Whether you're putting it on social media, sending it to family members, keeping it for yourself, or using it on newborn announcement cards, the first picture you take of your baby is incredibly special. And whatever your skill level is, there's really no way this shot won't be amazing. The sheer sentimental value of baby's first photo is pretty powerful, after all. But shooting immediately after you've delivered can be tricky without a game plan in place. Check out these tips to take that first shot to the next level—no photography experience, elaborate backdrops, or fancy camera needed.

Set the stage

Think about your background

Add some texture to the photo by placing your baby on a rug (bring a small one from home if you have to!), create visual interest by using a printed baby blanket (check out Monica + Andy’s lineup), or go simple and use a solid background for a clean palette. (Work with that you have on hand — a plain sheet will do the trick.) Whether you pick a simple or playful backdrop is entirely up to you, but feel free to play around with a few options before taking the photo.

Keep it fresh

Make sure your background is clean — dirt, crumbs, lint and random objects in the frame can take the focus off your beautiful baby.

Light it up

Embrace natural light

Any photographer will tell you: Lighting can make or break a photo. Too much can overexpose the image and swallow up details, while too little can distort your picture quality. Take advantage of natural lighting by positioning your babe near a window during daylight hours. (More specifically, at the beginning or end of the day to avoid harsh midday lighting).

Work with the elements

Cloudy day? That doesn't mean you can't get a stunning shot — actually, that diffused lighting coming through the window will create a lovely, ethereal effect. You can score the look on a super sunny day as well: you just have to cover the window with a sheer white curtain (or a solid white sheet) to mimic that softer feel.

Bounce that light

Have a piece of white poster board lying around the house? Take it to the hospital with you! Place it so it faces the window you've chosen to shoot in front of and bounce light off baby for a clean image with fewer shadows.

Add some flair

Give the photo personality

You can add a letterboard to announce your baby's name to the world or some confetti to reflect the little one's sex. Or, you could go for serious visual interest: Add toys, a sonogram image (to show how far your babe has come!), flowers, or even clothing items for your little to the image.

Take your time

Great photos require some setup! Before you click, take the time to position yourself in relation to baby and make sure you can see his or her whole face. Shooting from above often works best, so feel free to stand over your little one and play around with angles. Compose the shot and make sure your setup looks exactly as you want it. Now breathe, take a second, and get that perfect picture! We promise you'll keep it forever.