Ask any photographer and they will tell you that photographing newborns is tough. It takes a lot of practice and a lot of patience. I personally think that shooting your own baby is even harder, particularly because you are tired. And when I’m tired, I have very little patience.
With both of my kids I looked forward to photographing them. Brayden was difficult. I couldn’t take his pictures until he was over 3 weeks old. Anytime I got close to him he just wanted to eat. Kennedy was much easier, but I was a lot more tired with not just one but two kids and didn’t have as much time to take her pictures. I did my best to not let a day go by when I don’t take her picture, but some days go by in the blink of an eye.
I’ve photographed a lot of babies, but I’ve found photographing my own babies to be much more difficult. Here are some tips that helped me along the way:
1. Start early! This is easier said than done. After you have a baby the last thing you might want to do is get your camera out. But, newborns are the easiest to photograph in the first 10 days. They sleep a lot and they still curl up easily. After that first 10 days, they will wake easier and they will start to develop baby acne. You don’t have to do anything complicated. Just capture them as they are. Those are the images you’ll really treasure.
2. Warm it up! Turn the AC and fans off. Your baby will sleep better if it’s warm. Uncomfortably warm for you. If you choose to use a space heater make sure it’s a safe distance away from the baby and from any blankets.
3. You will get wet! I think babies are cutest when naked. But, know that you will get peed and pooped on. And whatever you put them on will most likely get peed and pooped on as well. Put down a blanket to protect your comforter, mattress, and furniture! I got pooped on while transferring her into the box.
4. Close ups! Get up close and make sure you capture all the tiny parts of your baby that won’t be tiny for that long. A macro lens helps with getting these shots. Don’t have a macro? Don’t want to invest in one? Rent one for the occasion. You’ll be happy you did!
5. Measure up! Make a plan to photograph your baby in the same place or wearing the same outfit throughout their first year. My friend Julie sent me these awesome monthly fabric stickers from Baby Cakes Design Co so we can photograph Kennedy during her first year. If you photograph your baby in the same place each time, you can really see how much they are growing!
6. Patience, Patience, Patience! Patience is the key with babies. And patience is something you probably have very little of after giving birth and are getting little sleep. If you want to try to pose your baby, your baby will need to be asleep in order to hold the pose. Make sure your baby is in a deep sleep before attempting to pose her. Don’t rush it! Otherwise, you’ll have to start from the beginning. If your baby isn’t feeling it that day, just try again tomorrow.
7. Have a helper! When taking your own baby’s pictures, it’s crucial to have a helper. It’s always important to have an extra hand to make sure baby is safe.
8. Safety first! Don’t try anything crazy with your baby. Don’t put him in harm’s way. We’ve all seen the super amazing images of baby’s hanging from tree branches or scales. And, guess what? They are all composite shots. Photographers who do it the right way aren’t really hanging babies from trees. The look is all achieved with a little help from Photoshop. You should never hang your baby on anything, put them in anything glass, or pose them in a way that their neck is not supported. Use your common sense. If it seems unsafe, it probably is!