I’m not a photographer…not even close, but when I found out it costs between $300-$600 dollars for a newborn photo session, and then even more when you order prints, I decided to put my DSLR to the test and attempt to take my own…and I was pleased with the result.
So to start, I did what all women do when they need inspiration for a DIY project and turned to Pinterest to get some ideas. Seriously, what was life like before Pinterest? A lot more boring and inefficient, haha.
Here are a few tips I’ve put together so you too can take your own newborn photos.
Make sure you have a decent camera. For the best results you need to have a manual setting on your camera. We have a Canon EOS Rebel T3i. While this camera is not cheap, I highly recommend that your family invest in one of these bad boys when you have children. My “Mommy camera,” as I call it, is a digital SLR that has an awesome automatic setting (great if you have no idea what to do with an SLR camera which was totally me when we bought it) so you can just point and shoot, but it also has the benefits of the manual settings that you can play around with and learn how to use. There are great YouTube tutorials and tips on Pinterest to help you learn how to use it correctly. This camera takes amazing images and the best part is that it’s also a video camera so you have it all in one. It is absolutely worth the money in my opinion.
Set the stage. Choose a room in your house with a lot of natural light (since you want to avoid using the flash), or if you are lucky enough to live somewhere warm or you have a spring/summer baby, go outside (I’m jealous just thinking about it as I sit in my house freezing because it’s 0 degrees in NY today). I’ve read that the best light for photos while shooting outside are in the morning or right before dusk. Next, you need a great base for the photo. Textured blankets and patterned fabric are great for this. I went to Marshalls and bought a few super soft blankets with different textures. They were on sale for $10 each and now serve as great throws in my living room. I went with all neutral colors since she would be wearing brighter colors for the photos.
Find some good props. All it took was one trip to Hobby Lobby to find a few cute props for my DIY newborn photos (Michaels, JoAnn Fabric and other craft stores are great too). I found a great wire basket from Hobby Lobby that I made comfy for my baby girl with one of my Marshalls blankets. I also found a tin looking bucket there as well. You don’t even have to go out and buy something. There are so many things around the house you can use. A simple wooden chair, an old box or chest will also look great. This is where you can get creative but also remember that you want something simple and understated because your baby is obviously the star of the show :).
Dress up your baby super cute. Shortly after Daniela was born I started stalking Etsy.com for headbands, diaper covers, leg warmers and hats for her to wear. I will warn you now if you don’t know already…Etsy is EXTREMELY dangerous when it comes to buying adorable things for your little girl because there is an overload of cuteness with tutus, bows, headbands and the list goes on…you’ve been warned! However, the prices are reasonable. I got her a few ruffled diaper covers for $5.00 each and a couple of headbands that were a few dollars each. They also have great knit hats and diaper covers for little boys as well.
I also want to note that before you start taking your photos I’d recommend feeding your little one to get them nice and sleepy and turn up the heat if necessary to make the room cozy. I’d also recommend taking a few photos just with your props before you add your baby into the mix to make sure the lighting is good and you have a good shot (this is something I did NOT do at first and my girl got really cranky). It is also necessary to have an assistant or two (my husband and my adorable five year old niece were mine) to help position the baby.
Here is my Hobby Lobby basket that I placed on my gray Marshalls blanket. This photo was taken with the automatic setting with the flash on.
I thought it looked good and added Daniela. I want to show you the difference between the automatic setting with the flash and the manual setting. Here she is with the automatic setting and the flash on…
…and here’s the same shot with the manual setting on…it was a good start.
There was a large window directly behind us so there was too much light which made the photo overexposed, so I knew I had to move the basket so I wasn’t shooting directly into the light. I also want to note that these photos I’m sharing are all unedited. I cropped and retouched them slightly after in Photoshop.
We had to take a little break because someone got a little cranky…haha, my girl was not happy.
After I fed her and got her to fall back asleep, I moved the basket so I wasn’t shooting directly into the light and here is the result. I was thrilled (this obviously needed to be cropped to get the air vent out of the back but I was moving in the right direction!).
Next we did a wardrobe change and moved Daniela to the floor on another super soft blanket…a tan one this time. Here’s the photo before I zoomed in with lighting that wasn’t ideal…
Here’s the image when I zoomed and the lighting warmed up a bit…
For my third and final pose/prop we used the tin bucket that I found at Hobby Lobby. I placed one of the blankets inside to make it comfortable and to prop her up enough. Because she was propped up higher and the blanket underneath wasn’t big enough, I couldn’t get the dining room chairs out of the frame.
My husband suggested to have two people hold the blanket up behind her to create a better background…I think it worked great! I ended up cropped this photo to keep the bunchy blanket out of the background in the top right of the image.
Be prepared to take a TON of pictures, but that’s the great thing about digital cameras. You can take 200 photos and choose the five perfect ones. Haha, thank goodness :).
I was pretty happy with my DIY newborn photos. Would my fabulous wedding photographer have taken better photos…without a doubt, but we didn’t want to spend $600. I spent a total of about $50 for my props, blankets and clothes and they came out pretty darn cute.
I hope this encourages more of you to take your own newborn photos if it’s not in your budget.