Hi Mama! If you’ve landed on this page, it’s because you are interested in learning how to take your own in home lifestyle newborn portraits. As a professional photographer, I think it’s always worth it to hire a professional photographer to capture these memories for you. I believe this for so many reasons, the most important of which is it’s easier for you to be in the photographs yourself. However, as a mother who gave birth to a child at the beginning of a pandemic (thanks, Covid), I understand that stressors that come with that. I totally understand that some moms feel more comfortable doing it themselves. In fact, many hospitals around the country aren’t even allowing visitors, much less a photographer to come into hospital. Maybe you’d like to hire a photographer, but it’s just not in your budget, well this is for you too!
You may be thinking, why should I take your tips and tricks? You’ve never taken your own lifestyle newborn portraits, you do it for others! After saying I think you should hire a professional photographer if you can and feel comfortable with it, I realize how ironic this is going to sound. HOWEVER, the reason I can confidently give you these tips and because I actually DID take my baby’s in home lifestyle newborn portraits. Click here to see my cute baby! 😉
What can I say? I have control issues? I had a certain picture in my mind of what I wanted and I wanted to make sure it got done right! I am not the kind of client who is going to tell someone else how to do their job. So it was just easier for me to do it myself as opposed to stepping on the toes of one my peers in the photography industry by dictating the whole shoot.
If you’ve read my post about how to take your own fresh 48 portraits, you’ll notice that a lot of these tips and tricks are similar! That’s because taking newborn pictures at home and taking fresh 48 portraits are very similar. The only real difference is the location!
The great thing about these tips and many of them are plain photography tips that can help elevate photos you take every day of your child. It doesn’t matter if you have a nice camera or an iPhone, these tips will help!
I hope you find these tips helpful and I hope that it helps you capture photos that you love! I truly believe one of the most important things you can do for your family legacy is to document these milestones!
DIY Lifestyle Newborn Portraits: How to Take Your Own Lifestyle Newborn Portraits
1. FEED THE BABY
A fed baby is a happy baby. Attempting to take your pictures will go so much better if you begin taking pictures right after they have fed. It will also allow you the maximum amount of time to take pictures. If you wait to take pictures 20-30 minutes after feeding the baby, he will be ready to eat before you’re done taking pictures. This is especially frustrating if you are wearing the hat of taking the pictures yourself and nursing the baby. Having maximum amount of time to take portraits will allow the whole thing to go smoother and not be so chaotic and frustrating.
2. DO IT IN THE AFTERNOON/EARLY EVENING HOURS
For indoor shoots, you want to try to take your portraits at the time of day when the sun is high in the sky. If it’s too close to the horizon, not as much light will be coming in through the windows. If you catch the sun too late or early in the day, depending on where your room is located, it will be super harsh light coming in, and you don’t want that either. Being mindful of the time of day you shoot will make a big difference in how your images turn out. The pictures you see below were taken around noon, when the sun was as centered in the sky as possible. It allowed an abundant amount of soft, pretty light to flood the room.
3.CLEAR THE CLUTTER
This is actually a lot more work than it sounds. You want to clear out anything distracting in the background so your image is clean and the focus is on the baby, the new family, the new relationships being formed with baby, etc. If you are shooting from one angle, it may mean moving clutter off a table. If you shoot at another angle, it may mean clearing some stuff off of the floor. Just make sure the background is clean and clear of clutter.
4.PULL UP THE BLINDS
I don’t mean open the blinds. I mean pull the blinds ALL the way up. You want AS MUCH light as possible coming in through the windows. Opening the blinds will let in some light, but it really won’t let in as much as you want. It can also sometimes cause weird shadows on faces since only slits of light will be coming in.
5.FACE THE WINDOW
This tip is a MUST FOLLOW. Lighting is everything in photography. The light allows details to show up crystal clear in an image. It makes eyes sparkle. It makes the image look clean. Trust me, face the window. Even better, move toward the window. You’ll notice in the pictures below that I have my beanbag of the baby right next to the window. The closer you are to the light, the better the pictures will turn out. I’ve been in homes before where there just aren’t a lot of good spaces to take portraits due to lack of windows or furniture being in the way.
My tip is-MOVE THE FURNITURE. That’s right. If you have to move the kitchen table to get the baby facing the best light in the house-DO IT! It’s so worth it and I’m so grateful that I’ve always had clients who trust me on this and will let me tear apart their house moving kitchen tables, coffee tables out of the way, even taking down curtains and rods! It. Pays. Off. I promise!
