Hi Mamas, here are some tips for taking your own maternity and newborn photos from a Denver photographer. This is such a crazy time right now and with such uncertainty. A lot of my clients and friends are postponing their baby showers, having to deliver with out their trusted doula and forgoing those last few prenatal massages they are longing for. Let’s make sure you will have some beautiful photos in the event you do not get to have a professional maternity or newborn photoshoot.
What kind of equipment should I use?
A DSLR camera isn’t required but if you have one pull that baby out and snap away! If you have a DSLR, I would highly recommend purchasing an inexpensive 50mm lens. This lens will get you through maternity, newborn and any milestone images you would want to take of your little one. I do not use a flash when photographing babies if I can avoid it.
Outdoor lighting is usually easiest to achieve if you do not have a camera that allows you to shoot with darker indoor lighting. Most of my maternity sessions are done 45-90 minutes before sunset. This lighting will lend to the soft and flattering light you are seeing in all of the maternity photos you have searched for. You can do these in your backyard, front porch or along a path during an evening stroll.
You can also stand in front of a french door or a large window. You can turn your body at an angle towards the window so your back is not against it but you are almost with your shoulder to the light source. Make sure you step away from the window enough that you do not loose the details in your bump or outfit with too much light pouring in.
Apply a little extra lip gloss, blush and mascara. It will amaze you how much the light will wash out your normal make-up. Make sure you have lotion on your hands and bump. Keep nail polish a neutral and timeless color, let’s be honest most of us are not getting our nails done so even nice filed/clean nails will do!
it’s all in the posing…………
Make sure whoever is taking your photo is shooting from an angle slightly higher to you. If I have a client my height or a little taller, I will bring a small step ladder to take photos on. You do not want to shoot from underneath a Mama as this lends to unflattering angles and will make you look bigger than you are and focus more on your hips vs your bump.
You can start with posing yourself with your shoulder to the camera, pop the knee closest to the camera a slight bit (you do not have to go 1995 prom with it!) and then rotate your booty away from the camera and behind you and then swing that gorgeous bump towards the camera. You can play with arm placement (one hand on top/bottom, both on bottom, one hand on hip and one on your bump etc.) I typically shoot straight on when I am taking close-ups of the bump. Try and keep your fingers closed and together vs. spread out like you would be palming a basketball. It can help it you turn your chin towards the shoulder facing the camera.
what to wear
You will find that fitted clothing work better than loose fabrics. You can even go out in maxi dress and clip the back of it to make it fit closer around your bump. A pair of non-maternity jeans with the tab open and a fitted tank are always cute as well. You can dress a simple jersey knit dress from Pink Blush up with a fun necklace or stacking bracelets.
Whether you are in the hospital and have stashed a camera with you or you have your phone, one thing is certain, you will be taking more photos in the 24 hours after your baby arrives than you likely ever will. You might as well make them photo book worthy!
Anytime you are photographing a newborn PLEASE, PLEASE, PLEASE put your camera strap around your beck and make sure you have one hand on the body AT ALL TIMES. I stress this about every three minutes when I am teaching my Denver photographer workshops for newborn posing.
When you are taking photos of your newborn in the hospital or at home one of the most key pieces of advice besides lighting is to shoot down their nose. This means that you don’t want to shoot from under their nostrils. You want to see every little adorable detail you’ve dreamt about. If your baby is facing with its head to the left, you’ll want to place yourself a little further to the left rather than square on so that you get that sweet spot!
lighting, lighting, lighting…….
As a Denver photographer that specializes in newborn photography the most important part is your lighting. Morning light is best as your home and hospital room should have the most abundant source of natural lighting at this time. The most common mistake people can make (photographers included) is lighting your baby incorrectly!!
You ALWAYS want your light to come down their face. This lends to those beautiful images with dimensions that shows off those adorable cheeks, noses and wrinkled lips. Watch the back of your screen to make you are not “blowing out the highlights” most cameras will have a highlight alert that you can turn on. This simply means that parts of their faces and bodies will be masked out by too much light and you will not see any detail in those features. Make sure you move all diaper bags, Boppys and other distracting items.
fresh 48 feel
If you are in the hospital, pull that bassinet up close to the window and turn off ALL ambient lighting and try and use the lighting coming from the window only. You can swivel the bassinet around until you notice that the lighting is coming down their cute face and that the cheek that is away from the light should have some nice shadows on them.
The documentary photos have more of an authentic feel to them so new moms and dads do not have to look directly at the camera with some big smile. This does not mean you cannot smile with elation of your new one in your arms. Photos of you looking down lovingly on your baby are best. Some Mamas have a rough labor and feel tired and do not want to be in photos right away. Simply having you looking at your baby can hide tired eyes.
Get those details of your newborns wrinkly toes, the fuzz on their cheeks, the hospital bracelets, their face with the hospital caps on them. You will be amazed in three weeks time how those tiny details have already changed.
Make sure you fully feed your little one and give them a diaper change right before your photos. This will lend to a happy milk drunk little one. You can set the temperature of your home higher if you are going to take some photos of the baby in a onesie or outfit that does not keep them comfy. We usually set the studio to 85 when we are doing unwrapped poses.
When you are at home same idea, shoot closer to a window and keep that light falling down. I always find the room in the homes with the most light in them for my lifestyle sessions. You can incorporate sweet details of your baby’s nursery in these photos. Try and shoot where there are not a lot of objects or dark curtains around where you are shooting. If you have placed your baby into a little basket or nesting dock, keep rotating that item until the lighting is coming down in the desirable direction!
posing is where it is at……..
If you do not have experience in posing newborns, stick to the simple documentary style posing along with a few wrapped easier poses at home. Those squishy curly poses take years to master and require a lot of training on newborn posing safety. You can still get adorable photos to put onto a birth announcement or to share that your little one has made their debut.
Wrapping your newborn is one of the best ways to create adorable photos of your little one. You can wrap them up snug and pose them in their bassinet and shoot from above or have you or your hubby sitting in a chair near the window. If you are holding the baby in your arm, prop your elbow up to elevate the baby’s face giving them an adorable angle. You want to try and keep their chin to their chest if you think about it. If you have your newborn’s head titled back all you will see is their nostrils.
If you have a cute rug or blanket in your home that matches a swaddling blanket that you have, you can pose baby on that with their head tilted up. Put a receiving blanket folded up under the blanket or rug you are posing the baby on. Posing a baby at the end of the bed is always an amazing shot. Do not forget all of those precious little newborn details (hands/feet/lips) when you are documenting your baby. Most moses baskets and little co-sleeper mattresses can make for a cute posing piece. You could even wrap a neutral colored blanket over it for some sweet photos.
have fun with it…..
Most of all get creative with the angles that you shoot at. You can shoot over Dad’s shoulder if he is in a rocker or on the couch. You can shoot from the doorway or hand Dad the camera when you are nursing or rocking the baby to sleep.
I always recommend to do overhead photos if you have a sibling that wants a photo with their new baby. This allows you to place the baby with out a younger sibling moving and dropping the baby.
Just remember you do not have to be a professional Denver photographer in order to take beautiful images of your new baby!!
Most of all soak in all of these amazing first moments and know that you rocked your pregnancy and delivery during a very scary and unchartered time for everyone!!