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Say Cheese! Photographers Share Top Tips for Newborn Photos

Say Cheese! Photographers Share Top Tips for Newborn Photos

The newborn phase goes by so quickly — and while we haven’t quite figured out a way to stop time, we do have one piece of advice for new parents who want to hold on to that short (but oh-so-sweet!) stage for as long as possible: Take lots (and lots and lots) of pictures.

Whether you’ll be scheduling a professional newborn photography session or simply snapping away at home with your iPhone, there are certain tips that can take your new baby’s photos to the next level of adoreable-ness.

We caught up with four amazing photographer moms who snapped photos of their own littles ones (clad in their Monica + Andy best, of course!) and shared some tips for fellow mamas to keep in mind when having their babies photographed.

Here’s what they had to say (and shoot!).

Hayley Johnson, @hayleyjophoto

Light it up

Hayley’s go-to trick when shooting newborns? Control over lighting is key! “All of my newborn sessions are shot in client’s homes so I do have more flexibility around timing with regards to light.,” the photographer (and mom of two) shared. “Typically I arrive around 9:30am and that way older siblings are also in good spirits. I use all natural light so there are instances where I have to move furniture to achieve the lighting I’d like…or even stick to one well-lit room for the entire shoot. Clipping up a sheer window panel can go a long way too in diffusing any harsh window light.”

Before the shoot

If you’re about to set up a professional shoot for your little one, Hayley has a few tips you ought to keep in mind. “Wear lighter neutral clothing for indoor shoots to help bounce that natural light around and avoid any color casting.” she said. “Making sure Baby is sleepy and full when [your photographer arrives]  makes for a much more successful shoot.”

Get glam, Mama!

Don’t forget that mama can get glamorous too! “I also strongly recommend professional hair and makeup for mom before all of my shoots,” Hayley advised. “Moms are much happier with the results in these cases and they appreciate being pampered a little bit after giving birth. “

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Suzzane Brown, @simplybysuzy

Observe “the witching hour”

This photographer — also mom to a little lady — believes it’s all in the timing. “The best time of day to photograph a newborn is any time in the morning where there’s good light in your home. Typically the ‘witching hour’ is in the evening so usually 2pm or earlier works well for babies,” she shared.

Keep it simple

“Of all the places to photograph a new baby and props you could put them in, I think there’s nothing better than just simply on your bed. The best part about newborn babies that we all want to freeze in time is their sweetness, their pure and innocent energy – it’s literally a brand new little person with no judgment or sadness or anger. They just know you and love, and I like to keep that the focus when the photographing newborns, and not taking away from it with anything overly complicated,” she shared.

Comfort is everything

Enlisting a professional? Here’s what Suzzane suggests keeping in mind: “The most important thing you can do is to find a photographer who you feel comfortable with and is experienced with newborn babies,” she said. “Someone who can put you at ease and make the experience just as beautiful as the end result. Also, don’t rush yourself into a shoot before you’re feeling physically well enough to be in front of the camera just for the sake of getting that first 10-day window. Labor and delivery is hard work, let yourself rest and heal if needed – these first photos of your family will be forever, and waiting the extra week or month will make all the difference.”

And as for styling?

Suzzane’s suggestions include: “A simple muslin blanket to keep them warm, perhaps dressed in a solid color kimono top like the Monica + Andy Hello Baby Top, sleeping in the morning sunlight in your bed. It doesn’t get any better than that!” We couldn’t agree more!
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Katie Kett, @katiekett

Don’t overlook this detail:

You’ve set up the perfect location, identified the best time of day for the shoot, and chosen your little one’s outfit — what’s left? According to Katie, a photographer and mom to one little guy, you can’t forget to consider Baby’s tummy. “I think the most important tip for photographing a newborn is to be sure you do it right after a feeding when they are full and happy. They often doze off after eating too which can make for those sweet sleeping shots,” Katie shared.

How does Mama prepare?

 “Relax and go with the flow!” Katie advised. “You can’t plan much with a newborn so don’t stress yourself out trying to get a specific shot. Give yourself plenty of time to work with them as things like spitting up, blowouts, needing to be comforted, fed and changed are all bound to happen. Typically newborn photos are best when done in the home, but that doesn’t mean you need to worry about cleaning the whole house. Find the rooms that get the best light and straighten up the areas you plan to shoot in. “

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Belle Augusta, @augustabelle

Understand the challenges

“Newborns seem like they would be the easiest age to shoot, but it’s quite the opposite! When I prepare for a newborn shoot, I always ask the mother to fit me in around the baby’s schedule, even if that means shooting at 5am,” Belle, a photographer and mom of three said. “Babies take time to adjust and often are their happiest at odd hours, so be flexible with shoot times. I also always bring a reflector to set up in a corner or by a window to maximize natural light instead of adding any artificial light. Avoid flashes and strobes at all costs, and work with the light that is naturally available.”

Hold your babe

“The second tip with newborns is, if possible, to skip the cute ‘baby on a sheepskin blanket’ pics and instead ask the mother to hold the baby,” Belle added. “Subjects of any age will always look the most relaxed and genuine in their natural habitat, and for a newborn, their mother’s body IS their natural habitat. The photos that come out on the other side will always capture that special bond in a way that posed or staged photos never can, and are always the most cherished pics down the line.”

Go with the flow

“Be open to the awkward shots, the in-between shots, the nursing shots, the crying shots,” Belle advised. “As photographers we see the beauty in the everyday, and those first few weeks with a new child are beautiful beyond belief. Believe me, the time goes by SO quickly, and you will be so glad you have those images of all of the real moments in between the picture perfect ones. I tend to take a lot of outtakes when no one is posing and everyone is just drowning in the new-parent hustle with their newborn, and I can’t tell you the [number] of times I’ve gotten an email months or even years later thanking me for a shot that was taken when no one realized the camera was out. Those moments are the most beautiful, the most honest, and as a photographer, my favorite to shoot. ”

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…And there you have it, right from the pros! Whether you want to enlist one of these fabulous photographers, find someone in your area, or take photos yourself these tips will make all the difference…and the memories the photos evoke? Well, they’ll be priceless.
Check out tips on photographing your children from our friends at Artifact Uprising as well!
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