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Photograph your newborn baby at home

With Lockdown 3 once again closing our Croydon studio we are unable to photograph newborn babies for a while. Hopefully we’ll be back soon but for parents who want to capture the first few days of their newborn baby’s life with a newborn studio session that isn’t much of a reassurance. For those that can’t have a newborn studio session we’ve put together some tips on how to photograph your newborn baby at home. I know it’s not the same as a studio session but hopefully when we reopen we’ll be able to take some amazing photos of your baby whatever age they are.

Photograph your newborn baby at home quick tips

If you are going to photograph your newborn baby at home and you want to take better pictures of your baby then I’ve put together a handful of tips that might help you. It’s not the same as a studio newborn session so even if you do have studio shots then there’s no reason why you can’t have both.

Use the best camera you can

The best camera is the one you have with you. As you’re at home there’s no excuse for only using an iPhone when you have that DSLR in the cupboard.  Choosing the perfect camera to photograph your baby is a difficult task even for a photographer. I’d happily recommend a variety of different cameras to fit different budgets but in all honesty there’s a lot you can do with a very basic setup.

Make sure the room is warm

When we photograph newborns in the studio the aim is always to get the studio nice and warm. It helps baby sleep and makes it easier to pose. A good way to know if it’s warm enough is if you’re comfortable but slightly warm in shorts and t-shirt.

Pick the perfect time – be ready

Newborn babies seldom do what you want them to on demand but they do have a pattern of behaviour even before they have a routine. For example, a newborn might sleep heavily after a mid-morning feed. This is the perfect time to photograph your newborn baby even though I’m sure you’d prefer to take a nap!

Take your time

There’s no need to rush anything when you photography your newborn baby. It takes a bit of patience and perseverance but you’ll get there in the end. The advantage of photographing your newborn baby at home is that you have all the time in the world!

Make sure you are in the pictures

I know you might not feel amazing after basically zero sleep but trust me when I say it is important for you to have pictures of yourself with your newborn baby.

Focus on the details

The key to photograph your newborn at home is to capture the tiny details. You can take your time to photograph their tint feet and hands. Use your own hands in the photos as a size reference.

Tell a story

The story of your baby’s first two weeks at the moment might just be that you sat at home and went out for occasional walks but it’s still worth capturing. Think about your own baby photos. As pictures age there’s so many other things we appreciate. The sofa you had, how you decorated the nursery, where you lived and the people who were with you all change over time.

Photograph your newborn baby at home things to avoid

There’s so many things to avoid when photographing your newborn baby at home. Pinterest has to take a large portion of the blame for this. Professional photographers aren’t completely innocent in this either.

Don’t try and recreate certain studio shots.

The internet is littered with newborn images that are either created using composites in Photoshop or are simply just dangerous to do. The froggy pose is the perfect example of this. It’s weird and unnatural and not something we even do in the studio.  Posing newborns isn’t really something you should approach without the proper training.  When photographing your newborn baby at home my advise is keep it simple.

You don’t need Etsy and eBay

We have a stock of carefully selected newborn outfits at the studio. That doesn’t stop people turning up for their newborn shoot with some interesting outfits that have been purchased on eBay. I’ve seen more giant bows and headbands than anyone needs to see in a lifetime. Don’t even get me started on Hungry Hungry Caterpillar outfits!
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, less is more.

Don’t over prepare – take photos on the fly

You’ve probably got better things to do than build an entire mini studio set in your living room. Been there, done that. Your baby isn’t going to be patiently waiting for your to set up a background and lights. Have a camera ready, keep an eye on where your light is going from and take photos on the fly.

Don’t over edit your photos.

I’m sure I mentioned something about less being more? Same goes for editing. There’s plenty of apps which allow you to do truly horrendous edits to your photos.  As always, keep it simple.

How did I photograph my newborn baby at home

As I write this my daughter is having an online class, the days of having a newborn at home are long gone but fondly remembered.

Photograph your own newborn baby – What’s most important?

I can give you numerous tips on how to photograph your newborn but the best advice is to make the photos personal and unique to you.
This advice remains true for anyone who does have a newborn studio session. The pictures you take should sit aside them as a collective document of your baby’s first few weeks.
My daughter was two weeks old before we made it into the studio. In the days before I photographed her also daily in different settings.

How I photographed my daughter Day 1

Every artist needs a muse and after nearly 20 years since I began my photography journey I have found mine.
In 1994 I decided I wanted to be a photographer. We were beginning a month long family holiday that took us from the UK to Singapore, Australia and finishing in California.
In Singapore I convinced my parents that I needed a “really good camera”. If I remember correctly it was going to be “my birthday and Christmas present” which, as my birthday was in August was a ridiculous concept that both my parents and I secretly accepted. I’d like to tell you it was something more romantic like the £50 Pentax I brought a year later but in fact it was a very high tech consumer level 35mm Samsung compact with all sorts of bells and whistles I never really worked out how to use.
For the rest of that month I barely put that camera down, I shot dozens of rolls of film for which I received numerous low quality free rolls of film from BonasPrint when I had them posted off to be processed back home.
I was inspired by the skyscrapers in Singapore, the awesome Queensland landscape and the general grubbiness of LA.
I was on my way to being a photographer, I studied photography at art college and university for the next 6 years before landing my dream job working behind the bar at my local.
Fast forward 20 years and it’s my pregnant wife that I’m convincing that I need a new camera.
“It’s our camera for home, for photographing our baby…..it can be my birthday and Christmas present”
The camera I brought was a FujiFilm X-Pro 1 with two lenses. I’ve always wanted to own a camera that looks like this and the fact that it just happens to take awesome images helps.
I had plans for this camera, I knew it was the sort of camera you needed to get used to so it soon became my tool of choice for my location portraits.

