Newborn Portraits With No Kit And No Time

With all the time and kit in the world, it would be easy creating spectacular newborn portraits all the time. Back in the real world, there’s often a balance to be sought: what kit do you really need, versus what would be nice to have, and what can you realistically achieve in the time that you have?

No Kit And No Time

This was taken before I owned dedicated kit for photographing newborns. When it comes to equipment, it’s easy to feel like you can’t get started until you own this light, that lens and a hundred different gadgets. But as this image shows, it’s about working with what you have, rather than having everything you think you need.

So we piled up pillows and then draped a blanket over them. At the back, the blanket is clipped on to a background crossbar that’s just out of sight.

There’s a large window to the left (as we’re looking at it) that’s providing all the light for this portrait. I’ve shot with the lens wide open for as shallow depth of focus as I can manage. I wanted the detail of the blanket to disappear as much as possible in the background, while keeping Xavier’s face sharp.

Accepting compromise

I didn’t really want Xavier to be clenching his hands. A newborn photography specialist would wait until the baby was asleep and then properly manipulate the arms. However, this shot was taken at the end of a normal family group session, so I was happy to get a simple, well-lit image that the family would cherish, rather than get nothing at all.

Unless you can dedicate many hours to newborn photography (and all credit to those specialists whose work I so admire), you have to work quickly and make the best of the situation. In this instance, my priority was creating a gentle image of a precious new addition to the family.

Camera Settings

  • Focal length: 135mm
  • Aperture: f/2.8
  • Shutter speed: 1/50 sec
  • ISO: 400