Let the light in: 3 expert tips for taking incredible newborn photos at home

Nicki Sebastian's stunning photography has appeared nearly everywhere from J. Crew to Honest Company, BMW to Rebecca Minkoff. But it's her work capturing the most precious of subjects—newborn babies—that really blows us away. ?


Here are her top 3 tips for taking amazing photos of your little one in your home:

1. Focus on the lighting.

This is a big driver in photography in general. It's what I look for as soon as I walk into a home to photograph a family regardless of the age of the child. All of the artificial lights go off and we look for great window light.

If you have a room with great natural light, or even if there's a little stream of light coming through a window, that's a why we use the natural light. That's the most flattering, and that gets the most emotion depending on the day you can have soft lighting, if it's overcast you can have nice streaming backlit glowy light if it's a nice and sunny day.

Lighting is what drives my whole portfolio and is something that even amateur photographers can use to their advantage.

Keeping baby near a window or in a room with natural light and with all of the lights off is key.

You can make a photo look different in so many ways depending on how it's lit.

2. Let your little one's mood take the lead

Especially with little ones, if anything's too forced to get a perfect shot, they respond in the opposite way.

The little ones need breaks, they need to have a snack, they need to be soothed. Creating a sense of calm is really important. Taking your time and letting their mood drive the shoot or the moment when they're taking photos. If they're not into it, don't force it.

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The great moments you ultimately do capture, then, are absolutely real and genuine—but it does take some time.

All babies are different and they're different every day. You never know what mood you're going to get. You can always work with what you've got as long as you have some patience.

Unlike a professional photographer who is only at your house for a set amount of time, as a parent, you have the advantage of catching your son or daughter when they're in the right mood. So wait it out, and have the camera ready to go when your baby is.

3. Don't focus on getting a perfect smiling photo.

What I love about photographing little ones are their looks of wonder, their worried looks, their content looks, their curious faces, their focused faces, their blissful faces.

The older we get the more self aware we become and when there's a camera in front of us we're focused on smiling. . . little children are uninhibited.

For the most part, when I get the camera out I try to get down to the level of the child, play with them, interact with them, and entertain them. It's about gaining their trust and allowing them to be completely themselves.

If they're not up for smiling, that's totally fine. You can just just as beautiful photos out of their range of emotion.

Capturing any mood or emotion and seeing the beauty in all kinds of expression is what I love.

+ a bonus tip from Nicki: I love the Vsco editing app for the iPhone. I'll heighten the contrast and will apply a very simply focus to give it a little pop, but other than that, that's it.

It's super user friendly.

I know professional photographers who use it and I know everyday moms who use it. Its really simple and quick and it does an effective job at giving the image an extra oomph.

Nicki Sebastian is a baby, child, family, and wedding photographer based in Brooklyn, New York.

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