Multi-award winning Photographed. Based in Fife, Scotland. Photographing Newborns, Children, Families and Weddings
Laura's Top Tips for Photographing at Home
Hi everyone, I hope you are all well and staying safe at the moment. These are unexpected and troubling times for all. I feel for all us mums who have given birth during these uncertain times. You may have had plans for visitors, outings and celebrations that have now all been cancelled due to the ongoing coronavirus crisis. Not having that newborn photoshoot you planned for could be just another one of those things you feel your missing out on. Having had a baby recently myself I understand how it feels to not be doing anything you thought you would be when you had your baby.
Just because you can't make it to a studio for professional photos doesn't mean you can't and shouldn't still try to capture these times at home. I must stress that the posing done in studio should not be tried by anyone untrained in baby photography but there are some simple sets that can be achieved. Baby safety is priority at all times.
Being at home myself and having no props or equipment of any kind at home I guessed it would be a great opportunity for me to try and achieve what I'm asking everyone else to try. So I found some stuff from the Scottish baby box that I thought everyone would have and I gave it a go. It didn't go exactly to plan, the lighting at home is terrible, I'm not lucky enough to have any nice big windows BUT we did our best so I can post them as examples for you all.
First things first, your camera...
Be it an entry level DSLR or a mobile phone camera I urge you to capture these first days, you'll be glad you did in the long run. For these photos I shot with an entry level that costs around £100 (cannon 100d) that I got for taking on outings with the kids, it's small and lightweight and I was impressed with how it performed over the mobile phone camera. I also shot some on my mobile which was tricky and I noticed a huge difference but still they gave me photos that were acceptable and treasured memories of a brief time I won't get back once this is all over.
You may not feel confident changing the settings and that's fine but I would suggest to check that you are using the highest quality setting, default setting is often lower than what it is capable of if using a mobile phone camera. If you do fancy looking at some of the settings or are using manual on a DSLR then there are 3 settings you can work with, I will explain in the simplest terms I can:
ISO, this is basically the quality of your images, lower this number the better quality will be. If you have less light you can increase this number to compensate, lowering the quality. When working in the studio my ISO is 100 as I can have as much light as needed from my lights. When taking these photos I was at around 400 on my mobile shots.
Shutter speed (S on my phone)
This is how fast your shutter is and is important to freeze any motion from either hand shake or movement of the subject. As a general rule this shouldn't be lower than 1/60th. The higher that second number the faster it is and the better at capturing any movement. I used around 1/200th as Eris was awake at start and wanted to be sure I wouldn't get any motion blur.
This is how shallow your focus will be. I usually use 5.6 as this tends to get most of their features nicely in focus. A lower number will give you a softer look and a higher number you would need for group shots to get more depth of focus.
Hopefully I've explained these simply enough. You can choose to play around with these if you wish or stick with automatic settings or even semi-automatic settings. TV setting for example on a dslr will allow you to set shutter speed and then will automatically set everything else for you and AV is the same but with aperture.
I must admit to not having had used much of the settings on a mobile before. I have the DSLR for outings so mostly don't use my phone unless for in the house and don't really look at the settings on it. my bad!
Next thing to consider is your lighting....
I always avoid the built in camera flash, I find it gives horrendous lighting most of the time but this is just my preference. Everyone's different and likes different things, there's no right or wrong, these tips are my preferences for lighting and photography, feel free to change it up. Other photographers might do things very differently.
You want to find your biggest light source around your home. Ideally you want big patio doors or something similar. I wasn't that lucky at home we don't have great windows but I managed so if your in the same situation don't despair. find a nice bright area with plenty window light. I set up in my daughters room so I could use her bed and move it to a 45 degree angle to the window or as close to it as I could so that the light would fall across babies face nicely. This backfired on me as it looked nice when set up and by time I fed baby and came baby their was some bright hotspots of light in the area. I decided to just go for it and grab some shots as we were all set up ready and I had just got baby settled. This is an example of how you can really still capture some nice shots even when lighting isn't what you would like, nothing here went to plan!
Next....the set up and props
I put the mattress form my little ones crib on my daughters bed with the big white blanket from the baby box over it. I then had a box on the bed to put one side of the blanket up on as a backdrop, you could even use your baby box for this. It might be easier to use a helper and get them to hold up the blanket when your ready to take the shot. I thought about all the things at home I could use for this like her beside crib or the couch, even a coffee table with the crib mattress on it and someone there to hold blanket, there are a few ways this could work.
I used plain white body suit to keep the natural white theme going. I used the muslin cloth to roll up and put under the mattress at her head to bring her head up slightly.
other great prop ideas are, little teddy toys you've been gifted and hats. If you've had a girl little bloomers with some of the outfits can be nice as nappy cover or little headbands, some come with outfits, I had one at home from Next, as seen in the photos. If your brave enough you could go with simple naked baby shots, just watch out for poo!
ok, now a little bit posing....
your baby should be within your reach at ALL times and you should not attempt any professional level posing. Keep it simple and safe. I had her just lying on her tummy, I let her have her legs however she was comfortable as I only wanted to get a shot of her head and arms. The first shot I have just slowly moved her hand under her face which is quite a simple pose.
For another set I have taken the box away and had her lying on her back on the mattress and folded the extra blanket up over her like a little bed set. I've shot these from above her and have let her lie how she is naturally comfortable. This would be a good one to cuddle them up with a little toy though also but Eris wasn't up for it (she's 6 weeks now so not totally up for newborn posing).
Another great pose for at home is the swaddled pose. I didn't get around to this but it's great for settling baby and an easy set up to try at home. Even better if you have a nice fluffy rug to pose baby on for these shots.
Don't forget to capture those little details like hands and feet also, you'll love looking back at those!
Here's some examples of what I managed to capture at home with my horrific lighting and no props or lights other than the window. Each photo has on it if it was taken on a mobile or my little DSLR. Check back soon for an update on basic edits you can try also. Good luck capturing those images everyone!
I plan to have these all printed to look at quality differences between camera options. Will update you all with the results! Thanks for reading.