Tuesday, April 8, 2014

My First EVER Newborn Photo Shoot!

My mom is photographer of our family.  Although it is not her profession, she loves to take pictures as her hobby.  She has taken photography classes and even had a dark room when film was still used.  After looking into newborn photography sessions while I was pregnant with my son and realizing the high prices charged, my mom and I decided that we could do our own photography session.  About one month before my son was born we started gathering props and preparing our setups.  Once my son was born we took all of his newborn photos before he was two weeks old.

Being that we did the photos at my parents home, we were able to work around my son's schedule.  We took the pictures over a period of days.  The key is to take the pictures when the baby is sleepy.  You need to be able to position the baby's hands, legs, and face; a task which can only be done with a sleepy baby!

For all of the pictures, it is important to keep the baby warm and comfy between setups.  Keeping the baby undressed, but covering him with a soft blanket keeps him warm and comfortable in between photographs or setup changes.



Place the baby on his belly on a stool.  The stool we used has sentimental value because it is my grandma's and has been in her home as long as I can remember.  I used a piece of fabric as a background and a vinyl white wood floor.  I also used a piece of molding to make the fabric look like a wall.  When taking this picture, turn the baby's face toward the camera.  I used a piece of cheesecloth on the stool, which I draped down the left side of the stool.  I also placed a hat on the baby, which was purchased on Etsy.

Doll Bed


My mom had this doll bed from when I was a child.  It is a great newborn photography prop!  Behind the doll bed I placed a string of pennants which were originally created for a baby shower.  The doll bed setup can be a little tricky to photograph because it may be wider than the backdrop.  Take some practice shots to make sure everything fits into the scene or you may need to do some editing using Photoshop to fix any problems with the backdrop or flooring.

The doll bed is also really cute for twins.  As shown in the picture above, a second bed is made out of a pillow, and each baby is facing a different direction. 



I had a large tin bucket, which I thought would be a cool prop for the photos.  I filled it with blankets then placed a lime green rug (purchased at HomeGoods) in the bucket.  I placed the baby on the rug.  Once he was settled and sleeping I tucked his legs under and placed his hand under his face.  He was content and sleeping so I quickly changed the background so that I had some variety from which to choose.  I used a small chalkboard in front of the bucket as a prop.

Bean Bag


For the bean bag setup, we cover a bean bag with a white blanket.  The white blanket also serves as the background.  The baby is positioned on his belly or side.  If on the belly, make sure that the baby's legs are tucked under the belly.  Attempt to place the hands near the face.  If the baby is on his side, pull his legs up towards his belly/chest in order to hide the umbilical cord and make the baby look comfy in the photos.

You can place something under the blanket or mold the bean bag so that the baby's head is propped up.  This setup is great for close-ups of the baby.



Take any opportunity that you have during the photo shoot to snap close-ups of the sweet sleeping baby.  You can capture facial features, hands, feet, or the whole face. 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How To Setup Your Own Newborn Photography Session

Anyone can do a newborn photography session.  You just need a to have some things ready and organized in advance.  Read more to find out how to do it!

Getting Started


In order to have a successful newborn photography session, you need to have a few things organized and setup.  It is best to do a lot of the planning/setup before the baby arrives, if possible.  By setting up some of the scenes beforehand you can take practice pictures using a baby doll as a stand in for the real baby.  This is will show you the quality of your backdrops, flooring, props, and lighting.

Proper Lighting


Find a room in your house that has a good natural light source.  The light source should be coming in on the side of your setup.  You do not want to stand in front of the light because that will cast shadows on the baby.  Also, you do not want to be shooting the photographs into the light. 

In order to create more light on the baby, you can create a reflection piece.  You do this by covering a project display board with aluminum foil.  Place a baby doll on a prop then move the reflection piece around and you will see how you can light up the different areas of the setup or put more light on the baby.



We happened to have a large screen that we used to hold all of our backdrops.  It is best to get several backdrops that you might like to use and hang each backdrop up, one top of one another.  This way you can flip between backdrops quickly and easily as you change setups.

Make sure that any backdrops that you use are wrinkle free.  Some ideas of things to use for backdrops include, blankets, fabric pieces, old doors, shower curtains, and vinyl flooring. 

After you set up the backdrop, place a piece of wide molding (you can purchase this at a hardware store and then paint it white) at the base of the backdrop.  This will make the backdrop look like a wall. 

In the picture below you see the backdrop that was used also served as the flooring.  This setup includes a bean bag under the gray blanket and was used for close-up shots of the baby.  You will also notice the reflective piece (described above), the vinyl flooring, and the heater (both are explained below).



You will need to think about the flooring that you would like to use.  The room in which we did our newborn photo session had hardwood floors.  We used the natural floor for some shots.  I also purchased a piece of vinyl on Etsy, which looks like a rustic white hardwood floor.  There are hundreds of vinyl floors that can be purchased on Etsy.  Just make sure that you get one that is large enough (bigger than mine, which is 4' x 3').  The vinyl flooring can also be used as a backdrop.  Shaggy rugs also make great floors for the photos.



The props are what make the setup unique and creative, and they set the stage for the presentation of that main focal point, the baby!  One key prop that you must have is a sturdy but soft ottoman or bean bag.  When using this prop the blanket used as the backdrop will be pulled up over the bean bag or ottoman.  Therefore, you will not see any floor.  Some other great props include stools, baskets, chairs, dressers, doll beds, buckets, or any other unique pieces of furniture you may have.

Notice in the picture below I used a stool and cheesecloth as props, a piece of fabric as the background, and the vinyl, white wood floor.  After some "shhhhhhh-ing," soothing, and positioning we captured this picture.


Use scarves or baby blankets to place in or on props or to drape over or wrap around the baby.  Use pennants to enhance backgrounds or a small chalkboard or metal tractor to place in front of props.   The baby looks adorable when tightly swaddled in a piece of cheesecloth or it looks nice draped over a prop.  You can buy cheesecloth in a variety of colors on Etsy.  Additionally, cute hats and headbands can also be found on Etsy.

Heater and White Noise


A small heater is essential for a newborn photography session.  The baby will be most comfortable in a warm and cozy environment.  Keep the heater running during the photography session to keep the baby nice and warm and drowsy.  Also consider using a white noise machine to calm and quiet the baby.

The Baby


Of course, the baby is the key to this photography session.  The baby's demeanor will determine how many great shots you can get.  It is best to do a newborn photography session during the first two weeks of life because, the baby is still easily nursed or rocked to sleep.  The baby needs to be sleepy in order to position him and move him throughout the different setups.  In order to get the baby sleeping, I suggest a full feeding before starting the photographs.  It is best to remember that capturing those great photographs takes a lot of patience and sometimes time as you constantly work to soothe and calm the baby to sleep.