Newborn photography tips can range from the obvious to the obscure, so we’ve put together some of the best advice to help you with things like exposure, shutter speeds, and lighting options. If you’re ready to take one-of-a-kind photos during a one-of-a-kind time period, here are 17 newborn photography tips and tricks that will leave you with remarkable baby photos.
1. Increase Your Aperture
The aperture of your camera determines how much light enters the lens. This is measured in “f-stops” such as f/2, f/4, and f/8, so depending on your subject matter, different f-stops are recommended to obtain different levels of light. Since most newborn photography implies close-ups, you’ll want a larger aperture to increase your light and capture all of the tiny details of fingers, toes, and lips.
2. Prepare for Accidents
This is one of those newborn photography tips that only insiders know. You can’t control when a baby will hear the call of nature, so having waterproof pads and mats can save you a lot of trouble when the time comes. Simply lay them down in between “takes” to ensure that none of your clothes, blankets, and props are ruined.
3. Figure Out Your Schedule
Your baby will grow faster than you ever thought possible, so if you’re looking to create one of those fragile, delicate and tiny-bodied baby portraits, you’ll need to photograph your newborn within the first 1-2 weeks of bringing them home. On the flip side, if your newborn still needs a little time to grow into their head or heal their lingering birth marks, you might want to wait for weeks 3-4.
4. Use a Smaller Lens
Traditional portrait lenses usually run 100mm or so, but one of the lesser-known tips for newborn photography is that you’ll take better pictures with something more compact. You’ll be working with a smaller surface area, so your lens needs to be smaller too. Aim for something around 50mm.
5. Use Flat Surfaces
One of the most common tips for newborn photography is to put your baby on a flat surface like a table or cot. Not only will this ensure that they remain visible and not burrowed inside a blanket or basket, but it will also prevent injuries from beanbags tipping over or cushions sliding out of place.
6. Invest in a Macro Lens
Macro photography is used for extreme close-ups, so if you’re looking to create a baby photo album filled with tiny eyelashes and wrinkled feet, you’re going to need a macro lens to capture them. Some brands are more effective than others, so you’ll need to do some research to figure out which will suit your camera, budget and functionality requirements.
7. Avoid Reflections
Newborn photography tips often recommend that you get close to the baby’s eyes for a sweet, intimate shot, but they neglect to mention that these hard zooms can also reflect you standing in front of your subject with a camera raised and poised. Make sure that you watch out for your own reflection as you shoot.
8. Crank the Thermostat
A lot of newborn photography is done in the nude, so it’s critically important that you keep your baby warm despite their lack of clothing. You can use a space heater if you don’t want to turn up the thermostat and overheat your photography equipment. You can also keep fuzzy hats and blankets on hand for the times in between photos.
9. Beware the Shadows
Shadows are more than just an inconvenience when you’re taking newborn photography. They can completely ruin the shot if they swallow your baby whole! With such a tiny subject, you’ll need to pay close attention to how the light is rising and falling within your photography area. You might want to plan ahead for peak sunny times.
10. Use a Tripod
Newborn photography tips always include the advice to use a tripod. This is because millions of photographers worldwide have discovered that a hands-off approach is best for baby pictures; the more that you loom, the more upset that you’ll make your sensitive subjects. Keeping your distance is best.
11. Reduce Vibrations
If you’re taking these newborn photography tips to heart, you’re using a close-cropped lens with a high aperture to capture even the smallest of details about your subject. Are your hands shaking with the strain? With such a focused camera, you’re probably struggling with all kinds of motion blur, so look for cameras with built-in vibration reduction to help with that.
12. Experiment With Your ISO
Many newborn photography tips are focused on light, and this one is no exception. Since your camera’s ISO settings have a direct impact on its sensitivity to light, you’ll want to play around with different rates and shutter speeds until you find the one that works for you. Everything from the sun outside to your baby’s skin tone can require a changed ISO, so don’t be afraid to experiment.
13. Go With The Flow
Babies are full of surprises, so it’s important to be flexible as you catalogue all of their yawns, blinks, burps and stretches. Don’t get so caught up in the idea of “a lively shot” or “a peaceful sleeping photo” that you miss something natural and magical because you were trying to control the baby’s mood.
14. Shoot Raw
This is one of those newborn photography tips that people never believe, but it really works! Taking raw pictures will allow you to have complete control over the post-photography editing process, so you’ll be able to tweak things like blurs, color balances and even exposure levels without your camera’s automated settings getting in the way.
15. Desaturate Your Shots
Black-and-white photos can hide a lot of sins, especially when your subject is still kind of lumpy and discolored. If you want to immortalize a newborn that isn’t yet picture-perfect, turn down the saturation of their photos to hide their flaws while highlighting their smooth skin and clear eyes.
16. Have a Color Scheme
You’ll save a lot of time on your photo shoot when you choose your hues in advance. It doesn’t matter if you’re going for something soft and neutral or bold and colorful; the most important thing is that you have a foundation to build on with things like props, clothes, shadows and shutters.
17. Don’t Worry About Your Hands
Don’t stress if your hands or arms are visible in your newborn photos. If you need to arrange, support or prop up your baby’s body for a particular pose, go ahead and do it. One of the most secret newborn photography tips is the amount of editing that can go into the final product, so as long as you have Photoshop, you can remove your appendages later.
These are just a few newborn photography tips and tricks. As you can see, there’s a lot more to the process than simply putting your baby on a blanket and clicking away, so take your time and be careful with your preparations. You only have a few weeks to take good newborn photography before the opportunity is gone forever!