The COVID-19 pandemic has made it difficult to do some of the special things we like to do to celebrate our babies born after loss. Due to social distancing, photographers aren’t able to come into homes and take those precious newborn photos that we treasure. So, I asked my sister-in-law, Betsy Curtis Winters, who is a gifted photographer, to share some tips for taking your own stunning newborn photos.
Hi! My name is Betsy and I’m a photographer with my very own 5-month-old at present. I worked as a newborn photographer in the hospital for about five years, and I’ve also done quite a bit of on-location lifestyle shoots for families. Here are some of my tips for getting good photos of your newborn.
Babies do not follow instructions (or sleep schedules!). This means that you need to work around them and also sometimes use some tricks to get the shot you want (more info on soothing babies below below, in the Posing section). As I mentioned, some of my work is documentary in nature, so I like to capture some genuinely unplanned moments, but I also want to get some clear shots of a peaceful baby. This is most likely to happen if you can catch the baby shortly after a feeding, when they are calm and content. Don’t worry if the baby is sleeping. Sleeping babies are adorable and often more amenable to posing if they are in a deep sleep. Also, they often will wake up part way through the shoot, so you will likely get at least a few shots with open eyes. On the subject of timing, it’s also important to note that if you want photos that look really, really newborn, you should plan to shoot within the first two weeks of life.
While your baby will look cute no matter what, unless you have a professional lighting set-up, I recommend using natural light exclusively. Whether you are shooting newborn images in the hospital or at home, turn off the overhead lights. Pose baby near a window that lets in a lot of diffused natural light (not direct, harsh, sunlight). Think about the soft light on a cloudy day – that’s the intensity you’re looking for. As this light spills in over one side of the baby, it will create soft shadows on the other side. Pay attention to where the light falls and position yourself and baby accordingly. If you are shooting outdoors, it’s best to shoot in either the early morning or later in the day when you won’t get harsh shadows from the sun. Evenly shaded areas (not dappled) can also work well.