Between the 3am feedings, 5am diaper changes, daytime doctor’s appointments, laundry, cooking, housework … who’s got time to learn how to take great pictures of their baby? You do. Here are several helpful – but quick! – photography tips that will teach you how to capture the best photos of your newest bundle of joy.
1. Be Prepared
Nothing is more frustrating than missed once-in-a-lifetime photo opportunities due to dead batteries or full memory cards. Make sure you’re ready when your baby smiles for the first time, has his first bath, or accomplishes some other “first” by always having your camera’s batteries charged, sufficient room on the memory card, and, of course, making sure the camera is always close at hand.
2. Capture the Good, the Bad … and the Ugly
Okay, so maybe you’re thinking, “Ugly? There sure isn’t anything ugly about my baby!” And I’m sure that’s the truth. What I mean is you shouldn’t just try photographing the perfect poses where your baby is smiling or peacefully sleeping or is nice and clean after a bath – on the contrary, you should try capturing your baby in all his moods, during all sorts of activities; these are the moments that will make you smile years down the road. If your baby is covered in pureed peas or mashed carrots, take a photo! If he’s crying, pouting or yawning, shoot away! The wonderful thing about digital photography is that you don’t need to pay for film, so use this to your advantage by experimenting and taking lots of photos, whatever your baby’s mood or appearance may be.
3. Fill Your Frame
For great baby photos, physically move in close or zoom in with your camera to fill the frame with your baby’s face. The benefit to this technique is that it will eliminate distracting and unattractive backgrounds. Filling your frame will also help to highlight the various textures and details within your photo, such as the softness of your baby’s chubby cheeks, the wrinkles in his forehead as he cries, or the lines in his oh-so-kissable pouty lips.
4. Use Natural Lighting
Using your camera’s flash can result in harsh shadows within your photo, not to mention the sudden flash of bright light can startle your baby. When at all possible, turn off your flash and use the surrounding natural light.
When you’re indoors, bring your baby near a window, skylight or glass door to use the available natural lighting.
When you’re outdoors, unless you want your baby to be a silhouette, avoid positioning him between the camera and the sun. You’ll also want to avoid the sun shining directly on your baby, as this will cause him to squint or close his eyes entirely. The ideal time to capture outdoor photographs is either within the hour just after the sun rises or the hour just before it sets: photographers call this time the magic hour or the golden hour. If you do find the perfect photo opportunity during the middle of the day when the sun is high in the sky, try moving your baby into the shade to help soften the light.
5. Include Family Members
As easy as it is to capture hundreds, if not thousands, of photos with your newborn being the star attraction, make sure to capture those special moments that include family members and friends and, perhaps most importantly, yourself! It’s easy to get caught up in the moment behind the lens but take some time to be in front of the camera too – when your baby is a grown adult, he will appreciate seeing those who are most important to him included in his baby pictures (and he really won’t care if your hair was a mess or your shirt had spit-up on it!).
6. Use Props
You’ll often see professional photographers use props when capturing baby photos; props can not only add some interestingness and contrast to the photo, they can also serve as a distraction to the baby and keep them happy and content. When taking your own photos, don’t be afraid to use props, but use ones that have meaning: the can’t-sleep-without-it blanket, the special teddy bear that was a gift from your sister, or the wooden train your father made for you when you were a child.
7. Shoot From Different Angles
Another technique that’s wonderful to experiment with is to shoot from different angels, as well as from various heights. Rather than stand over your baby to photograph him, kneel down onto the floor or squat down in front of his highchair to frame your photo from the same level as your baby. If your baby is on his tummy on the floor, get on your tummy too in order to get a great photo. If your mother is holding your baby, have her position him so he’s looking over her shoulder, with you shooting from behind your mother. Photographing from different angles can give an entirely different perspective and feel to an image. Don’t be afraid to try new things!
8. Photograph More Than the Face
Your baby is full of cuteness, it’s not all in his face, so make sure you photograph it all! Fill your frame with his itty-bitty toes; get a close-up of the back of his neck; capture his little hand within your own. Some of the best baby photos don’t even have the baby’s face included, so make sure you document all these precious parts of your little one.
9. Don’t be Afraid to Edit
It’s pretty much a given that there will be photos you’ve captured that you are, for the most part, happy with but feel they could be better with some minor tweaks – for example, a photo where your baby has the most adorable expression on his face but you’ve also captured a child in the background who’s picking his nose. Whether you want to crop a photo or adjust the brightness of an image, photo editing software has never been easier to use. Although you can spend money on these programs, there are also several excellent free photo editing software programs you can download that offer an abundance of features and editing options.
10. Convert to B&W
Some baby photos can look okay in color but stunning when converted to black and white. Not only do black and white images have an entirely different feel to them, they can also help remove attention from things you don’t necessarily want people to notice, such as baby pimples, a stained undershirt, or a distracting background. Editing a photo to black and white is as easy as a click of a button in most photo editing software programs.
What’s Your Secret?
Do you have any baby photography tips not included here that are worth sharing? We’d love to hear about them! Leave a comment below with your tips and techniques. And on a final note, once you’ve captured all these fantastic baby pictures, don’t leave them on your memory card or hard drive where nobody can see them, make sure to have them printed so you can proudly display them in your home and office!