Five examples of lovely newborn photos you can take at home!
Even if you decide to hire a pro photographer for your newborn session, you’ll still want to DIY your own baby photos as your little one grows! That’s why I’m sharing five simple, timeless, beautiful ideas for taking your own newborn pictures at home. Whether you’re a first-time mama or a seasoned pro with two or more kids of your own, you can easily master these gorgeous photos treasure forever!
April 1, 2020 update:
With all of us currently facing the COVID-19 crisis and social distancing to keep each other safe and well, I knew lots of mamas might miss out on newborn photos right after baby arrives. So, I created a simple guide to taking your own newborn photos at home. You can use your camera or even your phone! These tips and simple posing inspiration will help you make precious memories of this time with your baby. In addition to the free information included in this guide, I’ve got a few more DIY newborn photo tips in the blog post below!
First things first – light!
Before I share a single photo idea for your own DIY newborn photos at home, you have to understand the importance of light.
Without good, flattering light, you won’t have pretty photos.
In fact, that’s the most important aspect of any image, which is why access to natural light is my primary concern whenever I arrive at a client’s home for a newborn photography session.
So, what makes for beautiful light?
You want soft sunlight, not the harsh light of the sun directly overhead. The way light flows into the rooms of your home will change throughout the day. The color of light will also change – it’s warmer at sunrise and sunset, and more neutral in color during the day. Personally, I prefer the cooler look of light during the day, so this is when I schedule photo sessions.
Less is more – turn off artificial lights
I love to deliver images with a crisp, clean, bright and airy look. It’s really quite simple to mimic this technique on your own. The golden rule here is to use only natural light and turn off every switch and lamp in whatever room you’re using.
By relying only on sunlight from a doorway or window, your camera (whether it’s your phone or a real camera) won’t see two sources of light, which can add a yellowish tinge to your images.
All you need is one window with sunlight streaming in! Sometimes that’s all I have to work with in some client homes. I’ve shot in tiny nooks and crannies because that’s where the best light is. Other times I luck out with huge rooms full of windows. Either way, you can get gorgeous shots!
There are additional tips about using natural light here if you want to learn more!
Check your background
If you’ve fallen in love with light and airy images, make sure whatever is in the background of your photos isn’t dark and heavy.
Here’s an example: if the photo you have in mind features entirely neutral colors, you won’t replicate that look using a dark-colored couch or comforter as your backdrop.
Lighter colors, such as a white bedspread or ivory blanket, can change the entire look and feel of an image. I think that lighter backgrounds are more flattering and appropriate for newborns and babies, but that’s my own personal preference.
One last note about the background – clear the clutter if you can, especially if it will show up in your photo. One thing we all love about magazine-worthy images of lovely homes, people and babies is how clean and orderly everything looks. Even if you just clear the baby stuff or toys to the other side of the room, it will make an enormous difference in your DIY newborn photos!
Onto the good stuff!
Now that you’ve got the basics of light, background and a tidy room down, here are a few examples of beautiful DIY newborn photos you can take on your own!
DIY newborn photo example #1 – baby in the crib
I love the simplicity of a baby in the crib. For this photo, little Leo is simply laying on his Star Wars crib sheets, in his Star Wars onesie, in his Star Wars themed room, looking up at me as I photographed his sweet face. Most babies are very curious about the noise my shutter makes as it clicks, and I take full advantage of the eye contact!
The window is to our left, across the nursery, with the mid-morning sun streaming in through completely raised blinds. I shot this around 11:30 am, and the sun wasn’t shining directly in his room. It was soft enough to illuminate this series of images without being overpowering. Had the sun been coming in directly, I could have lowered and adjusted the blinds to block the harsh light.
For crib shots, get close! You can place baby at one end of the crib, or in the middle, depending on where you want to stand. Lean directly over the crib (making sure you’re using a strap to secure the camera to you!!) and point the camera down ever so slightly toward baby’s head. This prevents the super-common “up the nose” shots that are sweet, but not super polished and professional looking.
Here are two variations of crib shots:
In the photo on the left, you can see Leo lifting his tiny legs up in the crib, with that amazing Star Wars chalkboard wall in the background. On the right, I’ve snapped a full body shot of him, with his face turned toward the light.
Again, the only light source is the window on the left side of the nursery, with the blinds fully raised. No lamps, no hallway light, no overhead lights that might throw a yellow cast on the image and baby’s delicate skin.
DIY newborn photo example #2 – Baby’s profile in mom or dad’s hands
I love baby profile shots because they capture the pure perfection of tiny newborn details – that precious little nose, the tiny ears and the sweet hair swirls. It’s a slightly different way of photographing a baby, in place of the standard shot of his face.
To get this photo, all you need is baby positioned in someone’s lap, with their head cradled in the hands. This is a sweet shot whether baby is sleeping or awake, but I love how this little guy is looking up at his dad. It is such a beautiful way of displaying how most of baby fits in dad’s hands, and the contrast between dad’s hands and baby’s body is so precious.
In this image, we’re once again relying completely on natural light. It’s taken mid-morning, around 11 am. The window is just behind dad and baby.
You can see the soft outline of the decorative couch pillows. Had those not been a neutral shade, I would have moved them out of the shot to keep the focus on baby.
