Make baby photos yourself in the first weeks at home with your baby

10 ideas how to do a baby photoshoot by yourself

I’m Marcia Friese, documentary family photographer and birth photographer in the Basel and Freiburg area. You can also book me in Berlin and Hamburg!

There are cell phone pictures of both of my postpartum beds but I didn’t hire a family photographer either time and I really regret that. And unfortunately I didn’t manage to pick up my camera during this time and do a baby photoshoot myself. (Yes I know, I as a baby photographer have only cell phone pictures of my babies in the first weeks. But what is it called? The cobbler has the worst lasts or?).

At that time I also had the idea of freshly bathed babies on clean white sheets. What can I say, I completely misjudged the situation and had no capacity to stage such a scene in the postpartum, nor were the sheets even 5 minutes without spit-up stains. And my baby was on top of me and on my chest, but lay down, also still naked and so long that I could have done a shoot? No, no chance.

Many years later, in which I have photographed many families in the postpartum and with my wonderful friend, the midwife Jule Tilgner made the postpartum book "Mutter werden", I know it better.

So that you don’t have to stress about photos in the postpartum period and still have this so special time on pictures, I wrote this post.

Blogpost baby photoshooting do it yourself, photographer Freiburg
Baby photo breastfeeding mother, do it yourself baby photoshoot, photographer Freiburg

With these tips anyone can do a baby photoshoot themselves

And it will be quite relaxed and incidental and above all without bringing restlessness or even stress into your postpartum life.

Babies change so fast and that’s why I want to give you my tips for really nice baby pictures. So you can capture all the first times in beautiful baby photos for you guys.

And whether you take these pictures with your camera or your phone, they will most certainly be among your most treasured memories!

Do baby photoshoot yourself: Tips for successful pictures

Father with newborn baby, blogpost baby photoshooting do it yourself, photographer in freiburg
Baby photo with family, blogpost baby photoshoot do it yourself, photographer in basel

So here are my tips for photoshooting with baby:

1. Don’t wait for the perfect moment

Don’t wait for the moment when you are freshly showered, everyone is full, the apartment is tidy and flooded with light and your baby is freshly swaddled in the most beautiful onesie. The moment will not come. Believe me! (And if he does come, super! But then it might be the perfect moment for you to hand the baby over to your partner and go to sleep). What I actually wanted to say: set aside all your ideas and expectations of what the pictures should look like. Every picture you have of this time will be precious to you! And it will be precious for your child (I used to be that small??)

2. Use natural light

This tip is so simple and yet the most important requirement for beautiful baby photos. With natural light I mean daylight. So just open the curtains, turn off all the lamps in the apartment and use only the light that comes through the window. With enough daylight even cell phone photos look great! (And the other way around, without good light it’s very hard to take good pictures even for professionals!)

3. Do not move your newborn unnecessarily for the baby photos

During the many newborn shootings I have done in the last years, one thing was a guarantor for unhappy babies: when they were lifted, put down and moved around too much. So if your baby is just content and you have a moment to take a picture, take advantage of the moment instead of disturbing it. Of course you can influence in which you z.B. don’t put your child in the darkest corner of the room after breastfeeding, but where there is good daylight.

Mother with newborn in postpartum, blogpost baby photoshooting do it yourself, photographer in basel

4. Ask others to take a photo of you and your baby

Ask your partner (or your visitor, or whoever is ready) to take a picture of you and your baby. Your baby is on top of you or at your breast most of the time? This is also quite normal and they are beautiful moments that are definitely worth capturing! If you have a camera, make the settings the way you want them (or set them to automatic) or pass your cell phone and ask for a picture.

4. Close ups for detailed images

Also get close to your baby when taking pictures so you can get pictures of the details and the tininess. Many people like baby pictures with a white background, but I think the tininess is much more conveyed when the baby is in your arms and the proportions become clear. Most newborns also do not like to be put down and feel most comfortable with body contact.