This is a great tip for when visitors come to visit and want that picture holding the baby. Have them face the window.
6. TURN OFF THE LIGHTS
I know I just told you that lighting was everything and you need to have as much light as possible. It seems crazy to now tell you to turn off the lights. The reason you need to turn off lights is because you don’t want two different kinds of light going on. The natural light coming in from the window will be beautiful. If you have overhead lights or lamps on also, part of your face will look one color and the other half of your face will look a slightly different color. Having overhead lights and lamps on will also cast small shadows on your face. It’s an editing nightmare for a professional photographer. If you aren’t a professional photographer, it’s going to be even more frustrating. So trust me, just rely on the window light and turn off the overhead lights!
7.TAKE A MILLION PHOTOS
Is my husband the only one who will sit there and wait for forever before he finally takes a picture? I look at it and then I see I’m mid blink. If you take 2/3 photos of the same thing, you are sure to avoid this mess. So when I say take a million photos, I mean take multiple photos of the same pose you want. Don’t just take one. You’ll regret it. Also, when taking photos, of a pose you want, get that same shot from different angles. Try higher up, try eye level, just looking up. Get some farther out and some closer up. You can ultimately get 4-5 images from the same pose if you are creative.
8. USE A TRIPOD/SHUTTER RELEASE
You’re probably wondering, “how do I get myself in these photos?” This pictures of you with the baby are super important-DON’T skip out on them! There are two options here.
Invest in a tripod and shutter release. You can do this for a real camera OR your phone! Set up your tripod, sit yourself facing the window and click the shutter release remote. Again, we want a million pictures, so click it more than once!
Another option is to get a friend or family member to come and take the pictures that include you. This is actually what I opted for. My shutter release ran out of batter juice and I didn’t have time to get a new one. Thankfully a friend offered to take the ones that included the whole family. Ask your friends and family! I guarantee you they would be happy to help you in this way!
9. USE A SPACE HEATER/WHITE NOISE/PACIS
Babies are used to your warm womb. It’s 80 something degrees in there! When they are in your home, they need to be bundled up. But those naked pictures are so cute, right?! My suggestion-use a space heater and keep it close by. If you look in the pictures below you can see it off to the side blowing on the baby. Also, turn any overhead fans off while you work on pictures of the baby. You’ll be hot, but it will be worth it to keep the baby content while you snap away.
Another helpful tool to use are white noise machines or apps. Did you know the world outside is so much quieter than your belly? The loud white noise comforts them and helps them sleep. Have one going in the background while you work to keep the baby comfortable.
Lastly, utilize pacifiers if your baby will take one. Babies suck to soothe themselves. If your baby begins to wake up and get fussy, pop in the paci to calm him down. Remove it and keep taking pictures once he has calmed down.
10. START WITH A NAKED BABY
The last time you feed your baby before taking pictures, feed him in his diaper only. Babies tend to get milk drunk and fall asleep quickly once their belly is full. If you start with a naked baby, you can get all your naked pictures done first while he’s most sleepy. If you start with clothes on, he wakes up and is irritated and needs to be calmed down when you take his clothes off for naked pictures.
11. USE A BEANBAG/PILE OF BLANKETS
You want to make sure your baby is safe while you are taking pictures. I suggest using a pile of blankets. What I have is a beanbag shell that is stuffed with blanked and stuffed animals. It’s squishy enough to be comfy for baby and allows me to dig wells for the baby to sink into so he is safe while I’m taking pictures. If you don’t have a bean bag like this, just make a big pile with blankets and towels. Lay a big pretty blanket on top of it all. You can see in the photos below that I use this strategy with my fluffy rug.
12. TAKE BREAKS
Allow yourself breaks. If the baby is getting fussy, take a break and snuggle and feed if you need to. Be flexible enough to move on to pictures if dad or little brother and sister. Try individual pictures of the baby later when he’s had time to calm down and fall back asleep.
I hope some of these tips helped! If you have any questions, feel free to drop em in the comments, I’ll be happy to help! If you used some of these tips, let me know which ones were most helpful!
These are some of my most cherished pictures! I love that my little second shooter is right there with me helping get some amazing newborn portraits of her little brother!