While you may be snapping a million candid photos of your newborn for Instagram, chances are you’ll want something a bit more special to frame and share with family. There’s no need to hire a professional photographer. Read on for some pro tricks for taking your own spectacular photos.

photo: tel135880006626 via pixabay

1. Make use of props
An ivory or gray gauze wrap can swaddle your baby into an adorable bundle against a textured blanket. For an au naturale effect, use a sheepskin rug or a swatch of faux fur. A tiny wool hat or family heirloom like an old rattle can lend an air of old-fashioned whimsy. Use one or, at most, two props in each photo to keep it from looking cluttered and losing the focus, which should be on your adorable baby. Take some clean and classic nudes of your little one, too. Unadorned can be simply beautiful.

2. Use pillows and protective plastic
These helpful items are meant to go unseen in photos and should be placed under the blanket or throw you’re using as a backdrop. Arrange the pillows so you can prop up your baby while keeping them comfortable. Layer the protective plastic on top of the pillows if you want to keep them pee-free. If the pillows become too slippery with the plastic on top, lay it underneath the pillows instead.

3. Plan multiple photo sessions
One big advantage of snapping your own shots is you can do it whenever it’s convenient for you and, more importantly, for your baby. That flexibility is unbeatable compared to booking a specific time slot with a professional and hoping your baby is cooperative. And don’t limit your shooting session to one day. Spread out your efforts over multiple days or weeks to up your chances of getting photos you love. Each day you’ll bring new ideas and perspective to the project.

Newborn-photo-close-up-foot

photo: Eric Ward via Flickr

4. Shoot near a window
Natural lighting is the best way to illuminate your newborn and give photos a soft and sweet yet striking quality. So find a big window and plan your shoot for a sunny morning or late afternoon — keeping in mind that most young babies will do best in the a.m. The light will come from a slight angle above and should create a small shadow below your baby’s nose. Experiment with where you stand in relation to the window to see how the light falls on your babe. The light should look natural without any harsh illumination coming from below or behind.

5. Wait for your baby to get sleepy
Sleep babies are less likely to start fussing or crying. As the parent, you’ll know when this usually happens for your child. For some, it’s right after a feeding, while others get drowsy after a little play session. Once your newborn is drowsy, position them for a close-up. Then don’t do anything too stimulating until you’re sure your baby is fast asleep.

Sleeping-baby-newborn-photography

photo: Lisa Rosario Photography via Flickr

6. Crank up the heat and white noise
To coax your little one off to dreamland, keep your home warm, especially if you’re taking pics of baby in the nude. Turn on a space heater or up the thermostat a few degrees to create a cozy setting for a little siesta. Then turn on white noise to help your babe stay asleep. Use a fan or download a white noise app on your phone to drown out sounds that might startle and wake your baby — even the click of a camera shutter could do it!

7. Open tiny fists
Once you’ve captured some photos of your baby with balled-up fists, take a moment to gently unfurl them. The subtle change will give your images a more relaxed feel and lend an aura of peace and tranquility.

8. Let her cry (just a little)
If your precious peanut decides to suddenly let loose, take a few final pictures of her wailing like babies do best. You might get some unique shots and capture a side of babyhood that deserves to be remembered too.

Do you have a tip for taking newborn photos? Share it in the comments.

— Whitney C. Harris