It’s important you understand that taking newborn pictures is much different than taking pictures of flowers, older children, animals, etc. So, when a baby enters into the household, the parents use every opportunity they can to photograph their precious bundle of joy. And, there’s no surprise as to why that is.
So, if the stork is about to visit your home and bring you a bundle of joy, it may be a good idea to learn a few tips about how to take pictures of babies.
1 – Portrait or Documentary
When parents welcome the baby into the home, they get a lot of firsts – the first moment with mom, first with dad, first bath, first time on scales, first manicure, first outfit, etc. This actually becomes a documentary of firsts, which is fine. It’s the portraits that come in later. Many portraits shots tend to happen with the baby partaking in some kind of activity, usually involving family members.
Here’s the tip into deciding which one is best for you: consider doing both to give your family photo album a good balance in the styles.
2 – Find The Perfect Angle
Big challenge parents have in taking their baby’s pictures is to get the right angle in which to take the picture from.
The days after the birth often find the baby swaddled in blankets, where all you see of them is their hair and a small bit of their face. However, babies also come with scratches, marks, bumps and misshaped heads that make them look less than perfect. With the flattering angle, though, you can get pictures that make even more than mom and dad say, “how sweet”.
How can you get those flattering pictures? Here are some helpful tips to address the above issue:
- Get Down On Your Baby’s Level – If you want some natural baby shots, why not stoop to their level? How many times do you spend on the floor next to your baby? Consider using that time to get some great shots of your baby. Sure, getting low and close can have some challenges to it when talking about the focal length but you’ll get some amazing shots as if you’ve gotten into their world instead of you looking down at them.
- Get Close To The Baby – A great way to have better angles and have more intimate shots is to either physically move closer to the baby or use a longer focal length. If you’re not comfortable with putting the camera lens right in your baby’s face (and who does), consider using the longer focal length to get your shot.
- Feeding/Nursing Shots – Many of the best pictures you’ll get happen when your baby is feeding/nursing. After all, it puts your baby into an upright position (appearing more human-like) and opens up the different array of angles for your pictures. There are all kinds of positions you can get – sitting up, laying baby down on the stomach, laying down on the back, over the shoulder, etc. When you do this, you also get pictures of other people with the baby – grandparents, parents, sibling, friends, etc. All of these people can add to your baby’s photos; something you’ll appreciate later on.
3 – Use The Macro Setting
There’re not many people who don’t love newborns. After all, they’re so tiny and cute. But, the cuteness wears off and they get older. Don’t you want to remember when they had tiny little toes and fingers? Get a close up of these little bitty body parts and use it to focus in on your shot. By doing this, you’re highlighting the details that often get missed. They can really add to your photo collection and make wonderful shots.
4 – Recognize When Your Baby Is Happy
One of the challenges parents face when taking pictures of their newborn is the lack of smiling their baby does. Here’s the reality: babies spend more time sleeping, eating, crying and pooping. They don’t spend their time smiling… unless they’ve got gas.
Make sure you keep your eyes out for the happy times in your baby’s life. This may be when they’re most content and relaxed. They may not give you that smile, but there are going to be instances where some photos are going to be better than just smiles.
For instance, bath time may be an instance where you can get some good pictures, especially if your baby loves the water. Another great time to take a picture is when your baby has eaten and feels ready to play instead of sleep. No doubt you can get some giggles and wide open eyes for some great pictures.
5 – Have Your Camera Nearby
Babies certainly are predictable… for the most part. However, there will be instances where your baby will do something out of the ordinary. It may be something funny, cute, disgusting or just otherwise needs to be captured. If you don’t have your camera nearby, you could actually miss getting that memory on film. Consider leaving the camera in a room that’s easily accessible wherever you are in the home. That way if your baby does do something that breaks from the routine then you can get the camera and capture it.
6 – Keep Taking Pictures
Your baby is changing on a daily basis… especially so during the first several months of their life. And, it’s amazing to watch them changes. But, unless you’re on the lookout for these changes, you could miss them entirely. Therefore, take pictures of your baby on a daily basis. Too many parents will take pictures of their baby for the first few days but stop taking them until a few weeks later. They’re shocked to find their baby has changed so much.
7 – Become Friends With The Airbrush
Take a look at the pictures on Flickr or even Instagram. Many of these baby shots look great; they look smooth and flawless. However, the truth is that babies are not always perfect, regardless of what their parents may think. Babies often have sleepy dirt in their eyes, dried milk around the mouth, snotty noses, little scratches, birthmarks, bumps and blotchy skin. Everything the parents think as perfect but other people don’t.
One thing you can do is use a warm wet wipe to clear off your little darling’s face. But, even with doing that, you may find that they still show up in the photos.
In most instances, these imperfections are not distracting. But, for the times they are, it’s time to use Photoshop. Use the post processing editing tools with some type of airbrush or retouching tool to smooth out the “imperfections” you’re not happy with.
8 – Removing Color
There is so much you can do with Photoshop (photo editing). One of the things you can do is remove the color from your pictures. That’s right! Go black and white with it. Why is this such a good thing?
- It’s great when you have to deal with scratches, blotchiness, and marks. Black and white photos tend to decrease these distractions.
- They’re wonderful for birth shorts or the pictures you take right after the birth.
- It can soften up the pictures. You already know how cute and cuddly your baby is. Remove the color from the photo and the black and white color just adds to that.
You can also experiment with the color de-saturation. You don’t have to go full black and white. You can also do pastel or sepia. Even if you do leave some color in the shots you still give it a unique look and feel.
9 – Indirect Lighting
One of the biggest challenges you’ll face when you take pictures is lighting, especially during the winter season. There are cases where you can get your baby’s picture taken with natural light… inside the house. However, in many cases, you’ll need to use a flash to get some good photos.
When using a flash, a way to diffuse it is to make it bounce flash, shooting it toward the ceiling. When you do this, it makes the baby appear less washed out and it doesn’t blind them. (And, who really wants to blind their baby when taking pictures?) According to pediatricians, camera flashes don’t do damage to a baby’s eyes but that it would be best that they are subjected to indirect flash – diffused and/or bounced.
If you’re unable to have the bounceable flash, consider upping the ISO setting and boost the aperture setting. By doing this, you can eliminate the need for flash, especially if you got some natural light in the room.
Another option is to use a tissue and cover the flash, which would diffuse it.
10 – Pick The Moments
There are two important things to remember here:
When dealing with babies, you know they won’t move much. And, when they do, the changes they make in position and expression can be quite subtle. One of the things you can do is have your camera in the continuous shooting mode so you never miss the action. With the continuous shooting mode, you can get multiple shots in a row.
Of course, you need to remember that you need to strike a balance. You don’t have to take a picture of every little thing. You can do what many parents make the mistake of doing and leave the camera on hand and take the picture of every small thing. Or, you can sit it down and enjoy those little moments that will pass you by before you know it. Balance your picture-taking and real life.