NCT Watford Bumps and Babies – How to Photograph Your Baby in the first year

Super simple ideas so you can capture those precious moments forever

It was an absolute pleasure to be invited to talk at the NCT Watford Bumps and Babies meeting to talk about how to photograph your baby in the first year. Here is the outline of the talk so you can refer back to it again. I’d love to hear from you if you have tried any of my tips and of course see any photos you take!

How to photograph your baby in the first year – my top tips!

Safety First

This is my number one for obvious reasons – keeping your baby safe. We have all seen the images of babies posed holding their heads in their hands, or cocooned into a flower pot, but this sort of posing can be unsafe for your baby and needs specialist training (or can sometimes just be a result of some good photoshopping and not ‘real life at all). It is much safer, and just as lovely, to photograph babies as they are naturally without any posing involved.

Keep it simple

I love to keep things really simple and easy – your baby is beautiful just as they are, and you don’t need lots of props or fancy clothing to make for a gorgeous picture.

Plan to lay your baby on something simple as a background. Use large muslins or a plain or slightly textured blanket, or even just on your bed or in their cot in the nursery or a moses basket.

I love photographing babies just in their vests, or a simple neutral coloured baby all-in-one, or even just a nappy and pretty nappy liner so you can see all those amazing skin wrinkles. Whites, creams, greys and browns all work really well – avoid anything very brightly coloured as this can distract from the baby in the photograph and also leave a colour cast on your baby’s skin in the picture.

newborn baby photographer hertfordshire

Lighting tips

If you are indoors, windows will be your friend. They create lovely soft lighting. Upstairs bedrooms usually give great light and you have the advantage of using the bed as a background for your photographs. 

Watch out for the type of light. Cloudy days give very soft light, but strong sunshine can create dark shadows across faces. On sunny day you could use a sheer net curtain against the window to soften the light. 

If you are outdoors on a sunny day you have two options. Either seek shade – this is obviously much better for you baby! Or if you want to capture that mid action shot in the sunshine – put the sun directly behind your baby and face the camera towards the sun. This will ‘backlight’ your baby and create those lovely golden halos around their hair and face.

Tell the story

Try to avoid the ‘smile at the camera’ poses. Instead, focus on the story of the everyday. Think about your baby’s personality, what they like doing, and try to capture those moments.

Composing a photograph

Firstly, if the background is messy and distracting from your baby, get closer! Try to fill the frame with you baby so you can’t see any of the messy background. With a phone or camera without a zoom this often means ‘zooming with your feet’ i.e. get moving yourself to get in closer.

Secondly, have an explore with where you place your baby in the frame of the photograph. Try not to always put your baby in the centre of the frame. Instead, imagine the picture cut into thirds, and place your baby off centre in one of the outer thirds.

Thirdly – and this is my favourite – but look for symmetry! This always adds to the composition of a photograph.

Shoot lots

Don’t expect to get the photo the first time. Stay with the moment and keep shooting, then pick your best picture afterwards and delete the others.

Get in the picture too…

This is tough and its where I can come in to help! I offer both indoor and outdoor sessions for newborns, babies and families, and would love to chat to you if you are considering a session. Getting in the frame with your baby really is the perfect treat, and offers you professional images to print and display at home. I run at home sessions on weekdays between 10am and 2pm. Contact me here to get some more information and do check out my family photography page on my website here.

Your baby’s first year – what not to miss

A lot of photographers will tell you that a newborn session has to be booked in for the first two weeks after the birth. I know that this is unrealistic for most mums! All the unknowns around the time of the birth mean it can be difficult to plan for a photography session. I can honestly say, any age is the best age and it is never too late for a baby photography session! I can happily do newborn style images right up to 4/5 months, and even beyond that. There are so many stages as your baby goes through the first year none of them should be missed! 

At home, you can make sure you have captured the following stages yourself too. Mobile phone cameras are amazing these days, and they are always to hand so there’s no excuse for missing a moment!

0-3 months

This is the time when your baby is at their curliest and sleepiest.

Things not to miss at this stage – all the details (little lips, small noses, downy ears, eyelashes, their little hands and feet, and all the wrinkles), first bath, little cries, little yawns, your tiny baby in their big bed (or your big bed – you won’t believe how quickly they begin to fill this, so a shot where they are so small and tiny is a keepsake). Sibling cuddles!

baby photographer hertfordshire
Making sure baby was in a baby grow that let his feet pop out, we didn’t need to disturb him to capture his curled up legs and toes as he lay on a blanket
A newborn yawn. Her first photoshoot was very exhausting! Using a soft blanket as a background and some front lighting to make sure her face was well lit.

3-6 months

All of a sudden, your baby is looking at you and the world around them. They smile at you and engage in things – and they have grown and you need new clothes for them already!

Things not to miss at this stage – all the baby face expressions – the smiles and the tears! Finding their hands and feet, tummy time, peekaboo games, sitting and standing with support.

Using a fluffy blanket as a background, with some soft window light to the left hand side, we caught the catch lights in this little five month olds eye’s as he watched mum play peekaboo.
Using the sofa as a prop to support this gorgeous six month old we caught her sitting up. Beautiful light from the patio window to the right caught her face and lit up her eyes.

6-9 months

Now your baby is the entertainer instead of you! They love making you laugh and getting your attention. 

Things not to miss at this stage – the favourite toy (even the unexpected favourite toy like the tupperware cupboard), their fascination with hands and toes, all the baby moves (pushing up, crawling, trying to stand on their own), how much they have grown into their big bed, sibling playtime

Fast asleep in her cot showing how big she has grown. Soft light from the window to towards the right hand end of the cot lit her face.
Sitting up in her cot – with the catch lights in her eyes from the window to the right
Caught one evening during some jumperoo playtime. Using an overhead light and getting her attention to look up, we caught some little catch lights in her eyes. Making it black and white avoided any colour casting from the indoor lights.

9-12 months

Now your baby is on the move and independent!

Things not to miss at this stage – first shoes, messy mealtimes, first trip to the park, climbing the stairs (or anything they can!) and their first birthday!

A trip to the park and on a cloudy day there was nice soft light on her face


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