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How to take your own newborn pictures at home

Yesterday I posted information on “how to do your own maternity images” – I know with the COVID-19 “shelter in place”, we photographer’s are not considered to be an “essential business” (even if we think we are 🙂 )  and so we cant work right now.  So, today, I want to give you some tips about the other precious moment in time that is fleeting, your own newborn photos.  I know they wont be the same, but my hope is that you can capture some beautiful images of this precious new life that has joined your family.

Remember that most of us have a decent camera at home – but even if you don’t, your cell phones “portrait mode” can do a pretty fine job.  🙂    Give it a go.  You will never regret the images you took – only the ones you didn’t.  <3

Tip 1:  Be Prepared

The song that Scar sings from “The Lion King” is humming in my head right now – Be prepared.  Before I do any session, I make sure I gather everything I need and put it in the spot that I will be shooting.   Now, moms, this is a great opportunity for you to delegate to your partner.  You do not have to do it all – you have plenty on your plate feeding that little cherub and keeping yourself healed after birth.   Being prepared means to turn on the heat, gather the blankets, any wraps or hats, headbands, baskets you want to use and have them all accessible.  It means having some extra hand towels or face cloths just in case you need to prop your baby up or clean up a mess.  It is a baby session after all.  Be prepared for it all.


Tip 2: Keep It Simple

There is an age old saying –  “Keep it Simple Stupid” – well, I am not calling anyone stupid, but I will encourage you to keep it simple.  Most newborn photographers work for years to perfect their craft and get good at those sleepy poses we all love.   So, don’t beat yourself up if you can’t do them.  In fact, there are a lot of safety measures that a good newborn photographer should put in place, and so most people should not try most poses at home without someone being very close by to keep your precious baby safe.  So, keep your poses simple.  A simple wrap can look incredible and showcase your precious baby without much fuss or trouble at all.  You can use a blanket draped over a chair as your plain background and no one would ever know it wasn’t taken in a studio.  A basket can be a simple idea, but they can topple easily, so please have something heavy sitting in the bottom under the blankets, or someone’s hands within arm’s reach to keep baby safe.   My other thought about keeping things simple is that fads come and go, but simplicity never goes out of fashion.  So, by keeping it simple, you will not be likely to cringe looking back at your images one day because you tried to be “trendy”.


Tip 3: Warm Up Uhe Room

Babies can’t regulate their body temperature.  So, warm up the room that you will be taking pictures in.  I usually have the room a balmy 80-85 degrees (that is around 26-30 degrees Celsius).  Your baby will sleep soundly as they are comfortable.  You may sweat a lot – I apologize and empathize with you. 🙂  It’s part of the job 🙂  But having a happy, sleepy baby is totally worth it.


Tip 4: A Full Baby Is A Calm Baby

The best time to photograph baby is just after a full feed.   So, this (again) is where your partner comes in handy, getting everything ready while you are feeding your baby, so as soon as you have finished, you can start documenting them – when they are in that wonderful “milk drunk” state.  Don’t forget to burp your baby – burps can cause a lot of discomfort and so it’s a step that is worth taking the time to finish.


Tip 5:  Find The Lighting

Unfortunately, Most PNW homes are dark.  So, you may have to be creative to find light in the room.  Look for the room in the house with the most light – it could be your master bedroom, it could be your bedroom or it could even be a bathroom.  An alternative is to move a chair or couch a couple of feet in front of the biggest window in the house.  You don’t want to have direct sunlight streaming in onto your baby – if it is sunny, wait a few hours till the sun position has changed.  What you want is soft, diffused light coming through that window onto your baby.

Position the baby in front of the light so that it starts at the top of the baby’s head and goes down towards the nose – look for a soft shadow under the nose – we call this a butterfly shadow.   What you don’t want is light that goes the other way – up the nose – we call this ghoulish lighting and it is unflattering on your baby.


Tip 6: Find The Angles – Remember The Details

In one pose, you can shoot from above, from the side, close up, whole body.  You can probably get 5 or 6 different looks without moving your baby one inch – but by moving yourself as the photographer.  So, don’t forget to move around and capture every angle, every inch of your precious little one.  These four photos below were all taken from the same one pose.  The baby wasn’t moved between the frames.  I moved, not the baby.  Remember also to capture their tiny hands, their hair, their eyelashes, their lips, their toes.



This time is so fleeting, so enjoy it.  Take loads of pictures – if it doesn’t work today, walk away and try again tomorrow.  Your baby will still be there.  Was this how you intended to do your newborn photos??  Maybe not, but will it mark a moment in time?  Absolutely 🙂  And you will never regret taking these photos.

I cant wait to work with you all again soon

Love Sarah


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Sarah Sweetman - specializing in newborn and family photography.

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