Here’s another variation of this same photo (although this is a different baby):
I simply changed my position to snap this image. Instead of photographing from the side, I’m standing directly over baby, in front of dad. You’ll still capture baby’s little features, as well as dad’s hands. This works just as well with mamas, grandparents and older siblings that you trust to hold your little one.
Here’s one more, with me positioned in front of dad:
The window is to dad’s left and he’s simply cradling baby’s head gently in his hands. You can so clearly see the difference in dad’s large hands and baby’s tiny body here! These are definitely must-have shots at every newborn session I shoot.
If you’re looking to capture that out-of-focus look like I did here, use Portrait mode on your iPhone. The settings are a little more complicated to explain on a DSLR, but email me if you’re decent with Manual mode and changing apertures!
See, DIY newborn photos are easier than you thought!
DIY newborn photo example #3 – baby and puppy
There are lots of ways to capture your fur baby with your newborn, but this way is super safe. You might want to have an extra set of hands anyway just to be extra sure!
I love how in this photo, the puppy takes the spotlight. I have a super special place in my heart for fur babies and I wish I had one like this with my girls!
Here’s the secret: if you look closely at the first slat of the crib, you can see a tiny dog treat there! Pico is reaching with all her might for it, which is how I kept her in this spot long enough to snap a few photos.
The light is coming from two windows directly across from the crib. The blinds are fully raised and no other light sources are on.
For safety’s sake, you’ll need to carefully judge if this is a good idea considering your dog’s size and temperament. I wasn’t worried about this puppy leaping into the crib or somehow squeezing through the crib slats. I also had mama standing just outside the frame to be super duper safe. If you have any concerns about your animals near your baby, always err on the side of caution and forego these images.
Another variation on this shot:
The focus is on baby girl Merritt, with the puppy softly out of focus. Also, you’ll see a full-body crib shot on the right to give you an idea of how you can combine a few of these examples into your own little session!
DIY newborn photo example #4 – baby and family
The light from this series of photos came from a wall of windows to the left of the family. I wanted to show this example because the family’s kitchen is in the background.
This is a place in homes where you typically see some clutter – it’s not a bad thing, it’s real life! But mama did a great job of clearing her counters so that there is nothing distracting in the background. You can still see every day appliances and some decor, but it adds visual interest instead of taking away from the family.
In terms of getting beautiful family shots, you have to be prepared for a little chaos. That’s how it goes when you’re working with little people and a newborn. It doesn’t bother me at all to photograph the craziness of other families – but I definitely feel the stress when I am working with my own kids.
In fact, for this session, the couple’s middle daughter accidentally got hand sanitizer in her eyes right as we were about to start shooting this series of photos. That’s why her little eyes are swollen and a little red! The crazy moments happen to all of us. Just embrace it and try to stay positive!
It helps if you are ok with candid moments. You usually have a pretty short window of time when you’re working with kids to get good smiles and happy attitudes. I love this moment on the right of the girls hanging onto dad and smiling at the camera, while he gazes down at his son. There’s so much love in this image!
Here’s another variation of this example:
It also helps if your newborn is sleeping and swaddled. You can vary up a photo so much just by having people look in different directions – at each other, at baby, at the camera, etc.
DIY newborn photo example #5 – baby and mama
This is one of my favorite images of all time.
I love Rachel’s genuine joyful look and how she’s cradling her two-week-old son. I love the soft window light streaming in through the window. I love all the white and the clean lines.
For this shot, Rachel is standing right next to the window. This was a mid-afternoon session, so the blinds are adjusted to let in a softer amount of light than if they were raised. Moms standing next to windows is another must-have shot on my list for in-home newborn photography. The light is super flattering for mom and baby. It’s such a simple shot you can take anywhere as long as you’re next to a window!
Make sure baby is facing toward the window so his or her little face isn’t in the shadows!
What makes this image so powerful is how I wasn’t afraid to get close. I was literally standing close enough to touch her – and that allowed me to capture so much!
Here are a couple variations:
And there you have it – five different photos of your precious newborn!
The most important aspect is making sure you have soft natural light – and the rest is pretty simple!
So why have pro in-home newborn photos taken?
Let’s be honest: newborn photography is a big investment of your time and money.
But there are good reasons to trust a pro with these images, in addition to capturing moments on your own:
- Picking the best light, finding backgrounds that aren’t distracting, positioning mom, baby and family in the most flattering ways – these things come naturally to someone who works with newborns often. I don’t have to think about it like you will if you’re not used to following tips like what I’ve shared here. That means a professional in-home newborn session is less stressful for you – and a lot less work!
- Babies aren’t newborns forever! In fact, this phase only lasts about six weeks for that “just born” squishiness. That’s also when you’re recovering from delivering a baby and getting used to the demands of motherhood. You won’t get much sleep for a while, and it’s much easier to trust these big memories to someone else who isn’t juggling so much on little rest.
- Even the best examples with the clearest direction can’t take the place of years of experience. There is an art to lovely photography – it comes after years of education, experience and trial and error. You deserve to celebrate the beauty of motherhood with beautiful photos without having to do the work yourself.
- A professional session means you get to be in the shot too! Trust me, you’ll have millions of photos of your baby on your phone in no time. But you need more than just selfies of you with your newborn. Professional photos help you establish your legacy as a mother and capture these fleeting days in a gorgeous way before they’re over forever.