DIY – Taking Newborn Photos

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Are newborn photographers too expensive?

It depends… If you are a good photographer with some equipment, could you do it yourself? I am going to guess yes! I was put in this situation recently. I have done professional photography in the past, but never really newborn photos. It was a rare occasion that I was asked by super close friends for a few pictures, but I never really specialized in it.

But, this time was different, because I recently was blessed with a granddaughter. I quickly thought that I would screen a few good photographers and just pay someone else to take the photos. After all, they had more experience and it made me a bit nervous thinking about taking the photos myself. I started looking into some newborn photographers that I thought were decent. I quickly saw that they charged about $300.00 just for the studio or sitting fee. I knew I would probably drop $600.00 plus before it was all said and done, if I went that route, so I reconsidered my options… Could I shoot a “Do It Yourself” newborn session? This is what I learned…

Proper Equipment

You should have, buy or borrow certain equipment before committing to this. I was fortunate to have indoor flash lighting. Now normally, I would be leary of hurting the baby’s eyes with a flash, but since the baby will probably be sleeping about 20 hours a day at 10 days old, I figured it was safe to have flashes going off indirectly. (bouncing the flash of an umbrella)

If you can take the photos near a large window with natural light it helps. This is not direct sunlight blaring through the window, but more of open light flooding through the window so there is no harsh bright to dark contrast. Cameras do better when they have even shades of light. I basically rearranged my front room for a couple days to set up a “mini studio” in my house. This worked out well. You should plan on increasing the temperature in the house for the session so that the baby can maintain their body temperature while being posed and disrobed at times.

After getting the camera, flash system or lighting worked out and a temperature controlled area, think props. We ordered a few things off Amazon and shopped at some home and fabric stores for a few other props. Here are the MUST get items that we bought from Amazon (links below) and the rest are to your taste and discretion.

Newborn Photography Butterfly Posing Pillow
Baby Headbands for Newborns
Hats with Big Bow
Newborn Baby Swaddle

After all, they have to look cute and posed right! 😉

Before you shop for extra props or material I would do this: Get on Pinterest and if you know how to create a secret board with Mom, Grandma or those who want a certain look for the pictures, do that.  Share the board with them and have them pin ideas of other newborn photo ideas to this board. You can then get an idea how to try and recreate the top 3 photos by texture, color and props. Also, keep props and their tags affixed, since you may not even use them and could return them to the store if unused. It happened to us. I got $20 back for a prop we didn’t ever get to use.

Checklist of Items:
Photo Background Stand Backdrop
Ladder (for overhead shots)
Indoor Photography Lighting Kit
Step stool
Camera Lenses
Extra Flash
Stuffed Animals
Extra Diapers and Wipes
Warm Blanket
Newborn Photography Butterfly Posing Pillow
Newborn Baby Swaddle
Headbands and Hats

Test Photos

Group props and background materials together. Write out a plan if you can. Once you start shooting, it gets hard to remember how you were wanting the photos to look for the end design. Again, a quick look at your pinterest board can help or a list of what may look good together in the shot written down.

If you have time, do a test session with a baby doll or stuffed animal about the same time of day you plan on doing it, the day before. Work out the kinks before the baby is there. You can see how shadows and backgrounds respond. Also remember, the lower the F-stop (F1.8, F4.0, F5.6, etc.) the more you can blur the foreground and the background. You will need plenty of light to get good shots at those lower settings.

Newborn Photo Day Safety

Adjust the temperature 2 hours early to be set ahead of the photo shoot time. This DIY newborn session should be a family affair. Assign someone as the creative director for dressing baby up and another person as a safety director looking at the big picture and things that are hazards (like background poles that could fall or extension cords as tripping hazards,etc). The most important thing you will need to do, if nothing else is have Mom, Grandma or Dad be within arms reach at all times with the baby for safety reasons. This newborn safety person is the most important person in the session second only to the baby. If baby moves wrong or a prop or piece of equipment starts to fall towards the baby, they can protect them. The photographer should also always secure camera add ons and make sure camera strap is around their neck, especially doing overhead and straight down shots over the baby.

Newborn Baby Prep

The baby should be scheduled for photos right after being changed and their feeding. They will then be very ready to sleep through their session, and less likely to be grumpy and fussy. Be sure to not overfeed or forget to burp them. If baby is not happy, take a break and cuddle. To give you some inspiration, here are a few shots from my gorgeous lovebug!

Thanks! Have a great photo shoot!

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