Our baby girl is finally here! What a great way for us to end 2018 and start a new year! I never thought I’d have a New Year baby, but it has been the most rewarding end-of-year present ever! She came on a bright, beautiful, warm day in December. I decided to give her the name Ariel after Disney’s The Little Mermaid. She has always been one of my favorite princesses because of her bright red hair and beautiful voice.
I’ve had all three of my previous kids newborn photos taken professionally but I’ve always been interested in trying it out on my own! I decided to make a DIY Ariel, The Little Mermaid costume and take photos myself using the tips I’ve learned from my previous children’s sessions. I don’t have a fancy set up, I just have one light box and a Canon EOS SLR Digital Camera. You don’t need expensive equipment to take great photos!
DIY Ariel, The Little Mermaid Costume
Since I was not able to go to the fabric store, I decided to look in my closet for old clothes to make her costume! Luckily, I found these two sequin tank tops that would work perfect! I used the green one for her tail and the purple for her top. Cutting it out was fairly easy. I just used a newborn pant to trace the outline for the legs and extended the cut out for the tail. I also used a newborn bodysuit to trace the outline of the neck, arm and side. I ended up making the top a bit too long, so during the photoshoot, I folded it up.
For the headband, I found a Santa hat from Christmas and cut out a strip. I used a red ribbon to tie the middle part and rounded the edges to make it look more like a bow. I also used the strap from the green cami to make the headband. I love how it’s adjustable! My sewing was pretty rough – I didn’t spend too much time hemming or sewing for a perfect finish because this is just for a photoshoot. I literally spent less than an hour putting this costume together!
I found some blue sheer curtains from the closet and I used it as the backdrop for the photoshoot.
As a mom of four, I’ve sat in a few newborn photoshoots before. We had my oldest daughter and my two boy’s photos taken each time by professional newborn photographers. I’ve learned that some photographers actually will not shoot newborn photos for babies that are more than 5-7 days old!
Tips for taking Newborn Photos
Here are some tips for taking newborn photos based on what I learned during my own children’s sessions:
- Photos are best when they are taken at 2-3 days old when the newborn is still very new and sleepy.
- Fully feed your newborn and keep them up for as long as you can prior to the photoshoot so that they are extra sleepy during the shoot and can be posed without crying or fussing.
- During the photoshoot, the set up area is quite small because the newborn is so tiny! Focusing a lamp or a light box on the newborn gives great results.
- Keep the room temperature at around 80 degrees or turn on a heater and place it nearby the set up area so that your newborn stays very warm.
- Keep a pacifier and bottle nearby incase you need to feed them in between shots
Setting up for the Newborn Photos
I set up the lightbox, laid out the blue curtain and nursed my daughter for about 30 minutes. When she started to fall asleep, I laid her in the middle of the set up. She did cry and got up, waving her arms around, so I picked her up and we nursed again for a few more minutes. I did this a few times before she finally fell asleep and didn’t get up or cry when I placed her back in the middle. I kept a warm blanket nearby and placed it over her as I got my camera ready. I removed the blanket when I was ready to snap photos.
I took a few test shots and then snapped a few photos from different angles before moving the lightbox for different shadow effects. She got up halfway through the shoot and so I nursed her again. You can also keep a pacifier nearby or use a clean finger or knuckle to allow your newborn to suck on and get her to fall back asleep again before posing her.
Editing the newborn photos
After I took the photos and dressed her back into her warm clothes, I loaded the photos onto my computer. The process of newborn photographs isn’t quite done yet! There is still editing to be done. I reviewed the photos, removed any that were too dark or too blurry. I picked 5-8 that I thought were the best in terms of how she looked, the angle of her body and the quality of the photo. Using Adobe Photoshop, I brightened up each of the photos and adjusted the color slightly.
How much editing should you do for a newborn baby’s photo is a personal decision. If you’re using a professional photographer, you can pretty much guarantee that your child’s skin will be heavily edited to appear smooth, airbrushed and bright. I’ve seen many that look very much like porcelain dolls.
My daughter had some red spots and white dots on her nose that I removed. Her skin was more of a red tint whereas my previous kids had jaundice so their skin was very yellow. I tried to find a balance in between and used the Hue/Saturation and Color Balance settings to adjust her skin tone so that it wasn’t too red and wasn’t too yellow. I keep the red in her cheek and lips and softened her skin tone. Finally, I sharpened the edges of the image to give it a bit more contrast.
I did two photos that were more heavily edited than the others in that the background was overlaid with a sequin background. I also added some bubbles using a photoshop brush to make it appear like she was swimming and making bubbles. I’m very happy with the way these photos turned out and I hope you found this process helpful! Let me know what you think in the comments below.