The COVID-19 outbreak is leaving soon to be new parents with no way to have a photographer for professional newborn photos. Hosptial birthing units are restricting visitors, leaving birth photographers outside the doors. I received an inquiry this week for a lifestyle newborn session from a soon to be momma who is due in 5 weeks. Morally, even though I'm available, I couldn't offer to book them because it's just too high of a risk to infect her and her newborn baby. Because COVID-19 is an asymptomatic virus most people don't show symptoms until two weeks after contracting the virus, thus making it very dangerous for new babies, the immunocompromised, and the elderly. With the inability to be able to book this momma I offered to give her some tips for ways she can take the best photos of her new baby with her cell phone or point and shoot camera. I thought more soon to be parents who don't want to run the risk of exposing themselves, or their new babe to the coronavirus would be happy for a few tips as well.
So here are some tips to help you capture your new babe as best as possible with your cell phone or point and shoot camera!
Tip 1: Find the light...
Cell phones and point and shoot cameras will yield the best quality images in good lighting. Position your baby on a large rocker, in the crib, on the bed, or in your arms near a window with diffused light. Diffused light just means that it's not direct light. So use white semi sheer curtains or tilt-up your white blinds so the light bounces. Having good lighting makes a world of a difference when it comes to quality cell phone photos. I often have my families sit on the floor next to the bed and face a window to get that light. But if you have a chair or couch near the window or one you could move close to a window would also work.
Tip 2: Use the timer or a remote shutter button.
These days, cell phones and point and shoot cameras have a timer setting you can setup. On your camera, you will likely find your timer option in your settings. You can always look up your specific camera's user manual online or just google your camera and timer setting, I'm sure something will pop up to show you how. If you have an iPhone and an iWatch you can use the watch as a remote shutter button for your camera. It will even show you the image on your watch screen to help you compose the image properly. If you have purchased a tripod in the past now is the time to pull it out.
Tip 3: Composition is key...
Put your camera at eye level or a little higher and try to angle it down slightly. Whether you have a tripod or have to set your camera on a table you want to try to make sure it's either at eye level or above your heads. You don't want to place the camera or phone too far away either. A tighter composition will have less distracting elements in the photo. The focus is your new babe and your little family so leaving out the rest of the room is usually best. It'll be hard to have the camera up too high above your heads and tilt it down enough without a tripod. If someone is there to take the photo for you ask them to take it several different times but move around the space each time, getting different angles. Some angles are just more pleasing to the eye, or they capture the scene better but it's hard to know exactly what that will be so you might as well just take a few and pick which one(s) you like best.
Tip 4: Portrait Mode
Portrait mode is a great way to pull the focus of the photo to the subject by adding what photographers call "bokeh" to the shot, essentially blurring out the background. You just have to keep in mind that it isn't always fail-proof, hence why professional photographers who know how to use a camera can still make a living in this digital world. But it can make you feel better about your DIY newborn images. I suggest taking some photos with portrait mode on and then taking those same photos without it to see which one is more aesthetically pleasing to you.
Tip 5: Keep the baby warm.
This might be a no brainer for some but sometimes I don't think people realize just how important it is. When a baby is warm they are comfortable, if they get cold they can get inconsolable and very upset, making photo time a thought of the past. I always start with the baby clothed and swaddled to ensure they get nice and relaxed before starting to position them for photos. You might be thinking about all those naked newborn photos you see online but those photographers have several heaters running around the baby to ensure that baby stays nice and warm even when naked. So if you have your room set above 75 degrees you may be able to pull this off.
Bonus Tip: Just take the photos and don't worry about how they are turning out or how you look in them.
These are memories that you will never regret having down the road. So do not let your messy new mom hair stop you from being in these photos. They may not be the ones you want to print and send to grandma for her to hang up but they will be cherished none the less.