Newborn Photography Tips: How to DIY for Social Distancing

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Newborn photography - baby toes

2020 is a scary time to be pregnant and expecting your first (or third!) newborn baby. While we are doing our best to stay safe via social distancing, there are so many things we’re missing now that our country is on lockdown. Newborn photography is likely one of them!

We are missing prenatal yoga classes (I personally used to LOVE going to Blooma in Minneapolis when I was pregnant with now 5-year old Jack. I participated in prenatal yoga classes, and then especially enjoyed/needed ‘bring your own baby yoga’ or ‘BYOB’!). Connecting in-person with other expecting mamas in support groups, breastfeeding groups, and birthing classes used to be the norm.  Now what? Services and groups are either completely shut down or those with capabilities have moved online. 

What about newborn photography? 

So many mamas expect that they will be able to capture their sweet babes with a professional photo session. Now with social distancing and other lockdown measures in place, newborn photography seems to be out of the question.  Or is it? 

As a professional photographer who took her first photography class in high school (almost 20 years ago…eeeek!), I would like to offer some newborn photography tips on how to do newborn photography at home. You got this, mama! 

DIY newborn photography tips

Here are some essential yet simple tips to taking newborn photos at home:

What do I need for newborn photography? 

While you were researching all of the latest newborn baby essentials for your registry, I’m guessing newborn photography props didn’t cross your mind. Don’t worry! Chances are you already have more than enough in your home to create some really great newborn photos. 

Here are some suggested items to set aside for your photo shoot: 

  • Blankets
  • Swaddles
  • Scarves you have stashed in your closet (think lightweight scarves for springtime/summer babes, and heavier scarves for fall/winter babes)
  • Baskets (yep, even the one that is holding the towels in the laundry room will do!)
  • Your DSLR, point & shoot camera, or your smart phone (iPhone/Android)
  • Newborn accessories (newborn headbands, hats, bowties, etc.)
  • Pillows
  • A cute outfit or two (get newborn outfit ideas here)

My advice here is to gather all of your DIY newborn photography props and create a newborn photography kit. Put them all in a bin and have them ready to go so that you’re not wasting time gathering items when your baby is at their best for having photos taken. This time window can be short-lived, so it’s a good practice to be ready!

A happy baby is a photogenic baby

When is the best time to photograph your newborn baby? I suggest attempting to photograph them after they’ve been fed, burped, and changed (do in this order!). A fed, clean, and comfortable baby is a happy baby — and also likely a sleepy baby! 

Don’t force it 

If your baby is uncomfortable, crying, or just seeming to not cooperate, take a break. The best time to take newborn photos is within the first 14 days of life. This means you have 14 days (or 336 hours!) to plan, prepare, and capture your newborn photos. If your baby isn’t in the mood, don’t worry. Just set everything aside and try again later, or tomorrow.

I really want to emphasize the ‘don’t force it’ rule here. Not just for the sake of the photos, but for the sake of your own sanity. Being a new mama is HARD. It’s a life changing, learning experience that takes a while to get used to— even if you are on your third newborn baby. Your mental health is important, as is the precious bond between you and your newborn baby. If you try to force newborn photography at a time where it just isn’t working out, you risk the baby’s happiness AND your happiness. It’s okay. You’re doing a great job. Just try again after you’re both a little more comfortable. 

Newborn photography poses

How in the world are you going to pose your baby? Babies are fragile, so please be careful. If you’ve seen photos for poses that you’d like to try, please be sure that you always use proper posing safety. 

There are some great posing ideas readily available on the web. Simply Google ‘newborn photography’ and click on Images, then scroll to your heart’s content.

To go along with the ‘don’t force it’ rule, don’t force your baby into an awkward position. If it seems like it’s not really going to work out, adjust and try something different. If you are trying to prop them up, keep a hand on them at all times while the photo is being taken. A professional photographer with editing experience can always edit an arm or a hand out of the photo later on.

Newborn photography lighting

It is likely that you don’t have a lot of professional photography lighting equipment. Am I warm here? 🙃 Never fear! All you need to accomplish photos with great lighting is access to a window with natural light.

Place your baby in front of the window, and then turn her so that she’s facing the window.  You’ll notice that when your baby is facing the window, the light will nicely illuminate his face. 

Next steps to creating great newborn photos at home

Now that you’re ready to get started, you might be left wondering a multitude of questions like…

  • Which angle will be the best in capturing amazing newborn photos?
  • If you’re using a DSLR, which lens should you use?
  • Which camera settings will be necessary to capture a decent photo?
  • If you’re using an iPhone, which camera mode should you use?
  • How do you swaddle wrap your baby?
  • Can you use flash for newborn photography?
  • Does your DIY newborn photography setup look okay?
  • Is it okay to do outdoor newborn photography?

These questions are exactly why I created VIRTUAL Newborn Photography Sessions. While I can give you as many DIY tips here as possible, there will always be a gap between researching, preparing, and actual hands on doing. 

I’m here for you! 

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About LeeAnn Neumann

LeeAnn Neumann, Joy-ist
Photo by @visionbalm

Hi, I’m LeeAnn! I’m a boy mom, dog mom, crazy cat lady, and beach-living pizza lover living in Charleston, SC (and Minneapolis, MN!). I love creating recipes that have a major flavor impact without completely sacrificing healthy ingredients. Outside of recipe creation and kid-wrangling, I’m a kombucha brewer and professional photographer (Chucktown Art).  I try to experience my local foodie scene(s) as often as possible, and I love sharing my food-focused experiences!

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