I reached out to a past client the other day to say hello and to let them know we were back in town in case they wanted to commission newborn portraits for their new little baby girl. But with the mama taking time off work and juggling hospital bills and adding a new baby to the family, it just wasn’t in the budget. I really appreciated her honesty and it got me thinking. This is probably a pretty common place for parents of newborns.
So rather than just responding to the email with an “oh bummer” I thought it would be fun to translate our newborn shooting style into a few tips and tricks for getting the most out of your cell phone shots. So whether you’re snapping your newborn’s first portraits yourself or just want some tips on getting the best shot for all the in between times, here are our favorite tricks for capturing newborn photos with an iPhone.
Light is a huge factor in getting great shots, plain and simple. So get close to a window or glass door, but don’t place your little one in direct sunlight. Shooting in the middle of the day is often a good choice because the bright light outside means there’s also enough light inside. Take the time to look at the sunshine and plan accordingly. Is there a window that has amazing light in the afternoon? Then wait until after lunch to snap your photos.
Also make sure to turn off all other lights. I’m not going to go into color theory here, but it can make for some weird color in your photos. So stick with sunlight and you’ll be good to go.
2. CLEAR THE CLUTTER
A hallmark of our style is simplicity. We don’t want anything in the photo drawing your eye away from what’s important. And when you have a newborn, the house gets messy. This seems to be a universal truth. But you’re accommodating new life, so go easy on yourself. Don’t clean the whole house, just focus on what you can see in the photographs.
Lay down a simple blanket and get in tight on your shot, just from the head up. This makes it easy to keep the shot simple. But when you back up a little (when you’re taking a sibling shot on the couch, for example) look behind the shot and try to move the biggest messes and distractions out of the frame. Or change the angle.
3. DITCH THE PINTEREST BABY POSES
Going to keep this one sweet and simple. Those darling (i.e. way overly posed) photographs you see of babies on Pinterest….ya, those are totally Photoshopped. So that cute shot of your baby propped on their hands?? Don’t even try. Just look for genuine moments of connection between loved ones and the new baby. And try to capture all the sweet little things that are going to change so fast: their wisps of hair, their tiny feet, how little they are next to their teddy bear.
4. SPEND $3 AND BUY AN APP
There is one app I use all the time when snapping my own iPhone photos. And before you ask, NO I’m not paid to endorse it or anything shady like that. I just love the results it gives me. It’s called “FILMBORN” and it uses filters based on real film stocks to give your photos similar colors and grain. I recommend shooting your photos on your camera like normal THEN editing on the app. This way you focus on getting the shot first, editing second.
My favorite presets are the 400H, D3200, and P160. If you want to get real fancy, also go in and brighten your photos and change the white balance so it’s a little warmer. This will make a big difference in your color images! When in doubt, black and white makes everything sweeter.
5. LESS IS MORE
This is a lesson I’ve learned over years. Less is more. Ten great photos are going to be easier to enjoy than those same ten photos lost in 5,000 other ones. So get a few good shots you really love, ones that capture things you know you want to remember. And then know when to put the phone down and just be PRESENT.
6. PRINT YOUR PHOTOS
This is the last tip. Don’t just snap photos and leave them on your phone. Not only will they eventually get buried, but unless you’re being careful about backing them up they could get lost forever. So please just promise to get your favorites off your phone and into your hands.
iPhone photos have come a long ways but they’re still not the real deal, so keep your prints small. Or opt for a simple photo book that shows one image (with lots of white space) on each page. We love offering products because even when you invest in having the photos taken by a pro, it’s still how you live with them that matters. If you don’t see them and can’t appreciate them, you might as well not have them. And that completely holds true here. It might not get done right away, but make it a goal to put something together from the first year for your baby’s first birthday.
BONUS TIP: HAVE FUN!
More than anything we hope this empowers you take some photographs yourself. Try to always have fun and let us know how it goes…