8 Newborn Photography Tips
Your little darling grows so fast! Make the most of those precious moments. But as with any photo, finding the right angle or choosing the right perspective will result in an amazing photo.
Babies are quite unpredictable in their behaviors and motion blur distort your photos. Capturing adorable moments with that innocent smile requires luck and patience. Here are eight basic tips for taking great baby photos.
- Always Have the Camera Handy
From surprised burp to a radiant smile, a baby’s expressions are natural and spontaneous. Always have the camera close at hand, for those unexpected moments. Be ready to capture the ‘firsts’ – the first time baby discovers her toes, the first time he lifts his head, or the first taste of a new food.
- Baby is the Boss
If you haven’t figured that out, now is the time. When taking photos, let baby take control. A child’s smile is genuine if she’s having fun. Let baby crawl, sit, move around and explore. Give him a favorite toy or peek-a-boo blanket, and keep up the chatter as you snap away.
Take dozens of photos. You’ll discard a lot, but some will be fantastic!
- A Note About Newborns
Take advantage of baby’s limited motion, to get some endearing newborn portraits. By the time she learns to roll over, you’ll be a pro. Put baby on a solid-colored blanket on floor, couch or crib, in diffused natural light, or wrap him in a fluffy towel right after a bath. Stand or kneel directly over baby, with the camera pointing down, and take lots of pictures.Some babies need to grow into their features, and soft newborn skulls can be misshapen. If baby is a temporary conehead, a beanie hat or sun bonnet will help even things out. Get some shots of Conehead anyway. You can tease him years later, when he’s dating.
- Clothing and Background
Keep backgrounds plain and uncluttered. The human eye naturally ‘blurs out’ backgrounds, to focus on the subject. You might not notice the vase growing out of baby’s head, but the camera picks up every detail.Solid clothing colors work best for photos. Patterns distract the eye. The best colors are medium tones, and patterns should be subtle. Try a variety of outfits.Alternately, let baby play au naturel. Babies love being naked, and at some point will discover the fun of taking off their clothes, as soon as you dress them. Baby’s skin has a soft natural glow, and the cute dimples won’t be there forever.
- Get Down, Get Close
Kneel or lie down with the camera at baby’s eye level. Play with angles and perspectives. The slant of shoulders, or an offside shot of wide baby eyes, can make a dynamic composition. If the camera has a zoom lens, use it.Close-ups make lasting memories. Baby’s little ears, nose, hands and feet have a character of their own. An intimate shot of a tiny hand holding mommy’s fingers shows how small and delicate your bundle of joy really is.
- Natural and Artificial Light
Photography is all about light. The point of good lighting is to accent baby’s features, while minimizing harsh shadows and glare.Natural light is effective for baby photos. Diffused through a window, it gives a gentle glow. The best light is early morning, and late afternoon to twilight. Avoid bright sunlight. Overcast days are perfect.Use flash with discretion. A frightened baby is not an agreeable subject.Use artificial light for more lighting control. For studio-type shots, two light sources are enough – a main directional light, and a secondary light or reflector panel. The secondary source adds light to the shadows. Every great artist used reflected light to help bring a portrait to life. Baby photography is no different.Professionals often use a white umbrella to reflect light back at the subject, but white poster board also works. For studio lighting, try the main light at a 45-degree angle to your little model.Practice with a doll or fruit basket as a subject. Move the lights slowly, and notice how light and shadow play across the composition.Precise studio lighting works well for newborns, or intimate mother-and-child shots. An active baby won’t stay in one place for long, so be flexible and have fun. Often a great photo happens by accident.
- Camera Settings
Unexpected technical problems can ruin a one-time shot. Have a basic understanding of the camera (ie read the manual).Most cameras have automatic settings. For more control, set the camera manually. Use a fast shutter speed to avoid blur when baby moves, and a low f-stop to let more light into the camera.A low f-stop also tells the camera to focus on objects closer to you. For wide shots, increase the f-stop for a broader range of focus.The ISO speed determines the camera’s sensitivity to light. Start with a higher speed. If the photo comes out grainy, lower the ISO speed.Set the camera to take multiple shots, if possible. Multiple shots in sequence can tell a story, as baby explores the world.
- Have Fun and Play!
The fun and bonding that happens when taking baby pictures is a memory to treasure, in itself.Blow bubbles, and capture the expressions on baby’s face. Bring in some plush toys, or things to bang on. Sing songs. Play peek-a-boo with the camera. Let baby get messy with food. Most babies love a bath, and bath time is perfect for expressive photos.The more fun you have, the more your little angel will respond with delight. Take as many photos as you can. Set up the shots, or just be spontaneous. You’ll end up with beautiful baby pictures, to enjoy for years to come.