How to photograph your newborn baby during Lockdown (part 1)

In response to the Corona Virus social distancing measures I have put together a comprehensive guide for new parents on how to photograph your newborn baby during Lockdown.

I am sharing 10 of my all important key tips here within two blog posts over the next two weeks. But, if you want the full set of advice and insights delivered to your inbox straight away (and you are happy to sign up to my newsletter), you can fill in my contacts form here to request my free PDF document.

With nearly 10 years of newborn and family photography experience I have packed the PDF guide on ‘How to photograph your newborn baby during Lockdown’, with loads of insight into the necessary planning and thought processes of a professional newborn photographer.

Putting this guide together seemed like one small thing that I could do to offer some help to new parents. I really hope my tips and ideas will offer you some confidence to enjoy taking some beautiful photographs of your new baby.

I also hope that the photography skills you learn now will spur you on to record more happy moments together as a family in the future.

INTRO: I know things aren’t as you expected them to be right now.

It really wasn’t meant to be this way.

Coming home with your new baby should be an exciting time filled with visits from family and friends, as well as enjoying all of those first trips out to baby groups and café’s. Parenthood is definitely not a journey you are meant to be experiencing on your own and yet here we are now, all having to keep to our separate homes, in isolation.

Since Covid took hold in the UK I have had some truly heart-breaking conversations with new parents who are now missing out on having their newborn photography sessions due to our new social distancing measures and you might be one of those parents reading this now.

My heart goes out to you all, so here are 5 great tips in his blog and a further 5 in the next blog to follow, to get you started on your newborn photography journey.

1: Understanding Newborns

It’s really important to know that at every stage of your babies growing up months there are certain characeristics that define each month and how you will go about photographing him or her.

Newborn is classified as the very early days up until a baby is about 21 days old. Newborn babies are still very curled up (as if they haven’t yet fully unfurled from being inside mums tummy), they sleep for long periods of time and are not yet able to focus their vision and are generally less aware of their surroundings.

For these reasons, newborn babies, once they are sleeping, are (relatively) easy to pose and place into position for a photograph. These are the babies that have (historically) been placed inside flower pots becuase they are so much less aware of their surroundings. One can do this! …..but this does not necessarily mean one should! (read on to find my newborn safety advice).

Newborns are also ever so tiny, acceptionally delicate and very-dificult-to-take-your-eyes-of-them, ever-so-adorably-cute.

Newborn Freddie pictured here for - How to photograph your newborn baby during Lockdown.

The smallest details matter with newborns. Look at the little wrinkles of skin, the way their hair grows in a ‘fibonache’ swirl from the crown of their head. Note their tiny toes, tiny fingers, delicate peeling skin, prety little milk spots on their noses, tiny feet and even those little red heel pricks… not to mention the way they pout and randomly frown their forhead as they concentrate so hard when sleeping.

2: Plan Ahead

My advice to all new photographers it to plan everything!

Don’t wait for the perfect shot to appear to then rush and grab your camera. Instead, be in conrol of the situation by setting up the opportunity to get the perfect shot you want.

Have everything ready ahead of time. Then, when your baby is happy and content, you will be able to achieve your ideal photograph straight away.

Consider preparing all of the following: declutter the space where you will photograph baby; have props, blankets and clothing ready to go; plan how you will position/pose baby.

If you want to photograph gorgeous chubby baby wrinkles you will need to have a heater ready to drastically increase the room temperature so they feel as comfortable nude as they would feel snuggled in their moses basket. Have a fan/spacer heater in the room ready to go.

3: Safety First

Wherever possible always photograph your baby placed in the middle of your bed, on the floor or on a firm wide beanbag.

Always have someone else there to be on watch duty. In the industry we would call this person ‘the spotter’. When photographing it is easy to get absorbed in shooting and you will never be able to drop a camera quick enough to catch a small rolling baby. Always have your partner with you on spot duty!

Without wanting to put a damper on your enthusiasm and creativity, do not try any type of photograph that risks the safety of your baby.

When photographing a newborn baby in any position, other than flat on their back, watch out for purple hands or feet. Purple is a warning sign that baby needs to be moved to regain circulation!

Without specialist in-person training, I would say that the most natural looking poses are often the most beautiful and timeless and the safest to achieve.

Baby being held by his parents. Learning to take photographs of your newborn baby during lockdown.

Pinterest has lots of great ideas for both natural and creative newborn portraits.  However, before you try emulating an image just think through the safety issues and ask yourself if the pose is something a baby can do naturally or whether this is an image that may have had some help in photoshop.

See this example below of a portrait that requires the babies head to be fully held and then the final image is created in photoshop.

For more safety info and tips request my comprehensive guide for new parents on how to photograph your newborn baby during Lockdown. Just send me a message on my contacts page here to request the guide.

4: Find the light

Choosing a room with a good amount of light is the first step to a great newborn photograph. Look for soft direct light from a side window.

Avoid strong sunshine which will produce strong dark unflattering shadows. Alternatively, you can soften strong sunlight by covering window panes with tracing paper or a sheer net curtain.

Upstairs bedrooms will give you the best light and you have the advantage of using the bed as a clutter free background for your photographs.  

White bedspreads are a bonus as white reflects light, giving a boost to the overall lightness of your images. It also provides you with a simple, non-distracting background solution.

Always point the top of babies head towards the light for a flattering portrait. If you make the mistake of placing your baby with its feet towards the light it’s the equivalent of shining a torch light up under your chin – it’s the kind of light used in horror movies!  

A good way to check your angle of light is to look for a soft shadow under babies’ nose.  

5: Pace yourself

Unlike hiring a professional photographer, you are trying to photograph your baby and be it’s mother/father at the same time. A professional photographer can get on with the job of planning, preparing and taking the photographs, whilst you take care of the nappy changes, feeds and soothing baby. You will have both jobs to do!

I remember it like yesterday, attempting to photograph my own babies amidst breastfeeding, c-section scars and sleep deprivation! It is a worthy challenge but nevertheless it takes careful planning, effort and a patient and helpful partner. I didn’t achieve every photograph I wanted of my babies but looking back now I am so pleased to have the photographs that I did manage to take. They are so very, very, precious.

Be kind to yourself and pace yourself according to the realities of your life as new parents. I would aim to set up and achieve no more than one shot a day or every other day.

Also, don’t feel like you should have any specific type of basket, beanbag, rug, box or blanket to take beautiful newborn photographs. Using what you have in your home will make your photographs all the more special and significant to you.

For more inspiration:

If you enjoyed this article and want some more inspiration

  • click here to view my ‘Babies at Home’ gallery
  • click here to view my pure ‘Newborn Portrait’ gallery
  • view my Instagram page here

To access my full guide for new parents on how to photograph your newborn baby during Lockdown please get in touch with me via my contacts page here.

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Sarah Angel is a professional Newborn and Family Photographer based in Farnham, Surrey and photographs families across Greater London, North hampshire and Surrey. She is Fine Art trained and holds a 1st class honours in Photography. Prior to establishing her family photography business she worked in education as a Secondary School Art and Photography teacher for 20 years. She continues to teach, running photography workshops for beginners.

When she is not busy photographing families and teaching she enjoys bike rides and walking adventures with her husband and two boys.

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