Covid-19 is depressing for a multitude of reasons. One of the reasons I personally find it depressing is because I know there are so many new babies being born whose parents have scheduled newborn sessions that can no longer take place. And while it’s not ideal, I figured teaching you how to take your own newborn photos until I (or your photographer) can get to you would be the next best thing.
Before we dive in, let me set some expectations. My recommendation would be to only focus on getting photos of baby. If you want to try a couple of mom and baby or dad and baby, go for it, but I’m not going to cover that in detail in this blog post.
Also, it is unlikely that your photos are going to look “professional”, especially if you’re taking them on an iPhone. But this is literally our best option right now, so let’s give it a whirl!
Babies like it warm, y’all. So crank that thermostat up to 80 and warm it up. Are you going to be really flipping hot? Probably. But it’s temporary, so shed a layer and grab a glass of ice water.
Another option is to use a space heater. If you do this, PLEASE make sure it’s at least a couple of feet back from your baby to avoid overheating him or her or burning their skin.
The most simple thing I can tell you here is to use the room in your house that has the most light flowing through the windows. If you have a room that has sliding glass doors with nice, even light coming through, even better.
I’m going to caution you a bit on this, though, because you don’t want harsh natural light. You want it to be even. For instance, you don’t want really bright direct sunlight shining in part of the picture and then a shadow in the other part. You want the light to look exactly the same across the photo.
It will be so much easier for you to achieve the look you want if you’re not mixing natural light and artificial light. Turn off all overhead lights and lamps in the room you’re photographing.
If there’s light seeping in from a nearby room or hallway, nix that too. I won’t get into the nitty gritty here, but trust me and turn the lights off!
If you have a bean bag to lay your baby on, awesome! Tighten it up and use it. Most people don’t have bean bags hanging around their houses, though. And if you’re most people, I’d suggest swiping an ottoman from your couch instead.
Lay the ottoman in the room with the best natural light. If you have a large piece of white spandex, wrap that around the cushion tightly. If you don’t, use a white sheet that’s somewhat free of wrinkles and wrap it tightly around the cushion.
If you don’t have either of the aforementioned items, using a neutral colored crochet or blanket will work as well.
It’s much easier to accomplish all of this if you’re working with a sleepy baby. So, keep baby awake for at least an hour before you plan to do this.
And then right before it’s showtime, feed your baby. This should guarantee you a solid amount of time of sleep to work your camera magic! And if you need a little extra help, use some white noise with an app on your phone.
Babies generally love swaddles. So swaddle your little one up tightly before placing him or her on your prepared couch cushion.
Once the scene is set, be mindful of not distorting your baby’s head. If you’re photographing from above your baby, make sure your phone is parallel to your baby and not at an angle. This will prevent any distortion that could potentially occur.
My iPhone 8 Plus is over two years old. It’s not the newest and fanciest, but it does have portrait mode, and this mode can make a world of difference. Portrait mode on your iPhone allows you to achieve a much more professional look than the default camera.
When you’re in portrait mode, you’ll need to be at least a couple of feet away from your baby, but no more than eight feet away.
Once you have your mode set and your baby in the frame, tap on your phone screen where you can see the inner corner of baby’s eye that’s closest to you. This will allow you to focus in the right place, rather than the camera defaulting to a focus point like baby’s ear and leaving his or her face out of focus.
Cameras on phones tend to underexpose your photos, and you’ll need to fix that! There are tons of editing apps you can download to your phone including Lightroom Mobile, VSCO, Tezza, Afterlight and A Color Story. And if something like that is your jam, you can adjust the exposure and temperature of your photo in one of those apps.
If you’re not familiar with those apps and don’t want to download them, iPhones actually have some basic editing capabilities built in. If you open a photo in your camera roll, click “edit” in the upper right hand corner.
From here, you can explore the icons on the bottom of the screen to adjust your settings. For most photos, you’ll want to increase your exposure a bit to brighten it up. You can also adjust the temperature by finding the “warmth” setting and the tint within the “tint” setting.
There are other adjustments you can play with, but those are the few I would suggest starting with. And if you like the look of my photos, I’ll be offering a free preset inside of MWP Mamas Facebook Community!
Believe me when I say that all of the photographers of the world would much rather do this for you than ask you to learn our craft in a hot minute. But the circumstances we’re currently in won’t safely and legally allow for it, so hopefully this will help you to document this fleeting season of life until we can get there and do it for you!