Tips For Photographing A Newborn

November 21, 2009

If you are now expecting or have just given birth to a newborn, you understand the pressures that are now upon you. Everything that you try to do now gets interrupted! You find yourself very sleep deprived, which makes it difficult to do even the things that were very easy before the baby came. And to add to all of this, what I am going to tell you won’t help your mood at all: The first two weeks of life outside of the womb are the best time to get pictures of your infant as a newborn. After that, they have grown so rapidly that they don’t look much like a newborn anymore.

Plan Ahead

I suggest that you plan ahead for just one kind of newborn picture that will be really special for you. Think about just what you want. A picture of the baby alone: Just the head & face, or a full body picture of the baby? A picture of the mother & the infant being held closely or nursing? A picture of both the parents with the newborn? Don’t try to do too many things, because it will exhaust you as parents. That’s why I strongly suggest that you choose only one kind of pose.

Pick A Special Pose

A Wide Awake Baby

A Wide Awake Baby

If you are thinking about a mother and baby picture, mothers should pick a very special nightgown and if it is sleeveless, do not wear a bra with straps under it as this will detract from the picture. If it is a nursing picture, a bra will also be a distraction. Have your hair fixed simply but nice, and if it is long pull some of it forward on your neck. Keep your make-up light and gentle. Plan to bounce your flash off a near white wall or ceiling, and be sure to watch your histogram to make sure the exposure is good. Have the mother hold the baby’s hand or do something natural as she gazes into the baby’s face. Be sure to frame both her face and the baby’s body in the picture. If you can place mother & baby near the soft light of a window to one side, that would add a lot. Don’t let your flash be too over powering. You might have to use flash exposure compensation to knock the power down. Most of all, mom should be well rested for the picture, so pick the best time of day for her.

Picture The Baby Alone

A Sleeping Baby

A Sleeping Baby

A picture of the baby alone is very special too. If the baby will be completely undressed, make sure the room temperature is comfortably warm for the little one without any clothes. Infants cannot usually hold their heads up at this age, so you should plan on some kind of support. Daddy’s strong hands would be great! A great place for the background is over a bed with a white sheet, and it can act as a safety net too! You always want to be considering the baby’s comfort and safety; don’t try to be too fancy.

Three Are Better Than One?

If you are interested in having both parents in the picture with the baby, you will need someone else to take the pictures for you. Use this option only if you have someone in mind who genuinely has an interest in photography, otherwise, you could be very frustrated trying to be both the subject and the director of the picture.

Try A Close Up

The picture should be a close-up that includes the entire body of the baby and at least the faces of both parents. Have the parents gather round the baby (you don’t want any straight lines here) and have their focus be on the baby with a touch of endearment noticeable between the parents. Something like if the mother is holding the baby, have the father gently touch the mother’s hand too!

Use An External Flash

All of this information will be easy for you if you have a digital SLR camera with an external flash. This means that you will have a lot of control over the picture that you are trying to create, and can evaluate almost immediately whether or not you have what you want. One last thought, keep the focus on the eyes; especially the babies!

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer

Betty Muscott, Child Photographer


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