Jane Atter – Newborn Photography Tips & Tricks: Never Underestimate The Power Of Community
Today Mamas & Papas have joined forces with professional newborn photographer, Jane Atter. Due to the current circumstances surrounding Covid-19, a lot of parents will have had their newborn photography shoots cancelled. However, Jane is here to share her expert tips, tricks and guidance for capturing beautiful newborn photography shots that you can cherish forever, from the comfort of your own home and all with baby’s safety and well being in mind.
Get ready for your newborn photography shoot at home…
Don’t stress – baby will pick up on your anxiety and frustration. So relax and go with the flow…
- Make sure you are all set before posing your baby.
- Turn up the thermostat so the room is warm. Then give your baby a good feed, and be sure to burp them, so they are happy and sleepy! But remember that awake baby images are beautiful too!
- Prepare supplies for potential accidents – you don’t want to be leaving baby unattended during the photography session for safety reasons.
Choose your baby photo style
I recommend preparing for a combination of lifestyle and posed images for your baby photos. Lifestyle is much easier to accomplish and entails photographing your baby in his surroundings. For example, inside their cot: take a photo from above or side photo through the cot bars, let an older sibling play with baby and catch this moment from a distance. You can include your bedroom door to help frame your portrait. Or you can ask your partner to photograph you nursing the baby from a distance (also using the door as a frame to your newborn portrait scene) and a close up intimate shot.
I recommend using neutral tones and colours for your photos as they always look timeless and classic.
Choose your equipment
Don’t worry if you don’t have a DSLR camera – try putting your phone on portrait mode to get some yummy blur. Make sure your lens is clean!
If you’re wanting to keep the image clean and simple – you won’t need any props.
Look for light
Choosing light is the key to success, lighting will make or break your newborn photography shots. It can create real drama and depth within your photograph and reveal all the cutest features of your baby – those plump lips, long eye lashes and fluffy hair.
So what is good light?
Pick a window in your house where you can place baby facing the window. Ideally, on the same level as the window, or somewhere where the window is slightly above the baby (like a skylight) that produces even, natural lighting. Beaming sun rays are not very helpful – they create unwanted shadows, highlights and uneven lighting, which cannot be corrected even in Photoshop. Best is to choose a window on north side of the house, to photograph on a cloudy day. Alternatively, you can put a white sheer material over a window with bright sunlight to soften the light.
A good location for your newborn photography set up would be your kitchen. Bi-fold north, west or east facing windows would offer the best results as they are the biggest in the house. They create even lighting onto baby without direct sunlight coming through. Another good choice would be your bedroom window if you are placing baby on the bed by the window.
Time to set up your newborn photography space
Newborn photography should always be done safely. There is nothing that should compromise your baby’s wellbeing. Your baby’s safety is always the top priority.
I recommend creating soft and safe space for taking your baby’s photos. If you don’t have professional posing beanbag, then do it on your bed or on a floor (so baby is safe at all times).
Here are the things you will need to create your photography space:
- If you are posing baby on the floor, you could use your large sofa pillows or a cot mattress as a base. Checkout Mamas & Papas’ range of best newborn mattresses – perfect for the baby posing and comfort.
- Then put a feeding pillow on top of your base – this will help to provide support for your baby’s head and body. This will also help with safe and correct newborn photography positioning. I use an award winning nursing pillow from Mamas and Papas at my Newborn Photo Studio in Wimbledon. Any nursing pillow you have at home would work really well for this purpose.
- Prepare a stack of hand towels for extra head, back and feet support. If you don’t have so many hand towels, muslin squares will work as a great compromise.
- Now we need to pick a single colour, plain blanket that will be your background blanket. I recommend going for the plainest blanket you have. You don’t want it to be distracting attention from your beautiful baby. The background cover should be approximately 1m x 1,5m or bigger. I like using Mamas & Papas’ large cellular blanket for its size and gentle fabric detail.
- If you feel your blanket is too thin and is see through, put an extra layer of plain thick material underneath. The Mamas & Papas cot quilt would be a perfect choice. Alternatively you can use a large bath towel under your top blanket for extra padding and thickness.
- Now lay your chosen background blanket on top of everything and clip the other end of it to chairs or a coffee table behind it. Or ask your partner to hold the blanket up. I also use the Next to Me baby crib during my home photo sessions as it is light and easy to manoeuvre where necessary. This will create an even, professional looking background on your baby photos.
Posing your baby
I recommend wrapping baby, especially if baby is more than a seven to ten days old, for safety. Wrapping them also helps control baby’s movement – as they grow older they move their legs and arms more, this may be hard to control. For wrapping I recommend using a long scarf you might have at home, or a newborn baby sling, like Ergo Baby Aura Wrap for example!
You can learn wrapping techniques on the IGTV section of my Instagram page. Or you can have a look at tutorials on YouTube!
Once the baby is wrapped you can chose the pose that best suits the style of image you’re looking to get. There’s plenty of poses, such as: the potato sack pose, nighty night pose, parents in hands pose, family backlit pose and more. If you are interested in how to create all those poses you can download my DIY Newborn Photography Guide, and filling out a short form. This guide is a FREE comprehensive introductory course that will explain in detail how to achieve all these poses in home conditions.
Baby Nest Pose
If you’re struggling to wrap baby or baby is not up for it, you can try creating a baby nest pose…
Arrange your feeding pillow in the middle of your base, turning it so baby lays facing 2/3 towards the window. Fill up the rest of the space with a bath towel or a cot quilt rolled into a tube. You should have something that looks like a bird nest. Cover this nest with your background blanket and lay your baby facing the window.
Baby should sink into the nest. If they don’t sink deep enough, add some more muslin squares under his neck and head and some more under the feet.
Criss cross the feet and photograph your baby from above and from the side. Ensuring you capture all the little details – feet, hands, lips, hair and ears. You can add a little wrap around the baby for variety. This will also help keep baby in ball like shape. Add your or your partner’s hands for a beautiful baby in hands pose.
I would recommend having baby dressed in a little baby outfit for this shot (to protect baby’s dignity). Make sure outfit is not too loose on the baby. This is the one time when a size too small will look great! Also go simple – a cute baby romper in newborn size is a great choice. Bare feet and legs will look amazing – you want to remember all the cute baby’s rolls.
A huge thank you to Jane Atter for sharing her Newborn Photography tips, tricks and guidance! If you manage to photograph some images of your little ones using Janes guide, be sure to tag both Jane and Mamas & Papas on Instagram! We can’t wait to see your images.
In need of some reassurance, advice or positive vibes during these uneasy times? Click here to read our #NeverUnderestimateThePowerOfACommunity blog features. From Covid-19 birth stories, to advice from Dr Alex George, you are sure to find plenty of helpful information to help settle any of those pesky anxieties.