10 Tips For Photographing Your Own Newborn

it seemed like the months of waiting for baby to arrive simply took forever.  i was so anxious to meet our little baby that i was counting the days, and they went by at a snails pace.  but once she was born, my goodness did time start ticking by so incredibly fast.  all of a sudden she was born and then she was a week old in a blink of an eye.  seeing just how quickly the first week with her passed by, i quickly grew anxious about getting out my camera to document everything about her before she grew even more.  being a professional newborn photographer, i felt so confident that i could take beautiful portraits of my daughter and it was the last thing i was worried about.  but boy was i surprised when i learned that photographing your own newborn is so much harder than photographing for clients.

the good news is, after a little bit of stress and a lot of photographs later…i have countless photographs of my daughter that i will cherish forever.  but i learned a little bit along the way that may help you when you are photographing your own newborn, so be sure to check out my 10 tips below to help make your experience a success!

taking photos of your own kids is a great motivation for you to finally learn manual mode!  be sure to check out my post, Manual Mode Confused Me Until I Read This, to learn how i finally conquered M mode!

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10 Tips For Photographing Your Own Newborn

10 Tips For Photographing Your Own Newborn | bethadilly photography

1.  Have A Photo Checklist of What You Want

i am going to tell you right now, organization is going to be your friend here.  you are going to be emotional and exhausted after having a baby, so keeping things organized will make it a lot easier for you.  before you pick up your camera, make sure you write a list of photos that you want to take.  this will not only help to ensure that you don’t miss out on any photos that you really want to take, but it will also give you a sense of direction once you grab your camera.  plus, once your baby is ready to be photographed you are going to want to spend all of your time clicking your camera, instead of thinking up pictures that you want to take.

need help deciding what pictures to take of your newborn?  check out my 10 Tips For Photographing a Lifestyle Newborn Session to be inspired.

for even more inspiration, check out my newborn portfolio on pinterest to pin some of your favorite images to try with your own newborn.

10 Tips For Photographing Your Own Newborn | bethadilly photography

2.  Don’t Take All Photos In One Day

the best thing about having a new baby is, they are yours!  you get to see them every morning and tuck them in every night.  knowing this, give yourself a break and the gift of time.  because i was used to the pressure of having to take all of my client newborn photos in a two hour period, i was really stressed about getting every single photo that i wanted the moment i picked up my camera.  it wasn’t until my husband reminded me that i can take as many pictures as i wanted, anytime i wanted, that i realized i could take my time.  while you want to be sure to take as many photos as you can during the first few weeks to capture their newness, be sure you remember that there are many days that make up a 3 week time period and you don’t have to take every photo in one sitting.  set your camera down and take breaks.

3.  Ask For Help

whether it is asking someone to help you keep your baby calm while you take pictures or handing them the camera so you can get in front of the frame too, be sure to ask for help while you are photographing your own newborn.  being a new mama is tiring and, at times, a little overwhelming and others are more than willing to help you out.  be sure to accept the help, even if they are simply holding the list of pictures you want to take and are crossing them off as you take them.

10 Tips For Photographing Your Own Newborn | bethadilly photography

4.  Make Sure Your Baby is Fed and Well Rested

remember that you are mama first and photographer second.  this means that, in order for you to be behind the camera, you need to make sure your baby is prepared to be independent from you for a short while.  making sure your baby is well fed and not overly tired will help to ensure that your baby remains calm while you are taking their pictures.  even easier, wait until your little one takes a nap and then take a bunch of photographs of them while they are dreaming away.

10 Tips For Photographing Your Own Newborn | bethadilly photography

5. Don’t Overdo It

i would never tell someone that they are taking too many photos, but don’t feel like you have to take a million.  when my little girl was brand new, i felt so overwhelmed at the thought that i wasn’t getting enough photos of her.  my nights were sleepless, which meant my days were full of feedings and napping and not a lot of photo taking.  when i was talking to my friend and stunning photographer megan cieloha about how i felt a little scared that i wasn’t getting enough pictures, she told me something that i will remember forever.  she said, “it only takes one picture to take you back to that moment.”  um, yes.  yes, yes, yes.  please take as many pictures as you want, but don’t feel that you have to.  it only takes one picture to take your memory back to that moment, so as long as you have at least one…you are golden!

10 Tips For Photographing Your Own Newborn | bethadilly photography

6.  Keep Your Camera In Nursery

this was a game changer for me.  once i began leaving my camera in the nursery, i started getting more and more photos.  let’s be honest, your baby is not always going to be photo ready or in the mood to have the camera in their face.  more often than not, they simply want to be cuddled by their mama.  but every once in awhile, they are in a happy mood and that is when having your camera handy will be really beneficial.  whether it is right as they are waking up from a nap or after a diaper change, grab your camera real quick to take a couple photos and then set it back down to go about your day.  remember, any photo is better than none.

10 Tips For Photographing Your Own Newborn | bethadilly photography

7.  Photograph Now, Edit Later

i will be the very first to admit that i currently have 9,129 unedited photos in my daughter’s lightroom catalog right now.  but hey, i have the photos.  don’t stress about the editing, just get the pictures.  you will always have time to edit down the road once your little one blesses you with naps, so for now just focus on the photographing aspect and save the editing for later.

