Newborn photography is freaking adorable and oh so cute! When you get your little bundle of joy, you want to show them off. Unfortunately, as on point as your cell phone skills are, your photos probably do not compare much to those taken by a professional. Here are my tips and tricks to doing great DIY newborn photography. There is a reason those people are professionals, they know the ins and outs of lighting, equipment, editing and more importantly an eye for the shot. They can also be a bit pricey, so here are some things they do to land those precious shots that can easily be recreated by yourself with the right tools. This is in no way replacing a professional photographer, but when your pinching those pennies, this should help land you a satisfying shot.
Lighting – Use Natural Light
Lighting can make or break a photo. The trick with this one for newbies is to use natural light. Find an area in your house with a bit of room that has a window that lets in lots of light (ideally not direct sunlight). Then position your set up for that the scene facing the right corner of the window.
Use A Good Camera
A good camera does not mean you are going to take a good picture, but a poor quality camera will certainly hinder your shoot. A camera is an investment. Our family camera happens to be the Sony Alpha a6000, I had our extended family go in on it for my husbands birthday. It takes amazing video and is mirrorless, which means it’s not bulky and we take it everywhere. The auto mode is incredible, when I was just getting use to things, that is what I shot in. Auto mode does all the focusing and setting changes for me. I still sometimes shoot in it when I can’t take the time to setup and change settings, you know having a baby and all. Whatever you have, make sure you are shooting in the proper settings, if you don’t know what you are doing, shoot in “Auto Mode” for your DIY newborn photography. You should not do any photos you are hoping to print with a cell phone camera.
Props and Setup Gear
Good props are important for DIY newborn photography. You should have on hand pillows (or a couch cushion), neutral sheets or blankets to use as backdrops, Headbands, hats and stuffed animals also add those finishing touches, but are not necessary. How I do my setup is one of two ways, I either use my armchair with a blanket draped over it so that you can’t tell it’s an arm chair, or I use a couch cushion on the floor with a blanket draped over it and stack a few more in the background so the blanket serves as the backdrop as well. Image here shows a zoomed out view to give an idea on the set-up. The key is not to have any of your living room, bedroom or wherever visible.
Rule of Thirds
The rule of thirds is a simple concept, picture your image with lines in it like a tic tac toe board, instead of centering your baby in the middle, choose one of the four points where the lines intersect.
Having the baby face towards the center of the image is a good thing to do as well. As the viewer finds the eyes and then follows where they would look.
As you can see from the image, there are two points of interest that intersect in this photo, the flower and the eye. This doesn’t have to be perfect when taking the picture as you can crop it after in an editing program.
Move Around and Take Lots of Shots
Ok, you got the perfect lighting, your set-up, baby locked into your rule of thirds and “click” done right? NO! Move your ass around the set before changing outfits, poses and backgrounds. Take pictures from different angles. Take a birds eye view, a close up of the face, looking over the face, etc. You will probably have over 100 images when your done and only about 10 of them will be perfect. That is completely normal for both DIY newborn photography and professionals. Don’t be afraid of that!
DIY Newborn Photography Editing
Now is when you do your cropping if needed to get those images looking great with the rule of thirds.
If you can navigate your way through Photoshop that’s perfect as there are easy steps you can follow to get some great effects. I personally love the vintage look, like in the photo. I used pointers from the tutorial below to get some great finished products.
If you don’t have Photoshop, here is a link that lists the top free photo editing programs.
Try to not go crazy with the sepia and vignettes and make it look like a bad western photo.
In the end, having the patience to do the set up and take lots of photos will make a huge difference. Anyone can take a good picture if they have the know-how.
Let me know what tips and tricks you have when taking a good photo.