These were just getting me warmed up and used to the camera as the first real big job photo-shoot I had planned was the birth of my daughter.
The plan was to document our birth story with this small discrete camera. I knew the sort of images I wanted to capture and I had a pretty good idea how I was going to create them.
I’m not going to explain the whole birth story, you can read about it at Born in 60 seconds. You might have guessed by the title of that article that the birth was quick. So quick in fact that after seeing my daughter’s head emerge from my wife whilst we were still at home I completely forgot to pick up the camera I had left out in preparation.
I took my camera bag, spare cards, charger and extra lens to the hospital but my X-Pro 1 was left sitting on my dinning room table.
I’m a little ashamed to admit that seconds after my daughter’s birth I thought to myself “I’ve forgotten my camera”.
The first few pictures I took were with my Nokia Lumia which doesn’t have an awful camera but at the same time wasn’t going to capture the quality really want I wanted.
Perhaps it was for the best, perhaps me experiencing the birth of my daughter from behind the lens would have been right.
After the birth my wife was rushed into theatre and I was left alone with our minutes old daughter. This was her first photo-shoot, I took 5 frames, the first, and I can’t believe I’m saying this was a selfie. The 5th frame was later posted on Facebook with the caption “We made this baby taco this morning”.

Lion King parody newborn baby photo

During my wife’s pregnancy I began to think about all the different way in which I might photograph our baby. Of course I’d be bringing her into the studio and I’d be taking many pictures like you’d find in baby photography section.
Much of my research was done on Pinterest and there’s a few boards I created to inspire me
Whilst creating this board one image from photographer Ryan Sims caught my attention.

That was the point when I decided that I wanted to recreate my own Lion King parody. A few days after my daughter was born I started thinking about how I might go about recreating this iconic Disney image. I didn’t want to simple create a real life version as Ryan Sims had done but I more contemporary Lion King parody.

If Simba lived on the African Pride Lands then it would only make sense that his icon image would be of his being raised over Pride Rock. Sadly there aren’t many Pride Rocks in Epsom so I thought it would be best to rethink the setting. One idea was  the stand over Epson Downs or perhaps a multi storey car park but those ideas were rejected by my wife.

In the end I decided that it would be best done at home. In our living room we have large windows which allow in plenty of light in the afternoon. We also have a large wooden dinning room table which at the time was filled with plenty of “offerings” from the local townsfolk. I moved the cards and baby bits and left the flowers.

As the sun began to set on my daughter’s 5th day of life I handed my wife my camera, climbed onto a chair and lifted my daughter as high as I dared.
This was the resulting photo. I processed the image in Photoshop and added a slight 2014 Instagram feel to the editing.

Imagine if you The Circle of Life music playing “Nants ingonyama bagithi Baba……”

Newborn baby photography in the garden 8 days old

This is another one of my favourite pictures that I took of our newborn daughter when she was less than a week old. At this point I still hadn’t taken her into the studio but I was still taking plenty of photographs of her.
Very much like Newborn baby photography at home – 6 days old this image was taken when my wife was having a little nap.

For at the first two weeks after my daughter was born we had plenty of warm weather. This made it that little bit easier to leave the house inasmuch as we didn’t have to worry about wrapping her in numerous layers and if the possibility of us getting caught in the rain existed or not.
It also meant that taking walks to our local parks was a much more inviting prospect.

Like most newborn babies, my daughter pretty much slept through her first week. This offered plenty of photography opportunities. It also allowed me to practice my baby posing. My wife would often catch me positioning her as she slept on my chest as call across the living room “stop posing the baby!”
This picture was actually taken in my garden whilst, as I already mentioned, my wife was taking a nap.
On this particular day the weather was rather nice without being too hot. A large portion of our garden was covered in shade from the trees which is ideal for photos.
Without having too much of a plan I slung my camera over my shoulder, scooped up my sleeping daughter and on the way out grabbed a vase of flowers we had received a couple of days before.

I started off by scattering the flowers over the garden and placing my daughter on a shawl in the grass under the shade.
I positioned her on her side and took a few shots.
I then cleared the flowers I had scattered as they appeared a bit too random. There was already plenty of leaves that had fallen from the trees providing the much needed shade and I felt the extra flowers looked a bit odd.
I kept one flower, a pink gerbera, in the shot. Pink gerberas were the flowers we had at our wedding so thought it would be nice if we at least featured one in the images.
With its long stem the gerbera fitted neatly into my sleeping baby daughter’s hands and it seemed like she was holding it.

I lay down on the grass so that I could take the photo from her level.
The image was taken on my Fuji X Pro 1 with a 60mm macro lens wide open at f2.4.
I used only the natural available light and set my shutter speed to 1/500 with an ISO of 200.

After a couple of frames she awoke from her slumber and probably wondering where she was and what was going on she made a few complaints.
Her cries also awoke my wife and our little photo-shoot was over.

Once I’d edited the images it became clear that this was going to be a favourite.
We had this image made into a 20×16 acrylic which we hung onto her bedroom wall just above her changing table.

G H Hurt and Son Shawl

Since the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge emerged from St Mary’s Hospital London with a newborn Prince George neatly wrapped in a royal baby blanket of merino wool we have been using G H Hurt and Son shawls in our baby photography.

One of the first pictures I took of my newborn baby daughter was with her wrapped in the same merino wool shawl as Prince George. This simple shot taken on my dining room table wrapped in the Royal baby blanket when my daughter was only a week old now hangs in a large 30×40 inch frame in my living room. If it’s a picture you love then print it up big!

This was one of the photoshoots that I did early in the morning when I was on feeding duties. I made a little diagram showing the setup.

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