When you have a baby, every moment is precious. With smartphones, these moments can be captured with ease. In this article I’ll give you some tips on newborn baby photography, including how best to use your smartphone to take, edit, and share your photos. Although I will focus on the iPhone, these baby photography tips can be applied to Android and other devices too.
Baby photography doesn’t need to be complicated. In the age of smartphones, everyone is a photographer. Smartphone cameras are excellent at capturing those once-in-a-lifetime moments, and their quality rivals that of standalone digital cameras. Apple take the iPhone camera so seriously that they have a team of 800 people working on it. If you have an iPhone 6 or above, you have an outstanding camera in your pocket that’s ready to capture those special moments with your little ones. Whether it’s their first smile, their first crawl, or they’re just being cute, your smartphone can record these memories and keep them forever.
Baby Photography Smartphone Tips
One of the great advantages smartphones have is that you don’t need to worry about storage for your photos. Even if the internal memory is low, photos can be transferred to your laptop, or automatically backed up online to iCloud or Google Photos. You can just snap away, any time you like.
Smartphone cameras are easy to fire up. On an iPhone, simply swipe left on the lock screen.
Notice there are different modes to choose from along the bottom. Simply swipe left or right on the camera’s image to choose the desired mode:
- Time-lapse: shoot a time-lapse video (this is where a photo is taken every so often over a period of time, and then they’re stitched together to create a short video)
- Slo-mo: shoot a video is slow motion (useful for capturing something that happens quickly, such as a balloon bursting)
- Video: shoot a normal video
- Photo: take a photo (this is the mode you will use most often)
- Portrait: take a photo with the subject in focus and the background blurred (only available on iPhones with two rear cameras)
- Square: take a square photo
- Pano: take a panoramic photo (useful for landscapes)
There are also different options along the top:
- Flash: Turn the flash on, off, or set it to Auto. Always keep the flash off, unless there is very little light. This is because the flash will ruin the colour of people’s faces and cause red-eye. Smartphone cameras are pretty good at taking photos in low-light conditions, so there is no need to invoke the flash.
- HDR: If you have this option, leave it set to Auto, so your phone will decide when to use it. It takes three photos with different exposures and blends them together to give a photo that’s perfectly lit.
- Live Photos (iPhone 6S or later): A Live Photo captures a short video when a photo is taken. For newborn baby photography, you probably want this turned on, as you never know what lovely moments might be captured.
- Timer: If you want to use a timer, you can set it to 3 or 10 seconds.
- Filters: Lastly, you can choose a filter for your photo. It’s best to leave filters off and take photos in their natural colours. Filters can always be applied later.
To enable grid lines on the iPhone, go to Settings > Camera and switch Grid to on. You may wish to use the grid to align subjects in your photo using the rule of thirds.
To take a single photo, simply tap the shutter button. The beauty of using the iPhone camera is that it’s always ready as soon as you tap it.
The camera will auto-focus on what it thinks is the subject of the photo. To manually focus, simply tap on the part of the screen you want in focus. To lock it, tap and hold until AE/AF Lock appears.
Exposure can be adjusted, to make the photo lighter or darker. Tap on the area you want in focus, and then slide your finger up or down to adjust the exposure.
You can also take photos in Burst mode. Simply hold down the shutter button and the iPhone will take a series of photos in quick succession, until you let go. If you’re taking photos of your baby moving around, this might be worth a go. Afterwards, you can view the photos and select the best ones you want to keep.
Editing photos on your smartphone couldn’t be easier. When you’ve taken a photo on an iPhone, tap the thumbnail on the bottom left of the screen, or view it in the Photos app, and tap Edit in the top right corner. This will give you the iPhone’s built-in photo editor.
The top left button is for reducing red-eye (which hopefully you’ll never need to use). Tapping the wand button (top right) will automatically enhance the photo by adjusting the brightness and contrast.
Along the bottom, tapping the crop button (next to Cancel) brings up the crop screen:
From here, you can crop the photo to focus on your baby, or to remove any unwanted objects in the background. The editor will also automatically rotate the photo if when it was taken, the iPhone wasn’t straight. You can crop the photo by pinching it and moving it around until you’re happy. You can also rotate it, by tapping the button above Cancel, or choose a ratio (such as widescreen) by tapping on the button above Done.
Once you’ve cropped your photo, you may wish to choose a filter by tapping on the three circles:
You can scroll through the included filters to see which one suits your photo best.
Tapping on the next button along (the dial) allows you to adjust elements such as exposure, brightness and contrast:
Here, you will see a list of the elements you can adjust relating to light, colour, or black and white. Tapping on one enables you to adjust it accordingly:
Simply move the slider from the default position and you will see how it affects the photo. Tap Done when you’re happy with the changes and the photo will be saved.
Don’t worry about losing the original photo, as it will always be kept. If you’re unhappy at any point, simply go back into the editor to make further changes, or tap Revert and the original photo will be restored.
Family members love seeing photos of their new relatives. Smartphones enable photos to be shared easily, which is particularly handy when family and friends live far away. Photos can be shared via social media, or more privately via email or WhatsApp. You could create a group chat in WhatsApp for close family members or friends who would appreciate photos of your newborn baby. Instead of bombarding the group with lots of photos every day, it’s better to just send the best ones. Sometimes, less is more.
I have focused on using the default iPhone Camera app and editor, which is great for most purposes. If you’d like to have more control over the camera, Camera+ is worth checking out. There are also numerous editing apps, such as Snapseed or VSCO. See this article for the best ones.
Do you have any other newborn baby photography tips? Do let me know in the comments!