There is nothing more precious than a newborn baby. You are going to want to photograph every single detail, every special moment, every big milestone, and everything else in between. After all, they change and grow so quickly, it is so important to capture them as much as you can. But while young babies don’t move…yet, they can still be tricky to photograph.
Here are some tips I have mastered over the years when photographing my three little ones…
1. Find the right angle
Newborn babies are precious and beautiful and you want to make sure that you take as many photos as you can in the early days. However it can be quite hard to find a ‘flattering’ angle, as often they are swaddled up or asleep in those first few weeks. Some things that I have found that work are getting down low so your camera is level with them, this means you can capture their sleeping faces and it isn’t at a funny angle.
Another thing to do is to try and take a photo directly above them as it captures the essence of how small they were. It is best to have a wide angle lens on your camera for this, or your phone works well as it is quite a wide angle too. That way you capture your surroundings as well. Standing on the bed above them works well, or even getting a chair and standing over their moses basket or crib.
2. Capture the little details
Is there anything cuter than those little delicate newborn baby features? You are going to want to remember how tiny their little toes were, or how their little hands wrapped around your finger, therefore it is a good idea to take photos of the tiny details. A macro lens is always a great way to do this as it means that you can get in super close, close enough to get the little creases on their feet or the little milk spots on their nose, but if you don’t have a DSLR or macro lens you can get almost as good an effect with a compact camera. Most compact cameras have a macro function and you would be surprised how closely you can get in. Don’t worry if there are bits of the photo out of focus, that just adds to the overall picture and makes it look almost dreamy.
3. Clear up the clutter
While we are only human and our houses aren’t always tidy, especially with a baby around, sometimes it is good to clear the clutter away from the background. Taking a photo of your baby against a wall or light background will really make them pop in the photo and will accentuate the other details. Having too much clutter in the background of an image means that it will distract attention away from your beautiful little person.
I took the following two photos of my little girl against a white wall so it really made her stand out against the background but to make it more interesting I strung up some fairy lights in the background, which are just battery operating ones I picked up for a few pounds. If you make sure you use as low a aperture that your camera allows (e.g f/2.8) it will mean that the background will be blurry.
Of course it is quite difficult when your baby is too little to sit up, unaided but there are ways around this. For example this one of my son is taking with him sitting on my bed in his little bumbo chair which helps keep them upright and sit unaided, it therefore gives the illusion of a clear background and it means he is sitting up, even though he couldn’t sit up properly yet.
Another way of doing this is by having someone hold them up. For example in this photo I still managed to get a clear bright image of my son, and that is because his Dad is in a bright plain t-shirt and I have focused on him in the centre of the image.
Finally in this photo I have again placed my daughter on her tummy in front of a cream wall in my house. I have then got some pillows and a nice light coloured throw to put on top of them, and have also strung up some fairy lights on the background. It means there is nothing distracting in the background so the full focus calls on her.
4. Focus on the eyes
They say the eyes are the window into the soul and most babies have wonderfully big expressive eyes. If you have a camera that has manual focus points, or indeed even if you have a compact camera, it is really important to focus on the eyes, even if they aren’t in the centre of the image. By focussing on they you will have them looking pin sharp and that is what you want. Also in order to get those lovely catchlights, you need to make sure you position your baby with a light source such as a window behind them. That way their eyes will appear shiny and bright.
For example in these two photos I have made sure that I focus one of my cameras focus points exactly on the eye nearest to me. That way the eyes will appear sharp and in focus. I have also made sure that we are near a window so that you get those sparkly catchlights in her eyes.
For this photo, I have taken a photo from a slightly different angle so that I capture the setting sun while on holiday. Even though my baby boy isn’t exactly centred in my photo I have made sure that I manually move the focus point so it falls on the eye neatest to me (always the eye nearest to you). That way his eyes really pop in the image.
5. Don’t be afraid to use black and white
Some of my favourite photos are in black and white. There is something really timeless and poignant about black and white photography, and it can make a simple moment or photograph something quite emotive. It’s really easy to convert into black and white but one tip would not be to do it in camera, even if your camera has that option. Always take photos in colour and then convert them if you want to afterwards. There are different computer programmes that will do it for you, like PicMonkey, or Photoshop or Lightroom, or nearly all of the mobile apps will have an option to convert to black and white too- my favourites are Afterlight and VSCO cam.
The following two photos of my little girl were taken in very dull and boring settings, one while she was sitting in her trolley outside the supermarket and one while she was in her buggy looking up at me. When they were in colour they really didn’t look anything special, but by converting them into black and white you make a slightly boring photo suddenly become something really lovely.
Also don’t be afraid to experiment with different angles as you may find something you love. This last photo is one of my absolute favourite photos of my daughter and I love how I have taken the photo from above so it captures how long her beautiful eyelashes are. Again in colour this photo was nothing special but in black and white it is a totally different story.
6. The best camera you can have is the one you have on you
Of course taking a photo with a DSLR is going to be a better quality than if you take it with a phone, but actually some of my favourite photos of all time are taken with my phone. It is the camera you always have on you and as such you can capture some really special images with it. I adore this one of my grumpy just fed 2 week old- his facial expression is hilarious and I just wouldn’t have captured that if I had stopped to get the camera out. I think he looks like a grumpy turtle!