5. Using shallow depth of field for artistic images

This photo tip is also excellent to make the chaos in the background disappear. Use a low f-number (i.e. a large aperture, for example 2.8 or 1.8) you can blur the background. So the focus is wonderfully directed on your baby and the background blurs very softly. By the way, this is not only possible with cameras but also with the portrait function that many newer cell phone cameras have.

6. If in doubt, rather underexpose

Better to underexpose than overexpose. If you directly expose too bright, the bright spots may no longer have information. This is not salvageable in editing either. If your pictures are a bit too dark, you can fix that in postprocessing.

7. Use a fixed focal length lens

Fixed focal length lenses are lenses that do not allow you to zoom in, i.e. you cannot get closer to the subject. The great advantage of fixed focal lengths, however, is that they are light-strong. They’re great for postpartum lighting situations, as they allow plenty of light to reach the camera sensor, allowing for beautiful baby photos even indoors with less light. Another advantage of fixed focal length lenses is that you can get very high quality lenses for a very good price. I recommend a 50mm 1.4 or a 35mm 1.8 for baby photos and children photos at home. with the 35mm lens you get a little more on the picture than with the 50mm lens. However, both work great as portrait lenses and for baby photography. If you have a very small apartment, I would rather reach for the 35er, in order to be able to depict nevertheless also times more environment.

8. Shoot in manual mode

If you can, I would definitely recommend shooting in manual mode on your camera. Of course, the postpartum is not the best time to learn this, but if you have the opportunity to do it before, use it! And even with your phone camera you can take z.B. Adjust exposure and sharpness manually.

9. Always have your phone or camera ready next to the bed (the couch)

Most moments won’t make it into a picture if you have to get up and get the camera first. Just always have it next to the bed (or just where you and your baby spend the most time). Then you will automatically pick it up more often and take some pictures. Definitely much sooner and most importantly, much more relaxed than having to consciously make the decision, "Today is baby photo shoot day"!

10. Never with flash

This is a personal concern that I also always pass on to the photographers in my birth photography workshops: never flash in the presence of babies!

In the books of Frederic Leboyer (like this one) it is described very impressively how bright light like flash or headlights feel for babies who have spent the last 9 months in the belly and are just getting used to the light of this world. By the way, I can highly recommend these books to understand babies.

Baby photos are precious memories

So, I hope my tips for baby photos will help you to fill your photo albums with pictures of this special time!

And an extra tip to finish with: try to get in the picture with her as often as you can. I know this is uncomfortable for many but imagine how precious these pictures will be for your child! Imagine you have pictures of you and your mother, where you can see how she loves you! How she holds you and breastfeeds you and looks at you when you were so tiny? Pictures of you with your child are an even greater gift to your child than pictures of him or her alone.

For this you can buy a remote trigger for your camera (available for most cameras for little money) or use the app. I use the Nikon app with my Nikon D750 to take self portraits with my kids and Canon has an app too.

If you’re interested in how to do a baby photo shoot yourself, my postpartum book "Becoming a Mother" might be something for you too. I published it together with wonderful midwife Jule Tilgner and it is filled with midwifery knowledge for postpartum and pictures of real mothers with their babies in postpartum.

Becoming a mother, the gift for pregnant women, photographer Freiburg, Marcia Friese

You can get my book "Becoming a mother" everywhere where there are books, for example here and here but of course best in the local bookstore.

Do you want to capture your real family history on pictures?

  • Do you want to capture the small gestures, looks and rituals of your everyday life with a newborn??
  • Do you want to preserve the place in which you welcomed your child into the world?
  • Do you want to be photographed with your newborn and family as you are? With a loving eye and a sense for the important moments?

Then let’s make plans and drop me a line!

I’m happy to come to your home for family shoots or newborn photos in the Basel/Freiburg area (and every now and then in Hamburg and Berlin as well)

Or you can arrange a free no-obligation get-to-know-you session via Facetime or Zoom, where we can talk about your questions!

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