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DIY Newborn Photos: What to Do During the Session

If you read the last post, I mentioned that I realized how a lot of families are now choosing to take their own newborn photos, mostly because of budgetary reasons.  Because of this, I felt compelled to share some advice that I have learned after taking a few newborn sessions for friends in case any of my readers are choosing to take this route as well.

Monday’s post will help you prepare everything before your baby is born.  Soon enough, your newborn will be here, and you can test out what you’ve learned.  Here’s a few tips from my experience to help you make the actual session a success.  If you have some experience and have a few other tips that may help new moms and dads capture this precious time beautifully, please do share in the comments!

FIRST THINGS FIRST
Try to take your photos within the first 2 weeks of baby’s life – the sooner the better.  The tenderness of a newborn is what you’ll miss so much because you’ll blink, and it’s over – the fresh wrinkly skin, the incredibly innocent movements, and all of the sweet snoozing.  As the days go by, you will be amazed at how quickly your little one will change and grow.  You don’t want to miss it.

THE ROOM/SETUP

  • Remember, natural lighting is best. Avoid the flash and any artificial light.  Window light is everything when you’re at home and you don’t own special equipment.
  • Have your white sheet and/or swaddle, props, etc, readily available.
  • Keep the room at a comfortable temperature for baby.  Not too hot, but not cold.  Remember, they are used to being within the warmth of momma’s belly and are still getting adjusted to the outside world.  Too cold can bring about an unhappy baby, and remember that some photos your baby will be unswaddled.  You know your home and baby best.
  • Not necessary, but you can use a boppy or the curve of your maternity pillow for photos as well.  Place your sheet or blanket over it.  This has been a big go-to for DIY photos.  You can take photos of your baby lying in the “dip” of the pillow to help prop your baby’s body up while keeping them comfortable vs. lying flat.  I’ve done this for nearly every session.
  • Be prepared to feed and feed often so have everything you need to feed nearby. A session that will more likely yield your best photos can take around 3 hours (which is a lot of feeding time for a newborn!).  Be patient, because it’ll be worth it.

ADVICE ON SHOTS TO TAKE

  • DO get detail shots.  Toes, fingers, ears, nose.  The wrinkly forehead.  The tiny fists.  You will miss all of these tiny details, trust me.
  • DO get in the frame.  You will love seeing photos of yourself holding your beautiful, brand new baby months and years from now.  Enlist a family member or use a tripod to get some family photos.  A lot of newer cameras have a remote that you can use so you don’t have to rely on the timer.  We were using a timer because my camera was an older model, but we were still able to get some pretty decent photos.
  • DON’T try to do anything that seems unnatural for your babe.  I know there a lot of great, creative photos online, but remember that these are from professional photographers that charge big bucks for their work and experience.  I know many popular and creative poses have the mother who is holding the child Photoshopped out which is how babies are posed in certain ways in the final products.  If it doesn’t seem natural for your baby to sit or pose a certain way, don’t try it at home.
  • DON’T wait for the “perfect” shot.  The shots that will actually be the perfect ones will be the ones that aren’t stereotypically perfect.  I’m saying this as a mother.  Yes, it’s sweet when your baby is sleeping soundly with that newborn grin on their face and hands tucked perfectly where they should be, but the photos you will look back on that will make your heart swell will be the imperfect shots – the adorable baby yawn, the one with them wiggling out of the swaddle, the one with their tiny fists curled up to their chest with the confused look on their face.  My friends always appreciate that I send them all of the “outtakes” because although they’re not for display, they’re the ones that warm their heart and bring back the sweetest memories.  It’s the photos of them being, well, newborns.

So, I think I’ll stop there before I get all weepy thinking about how big my firstborn has grown since I took his photos.  I hope you found these tips helpful and encouraging!  You can get beautiful pictures at home if you’re prepared – and if you are able to find a camera you love, the skills you pick up here will continue to grow and help capture your child’s life for years to come.  If you have questions or would like to share some additional tips, please do share in the comments.

Happy memory making!

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