Babies… they are one of the sweetest things in life, and when it comes to taking their pictures, they’re often very elusive. After all, their precious smiles are often fleeting. How can a photographer capture the moment when their subject is too young to understand what a photographer needs?
1 – Lighting
When it comes to lighting, it’s imperative to have it just right to ensure your subject is portrayed as you’d want them. You want to illuminate your subject, add subtle texture or dramatic contrast and create a mood.
The most flattering light humans have is natural sunlight, especially right before dusk and just after the dawn. This kind of gentle lighting provides a romantic glow. The noon sunlight adds drama and energy. With dappled sunlight that’s filtered through tree leaves, the pictures can get a bouncy rhythm to them.
Of course, sunlight isn’t always abundant, which is why you need a soft-shaded desk lamp on hand to produce this type of scene. You can also use a flash, experimenting on the slow flash setting.
2 – Scenery
When it comes to great pictures, you should always consider the surroundings. Remove clutter and any other distractions that could take away from the photo. A real big disappointment photographers have is to get the perfect shot, only to find some item protruding from the side or top of a person’s head or body.
When you’re taking a baby’s photo, you’ll often be crouching down so keep this in mind when you determine the location you want to take the shoot.
Don’t forget to consider the outside and the seasonal settings. One of the best backdrops to have in a picture is nature’s natural colors. Traditional seasonal decorations are also ideal for taking a baby’s photo.
3 – Softness
When people hold a newborn, they get a rush from the baby’s skin – the smell, the sight and the touch of it. And, it’s up to you, as a photographer to capture this feeling. Once again, your lighting is going to play a huge factor. If you cannot manually control your camera’ settings but do have scene settings, look at baby or portrait mods to highlight the natural skin tones.
Accentuate the baby’s picture using a soft and comfortable fabric. Or, start taking pictures of the baby after they get out of the bath and are wrapped in a fluffy towel. Another idea is to use play skills that will inspire the baby to smile and give them color to look at. Or, you can go the opposite direction and surround them with rough textures to highlight them… providing some contrast
4 – Changes
There’s no doubt how fast babies grow. After all, it seems like one minute, they were just born and the next, they have their own families. One of the best pictures to capture are the milestones – the subtle and obvious. If your baby has just begun to sit up alone, or lift her head up or eat solid foods, started crawling, etc., these are huge changes for the baby to go through and you should capture them on film.
The other cute things that typically get overlooked is when your baby finds parts of her body – toes, fingers, etc.
A great way to record a baby’s growth is to use a plush animal or toy and take a picture of it with your baby. This can also be done outdoors, recording the season’s cycle with the baby’s changes.
5 – Capture The Energy
There is no doubt how much energy older babies and toddlers have. Use that energy to capture the moment. You want to capture your baby’s increasing awareness of themselves and their surroundings. You may even find yourself getting awesome pictures of your child interacting with the camera or even attacking it.
Make sure your camera’s shutter speeds are set on high so that you can continuously take pictures… one after another. Digital cameras are great because they allow you to delete the photos you don’t want.
6 – Get Down On Their Level
When you’re taking pictures of your baby, be prepared to get down on all fours and work at their level. While you’ll still get pictures of them from a standing angle, you’ll want to get a baby’s view of the world too. The idea is to capture them in their world… not just in the adult one.
7 – Eye Contact
In the majority of your pictures, you want some type of eye contact going on. Don’t let other folks take a baby’s attention off of you… even if they mean well. This often leads to vacant stares or stares that look beyond the camera. Instead, you make a baby’s favorite sound, hold a favorite toy of theirs or ask them questions about objects that are in the picture with them.
Babies learn fast who the person in charge is – you behind the camera. With the technique, you can get some amazing pictures of them laughing, smiling or other special expressions they make.
Don’t forget though that there are some pictures where the baby isn’t looking right at you that make great shots too. Taking a picture of a baby concentrating intensely on an object can spark tons of stories and emotions.
8 – Imperfect Pictures Are Still Good Pictures
When you take pictures of your child, don’t aim for perfection. After all, every photo you take is a preservation of your baby growing and blossoming. You want them to capture your baby’s childhood… imperfections or not. After all, imperfections are what make life… life!