Congratulations! The most amazing, challenging, scary, frantic, loving, wonderful, magical and anything in between, time is just ahead of you! Like so many others you wanted this stage of your life captured, but then the world changed, yet again...
Government guidelines over the last year has meant I have had to close my business for long periods, with newborn sessions being the most affected.
You may wonder why I have written this blog, as it may sound as if I am talking myself out of a job. However, with the best will in the world unless you have the skills both for photography and editing, the right equipment and the experience, these images won't replace a professional photographer taking your photos. So make sure you are realistic about the outcome. Anyone who knows me knows how passionate I am about capturing any stage in life but those tiny little hands, feet and ears change so quickly. I feel so sad that the opportunity to capture them might be missed. Whilst the majority of sessions can easily be delayed by a few weeks (and I have had newborn style sessions for bubbas who are 8-12 weeks which have come out so beautifully) it is of course a little different. Therefore I have put together this guide for you to capture your own photos until I can welcome you back.
Please note that this is only meant to be a few ideas and suggestions for how you can take your own photos and you must make sure that your bubba is always in a safe position; never too close to the edge of a bed (even when they're tiny, gravity can grab hold of them should they make a small movement) and not in a position where their airways are restricted, or their heads unsupported. Your bubba may also have specific needs which your midwife may have discussed with you.
Little ones are very flexible, after all they have been curled up inside a belly for months, but I only practise 'natural photography', where little ones are placed in positions they would naturally fall into. There are poses such as the 'froggy pose' which I don't do as I feel it's unnatural, but it is very important that you never attempt it either, as it can be very dangerous if you don't support your baby's head. Froggy images are always composites of two images, one where the head is supported from above and one where the head is supported from below.
So what could you do at home?
First of all, make sure you use the best camera equipment you have access to.
Some phone cameras are fine but with others, once you zoom in, you find
that they are pixelated. Please set them to the biggest pixel size (file size) you can.
Also set them to a size you may wish to print, such as 4x6 or 4x5.
Most smart phones have a long thin screen, so if you take a full screen image the photo will need to be printed very long and thin too.
Another thing to bare in mind is to always have focus on their eyes - even if they're closed, unless they're not the main part of the image. For example if you wish to capture an ear, or hands, feet etc, then focus on those.
Secondly, find a light, soft space to take your photos. I often find on the bed, facing a window is the best place. If you don't have enough light then place a floor standing lamp next to the window so you add more light from the same direction. Unless you have an adjustable flash, I would avoid using one. In any case, never point a flash directly at a bubba but bounce it off a ceiling, wall or use a diffuser. Always have bubba facing the light source, or place bubba at an angle towards it. You want the light to fall on their face. You then need to take the photo from a position between the window and bubba without blocking out the light. If you still get a lot of shadow, then please turn on the ceiling light and if possible place an additional light source on bubba from further into the room. You might find that instead of standing between the window and your baby, it is better for you to be at the foot end of the bed, or maybe sit on the bed with them (again, not blocking the light).
Patience is the most important thing when I am capturing a baby who doesn't want to settle. I usually place their arms across their chest, curl their legs up towards their bellies and place my hands (make sure they're warm) over their arms and legs. I will hold my hands there for a while to soothe them. You can also try tuning the radio into a program with people talking, and turn the volume down so it's just a nice background sound. I sometimes sit like this for some time, so again, patience is key. If they look as if they're uncomfortable, try a different position. Some babies love lying on their bellies and some hate it, some love being naked and some clearly don't like it. Other things to think about; room temperature - is it warm enough if they're naked, do they need a burp, are they hungry, do they need a nappy change?
Once they have relaxed, if you want to capture a different angle, move yourself - not your baby. If you want them to look 'wrapped' you can place a piece of material over them and tuck it in under the sides without moving them to wrap them. This does take some practise to look natural, but you don't know until you've tried - you might find it super easy!
Holding bubba's feet
These are best if you have something to compare them with. So either placing your hands underneath or in the shape of a heart, for example.
Capturing fingers, nose and ears
It is crazy how much these change within the first few weeks, so try to capture them all. Make sure that if their eyes are in the image, focus should always be on those.
Curled up on the bed
For this one place rolled up towels on the bed and cover with a sheet or blanket. Full doughnuts are better for images where bubba is looking towards the ceiling and half doughnuts when they are lying on their sides. Then place a blanket or sheet on top. Always place your baby's head on the part that gets the most light. Make sure you are using the middle of the bed so they're in a safe position. You can 'build up' behind bubba so the blanket/sheet goes upwards and creates a false backdrop.
Bubbas holding their favourite soft toy
As they grow older it is so lovely to have that little soft toy to compare them with in size.
Make sure you take photos directly from the front, or from bubba's head downwards. You don't want photos going up their nostrils!
Hopefully this has helped a little to capture your bubba before they change too much. Fingers crossed it won't be long until I can welcome you back to my studio (or visit you in your home) to meet your precious little pickle!
If you do end up taking your own photos, I would love to see how they came out.
Please pop to https://www.woodard-photography.co.uk/newborn for some more inspirational images.
I can be contacted via the contact form on the newborn page or at firstname.lastname@example.org
If you have any concerns about any safety aspects, stop immediately. This blog is to give you some ideas and suggestions for taking photos, but I can not be held responsible for how you decide to take them.