After you've dried your tears and devoured your tea and toast dabbling in newborn photography might not be next high on the to list–you've just given birth after all. But, there's something magical about capturing new souls before their legs unfurl and they start demanding milk 24-7.
A particular style of newborn photography, "Fresh 48" is typically done within a baby’s initial 48 hours and can be a wonderful opportunity to record the beauty of those first few hours. Although professional photographers offer these sessions, you might choose to take your own newborn shots.
Let us hand over to Lisa H Photography for a lesson in DIY'ing newborn photographing using little more than an iPhone and a willing partner.
Table of content
With both of my children, I tried to take (and have my husband take) lots photos when we were still in hospital – those first couple of days with your tiny newborn are unique to capture. For me, maintaining a sense of intimate time and documenting these moments with my family was my goal.
Let me walk you through how I planned our shoot and photographed our tiny ones.
Preparing for your newborn shoot
What to wear for your first photos
Try not to overthink what to pack for your shoot. Simple always wins. Plus, no matter how your baby entered into the world, in the hours post birth cosy always wins.
But, cosy doesn't have to mean basic
Why not rent yourself a lovely postpartum wardrobe with our monthly membership—rent upwards of 2 items at a time and get 50% off your first month’s rental.
What to pack for your newborn shoot
- A simple white babygrow is perfect for baby. Maybe you’d like to take a second one without the little feet so you can take close up’s of baby’s tiny toes.
- A blanket. Something with a little texture looks lovely in photos
- Don't forget: your phone charger.
- Your favourite skincare product or face mist can be a wonderful way to revive skin and sense.
On the day of your newborn shoot
Tweak the hospital lighting
Bright ward lighting can be harsh, but often, you can tweak your surroundings to get the best shots. Here's how:
- Switch off any overhead lights: these always cast yellow shadows and only provide very unflattering light. If possible, only use daylight coming in from the windows.
- Open all the blinds on your windows: for the reason above, you’ll want to let in as much natural light as possible. Natural light is softer and more flattering than harsh hospital lighting. Try to position your baby’s cot near a window when taking photos.
- Ensure your cubicle or room is relatively tidy: just clear away any clutter around your bed and the windows to ensure nothing is distracting in your images
Check your phone or camera settings
Of course it’s important to adjust your camera settings accordingly. As you will want to work with natural light, I recommend you turn off any flash.
If you are finding the images are a little blurry, this might be because you don’t have enough light in which case try to move closer to the window or turn up ISO slightly if you have a digital camera.
If you have an iPhone, you might want to use Portrait mode at the bottom of the screen, where you can also adjust the lighting mode. After taking your photos, you can edit the f/stop by taping edit and adjusting the f number at the top left of the screen. This will give your photos more or less of a background blur (more background blur might work better for hospital backgrounds!).
Another useful iPhone feature is the focus lock. Tap and hold the screen for a couple of seconds until you see AE/AF lock in yellow with a square and the little sun. This means that focus point will now remain locked, even after taking a photo.
Start snapping when baby is sleeping
"Milk drunk" babies will often be calm and sleepy and make the easiest newborn models. If you can, ask your partner or birth partner to hold the baby after their feed giving you a moment for a slick of lip balm, a ruffle of the hair and swig of water. Then get snapping.
Easy newborn photography to DIY
You might like to check out Pinterest for a little inspiration, but don’t stress over whether your photos look the same or not! The most important part is capturing some memories with your tiny newborn – I promise you’ll love these images regardless of whether they’re Pinterest-worthy or not.
- Photo of your baby in their hospital bassinet
- Move around the bassinet for different angles, also using the blanket for some variations
- Get some close up shots of those tiny toes and fingers. You may want to hold their feet and hands with one hand, or ask your partner to do so
- You holding your baby whilst sitting on the bed, perhaps with them lying on your chest
- You holding your baby standing close to the window
- Your partner doing the same
- Include any older siblings, how they look at their new brother or sister
Don’t stress about capturing the perfect shot. Instead, focus on documenting the genuine, candid moments. These unfiltered, real-life images will become invaluable keepsakes that your family will cherish for years to come. Once you have settled in at home, you might want to consider booking some professional newborn photos taken. Feel free to browse my newborn & baby portfolio here, or have a look on my Instagram, I would love to document this season of life for your family.
Lisa is a family portrait photographer, living and working in London and originally from Germany. Her goal in photographing growing families is capturing the beauty of everyday moments and organically documenting interactions between loved ones to create timeless records that will be cherished forever. Taking an editorial approach and working with natural light only, her photographs are natural, soft and emotive.