Want to capture beautiful portraits of your newborn baby but don’t have the funds to fork out for an expensive professional photographer?
With just a little preparation and thought to important things such as light you can take gorgeous photographs of your baby with your own smartphone.
Of course the best pictures will always be taken on a proper camera. However if you have a new smartphone, their cameras are so great these days that it is possible to take gorgeous print-worthy pictures you can proudly hang on your wall.
Follow these tips and you can get gorgeous snaps of your baby without spending a fortune.
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1. Get them while they’re young
In the first few days, your newborn will be super easy to photograph because they’re so ridiculously sleepy all of the time.
This means you’ll be able to move them about and place them in cute poses without worrying too much about them waking up and crying.
Plus those tiny newborn baby photos are so precious. Get portraits of your baby as soon as you can!
In fact, take a few in hospital if you do end up staying more than a day after the birth. The lighting tends to be stark, but bright.
Don’t forget to zero in on their toes and fingers, because it’s these little details that you will want to remember as they grow so very fast.
For older babies who can sit up, have a prop that will distract them.
2. Pick the right moments
Don’t start the photoshoot when your baby is ready for a feed. Wait until they are likely to be calm.
If you’re happy for them to be asleep for the pictures, then do it during their nap.
If your baby is a little older and started to smile (this usually doesn’t happen until after the first month or so), then wait until they’re fed and wide awake.
Make the photoshoot into a game for them and you’ll get some great pictures.
3. Get a great backdrop
A professional photographer’s studio will have a plain background where they can photograph your baby.
A neutral background without too much going on puts your baby in the centre of the photo and will make their features stand out.
You could try getting some plain white, or very simple, wrapping paper or fabric, then tape it to the wall and floor. It will need to be big enough to take up the entire backdrop of your photo, so you may need the whole roll of paper if that’s what you’re using.
If you do use fabric, give it a good iron before using it.
You could also try something fun like taping lots of pastel coloured streamers on the wall for your backdrop.
4. Get some props
Baskets, floral headpieces, cute booties, a funny onesie, a letter board with a funny phrase written on it. Any of these things will make great props.
Get props at your local pound shop or gather things from around the house. You can make your own floral headpiece using fake flowers and weave them together on a ribbon that you can fit on your baby’s head. There’s a lovely DIY flower headband tutorial here.
Go with the season too! If it’s Christmas, pop them in a Santa hat. For autumn, you could gather some colourful leaves and scatter them around your baby.
5. Get everything ready before your baby is needed
Don’t get your baby up and dressed in their cute picture outfit until you are completely ready to take the shot.
That includes absolutely everything in place, including your camera fully charged with a memory card in it.
If you bring your baby in too early, you risk them getting bored before you even have a chance to take a picture.
6. Lay your baby down
Whether it’s in your arms or on a blanket, laying a newborn baby down is the best way to get a cute shot of them.
Newborns look very sweet when laid down on their front with their head turned towards where the camera is.
It’s also a lovely shot to lay your baby down on their back, with their arms naturally bent around their head, and photograph them from directly above.
7. Natural lighting is best
Your room’s own lighting and lamps will cast shadows and may not be bright enough to light your baby’s features well.
Choose the room in your home that has the best natural lighting from the window. The ideal time of day for natural light is often 11am. Have a look at each of your rooms in your home to see which gets the best light, as well as a room that you can easily clear some space in one area for the photos.
If you still struggle, you can buy professional lights for shooting photos and video for not too much money online.
A much cheaper option, and more convenient if you have a smartphone for your pictures, is a ring light that clips to your phone.
Taking the photo outside on a blanket is also a good option.
8. Have a steady hand
You want your pictures to be in focus and not blurry.
Double check your camera has had a chance to focus in on your subject, following the instructions that come with your smartphone or digital camera.
With a smartphone, you can usually tap on the object or face that you want the camera to focus in on. For really close up portraits, tap on your baby’s eyes (on the screen of your camera) if they are open to really focus in on this area.
Keep your hand steady and hold the camera with both hands to make sure your own wobbly hands don’t blur the shot.
9. Frame the shot
Frame your baby in the centre of the shot. Take upright and wide pictures, as you will want a variety to choose the best ones for printing.
10. Keep clicking
Don’t just take one photo! Keep experimenting with different angles, and take multiple pictures at each angle. You never know when you might need to capture a smile.
11. Background defocus
Background defocus can be a really lovely effect. Some smartphones have it under the picture options (on my phone it’s called “aperture”). Otherwise you can zoom in on your subject while standing back a little. This should defocus the background and keep your baby in focus.
12. Copy a style of photo you love
The experts at newborn photography know what makes a great shot. There’s nothing wrong with taking inspiration from that!
Have a look at pictures of newborns on Pinterest and Instagram. What type of shots do you love? What do you need to recreate them? Is it realistic?
13. Get your baby’s attention
You may need another person with you to act as the baby handler! Their job is to stand behind you the photographer and get the baby to look your way.
If they can get your baby to smile, even better!
14. Use editing apps
There are tons of apps on Android and iPhones that offer amazing editing options.
The most common elements you may want to edit are brightness and cropping.
You may also want to play around with colours and shadows. It’s one of those things where you just need to have a go for yourself.
My favourite editing apps for my phone are:
- Photoshop Express
- A Color Story
Most of these are free to download but most have some element of charging when it comes to additional features and presets.
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