When you're expecting a new baby, you want to be able to capture every moment. It's common for new moms to discover a passion for photography that never existed before when the most beloved of subjects is growing at a rapid pace before your eyes.
I can hardly believe my own baby is sitting in a Kindergarden class room as I type this. With both my girls so very far from those baby days, I can tell you that the images I took the time and effort to learn to capture are some of my most beloved and precious belongings.
Every minute you spend on photography will pay off more than you can possibly imagine when you are sitting in my shoes in a too-quiet house.
But where to start? I remember being so overwhelmed at the beginning. I wanted to share with you the information I wish I had when Tim first handed that DSLR to me. I hope it helps you start capturing fantastic baby photos that you will love displaying all over your house!
A complete guide to learning resources and photography gear for new moms:
Please note: The best camera is the one you have with you. Most of my notes reference tools for a DSLR but honestly, taking pictures with whatever you have is better than nothing.
Great lenses for new mom photographers:
You can read about what's in my own camera bag here. I shoot with a Canon DSLR but Nikons are lovely too. I'm skipping the discussion on camera body because there's always a new model coming out. Honestly, buy whatever you can afford and worry MUCH more about the lens that you are shooting with than the body!
Specifically for the new mom photographer, I recommend the following lenses. I've listed the Canon versions but Nikon has similar models.
- 50mm f/1.8: I started with this one and it immediately improved my images. I found it too tight to use indoors, so I upgraded to the 35mm next. . .
- 35mm f/2: my all time favorite lens on my Canon Rebel. If you can afford the upgrade from the 50, it is well worth it.
- 50mm f/2.8 macro: I just got this one last year for my food photography and I adore it. If you already have the regular 50 or the 35, this one helps you get closer to your subject and will let you capture baby toes and fingers much better. It would also be great for monthly milestone photos when you want to be within arm's reach of your baby.
- A great way to figure out if you really want to purchase a more expensive lens is to rent it from BorrowLenses. I've even rented really expensive lenses we could never afford to purchase for super special occasions like our daughter's First Communion this spring, family trips to Disney, and family reunions.
Photography books for new moms:
Now you've got your gear and you want to know how to use it. If you don't have time for a class, I recommend these books for new mom photographers:
- How to Photograph Your Baby by Nick Kelsh: Even if you don't have a DSLR, you will learn amazing things from Nick. Buy anything he's written if you're just starting out. He has excellent examples that make the lessons super easy to learn.
- Beyond Snapshots by Rachel Devine: a really great discussion on learning how to shoot in manual
- Your Family in Pictures by Me Rah Koh
- Elevate the Everyday by Tracey Clark
Beginner photography classes for new moms:
Sometimes a book just doesn't cut it and you want more help with your learning. I have had great success with online photography workshops but I am a dedicated learner. Many workshops offer two ways to participate:
Full participation: you submit homework and receive essential feedback from your instructor.
Silent participation: you have access to the course material and can do the assignments on your own but are not able to ask questions or get critique feedback.
There's nothing wrong with either of those participation levels, it just depends on how you learn best and the course you are taking. I've paid for full participation in every class I've taken except for the Lightroom editing one which was just fine as silent participation for me.
I recommend following a workshop path similar to this order:
- Shooting in manual mode and mastering exposure
- Learning to shoot in natural light (open shade, backlight, natural light indoors)
- Post processing/editing in Lightroom
- Inspirational courses on capturing more emotional images
- I took an introductory course on shooting in manual, natural light, and Lightroom editing all on ClickinMoms. They have several course options to fit your needs.
- Then last year I took "everyday beauty | change the way you see your everyday life" with Ginger Unzueta over on The Bloom Forum and it was the perfect inspirational course to push my images further. If you've already mastered the basics, this is an excellent next step.
Photography software for editing family photos:
- Lightroom: I cannot LIVE without Lightroom. Every single image you see on this site has been processed in LR. I love love love it. I also use it as a photo library system.
- Photoshop Elements: I have never actually used this but it is quite popular with many photographers I know and trust. If you just feel more drawn to Photoshop, you don't need to stress about buying the full professional version. Stick with Elements and you'll be fine.
- PicMonkey: This online editor is perfect for making adorable collages for sharing with family or print projects or for adding borders and text and holiday festive banners if you wanted to design your own invitations or cards. I love PicMonkey and use it all the time as a graphic design tool.
- BackBlaze: This is my favorite back up system for protecting my images. It's only $5/mo and automatically saves everything on your computer to an off-site storage facility so you aren't only protected from your computer crashing but a house fire or natural disaster as well. Worth Every Penny.
Basic Photography Gear for Mom Photographers:
- Lens pen: This is always in my purse or camera bag. It's the cheapest little tool but works wonder on lens glass.
- Black Rapid cross body camera strap for women: When you need to be hands free chasing your kids at Disney or the zoo or on a hike, you need this cross body strap designed for a woman's shape. It keeps your camera at the ready on your hip. LOVE mine.
- Wireless remote: If you are interested in capturing self portraits with your kids, having a remote is essential. They are relatively inexpensive and very easy to use. I linked to a page where you can find one that fits your camera model.
- Tripod: Go sturdy, not cheap!! There are dozens and dozens of models, but if you're putting your expensive camera on it, you don't need it tipping over!! Some come bundled with the wireless remote, you'll need both for self portraits with the kids.
- A fun bag. You can check out a review of my favorite one here.