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Five Tips for Newborn Baby Photography by Polly Geal

Polly Geal
7th May 2019

Polly Geal is a baby and family lifestyle photographer at Little Kin Photography. She specialises in creating heirloom images for families across London that capture connection, tenderness and real emotion. Her honest style of documenting life with little ones using only natural light makes her one of the most sought after family photographers in London. She has two children, lives in West London and writes about her own journey through motherhood on her blog

Here she shares her top 5 tips for newborn baby photography. 

1. Keep things simple

My number one tip when photographing portraits of any kind, but especially those of babies, is to keep things simple and natural. The less noise and distraction in the image the more a baby’s delicate features and personality can shine through.

The best place to photograph newborn is on the master bed. Use plain, light coloured bed linen for this, (ideally white or cream). The bed doesn’t have to be pristinely made, play around with textures by ‘unmaking’ the bed and allowing the duvet to be crumpled around your little one. You could also use a simple muslin swaddle blanket to shoot on, or a linen throw. I have a selection of linen tablecloths that I take to shoots to use as a neutral background if my client’s bedding is busy or bright or if I really want to simplify the image to get that classic portrait. The beauty of linen and muslin is that it has a texture to it and an imperfect quality which allows a little depth into the image.

Keep clothing simple too, babies look best in pieces that aren’t really clothing at all. Avoid anything too formal, frilly or fancy. I prefer not to dress babies in full sleep suits as I love to capture their little feet. Instead, a simple kimono vest works well, I also love bloomers and rompers on babies. Go for muted colours to help neutralise the baby’s skin tone.

2. Find some pretty, natural light

Newborn babies in particular have quite purple and red skin tones so using natural light will help to even this out and create luminance in your images. Think about what time of day your bedroom gets the most light and shoot then. Position your baby close to a natural light source like a window – if your bed isn’t near the window you could place your duvet on the floor near one instead and create as makeshift bed.

3. Settle your baby before you start to shoot

Timing is key when photographing newborns. The best time to capture them is just after they’ve had a good feed and are settled and docile. Before you feed your baby change their nappy and dress them in the clothes you want to capture them in. This way you won’t unsettle them by changing them after their feed. If your baby likes to be swaddled you could do this to help keep their arms from stretching over their face but I also love a loosely draped muslin blanket around baby to allow more of their skin and features to be captured. Keep the room your shooting in warm as babies like to be snuggled and cosy and this will help to keep them settled and sleepy. You can even warm the area you’ll be shooting on with a heat pad or hot water bottle before you place the baby on it to make it extra cosy for them, just make sure to remove it before you lay baby down.

4. Play around with composition

Once your baby is settled move yourself around them to capture lots of different angles and compositions. I love to shoot from above – you can do this by standing on the bed and taking the photo directly above them. Then come down and shoot from the side and around them to capture a variety of compositions. Capture the whole of them, as well as more detailed shots of particular features such as their lips, cheeks, feet and hands. If you’re shooting just baby’s head allow some white space above it so their head doesn’t fill the frame. You can roll baby onto their side and also shoot them lying on their back or tummy to get more variety of poses.

5. Experiment with scale

Capturing your baby in the context of something else helps you to document just how little they are. Ask a friend or your partner to place their hands on baby’s head or step back and shoot from further away to bring more of the room into the image. You could also place a favourite cuddly toy next to them to show the size of them in relation to the toy.

All images © Polly Geal 2019