There’s a real baby theme on DPS this week. Our editor Darren just had his 2nd son earlier in teh week and yesterday we published a baby photography tips post and today we have another one from Candace Lindemann from the Mamanista and Mama Saga blogs. We didn’t plan to have two posts on baby photography on the same week – but when they both were submitted on the same day we thought it’d make a nice series! Enjoy.
Babies are an attractive, yet elusive subject. A precious smile flashes for a second and then it is gone. How do you capture that moment when your model is too young to take direction?
Light of My Life
Before we even get to that adorable baby, let’s talk about lighting. Lighting is essential to any photograph, illuminating your subject, adding dramatic contrast or subtle texture, and creating the mood.
Natural sunlight is often the most flattering light for human subjects, especially the warm, soft rays just after dawn and just before dusk. This gentle lighting bathes photos in a romantic glow. Noon sunlight can add energy and drama. Dappled sunlight, filtered through the leaves of a tree creates a bouncy rhythm in your photos.
If sunlight is not available, a soft shaded desk lamp can also set an intimate scene. If I need to use a flash, I like to experiment with the slow flash setting. And check out Darren’s tips on shooting in low light without a flash to avoid the harsh results of using too much flash.
Set the Scene
Speaking of scenery, considering your surroundings will improve your shot greatly. If you are planning to take photos, clear out the clutter and look for visual distractions. One of my biggest disappointments is when I capture the perfect smile, only to notice a lamp growing out of my baby’s head. Remember that most of the action with a baby will be down low, so consider that when selecting your location.
Consider the outdoors and its seasonal settings. The natural colors will provide a beautiful backdrop in addition to giving your photograph context. Traditional seasonal decorations also provide a great frame of reference for your baby pictures.
As Soft As a Baby’s…
The sight, smell, and touch of baby skin is one of the chief pleasures of holding a newborn. Capturing that softness is a big part of newborn photography. Again, lighting plays big role. If you are unable to manually control the settings on your camera but have “scene” settings, look for portrait or baby modes to emphasize natural skin tones.
You can also surround your baby with luxurious, soft fabric. Right after a bath is a great time to capture that rosy glow, with baby wrapped in a fluffy towel. Play silks are another great option that also provides color and inspires baby smiles. Or, go the opposite route and surround your baby with rougher textures for contrast.
Babies grow so fast. One minute you are holding an infant in your arm and the next minute you are dropping her off at the dorm.
My favorite photos capture the milestones, both the obvious and the more subtle. If your baby has just started to lift up her head, sit unassisted, eat solid food, or pull up and cruise, these are major changes in her life that you’ll want to try to capture on film.
Don’t forget the equally cute developments that don’t always make the baby book, such as when baby first finds her toes.
A favorite technique of mine is to choose a larger toy or plush animal and take a photograph of your baby with it every month. You’ll be amazed at this chronicle of her growth.
You can do the same with a special outdoor spot, recording the cycle of the seasons along with your baby’s changes.
Older babies and toddlers are bundles of energy. Channel it, don’t try to fight it.
Take advantage of your baby’s growing awareness of his surroundings and you may catch some great shots of him interacting (or attacking) the camera.
Shift your settings to high ISOs and shutter speed priorities or use your features and choose the sports scene setting or continuous shot mode. Digital cameras are essential at this age as you find yourself deleting a higher percentage of shots.
Baby Get Down
Especially with young subjects, you want to consider all the angles. Work on different levels, spending most of your time at a baby’s eye perspective but occasionally positioning yourself for an aerial shot or a worm’s eye view of your “giant” baby. Wee life has some beautiful examples of how you can make perspective work in photographing children.
In Your Eyes
In most shots, I strive for eye contact. Discourage well-meaning assistants (i.e. other relatives) from trying to get baby to look at them–usually this results in a vacant stare above or past the camera. I prefer instead to make baby’s favorite sounds or ask her questions about the other objects in the frame (What do flowers do? Which color is your favorite?). Babies learn fairly quickly that you are behind the camera and with this technique you can often get cute shots of babies laughing or those special expressions they make when they say their favorite words.
And baby does not always have to be looking in the camera to make a great shot. A child’s concentration as he studies a new mystery or the joy that light’s up a grandparent’s face as she holds baby can tell its own story.
When you are taking a snapshot of your child, you do not have to strive for perfection. These photographs preserve your memories of how your baby grew and blossomed. They should capture the essence of childhood, rather than attempt to airbrush away the imperfections that make life so interesting.
What are your tips for preserve these special baby memories with your digital camera?
Also check out our Baby Photography Tips post.