How to take newborn family photos at home | tips from a pro

My first newborn photo shoot was in 2005 after the birth of my little nephew.  I’ve been a professional newborn family photographer in Boston since 2012. With over a decade of experience with newborn and baby photography,  I’ve learned a lot of tricks along the way to help you take beautiful baby photos at home.  These are the tips that I use on a daily basis as a professional in-home newborn photographer.  You don’t need to be a professional.. these tips will help you capture your little baby at home, even if you’re using your cell phone.

1. Timing is key!

It’s best to photograph a newborn baby within their first few days of life.  The “magic” timing for photos is specifically within the first two weeks of life.  Photographing them earlier than later is essential for a few reasons.  First, babies are at their sleepiest state, often sleeping 16-17 hours a day.  After the first couple of weeks, newborns start becoming more alert and awake with each day that passes.  Secondly, the two-week mark is right before the onset of baby acne, which is more likely to occur in the 3rd or 4th week.  Even with the best editing programs, it’s tough to edit a baby with acne, so you have a better set of photos if you catch them before any acne or skin bumps start forming.  Lastly, a newborn doesn’t usually develop colic during their first few days.  If you have ever cared for a colicky newborn, you understand how painful it is for a baby.  Often it’s difficult to comfort then, never mind trying to photograph them.

Cambridge Ma black newborn baby boy sleeping on a bed by iSweet Photography

2. Use natural light

The daytime is a perfect time to photography newborns because they often sleep during the day (because they’re up all night!)  Also, the best perk is using beautiful natural light!  Photographing too late in the evening may force you to rely on flash or indoor lighting.  The flash can be disruptive and wake the baby up.  In addition, flash can cause unflattering harsh shadows and indoor lighting can give you an offsetting orange or blue tint to your images. As a pro tip, try to photograph your baby near a window, while avoiding harsh light.  As an in-home newborn photographer, I always try to photograph families and babies right next to a window.. the bigger the opening, the better.  If it’s nice out, don’t be afraid to go outside!  Just find a nice shady area.  😉

Sisters together during newborn pictures by iSweet Photography

Brookline Ma family backlit photo with newborn baby boy by iSweet Photography

3. Ensure the baby is comfy and sleepy

Make sure the baby is sleepy and comfortable.  When I photograph newborn families at home, I set a nice and calm mood.  My main goal is to make the newborn happy by “recreating” what it felt like it their mom’s tummy.  You can do this by making sure the room is warm (especially during our cold Boston winters!), using a white noise app (I use a free one), and, most importantly, ensuring they are swaddled.   I usually start my photo sessions with a wrapped baby and once I have lots of beautiful photos, I test the waters and I start slllowwwwlllyyyy unwrapping them.  There are more tips on this blog post: TIPS FOR PHOTOGRAPHING PREEMIE BABIESUsing a pacifier can be a game-changer as well… even if you use it just for your photo session.

East Boston Ma newborn boy smiling in a grren wrap by iSweet Photography

4.  Mom’s watch what you eat!

Did you know that as a breastfeeding mother, everything you eat affects the baby?  And yes, this is the most unexpected tip but it truly matters.  I never fully understood until I learned the hard way with my own babies.  So, plan what you eat around your photo shoot.  Start the evening prior and stay away from foods that produce colic.  They include garlic, onions, broccoli, spicy foods, and.. brace yourself.. caffeine!  Your morning cup of Joe can keep your baby up.  So, for extra beautiful photos, drink your coffee after photographing the little model.  😉  For a more detailed list of the foods that cause colic, check out this LINK.

5. Get photos with parents and siblings!

After you capture the photos of the newborn, don’t forget to take photos of the baby with parents and siblings.  Even if you’re the mom taking photos, use your phone on a timer and a phone tripod to set yourself up.  HERE IN THE LINK to an inexpensive phone tripod that I purchased on Amazon.. definitely worth it!  Even though you may not feel like being in the photos, your little one will love seeing mommy & baby photos when they’re older.  As far as siblings photos, safety is the top priority.  You want to take into account how mature the siblings are and if they can safely hold the newborn.  There are poses you can use that are very safe, even if the sibling is an energetic toddler.  Check out this list of tips on how to safely pose little children with newborns HERE.

6.  What to wear for newborn family photos

This is my more frequently asked question.. what to wear for baby family photos.  My most important piece of advice is that the mom must feel comfortable and beautiful.  I recommend light and coordinating colors.. though if parents love strong colors, show it off!   My best recommendations and tips are listed on this blog post:  WHAT TO WEAR TO NEWBORN FAMILY PHOTOS.

Boston Ma by iSweet Photography

7. Keep it simple and don’t forget the details.

The beauty in newborn photography is the simplicity and the little details.  These photos are timeless and special  The main focus is on capturing the newborn baby at their tiniest.  As a mom, that’s what I miss the most, the little hands, toes, and faces.

8. Hire a photographer

These tips are helpful for taking your own photos, which are sure to render you unforgettable images.   But if you can afford a photographer, I highly recommend it!  As a mom, it’s so exhausting when you first have and infant so it’s worth pampering yourself!  Added bonuses by hiring a photographer includes professional editing and posing.  As a professional newborn photographer, I have attended many training classes that emphasize newborn safety.  So, an experience baby photographer can safely pose little newborns into those curly, adorable poses!

In-home Boston Ma newborn family photographer, Isabel Sweet

I am a baby and newborn photographer in the Boston area. I am happy to provide boutique photography services to the South End, Back Bay, Fenway, Brookline, Cambridge, South Boston, Belmont, Arlington, Lexington, Needham, Beacon Hill, Newton, and beyond! All sessions take place in the comfort of your own home or favorite location. This in-home photo session took place in Boston, Massachusetts. Interested in a newborn baby session? Contact me now!


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