GUEST POST: How to take beautiful newborn photos at home during lockdown
Today's guest post comes from Emily Munday, a newborn and family photographer based in Plymouth. She's sharing some tips on how to take cute photos of your newborn even if you're stuck at home during lockdown.
Normally I tell new mums to put away the camera and enjoy those precious baby cuddles. This time is so special and these moments fly past so fast! I always say leave baby photos up to the professionals...
So... Why am I writing this post?
Capturing those first few days and weeks of your baby's life is SO important. This time passes so quickly and very soon your new baby won't be a newborn anymore.
Right now the world is a little bit upside down. Until the world starts to return to a new kind of normal a lot of you will sadly miss out on baby photo sessions. I would hate for any of you to miss out on photographing those tiny little toes, the cute squidgy button nose or the sleepy windy smiles!
So, I am sharing a few of my top tips with you to help you get the best photos of your gorgeous new bundle!
1. Be prepared
Before studio sessions I always discuss with parents what colours they would like and what props they would prefer. This is to give me time to prepare the studio before the session.
In the same way you need to have a little think about what you would like to achieve and prepare beforehand. Find some blankets or fabric that you like the look of and set it aside ready for your session. I also recommend that you have some muslins ready, a dummy (if you are using one) and a camera or phone.
2. Work with your baby's schedule
Every baby is different. Some babies like to sleep and sleep and sleep. Some babies are super nosey and love to be awake, taking everything in. Some babies LOVE drinking themselves into a milk coma. Other babies prefer their milk little and often.
You will VERY quickly learn what your baby likes and you will start to slowly settle into some kind of routine.
Before you take any photos, I suggest having some awake time with your baby. You want your baby to feel tired before you try to settle them to sleep. They will sleep for longer if they are due a nap.
I also suggest that your baby is full up on milk. Everyone fancies having a nap when they have gorged on a huge meal and babies are no different!
If you want to take photos of your baby without a nappy on then I suggest that you loosen the nappy half an hour before you plan to take photos. This helps remove any creases on your baby's skin that the nappy may leave. If you do decide to remove the nappy, I suggest using a puppy pad or a waterproof mattress cover to protect any furniture that you might be using. Babies always use nappy off time to have a poo-nami!
You also need to consider the temperature of the room. I always have a little heater on the go in the studio to keep the room nice and warm for your baby. Imagine that you are trying to sleep naked. You want the room warm enough to sleep naked comfortably. If the room is too cold it will be harder for your baby to sleep.
3. Take your time
You are not on the clock. You can take your time!
Studies suggest that your baby can sense when you are feeling stressed or anxious. Your baby will be less likely to settle if you are not comfortable.
You may well be feeling uncomfortable from the birth of your baby too. Do not do anything that could hurt yourself! If you have a partner who can help then please let them assist you when trying to take baby photos. After my Caesarean with my eldest daughter 4 years ago I was unable to take photos for 6 weeks. I felt uncomfortable and weak. Do not overdo it! You have been through a lot and your health is SO important right now!
I found when taking photos of my own babies that it was helpful to take photos over several days. It meant that I could take a break and that I had time to capture all of those tiny details without rushing.
4. Use natural light
Light is always SO important in photographs.
Turn your camera flash off. You want to use natural light to get the best photos at home.
Disclaimer: If you follow me online you will know that this is a contradiction! In the studio I ALWAYS use an artificial studio light. This is because I have spent years getting the light correct in my camera so that it is correctly exposed each time. I know how to use the light to make your baby's skin glow. I can position my light away from my camera to get the best shadows. Flash on a camera or phone can give quite harsh lighting which is why I much prefer natural lighting.
The best source of natural light would be a large window. Always make sure that your baby's head is closest to your light source when taking a photo. This helps show off their best feature, their face!
What do I photograph?
You have everything set up. Now where do you start?
One of my favourite poses is laying baby on their side. I would use a sofa or a large beanbag to lay your fabric on. Make sure your baby is supported at all times. If you want to raise your baby's head slightly put a muslin underneath your blanket. If your baby is happy and settled, I would use this as an opportunity to capture lots of details (mouth, nose, ears, eye lashes etc). Angles are everything so take several different photos from this position to see what you prefer!
Another of my favourite poses is laying baby in a basket or box. This helps show how tiny your baby is and how curly they are! A bowl or box the width of your forearm would be the perfect size. Use muslins and fabric to stuff your prop to make sure your baby will be comfy before laying them down. For this shot I would photograph them from above.
Newborn safety ALWAYS comes first
The safety of your baby always needs to be a top priority. Never attempt poses with your baby such as 'the froggie pose'. Your baby cannot support their own body weight. These photographs are only ever achieved by compositing photographs together after the studio session. Your baby should always be fully supported while you are taking photos at home.
I hope that these top tips have been useful. For more information regarding baby photo sessions in Plymouth and advice please feel free to check out my website or drop me an email! I can also be found on Facebook and I am always happy to offer advice and support to parents trying to achieve beautiful photos of their baby.