Tips from Hannah Veale, an experienced in-home newborn photographer
If you're expecting or you've just given birth, you've probably been wondering if you'll be able to have photographs of your newborn captured professionally in these turbulent COVID times. It's understandable that you might want to wait a while until your little one is a bit older before inviting non-essential workers into your home.
Your new baby will change and grow every day, and I can guarantee your phone memory will start to feel the strain of all the snaps of your little one from the moment they arrive in this world. So, as a gift to all those I can't see in these early days, here are my tips for capturing better phone images of your little bundle of squish.
Small disclaimer: Following these guidelines is at your own risk. Don't leave your baby alone on a surface you wouldn't normally put them down to sleep in, such as on a bed or sofa.
Find the best daylight in the house.
Turn off the auto-flash! The best light you will get in your house will be from windows - the larger the better. Try to find one out of direct sun and better still, on an overcast day. This will give you a giant, diffused light source that works very similarly to the softboxes used in studios. You can place baby on a bed near a window, on a soft surface on the floor next to french doors, or in a partner or relative's arms.
Generally, the light source should come from above the head. If they're on their back with their head to the side, have them facing the light source.
Control your light 'temperature'.
If you have any overhead lighting or lamps on in the room you're using, turn them off. Lightbulb light is generally much warmer than daylight, and will often confuse your phone's ability to capture colours correctly. You'll either end up with very orangey images or unnatural skin tones on your baby.
Play with texture
I love using muslins and blankets to 'frame' my babies when taking newborn portraits. You can lie them on a blanket and simply gather them loosely around to create a snuggly scene. In my sessions I often try and incorporate handmade blanket gifts from relatives as it's a great way to honour their hard work.
Remember - don't leave your baby unattended when surrounded by loose blankets.
Leave the Posing to the Pros!
We've all seen and marvelled at those newborn images that do so well on social media - sleeping babes wearing flower crowns with their heads resting daintily on their hands, or suspended weightlessly from hammocks hanging from trees. But please, please, don't try to recreate these at home. Newborn Photographers who create these kinds of images have undergone training to ensure that they wrap, pose and position babies safely. Also, many of the poses you see of this kind are 'composites', where multiple images have been taken to create the final image, and where supporting hands and objects have been edited out. A natural shot of your baby in a cute onesie, or loosely wrapped in blankets can be just as adorable.
Details, details, details.
When I'm doing a newborn photo session, I always capture close-up details such as hands, feet, and ears. These change the most during the first few weeks. Capturing their size relative to mum or dad is a great idea - you can cradle feet in hands, or show a tiny hand gripping a finger. The portrait mode on some smart phone is a great tool for this as it creates artificial depth when close up. You'll look back and wonder how they were ever so tiny!
Newborn mannerisms and facial expressions are so unique and it's so bittersweet when they grow out of them. As much as we all love beatific shots of sleeping babes, they do all other kinds of things too! In the haze of sleep deprivation it's all too easy to forget these early behaviours, so don't forget to capture those. I'm thinking windy smiles, gurning grimaces, 'superman' arms, and the ever popular hand/thumb sucking.
Live View/Motion Photo is your friend.
Did you know that with the 'Live View' video function on many up-to-date smartphones, you can actually choose the final image that's displayed? If you captured a yawn with an image in Live View/Motion Photo but it isn't showing up in the camera roll, chose 'edit', scroll along the timeline and choose 'make key photo' to change it.
To filter or not to filter? That is the question.
It can be super tempting to use the countless filter apps on your phone to edit your newborn shots. However, my advice would be to 'think timeless'. Trends change, and although you might think right now that the skin-smoothing filter or sepia-toned look works right now, you might find that in ten years time your images look horribly dated, and yearn to see how your baby-now-child actually looked.
Get in the frame.
I think this might be the most important advice of all. If you're the one that takes most of the photos in your family, make sure someone turns the camera on you, too. After birth we often don't feel like ourselves for a while, and you will find 100 reasons why you don't want your photo taken, but trust me, your children will want to see you in these early days as much as they want to see themselves. These photos are your legacy to them, another reason why it is so important to print your images. But that's another blog post!
And when you're ready, I'm here!
It's never too early to enquire about booking a newborn or family session with me. If you'd like to stay updated on the earliest available dates in 2021, sign up for updates using the form below!