Saturday, April 12, 2014

5 Tips For Photographing Babies

Over There Is A Better Angle
I'm not a newborn photographer. I don't photograph babies for a living. But I am a photographer and I do have a baby, so I know some about this topic, mostly from trial-and-error.

It can be difficult to know where to begin. The first experience can make one nervous. Babies are so little and fragile, and they certainly don't follow the photographer's commands. It can seem tricky, but it doesn't have to be.

Below are five tips that I've learned for photographing babies:

The Scene
Setting the scene for a baby photo shoot is easy. What I have found is that a plain black or plain white background works best. Some sort of solid black or white cloth, such as a blanket or curtains, does the trick. If you don't have a solid black or white background, then some other solid color is the next best thing. I would avoid prints or patterns because they are often too busy and distracting.

You can certainly try other scenes. A pillow or stuffed animal or basket can be cute. I wouldn't discourage trying something, but I think that the simplicity of the plain black or white background is tough to beat.

The Baby
Sense of Touch
Babies are cute--everything about them. Baby eyes are cute. Baby noses are cute. Baby hands are cute. Baby feet are cute. You get the idea. You don't have to do a lot other than capture that cuteness in order to make successful baby photographs.

I like focusing (no pun intended) on the details. There are so many little things (again, no pun intended) that can be captured. Be sure to photograph the baby close up as well as further away so that you can get all of those cute details.

The Moments
First Bath
You don't have to stage a scene in order to make great baby photographs. Sometimes you need to be a photojournalist. Sometimes you just need to capture the moments.

With babies there is a "first" all of the time. First bottle, first bath, first smile, and on and on and on. These moments are treasures that deserve to be captured.

The Siblings
Sibling photographs are great. There is a connection and wonder that's difficult to explain. These photographs are metaphoric gold.

My experience is that these images need to be natural. They need to unfold by themselves and not be staged (or, at least, be careful not to over stage). The magic is in the moment. This is a time to put on your photojournalist hat and try to catch the decisive moment.

The Lighting
Sleep Silent Child
I really like natural light for baby photographs. A north facing window provides great natural light. Any other window will work as long as the light is diffused with white curtains or an overcast sky. Early morning light (right around sunrise) from an east or south facing window can sometimes be nice, as well as evening light (right around sunset) from a west or south facing window.

If you want to bounce some light you can use front window shades from your car. Or a mirror. I'd avoid using a flash, but if you do use it make sure it is diffused.

No More Pictures, Please
Notice that I mentioned nothing about cameras. What camera you use is unimportant. Photographic vision and creativity are most important.

Also notice that nothing I mentioned is complicated. Photographing babies does not need to be complicated. A baby on a black blanket next to north facing window is a great combination and all you really need. Just relax, have fun and smile at the cuteness that is in front of the lens.

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