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Jena Lee Photographs

You don’t need a big camera to photograph your baby. As a photographer, I don’t even bring my camera to most places and actually use my phone to document every day life. Even though a professional camera does take higher-quality images, unless you are printing them out in large format, your phone will be sufficient to document your every day memories. I am a huge advocate for keeping things simple and using what you already have. For most people, this means using their phone and I have a few tips and tricks to help you take great photos of your baby with it.

THE IMPORTANCE OF PHOTOGRAPHING YOUR BABY:

I am pretty sure I would be hard pressed to find a parent who isn’t already taking photos of their baby every day. Looking at my own phone, it’s full of images of my baby nephew. Of course, we are doing The Baby Photography Plan with professional photo sessions every few months, but these everyday moments are important to document as well. He isn’t even my child and my phone is full of him look at this:

If you have spent any time around babies, it’s shocking how quickly they grow. This is how The Baby Photography Plan started. Babies grow so fast that if you don’t see them for a few days they are bigger or have started doing something new. I swear my nephew had a nap one time and woke up bigger. Photography is an amazing tool to help you remember how small your baby used to be and some of your favourite things about them.

PREPARATION IS MOST OF THE WORK WHEN TAKING BABY PHOTOS:

  • Find a space near a window that will work for taking your photos. Look for a spot with soft natural light, which is just sunlight. Try to stay out of direct sunlight though as it creates harsh highlights and shadows on the skin. Typically, a bed or dinner table works well.
  • Lightly declutter and move things from your space so that you can move around easily.
  • Make sure your phone has storage space and use a window cloth to clean off the camera lens.
  • Plan to do your photo at a time of day that your baby is generally happy. If they are fed, dry, and have slept it will be easier on both of you.
  • Cloudy days or early morning times give softer light compared to full sun or the afternoon time.
  • Turn off any overhead or lamp lighting as it will give your photos a yellow cast. Natural window light and light bulb light have different colour balances that don’t mix well.
  • Pick 2-5 things about your baby that you want to photograph and decide how often you want to take them. I recommend taking the same photos each time so that you have a great comparison. For example you could make sure to do a close up of their face, a full body shot, their hands and feet, or holding them each month.
  • Think about yourself in the future and what you might want to look back on, and make sure to take photos of that.
KEEP IT SIMPLE

My best advice, is to keep it simple. Something I have learned is that when I try to be the best or make something amazing, I put too much pressure on myself and end up with nothing. I have found that it’s better to do a simple and good job so that you have something, rather than try to do something extravagant and get nothing. The great part about keeping it simple is that if you are consistent, you will have something great in the end. Very similar to working out or learning something new, many small steps end up taking you very far.

The goal is to have multiple photos of your baby throughout their first year so that you can see their progression and eventually show them one day. By doing multiple mini simple photos throughout the year, you are more likely to achieve this.

SHIT HAPPENS WARNING:

It is very likely that they will throw up, poop, get hungry or need something while you’re taking your photos. You know how the never-ending cycle goes. This happens at almost every single baby photoshoot I do and I always tell parents it’s totally normal and expected. Feed them or change them, then try again. Try not to get discouraged if you get all set up and they throw up on their cute outfit — shit (literally) happens when you’re working with babies. My advice is to try to be gentle and realistic with yourself so that it’s not overly frustrating if it doesn’t work exactly as you imagined. A photo that is real and a true representation of your life at this point will be much more meaningful. Some parents take the spit-up or poopy photo anyway and call it a day, sometimes it just is what it is.

HOW TO TAKE BABY PICTURES AT HOME USING ONLY YOUR PHONE:

I will outline different types of photos you can take or use as inspiration below. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you are taking your baby photos at home with your phone:

  • Experiment with different angles and don’t be afraid to take multiple photos. Stop after a few and see what you like, then do more of that.
  • Try and have your baby’s face toward the window light.
  • Try to hold your phone so that it’s not blocking your face! Your baby can’t see your eyes or facial expressions if your phone is in the way.
  • If you want to be in the photos too, ask somebody to take them for you or set your phone up on selfie mode and use the timer feature.

TWO STYLES OF BABY PHOTOS TO TRY AT HOME TODAY:

FLAT LAY BABY PHOTOS

Great for showing the progression of your baby growing from month to month + a simple way to take great baby photos.

Lots of people start here because it’s fairly simple to do and shows the progression of your baby each month really well. I do this image a lot for my clients and it’s always a favourite! All you need is your phone, your baby, and a favourite blanket.

