Tuesday, 19 August 2014

DIY newborn photo shoot

I'll start off saying I am not a professional photographer at all, I'm just an amateur who enjoys taking pictures, especially of my babies :)

When Doof was born I spent the first few weeks in a hazy fog of endless feeds, no sleep and general first-time-mum-trying-to-make-sense-of-it-all. Sure I took lots of pictures but 99% were on my iPhone - nice but nothing special.

Photos from Doof's first week - lovely memories but not exactly technically great!

Since then we got a DSLR and so this time round I decided to try and take some better quality photos...

There is loads of information available online - I read this blog which had some really useful tips (but was a bit more serious/involved than I was planning to be):


Equipment and timings:

-         selection of 'backdrops' (dark blue towels, white embroidered bedspread, patterned giant muslins)
-         blankets & muslins
-         hats and cuddly animals that Is had been given as presents
-         beanbag
-         chairs (to hang backdrops off)

Not exactly high tech equipment!

I used a DSLR camera with a 50mm lens (so I mainly played around with the depth of focus). Most of the pictures I took in the evening - definitely not the best time if day light-wise but definitely the best if you have an active toddler running around the rest of the time!! So because of this I used a flash but with a diffuser so the light wasn't too bleaching.

The advantage of taking the pictures myself was (cost aside obviously!) I took the photos over several days - just doing 10-15 minutes of prep and shooting a day, dependent on when she was at her most sleepy.


So below are some examples of shots I took, with various props, backdrops and coverings. 


The main poses Is did were on her tummy and side-lying. She didn't really want to do any others and I wanted natural looking pictures and definitely didn't want to force her into any positions she didn't want to be in. 

Prone and side-lying positions on a variety of backgrounds/drops


Think about shooting from different angles. I just experimented and tried lots of different views. Some looked good, others not so much. That's the joy of a digital camera - you can just delete the shots you don't like!

She was in the same position but I just moved around her
The top and bottom pics were taken without moving her position, whereas the middle one was taken after I repositioned post-feed


You don't need to go crazy buying props etc. I just had a rummage around and used things we already had at home. two of the hats were knitted by a friend (one for Doof and one for Is) and the other came from Baby Gap. The two cuddly animals had been given to Is as presents so I thought it would be nice to include them in some pictures. 

Modelling Baby Gap hat

Her new monkey is about the same size as her!

Cuddling her rabbit - a bit more classy than Doof's collection of muslins!

Play around with different areas of focus. It's really easy on a DSLR to change the focus depth so just have fun seeing what looks good.

In the top pic the focus is on her hands, whereas in the bottom one it is on her face


Make sure to get some detail shots too. Their hands and feet don't stay this tiny for long! And these shots can look beautiful in black and white so try converting some.

Clothing vs nakedness

Even though all the professionals like babies to be naked I didn't strip Is off for several reasons:
- our house isn't warm enough and I couldn't find the portable heater
- it took away the spontaneity of taking the photos as if she fell asleep after a feed, she would definitely have woken up if I faffed around trying to undress her
- poop and wee would have been guaranteed to end up everywhere
But the bottom line is I don't think babies need to be naked to get cute photos. Sure, put them in an outfit you like, but I think naked pictures can look a bit forced whereas clothed ones look a bit more natural.

Extra special things

Think about anything very precious you have which you might want to include. Is' granny died a few weeks before she was born and so sadly never got to meet her. So I included one of her bracelets in some shots and was really pleased with the result.

"Different" shots
And lastly, not every photo needs to be of a peaceful sleeping baby. I took this one just as she woke up (just before I stopped shooting and fed her!). I think it is quite sweet :)

She only cried for a second but I managed to capture it!


So there it is - Is' first photo shoot :) although the pics definitely aren't professional-standard I'm really pleased with how they turned out. The only shame is it's impossible to have yourself in the pictures too.

I'd love to hear any other tips people have or if you try doing this at home yourself :)

We did do a naked photoshoot in the end too - you can see the photos here :)


  1. Great post and lovely pictures :)

    1. Thank you! I was lucky to have such a photogenic subject :)

  2. Great post! I'm like you, not a pro but I do love playing around on my DSLR and am getting more confident with it. We tried newborn shots when we were SLR newbies so they weren't great. Hopefully we will have more luck when we decide on having a second.

  3. Thanks! I think with second baby you also have more time to do stuff like this - the initial weeks of first baby passed in a fog of sleeplessness and confusion! Lol x

  4. Replies
    1. Thank you! In the end we did do a naked shoot too :) x