Newborn Photography Using Just a Smartphone
If you haven’t been living under a rock, then you’ve probably seen them by now – those often ingenious, sometimes weird, occasionally funny, but most of the time downright adorable and angelic photos of newborn babies.
No, I'm not talking about your run-of-the-mill, dull, and ordinary photos that anyone can probably take in just a snap of their phone camera.
I'm referring to the well thought-out and professional looking images of newborn babies that are sometimes assuming awkward positions, making funny faces, and a lot of the times just being their innocent and blameless baby-self.
I am talking about newborn photography such as this:
Now if you're a parent, you're probably asking yourself, "Will I be able to create a photo such as this?". Sure, you can! What's more, you can do it using just your smartphone. No digital camera, no fancy lenses, no posh setups, and lighting equipment - you will need none of that kind of stuff. Just your smartphone and probably some of the things you already have at home will suffice. In the following post, we will show you how to take your newborn photography skills to the next level using just your smartphone and some of the stuff you have at home. We will specifically list down the things you will need to start a baby photography session at home. We will also give you some pro tips in to have that professional feel to your baby images.
Before we dive in further, let us first establish one crucial ground rule that must be adhered at all times. That is, to put the safety of the subject first and foremost. Remember, you are dealing with a newly born baby (about a few weeks of age) here. Hence the subject of your photos is extremely sensitive, and you must be mindful of that. Safety takes precedence above everything else. Okay, now that the safety rule is established, here are the basic things you need to get started with newborn photography:
1) Your Smartphone
2) Natural Lighting
An element of good lighting on your subject can spell the difference between a great photo and a mediocre one. Utilize the natural light present at your home, such as those coming in from windows or glass doors. Keep in mind, though, to avoid direct sunlight as it could be harmful to your newborn. A good photography session could last more than an hour, and you wouldn't want your baby to stay exposed to harsh sunlight for that long. Know the time of day when natural light doesn’t cast shadows of the windows or doors. That’s the best time to do your newborn photography shoot. You can learn more about that here. Lastly, avoid using the flash of your smartphone as an additional source of light. It can do more harm than good as it could result in overexposed images.
3) Newborn Photography Setup Essentials
- Backdrops: Backdrops are essential to eliminate background distractions brought about by the usual clutters in your home. Find a wide and sturdy backdrop board. Also, opt for a solid colored one. You can also drape a blanket or some kind of fabric over it if that’s what your creative instinct tells you to. Place your drop directly opposite the light coming in from the window or door. You can try to angle it a bit to the left or right to provide more space to move around and get shots from different angles. If you don't have a solid backdrop board readily available in your home, you can use two chairs with high backrest instead. Stand them backward with enough distance between each one, and then drape over the fabric of your choice as backdrop design. Use clothes clips/clamps to hold the fabric in place. An indoor clothes hanger would be just fine as well. Here is a few you could choose from.
- Posing Pods: You need something relatively flat surfaced and comfortable to prop your baby on – and that where a posing pod comes in. It must stable enough to secure your baby in place. Also, it must be something in which you can freely move the baby to make adjustments on his/her poses but still keeping him safely propped. And a bean bag is perfect for that. You can also use an ottoman, a couch, or a divan for this purpose.
- Blankets and/or Fabrics: Aside from being useful as drapes over backdrops, blankets and other types of comfortable fabrics – velvet, silk, knits- can be utilized to create layering to your photos. For best results, limit layering to 3 or 4 fabrics. Place the blankets on top of the posing pod to elevate even more the subject of your newborn photography session.
- Heater: A warm and cozy room will keep your baby fast asleep, and dreamland is where you want him to stay all throughout the newborn photography session. That’s why having a heater at home works to your advantage. The ideal room temperature would be 75-80 degrees, or toasty enough for you to start sweating. If the weather is warm enough, adjust the setting of the heater accordingly to ensure that the baby will not feel too hot.
- White Noise: White noise is proven to keep babies in a deep slumber, so you should utilize it to that effect. There is a multitude of free downloadable apps for both iPhone and Android smartphones that you can choose from. Just head over the app store and search for ‘white noise' and the different options will be shown to you. You need to have a separate smartphone for this, though, as most of the apps don't allow playing in the background. To make your task simpler, I've listed all of these apps in my post - 10 Absolute Best Photo Apps You Need to Chronicle Your Baby’s Growing Moments.
4) NOW THAT YOU KNOW WHAT YOU NEED. HERE IS HOW TO DO IT.
Now that we’ve laid all the things you will need for that pro-looking setup, let us move on the exciting part – taking baby pictures. For that, we’re going to let you in on some pro tips that would take your shots to the next level of newborn photography.
- Make Sure the baby is Fast Asleep
- A happily sleeping baby is the picture-perfect scenario you should aim for, and patience is key for this. It’s just so much easier to achieve the poses you want when the baby is not wailing or conscious enough to ruin that cute pose you just put him/her in. We’re not saying that it should be the case all the time. There are instances that a fully awake baby cooperates so well it’s as if they can understand what they’re being asked to. When that state happens, get your camera rolling and be ready in a quick to take those baby shots, and you might just snap a photo such as this.
- Prop it Up to add some Flair
- This is a no brainer for all newborn photographers. Adding props elevate your photos, making them more delightful to look at. The most common idea out there is to wrap the baby in some knitted fabric, which adds gorgeous texture to your images. You can also use head wears such as beanies and headbands if you like. Perhaps use a basket or bucket made of native materials in which to place your baby on to add another kind layer to the image. Maybe place a stuffed toy beside the baby or an unexpectedly random thing that could complement the concept of your photo shoot even more. Your creativity is the only thing that will limit you from trying out insanely different objects to pull off an entirely out-of-this-world concept. To give you even better ideas, check out this youtube link for some props you can use for your newborn photography session
- Capture the Details
- Focus on the body parts of the baby that will highlight their delicate features such as their hands, feet, toes, face, lips, and eyes. Powerful smartphones have a macro photography feature that could come in handy for this. Use that feature well because it will make the photo so much better. Get up close and try out different angles for different baby poses. Pull out one arm free from the baby wrapping if you must to achieve that awkward yet quirky image.
- Post-process Images to make them look Pro
- Sometimes good natural lighting is not enough to achieve the quality of photo you want. Moreover, the window for the time of day wherein the light is at its optimum is just so narrow, and so you end up with underwhelming images. That’s where post-processing comes in. Of course, this is must also. For this, you can use Photoshop or some other photo editing tools you are proficient at. If you do not know how there are tutorials on Youtube that you can check out. You can also follow the instructions given in my couple of posts. You can find them here: 11 Photoshop Tips You Can Use to Perfect Your Newborn Images.
Most of the common touch up professionals do is skin smoothing by slightly overexposing the photo. You can also fix color or any exposure issues you have with post-processing.
Final Thoughts on USING A SMARTPHONE to do your Newborn's First Photo shoot
There you have it – your Complete Guide to Newborn Photography using just your smartphone. Photography sure is fun, especially when you are doing it with your loved ones and family.
Capturing those early moments of your baby via photos might just be a fad thing for most right now, as is the case with anything sensationalized by social media, but trust us when we say that they will be invaluable when they grow old and become not-so-nice little devils that they used to be.
Having old photos to look at and reminisce into makes every effort worth it.