How to take dreamy photographs of your baby as they sleep

Nothing beats a sleeping baby. All snuggled up, sweaty little bed heads and fluttering eyelids. In those early days, they tell you to sleep when the baby sleeps, but they just look so sound and peaceful, I’d rather be capturing those moments to keep for years to come. I am a sucker for a little snoozing bundle of joy.

Here are a few of my tips on how to get those perfect sleepy shots.

1. Set up BEFORE they are asleep

If you want them on a particular blanket, on the sofa or on the bed with something like flowers all around, have it all set up before you pop them down for a nap.  The less you have disturb them with props or faffing the better. Have everything you need ready before you settle them down and half the job is already done.

Image Source: Zoe Stewart Photos
Image Source: Zoe Stewart Photos

2. Wait until nap time, start at the end

Let them sleep a while, make sure they are in a good deep sleep before you head in with a camera.  You don’t want to head in 5 minutes into nap time and run the risk of waking them up too early.

Often cameras have some sort of shutter sound, so have some white noise or a some soft music playing already to cover it a little.

Don’t be afraid to move them too, if slightly moving a hand or some hair makes your composition a little sweeter, go for it.

3. Find the light

I love using natural light. Dusty sunlight streaming in through a window is my ultimate favourite.  I always try and make sure the light comes in from the side, so you get some good shadows, so faces aren’t blown out and you aren’t losing any details on the face. Try and avoid ‘ghoul lighting’, when you light from under your little one, creating a ghoulish effect, rather than a warm dreamy one.

Shoot from above, the side. Move around, don’t stick in the same spot. A photograph can look completely different just by moving a few inches. Rule of 3rd works really well, having the subject anywhere but the middle and making use of the negative space around them.  Shoot through the bars of the cot, or from behind a teddy bear.

Their chubby little fingers clutching a soother. The way their hair curls around their ears. Immunisation plasters or sibling snuggles. Those tiny moments make an image and make it oh so perfect, little moments like these you will always want to remember.  Don’t forget to include yourself in as many as you can.  Mummy and Daddy’s are important details too!

6.  Create a story

There’s nothing more important with an image than creating a story, making the viewer feel something, like they’ve stepped into your world for just a moment.
If the little one has been poorly, is teething or fell asleep in the cutest place? Use it.  Get those medicine bottles in the shot or the piles of washing around them. Layers and details like blankets & vintage furniture add a beautiful depth to any image.

Zoe Stewart

Zoe Stewart is a mum of 4 who loves photographing her little tribe made up of Ruby, who is 6, who has a huge imagination, Harry & Emily ‘the twins’. They are 2 and can often be found hugging & holding hands. Then there is their surprise bonus baby Lucy, who has just turned 1. Zoe can be found sharing amazing photos over on Instagram or on her blog My Little Wildlings.

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