Photographing your newborn or infant baby in your home makes your photos personal and unique. Imagine capturing the nursery, special toys, and all those intimate family moments in the comfort of your home. Using your personal environment lets you interact with the baby and captures a special authenticity that doesn’t come through in posed photos or those with lots of extra props. Environmental baby photography is far less formal than posed photos and captures more natural images.
You may be wondering what’s involved with environmental baby photography and how to get the most out of a session. Take a read through these nine quick tips I’ve put together to get a better idea of how to prep and plan for a successful environmental photoshoot:
- Time it Right
The ideal time for newborn photography is the first two weeks of their life when they are sleepy and cooperative. Babies change quickly, so setting up a tentative time with your photographer and a backup date in advance will ensure you capture those first two blissful (and sleepless!) weeks.
- Keep Things Warm
This probably goes without saying, but keep the environment warm and comfortable, particularly as the baby may just be swaddled or not clothed. Turn the heat up an extra bit (around 80-ish degrees) just to be sure.
- Get comfortable
Think about soft and comfortable areas for you and the baby to be photographed–I’m betting you’re already there. The master bedroom king-sized bed works perfectly as does a rocking chair or a couch. Look through your baby blankets and select a few for wraps or backgrounds.
- Find areas with natural light
Think big windows with filtered light. Notice what time of day those areas have sunshine and how this works with feeding/sleeping times. Discuss the workability of these areas with your photographer.
- Put special things aside
Use a laundry basket or a shelf in the closet to put items that may be nice additions to your photographs. Grandma may love a photo with that hand-quilted blanket she made. Your godmother would love a photo with the baby in that special outfit she found at a boutique. If your family is competitive amongst each other with gift giving, find something neutral that you and your husband will love and cherish.
- Stay simple with colors
Dress the baby in a simple solid onesie or swaddle him her in a white blanket. Use white or soft, muted-color blankets for backgrounds, avoiding loud prints. Mom, Dad and siblings should wear simple and muted colors without loud patterns that won’t compete with the baby. Keep it simple with soft knit camis and tops–things that are wrinkle-free, comfortable and don’t require ironing.
- Think about your shot list and any editing
In addition to wide and medium range shots, all of the small baby details make great memories. Small finger, toes and lips, even umbilical cords if you like. Photograph Mom and Dad holding the baby individually, together, and with siblings. If your newborn has a small scratch on his face, let your photographer know if you’d like it left in (journalistic style) or brushed out (portrait style).
- Ask your photographer about announcements
Times with baby are busy and only get busier. Save yourself the stress of coordinating announcements. Ask your photographer whether she can create announcements for you or knows of a graphic designer who can help. If the timing of your baby’s arrival is near a family milestone date or a holiday, you may want to think about the types of images your will need for such things as Christmas cards or grandparent birthday presents.
If you’re worried about photographing in your home and it’s not in its usual state, remember that clutter is normal and expected. Don’t stress on your house for a minute–you just had a BABY! Talk with your photographer and be selective in your straightening efforts. If you have a friend or family member who consistently asks how they can help, take them up on it.
One Final Thought
I hope these tips help make your next environmental baby photography session a smooth one. Creating photos, prints and albums will capture and document this special time which will no doubt go by in a blur. If you’re more of a digital person, consider showing off your newborn to relatives in an electronic slide show for their phones or iPads. Here’s one I made recently for proud parents Jaimey and Matt–Say hello to their son, Jonas: