With babies, two things are certain: 1) They’re squishy and delicious and we want to eat their toes 2) They grow insanely fast and before you know it, they’ll be a petulant teenager who does some irreversible damage to your car. (Sorry again about the Odyssey, mom!) Capturing those ephemeral, squooshy moments is something you can cherish forever (especially during those car-totaling moments) and you don’t even have to go to an expensive photography studio to get professional looking shots. We’ve collected the best of the best baby photoshoot tips from experts and amateurs alike. By the end of this roundup, you’ll know how to set up your own photoshoot right from the comfort of home.
Get your best lighting
To get the glow-y, angelic look that baby photos are known for, you want to pick a shooting location that has a lot of natural light. (No flashes today, thanks.) Choose the room in your house that gets the most sunlight and make that your baby photography studio. If you’re thinking of shooting on the floor, Amy Morrison from Pregnant Chicken recommends finding a window or sliding door that lets in light all the way down to the floor.
Choose the best time of day
Because your subject might be a bit of a diva, keep in mind when you’re baby is generally happiest during the day (after a meal, perhaps) and shoot around those times. Also keep in mind that some newborns will be easiest to photograph when they’re asleep, so try coordinating the shoot with nap time. To keep newborns unfussy, Casey from The DIY Playbook suggests using a heater to keep them warm and playing soothing music.
Pick neutral, textured props
Pick props and outfits that are a neutral color and similar tone so that they aren’t going to distract from your baby. Picking a light color may help with the lighting of the picture, since it will reflect light instead of absorbing it. Add visual interest by using a prop with texture, like a knit blanket. You can also use blankets as a backdrop since they won’t wrinkle like sheets and curtains might.
Be baby-ready before you start
Bridget from The DIY Playbook recommends adjusting your lighting before you put your baby in place for the shot. This will save you time since you don’t have to keep readjusting and the baby will be happier because they can get in and out of this alien situation sooner. It also helps to have backup baby outfits and props ready in case they have an accident or if they’re in a good mood and willing to have their outfit swapped for a second string of foreground/background combos.
Setting up your camera
If you have a point and shoot, set it to portrait mode. Doing so helps blur the background and smoothes the skin tones and the hair, which is flattering for the baby.
If you’re using a DSLR open your aperture all the way (set it on the smallest number) so that you get a soft, blurred background. Pair it with a portrait lens (around 85mm). Zoom in and focus on your baby’s eyes.
Support the baby
Earlier, we mentioned shooting your baby on the floor, which is a good option for getting overhead shots and making sure your baby doesn’t roll off onto anything. If you want to try shooting a couple of other poses, Autumn Baldwin from It’s Always Autumn presents two great options: Having someone hold the baby while they’re under a big, bulky blanket or placing the baby on a Boppy pillow that’s covered with a blanket. Having someone hold the baby is an especially good trick for newborns since they get cold and love to be held. It’s pretty easy to keep the holder out of the shot, and the baby will be less fussy.
When shooting from above
Keep your camera strap on for safety, just in case your camera slips out of your hand and you accidentally drop it on the baby. Angle your shot so that you’re shooting down the baby’s nose instead of up because that doesn’t look flattering on anyone. If you’re shooting your baby from an elevated surface, Morrison recommends getting eye level with them so you can catch their eye contact. Speaking of which…
Use toys or songs to catch your baby’s eye contact
To get a really exceptional photo, you want to catch your baby’s eye contact, but it can be hard for them to see you with a big camera in the way. Use shakers or play peek-a-boo while moving the camera away from and then in front of your face in order to get that perfect shot.
Getting the shot is only the first half. Pick up where your camera left off with PicMonkey Royale.