When I had my first two babies, I was lucky enough to have a friend where I was living who was into photography. They very very kindly took some pictures of my little babe and family. My last baby, we'd just moved back to my home town, where I didn't really know anyone who was dabbling in photography and after moving felt a little too broke to pay for professional photos to be done. I've always loved photography but hadn't yet started doing it professionally and decided I'd just take my last baby's newborn photos. Here's what you need to know to take your own newborn photos at home.
1. Light: If you're taking them at home for yourself or for a friend, you need to be aware of your light. Most homes are brightest around midday or early afternoon. The sun will be overhead so you won't be getting harsh light through the windows and it should be bright without being overpowering.
2. Settings: I tend to use my 50mm around a F/2.2 for individual baby shots (I tend to shoot wide open). Make sure you remember to open up your aperture to F/4 or bigger once you have multiple family members or are doing twin shots so everyone is in focus. Since it's a minimally moving newborn, you don't need to worry about having a super fast shutter speed. I normally set my aperture, then shutter speed at the minimum I'm okay with and then bump my ISO to whatever gets my light meter a little above the center line. BUT, with a newborn and being inside a home, I usually set my aperture, then my ISO and then mess with my shutter speed to see if I can keep my ISO down a little bit.
3. Gear: The extra gear I might use in a newborn session would be a reflector just because you're inside and any extra light you can bounce is good. You can go to the dollar store and buy a piece of white foam board for $1 and that will give you the extra light bounce you need. I do sometimes need to use my speed light bounced on the ceiling depending on how dim the home might be and depending on how well your camera handles indoor light. If you have a pop up flash, I've seen people use a white card to bounce the light up too. You just don't want the flash glaring on the subject.
Baby and Mama Tips
1. Have someone help you. I had friends take photos for me with my first two babies, but with my second and third, I took some photos of my boys myself. Each time I had my mom there to help me. It's nice to have someone else to help "spot" baby (like if they're on the couch or bed). It's also nice to have someone to help remind you that you just had a baby and to not go crazy. They can help pat that baby's bum to keep them happy, and it's really nice to have someone you can hand the camera over to in order to capture you with your new baby for a few minutes. Just set up your camera (tell them exactly what you want to see in the shot) or switch it to auto and have them capture a few of you.
2. Wait until your baby is sleepy. Once you've decided you want to take pictures, make sure your batteries are charged and your memory card is ready to go. Whenever you're baby is done eating and nice and sleepy, that is going to be the ideal time to take pictures. I'm partial to babies either being naked or in a white onesie (looks clean and classic and showcases the baby rather than an outfit). When they're sleepy, it will be easier to lay them down on their bellies and get relaxed pictures.
3. Be patient. With my third baby, I set about taking his newborn pictures and it was a false start. He was super fussy, wasn't relaxed, and I started getting frustrated and anxious. No good for either of us. So I stopped and we tried again the next day, when my mom was over to help, and I got some beautiful pictures of my baby, my big kids with my baby, and even myself with my kids thanks to having my mom around.
However, if you want minimal stress, and want absolutely beautiful images, book an appointment with a professional photographer. I would love to come over and document what your life looks like with a sweet new babe. The crazy, the love, the joy, the tears. It changes so quickly and I don't want you to forget what it felt like to have that tiny person fit on your chest.