As a Mum myself, I was desperate to capture my babies in those early weeks while they were tiny, sleepy and oh so perfect.
I tried many techniques in an attempt to get professional-looking shots but many of them ended up with my baby fussing and crying and me feeling overwhelmed and frazzled!
Fast forward through the next 8 years as I embarked on a career as a professional photographer and I’m now an expert at getting dreamy portraits every time with absolutely no stress.
I’ve now supported so many mums with my easy to follow online training and I’d love to help you become the next at-home photography pro.
I don't want you to go through what I did. I felt so guilty that I made a horrible experience for my baby too as she squirmed and cried the entire time!
Use these tips below to nail your in-home DIY newborn photo session.
Babies are very fragile, limbs can be easily hyperextended if you do not know how to safely pose a baby. I recommend beginners start with simple but beautiful poses that can be easily and safely achieved. E.g have baby on their back or on their side.
Avoid advanced poses you see on Pinterest! For example, to safely curl your baby up and hang them from a hammock or to position them into the 'froggy pose' where the baby holds their head in their hands up on their elbows, photographers often have a trained assistant and the help of Photoshop to make the baby look like they are actually holding their head in their hands without assistance. Babies are unable to do this by themselves.
Please, never leave your baby unattended during the shoot. Your baby has a strong startle reflex, therefore if you are taking photos of the baby from a height, e.g. up on your bed, if leaving the room for any period of time, please use a safety barrier to prevent them from falling off the bed.
Ensure your baby is fully fed, then afterwards leave them unwrapped for awake time for at least 30 minutes before you start the session. Ensure the baby is burped to avoid gas or an upset tummy. Let baby kick around and move to let off some energy which will help them settle easily into sleep. It is much easier to take photos of a baby while they are asleep to avoid arms flailing and squirming around.
Ensure the room is super warm! Have the room at 27 degrees. This will ensure the baby is nice and warm to settle into a sleep. A cold baby will not relax and will squirm all over the place.
Use natural sunlight by making use of a window that has no direct sunlight/beams coming in (think in the shade or on an overcast day). This type of light is soft and beautiful and will result in beautifully exposed images. Ensure you take photos during the day when the natural light is bright enough. e.g. NOT taken at dawn or dusk!
Ensure your baby's face is at an angle around 45degrees to the light. NOTE: have baby's feet facing away from the light so that the light doesn't beam directly up the baby's nose, otherwise your baby's sweet face will be lit-up similar to someone holding a torchlight under their chin. Just like scary stories told in the dark!
Babies feel safe and secure when wrapped firmly. Wrapping is a MUST if you want to have a happy, content and sleeping baby and most importantly a relaxed confident mum!
TIP: If baby does not settle into the wrap after a minute or two, if they can move their hands and legs it often frustrates them until they are completely out of the wrap. You must wrap the baby more firmly to reduce movement with a STRETCHY wrap or piece of fabric to allow grip and to anchor the fabric around the baby. Always ensure there is space away from the baby's neck so they can easily breathe when wrapping.
If your baby is upset, try putting on white noise and play it LOUD! Babies are used to being inside the womb which is loud and white noise is a very close resemblance to the sound inside the womb. Your baby will feel at home. This is why white noise is so comforting to babies. So turn up the noise and watch your baby settle almost instantly.
This is another amazing tool to help settle your baby. Even if your baby doesn't use a dummy, I recommend using one if only for the photo session if needed. If all the other settling tools aren't working, this can often be the last tool that brings all the other techniques together and work.
Styling your photos can be made easy by using the items you already have in your home. If you have time to plan your styling (e.g. your baby hasn't arrived yet), you can get delicious drool-worthy wraps and hat/headband sets from Snuggle Hunny Kids. Their range is absolutely beautiful and they are an absolute favourite brand of my clients! Examples of their gorgeous sets are shown in the first image at the very top.
Try using your favourite scarves to wrap baby in and use your favourite linen, blankets and quilts as a backdrop. Examples are shown below! Whatever you choose, make sure your background is uncluttered so the focus remains on your beautiful baby.
Use neutral and earthy tones in your styling. DO NOT use bright colors e.g. red or bright/florescent colours as it will reflect a colour cast on your baby's skin. A colour cast is an unwanted colour shift in the image which is caused by reflected light from a nearby object. E.g. if baby is on a bright red blanket, the light would reflect red onto the baby's skin. This is not a natural or flattering look!
After just having a baby, there's a good chance you're waking up each morning feeling lethargic, sluggish and overwhelmed about the day ahead of you. You may be feeling like you don't have the mental energy to accomplish your goals.
Don't push or force yourself to take photos of your baby when you're in a negative or stressed state. It won't end well. Wait until you've had that much-needed nap or shower.
There are lots of ways to lift your emotional state, here are a few simple suggestions;
- put on your favorite upbeat song and move! (Please take it easy especially if you're recovering from surgery or trauma - please be advised by your doctor)
- smile to yourself in the mirror-like a lunatic...trust me you'll start laughing even when you feel ridiculous!
- take time to quiet your mind. Close your eyes and focus on your body and your breath - deep breathing. If your mind wanders, always return to your breath.
- take a cold shower! Sound too harsh? I can't make myself do it either! Instead, try splashing your face with cold water for a good 2 minutes.
- put on your fave comedy and take some time to laugh and flip your state
Doing any of the above steps will help flip your state from overwhelm and stress to a more calm, relaxed and clear state so you can get those photos you dream of!
Find a method that works for you and do this before your session! There are many suggestions out there on how to change your state, these are just a few.
When baby is settled and sleepy and adorable, make the most of each pose! Pull back the camera to get a full-length picture of the baby, then pull in closer to get a closer shot e.g. showing their face and half their torso, then pull in further again and get a shot where most of their face fills the frame. Then take Macro shots (close up shots) of their eyelashes, ears, lips, and feet.
The more images you take from one pose the better because when you move baby or put them in a different wrap, if they struggle to resettle you can feel good about the process in knowing you have at least 6 images as opposed to only one.
Follow all these tips as described and you'll have great success taking photos with a calm and sleepy baby. Wrapping is a crucial part of settling your baby, but when you've finished taking photos, unwrapping baby is a fabulous opportunity to get more variation in your images. PLEASE only do this AFTER you've taken beautiful shots of your baby wrapped first.
When you unwrap a baby, this is often when they wake up and become unsettled because the safety and security a wrap provides them is taken away. When you unwrap them, its the perfect time to take action shots of them stretching and squirming around.
9 years later and countless courses, in-person workshops with internationally recognised newborn photographers, and years of trial and error I mastered the skill of photography.
The JJP Method Course is an easy-to-follow step-by-step training for parents who want to master beautiful photos of their baby.