How to take your own “professional” –inspired Photographs (from one mom to another!)
I absolutely love to take my girls to get their pictures done. Now that I have three kids, our mostly single-income budget has gotten a little tighter, especially as we try to pay off debt and sometimes need to take time away from work. Although occasionally we still go get professional photos done, I wanted to show you how to take nice photos by yourself of your baby at home! Newborn photos are best done at 7-10 days of age because that is when they are the sleepiest. This applies to babies and kiddos who are older as well!
Step 1: Find a location either outside or inside of your home that has empty space and a lot of natural light. Sunlight is your friend, and you want to take advantage of it! Morning and Late afternoon have really great light, so pick a time in either category when your baby is happiest to do the photos.
Step 2: Find a blanket or large piece of fabric to use as a back drop. Use something behind it to prop it up. I am a big fan of the boppy pillow for this purpose! You don’t even need a big space for a baby. Keep in mind if you are going to do some diaper-less images, that there may be some voiding accidents – things you can wash are best! (Penny totally pooped all over a blanket!)
Step 3: Dress/Undress baby as desired for photos. Keep in mind colors that compliment baby’s skin, using solid colors often makes a nice image, and you also want enough contrast from the backdrop (so avoid white clothing on a white blanket).
Step 4: Even iPhones take decent photos these days. You can snap your photos with your iPhone. I have a basic Canon Rebel DSLR camera, which is a “pro-sumer” camera (in-between professional and standard consumer) but takes lovely photos. With my IPhone, I don’t use the flash. With my camera, I use an external flash mounted on top of the camera to fill in shadows. I bounce it off of the ceiling or the wall so that it won’t bother or hurt baby directly. It also keeps things softer and more natural. You can also take lampshades off of lamps and put them around the room to help light up shadows.
Step 5: I always take some test shots first before bothering baby for photos. That way I can fix any issues with light or the back drop or positioning and not risk a cranky baby. With my DSLR, I use various settings based on the light situation, but if you are unfamiliar with your camera settings, shooting on auto will give you good basic photos.
Step 6: I nurse the baby so we have a full happy tummy. Milk drunk baby makes for really cute photos!
Step 7: Position baby where you want them. It helps to have an extra set of hands to stay by baby to make sure they are safe and to make minor pose adjustments. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a sleepy smile!
Step 8: Getting down so that your camera is at baby’s level makes for really good pictures. Standing a little above can be good too, but my favorites are always down low.
Step 9: Don’t try to use the popular pose of baby with his hands under his face propping up his head – it can hurt him. This pose doesn’t happen organically. This is a difficult composite shot made of 2-3 images where hands are photoshopped out. Using items such as crocheted or knit slings to dangle baby from, while often adorable, can also be dangerous and is best left to professionals.
Step 10: Poses don’t have to be well, posed. Especially with an older baby, often the best shots are more candid. This is one of my favorites of Allister when she was 9 months old.
Step 11: You can upload your photos to your computer and make minor adjustments in a photo editor. Flipping images to black and white can help to easily camoflauge any red marks or bumps or scratches on your baby’s skin. Most image editors also include basic airbrushing tools as well. There are also a million and a half retouching tutorials out there, so if you want to learn how, I suggest heading towards google with a nice chunk of free time to get the hang of it. It can be worth it to make your photos even better!