Your newborn session might be cancelled due to Covid, but that doesn't mean you have to go without memorable photos of your fresh and squishy baby. Whether you have a "fancy" camera or just a smartphone, you can capture sweet + special moments with your growing family on your own-and we've tapped our beautiful friend Alexandria Smith, a mom of three (with her fourth on the way!) and photographer in Central California to share her best tips. (Alex is also creator of Nurturing Home, a seasonal guide to cultivating abundance, including rhythms + routines, recipes and more. It's so beautiful!) Ready to document those roly-poly wrists and tiny toes? Let's get started...
Having plenty of the right kind of lighting is so important for clean, beautiful images, no matter what kind of camera you are using to take them. I recommend turning any internal lights off, and placing the subject near a window or open door. This will bathe baby in a soft, diffused light that's less harsh and more natural looking. It's best to find a spot in your home that has a good clean, diffused natural light pouring in and bouncing around! Keep in mind, that this may not always be in the bedroom with you sitting on your bed. Sometimes I forgo the bedroom for images all together, and prefer to head somewhere with much better lighting conditions, whether that's the couch, kitchen, entryway, etc.
Baby should be the star of the show, so you want a backdrop that's simple and serene. Look for a spot that not only has great light but also provides a distraction-free setting. For example, choose a blank wall to stand in front of, or sit on your couch or bed with the wall directly behind you, instead of somewhere that you are in front of a large open area (which will often give you a muddled, dark background). A distraction-free and clutter-free background, combined with soft diffused natural light, will let the subject stand out as the focus of the photograph so your eye goes directly toward their sweet little features.
When going through your closet before taking photos, choose something that you feel like the best version of yourself in! This may be Levi's and a feminine blouse, or perhaps a flowy floral dress. Either way, soft neutrals, earth tones, and comfort are all key here. Try to stay away from colors that are too vibrant as they may reflect onto baby's skin and create an unnatural-looking hue. It's also better to avoid too many dark colors, which may cast shadows on baby. I recommend sticking to soft earth tones for baby's attire as well. You can put baby in a Solly Sleeper or Gown for a neutral and cozy look, or loosely wrap in a Solly swaddle with those sweet little toes peeking out to see more of that precious little newborn bod!
The most important component for posing is to remember that these images are to remind you of this season. They should serve as an enhanced reflection of what it looked like and felt like to have that tiny baby in your arms. So you want the poses to feel natural and comfortable, and you want to capture anything you want to remember always. Here are some easy and natural poses to get you started.
FOR MOM AND BABY:
- Laying on bed together
- Standing or sitting while holding baby close
- Smelling baby
- Cradling baby
FOR WHOLE FAMILY (mom, baby, dad, and other children):
- Snuggled on the bed or couch together
- Playful shots with other children if applicable
- Baby in Solly Wrap on mom or dad while also playing with older children, reading books with them, etc.
FOR JUST BABY:
- Lay baby on a neutral blanket near your natural light source
- Shoot overhead, closer up to get details, farther away for full body
- Swaddle baby for some images, or any other sweet little outfits like Solly Sleepers or Sleeper Gowns
Utilizing your smartphone's self-timer or remote capture is a great way to get your whole family into these newborn images. Here is a great set up for smartphone for under $20. Practice with your self-timer beforehand so you know how it works and won't have to fiddle with it and risk baby getting fussy during photo time. Here are a few other timing tips to keep in mind:
- Make sure that you have set up the shot for success, meaning you have an abundance of natural light you are working with, and a clean area as your backdrop.
- Set up your smartphone where you need it to be, and either set it to self-timer, or set it to respond to the remote for image capture.
- Take a test shot to make sure lighting and composition are spot-on before continuing.
- Take a handful of shots in each "pose" then move on to something else to ensure variety.
- Plan for about five "poses" that capture the different variations as outlined above, and take about 10 images for each. That will allow you to be all set with a wide range of beautiful images to remember this incredibly special time.
Ideally, your image edits should enhance the sweetness that's already there. That means that extensive edits shouldn't be necessary, especially if you plan ahead well enough to get the right lighting during your photo shoot. To make editing easier, consider choosing a mobile preset that you love (my faves are available here). Another option is to simply bring your smartphone images into Lightroom Mobile, bring exposure up a little if they are dark, correct temperature (bring it down if your images are orange-ish, and up if they are blue-ish), and sharpen if desired.