*This was taken with a professional camera — not a phone — but I wanted to show you what I mean by a lay flat image.

FLAT LAY BABY PHOTO PRO TIPS:

  • Depending on your baby / their age, I sometimes find they don’t like to be laid on the ground all alone. Sometimes a swaddle helps them stay more settled, this is my favourite swaddle technique video.
  • Try putting a pillow under your baby to hold their head up more — nursing pillows work really well for this.
  • If you own a heated blanket, put that under the blanket you are using as a background. It will keep them warm, comfortable and happy.
BABY + PARENT PHOTO:

This requires a bit more preparation but is definitely worth it. These photos are heartfelt and you will treasure them forever.

I feel like all of you right now are already thinking I hate being in front of the camera. Don’t dismiss this style of photo yet, let me share with you how to do it easily and comfortably.

The great news is that now that you have a baby it solves two photo problems for you: the focus being completely on you and what to do with your hands. Those are the main things I think makes people uncomfortable in front of the camera and they have just been solved for you, congratulations.

BABY + PARENT PHOTO TIPS:

  • Hold your baby in a comfortable position and gently rock them back in forth (moving your hips) while and take multiple photos. The movement will give you different angle and body position options to choose from.
  • Experiment with moving closer and farther away from the camera. Take one really far away and also really close up, my clients always end up loving these portraits.
  • Try burst mode on your phone for lots of different options.

TIPS FROM A PHOTOGRAPHER FOR TAKING YOUR OWN BABY PHOTOS:

RESEARCH WHAT YOU LIKE

I love to use Pinterest as a resource for brainstorming and finding new ideas. Another great tool is the save option on Instagram. Use the link to browse through my boards for inspiration. Remember the goal is not to try and copy someone else’s photos, but use them as ideas to document your life.

MAKE A LIST OF THINGS YOU WANT TO REMEMBER

Before you take any photos, take a few moments to make a list of some things you know you will want to remember. I would recommend keeping it simple to start.

A few ideas to start you off: their feet, hands, a close up of their face, them next to something for size reference, a birds eye view of them, photos of them feeding, with each parent, with each sibling…

A good rule of thumb is anytime you feel like you are having a special moment or think to yourself that you want to remember something, make it a habit to take a photo then. When we attach a special moment or emotion to a photo they become incredibly meaningful.

USE A FAVOURITE BLANKET OR SWADDLE AS A BACKGROUND

A really great trick is to use a favourite blanket as the background for your newborn photos.

I would choose one that is sentimental to you and that you want to remember. My favourite types of blankets to look for in clients homes are earth tones, neutral tones, lightly patterned, or one solid colour. Lay this down flat on a bed or the carpet and gently place your baby down on it. You can try to put a feeding pillow underneath to help hold them a bit better. From here, get your list and your newborn photos should be easy enough to create.

USE YOUR CAMERA TIMER OR ASK YOUR PARTNER/FRIEND TO TAKE PHOTOS WITH YOU IN THEM

Most people tend to shy away from the camera. I encourage you to try and get in pictures more often, especially with your baby. Declutter an area that you like to spend time in and then use your timer or ask your partner to take a photo of you and the baby. Then do the same for them. I really believe that you will treasure these and that they are worth the effort of getting in the frame.

TAKE A VIDEO INSTEAD THEN SCREENSHOT THE MOMENTS YOU LIKE

Another way to get great photos is to take a video instead, then pause it and take a screenshot at the moments you like. This method works really well if you’re by yourself or are nervous. Plus, then you have a video with your baby too!

PHOTOGRAPH YOUR REAL LIFE

In ten years time, photos of your real life will be more meaningful to you than recreating something that is trendy. As a baby photography, I very rarely photograph any current trends because that’s all they are. They aren’t real and another one will come along next month. My goal for my clients is to help them document their life just as it is because that is the most beautiful and meaningful thing.

NORMAL ACTIVITIES = CANDID PHOTOS

A trick I use all the time is getting parents to play games or sing songs with their baby like they normally would. This gives them something to do instead of focusing on the camera and always creates natural candid moments. Since these songs and games are already part of your routine, your body language will be more comfortable and your baby is likely to interact with you.

I MADE YOU A CHECKLIST:

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Photographers in Golden BC

HEY, I'M JENA

I am a professional family, baby + birth photographer in Golden BC, Canada.

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