take them home
- The dressing gown you wore during or just after the birth
- A favourite toy or teddy bear
- The first blanket or towel you swaddled them in once you got them home
- A pretty little headband for your baby girl, or a woolen crown for your baby boy
6. Enjoy the wonders of white noise
Newborn babies love to sleep, and this can be an excellent time to hold your mini photo shoot. After all, there’s no prettier sight than a tiny little baby all snuggled up and sleeping like… well, like a baby! However, the clacking of your camera could potentially wake your little one up and ruin the session. To get around this problem, consider playing some white noise in the background, which will recreate the soothing sounds of the womb and help your baby sleep through all the action.
Bonus tip: If you’re using your smartphone as a camera, consider playing the white noise from another device, such as a portable speaker, tablet or laptop. This will ensure the sound is constant and as soothing as possible for your little sleeping beauty.
7. Poses with Mummy and Daddy
It’s only natural to focus on your new baby during your photo shoots, especially as you may not be feeling your absolute best in the days and weeks after the birth. But it can be really special to look back on photos with yourself and/or partner in and remember how you looked and felt during that life-changing period of time. As well as taking you straight back to those new feelings, it will also help provide a sense of scale and show just how tiny your tiny tot actually was.
Bonus tip: Consider setting up your camera/smartphone on a tripod so you can capture your new baby as well yourself, (or both parents).
8. Celebrate with siblings
Becoming a big brother or sister is a seriously exciting time, so be sure to get your other children involved in the photo shoot too. If they’re old enough (and strong enough), allow big brother/sister to hold the baby in their arms. Try a few different poses, with them either looking at the baby or to the camera. And if you aren’t quite confident enough to let them hold your newborn, simply get them to lie/or sit down next to your newborn and try a few different poses like that.
Bonus tip: If your newborn is awake, see if you can capture the new siblings interacting with each other. A little bit of eye-contact can really make for a touching family photo.
9. Get the grandparents involved
For the ultimate family portrait, why not get your parents involved and celebrate three generations in one image. You’ll definitely want to use a tripod (or selfie stick) for this shot. This can be a fun activity to do while visiting your parents, or likewise while they are visiting you.
Bonus tip: Want to get creative? Have a look through your old family photos and pick a couple out that your parents can try to recreate with their new grandchild. Only this time, it’ll be your baby in the shot instead of baby you.
10. Stay safe and take no risks
Whether it’s making sure you use a strap on your camera or phone, just in case you drop it during the shoot, or making doubly sure the chair you’re standing on is ultra-firm, the key point is to keep your little one safe and sound during your photo shoot. No photograph is worth putting them in danger or making them feel uncomfortable. Newborn photography is all about having fun and enjoying the creative process. This is only the beginning of the biggest adventure in your life, with many more photos and happy memories to come.
Try not to put too much pressure on yourself to capture “the perfect shot”. Remember that you have a whole lifetime together to witness and photograph their journey – from newborn to toddler to teenager to adult. Just keep shooting and you can be sure to capture a few snaps that you’ll be proud to share and print in photo books or hang up on the walls of your family home.