From engagements to weddings and having your first baby, you could spend a ton of money on photography. They’re all exciting life events that you want to document and have beautiful photos to display around your house. However, professional photography is very expensive, and all you really need is 1 good photo to show off. That’s why I decided to take my own baby photos from now on and they’ve been coming out great!
As I’ve been taking photos, I keep getting better and better. I realized what lighting works best, what props I need more of, and how to get my baby’s attention. So expect a learning curve in the beginning.
Here are some tips from this amateur mommy photographer so you can start taking your own photos as well!
Use a backdrop
For indoor photos, you’ll want to use a backdrop. You may be able to get away with a plain wall, but a backdrop will give you a very clean and more professional look. You can buy a backdrop stand, but it’s not necessary with young baby photos. For my backdrops, I just tape them onto a dresser, table, or crib so it lays nicely to the floor.
I can’t stress this enough. Lighting can make or break your photos. The overhead lights in your home will give your photos a yellow tint to them and it’s hard to get that out even when editing. Set up your backdrop near a window that gets the most light in your house. I always find in the late morning is when we get the best light so I try to take our photos then.
For newborn photos, all you need is a Boppy breastfeeding pillow and/or Boppy newborn lounger, blankets, and baskets. I like fuzzy blankets because you can’t really mess it up. If you opt for a sheet or thinner, simple material, you’re more likely to see the wrinkles and imperfections. Just cover the Boppys with a blanket and get some up close photos of that sleepy newborn. When you use a basket, stuff the Boppy inside of it to give the baby a propped up feeling and make sure he doesn’t sink too far into it.
For older babies, try to get holiday or monthly themed props that the baby can also hold and play with to keep their attention. You can also use, baskets, crates, flowers, balloons, and craft paper fans. See some examples from my photos. I get a lot of my props from Home Goods, Michaels, Target, and Hobby Lobby (all my favorite stores). You can always find a ton of items for your photos there. Once you have a few props, you can keep reusing them for other shots too.
The light should be behind you, not the subject
These photos are unedited, but the photo on the left had the light behind the baby (I was facing the window when taking the photo) and the one on the right had the window behind me. See the difference? Lighting from the back of the subject will just create darkness and shadows. So, don’t take photos into the light, but keep it behind you or to the side.
Take practice shots to see where is the best lighting
Once you have your scene set up, take some practice shots to see how the lighting looks. If it’s not good, move to a different side or angle. Although, it may be hard to tell when you don’t have a person as the subject of the photo because the face is where you want to get the most light, but this will give you a good idea.
Have an assistant on hand
Don’t expect to take these photos all by yourself. Make sure someone is around to help you position the baby and get their attention. If you don’t, you’ll drive yourself crazy trying to get the perfect pose and perfect timing while adjusting your busy baby who isn’t going to want to sit still for very long.
Have toys to get baby’s attention
Make sure you have some of your baby’s favorite objects on hand, whether it’s a rattle, stuffed animals, or their favorite toy. Keep them near you so baby will look in the direction of the camera.
If you have something for them to hold and play with that goes with the theme of your photos, that would be even better to keep their attention longer. For example, for Easter, I gave my baby a fake carrot from a stuffed Easter Bunny, Memorial day she held the flag, and for fall I let her play with the fake leaves.
Know your age range
In my opinion, the easiest ages to photograph are newborns and around 6 months. Newborns are typically very sleepy and it’s easy to position them how you want without disturbing their sleep. Around 6 months is best when they’re sitting up, but not yet moving. They’re easy to manipulate and put into various positions, but they won’t quickly get out of it and run away. At this age they also are very smiley and attentive.
Try many different angles
Try shooting from straight above (get on a stool or chair to get high enough so your feet aren’t in the photo), right in front, to the side. You never know which angles you will like the best.
(up and to the side)
(straight in front)
(straight in front, but panned out)
Take LOTS of photos
You’ll probably feel like you are taking way too many, but trust me, you need a lot to choose from. You may think you snapped that perfect pose or smile, but you could have missed it by a millisecond. So keep clicking away until you’ve exhausted all the positions you’re able to do. My husband [assistant] would say ok, that’s enough, but I always take at least 200 photos. Out of 200 you may get 5 good ones! It’s always fun to look at the bloopers and have a laugh too!
You don’t need to have a fancy camera
New smart phones have excellent cameras and if you’re not planning on blowing up the pictures very large, they are sufficient to print. I even like how my iPhone 10 takes photos better outside than my DSLR. However, it is a nice investment to buy a good camera because you are going to be taking plenty of pictures down the road. I have a Nikon D3400 and it’s super user friendly and takes great photos. If you don’t feel like you will get enough use out of a camera, I’d definitely recommend upgrading your smart phone to the iPhone 10 which also takes great photos.
Download free editing software
Once you’re done taking photos, you’ll need to edit them to give it a more professional look. Your pictures will probably need cropping from your backdrop and especially for newborn photos because you want that perfect looking baby skin.
Gimp is a great, free photo editing program for a desktop that you can use to airbrush and color edit your photos. Photoshop & Lightroom are great too, but you need to purchase those. If you’re just starting out, Gimp should be fine until you get the hang of it. If you’re editing on your phone, the Lightroom app is free and I also like Perfect 365 for airbrushing.