10 Tips For Photographing Your Own Newborn | bethadilly photography

8.  Don’t Forget You

some of my very favorite photographs of when i was a baby include my mother in them.  i love those photographs because i can see what she looked like in the days after birth and during her first days as my mama.  be sure to get in the frame too.  i know, i know…you are tired.  trust me, i was exhausted in the photo above.  but i wouldn’t trade a million dollars for that photo because it takes me right back to what i was feeling and experiencing during my first few days as her mama.  so use this as an excuse to put on some makeup and curl your hair, then get in the photo.  better yet, stay just the way you are and capture real true honest moments, makeup-less and all.

10 Tips For Photographing Your Own Newborn | bethadilly photography

9.  Be Patient

it’s going to be okay, mama.  there are going to be moments when you get all of your photography gear out, only to have your baby scream and refuse to cooperate.  i’ve been there.  i even cried about it a little.  until my darling husband reminded me, yet again, that there is always tomorrow.  be patient with yourself and with your baby.  you are both going through a lot of change during the first few weeks, so don’t let photographs add to your stress.  set your camera down and try again later.  stop when it gets stressful because if you don’t, you will look back on your photographs and associate stress with your pictures.  when you look at your pictures, you will remember how stressful it was behind the scenes, and you don’t want that.  take a deep breath, take a break, and try again tomorrow.

10.  When In Doubt, Hire Someone

if i were to do one thing different, i would hire someone to take my newborn photos.  not because i don’t have faith in my photography, but to minimize the stress and pressure i felt to take them during those first weeks when i was so darn tired.  listen, you are going to be in survival mode and may not have a desire to pick up your camera.  instead, you are probably going to want to spend your free time napping or showering.  so hire someone.  hire someone to take those initial newborn photographs that capture their newness so that you have those photos.  once you have those, any photos you take in addition to that is cake!  don’t feel like you have to do it all.  your job is to be mommy, so it’s okay to let someone else be the photographer this time.

photographing your own newborn can be a little overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be if you keep these ten tips in mind.  just remember, you don’t need to take a million photographs to remember how you felt during those first weeks with your baby.  make time to pick up your camera when you can, but more importantly, enjoy every moment with your little one because they grow in the blink of an eye.  so cliche, i know.

for more tips on how to photograph your own newborn, be sure to check out some of my favorite books that inspire my newborn photography!

Your Baby in Pictures: The New Parents Guide To Photographing Your Baby’s First Year

10 Tips For Photographing Your Own Newborn | bethadilly photography

The Design Aglow Posing Guide For Family Portrait Photography

10 Tips For Photographing Your Own Newborn | bethadilly photography

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10 Tips For Photographing Your Own Newborn | bethadilly photography

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  • Veronica Pozuelos - Thank your for sharing this! I think my favorite part is where you mention that you now have 9,129 photos of your daughter! Love that!ReplyCancel

  • Stephanie - I love this! It has been so helpful to me! We just had our fifth baby three months ago, and I tried to do her newborn pictures and it was REALLY STRESSFUL! I’m so glad to see I’m not alone in thinking that. It was stressing me out and keeping me up at night too. I also add these visions of all the shots I wanted to get of her, and of my other children with her, and then all of my other kids got sick and that went out the window. I had to let that go because it was really stressing me out that I couldn’t get the shots I wanted. Plus you are trying to heal yourself and I was taking care of 5 kids on top of that. It’s just a lot of pressure to put on yourself. I just kept saying to my husband that I really wished we had just hired someone. That too would be my advice to other photographers.
    By the way I’m obsessed with your work! You are such an inspiration to me! Self doubt and comparison crept in and I kind of gave up my dream of photography a while ago. But looking at your work and having signed up for your emails has given me the confidence that i can do this! I am going to sign up for your 365 challenge too. I’m very excited!

    • {beth} a-dilly - Hello Stephanie! Yes, it is totally stressful and I only have one, not five! Congratulations! Remember, take what you can and edit later. My little one is just now turning three months and I am just now really getting a chance to edit, so don’t stress about editing. Next time around, I will definitely hire someone too. Have fun with the challenge, we are happy to have you joining us!ReplyCancel

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  • Photographing in Hospitals: Achieving Good Photos In Any Light » bethadilly - […] are you trying to take your own newborn photos?  here are 10 tips for photographing your own newborn. […]ReplyCancel

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  • Taryn - Love this post! I am a new photographer who is 6 months pregnant wondering if it possible to take my own photos. I appreciate the tips and the honesty to say you wish you would have hired someone.  Out of the typical shoots during this season being maternity, fresh 48 (in the hospital) and in home new born photos, is the new born photos the only one you would choose to hire someone or is it valuable for hospital photos too? This is my first and I can’t imagine how tired/in pain I really will feel.  ReplyCancel

    • {beth} a-dilly - Hello Taryn! If you are looking to take your own photos, I recommend you check out my eBook “The First Twelve.” It goes over photographing in the hospital, to photographing your baby’s first year milestones, all the way until their first birthday! Here is the link! http://bethadilly.com/the-first-twelve/ReplyCancel