*Any mama that has tried taking photos of their newborn baby, toddling toddler or impatient kiddo knows that it is not nearly as easy as you might think. Those babies are not only squirmy and tiny and fragile, but they also are very picky about their location! ...and those kids? They can be STUBBORN!
*Portions of content previously published on Allenaim Photography
While everyone would love to take their newborn to a professional photographer every few weeks to document their growth, financially it is impossible. It is not impossible, however, to take quality photographs of your baby at home! There are a few simple techniques that will help you get the best out of your camera and your newborn, toddler or kiddo.
The key to any great photography is light. Good photographers can work in any type of lighting, but if you ask them, 90% will tell you they prefer natural lighting. The trick about natural lighting is that you don't want the sun to shine directly on your subject. Ideally, you shoot in a bright, yet shady area, or you shoot on a cloudy day. In any case, your baby will squint if the light is too bright, so harsh lighting and flashes are not your friend when it comes to photographing babies and children.
Try placing your child in a doorway, and have them turn their eyes toward the light, but not directly into the source. For example, this little girl was told to stand in the doorway and look into the bright daylight (at the horsies actually....). I was able to get her eyes to light up with the reflections, but the sun was off to her right and did not make her squint.
The photo below was taken on a shady porch with the little girl looking towards a bright sky. The sun is off to her back left, so the sun does not make her squint, but the bright sky offers enough light and reflection for the photo.
Here are some more examples:
|This photo was taken using natural light from a window directly behind the photographer as well as to the left.|
|This photo was taken at sunset with the sun lightly falling on the back of baby's head.|
Newborn babies in particular need to be very warm. If you intend to take photos of newborns without clothing, the room needs to be around 80 degrees or you should be shooting outdoors on a hot day. If a baby is cold, they will simply scream. Screaming photos are cute for about 2 photos and then it is suddenly not so cute anymore. Bundle that baby!
3. HANDS (and feet)
Babies not only need warmth, but they need quiet. Most of the best shots come when your baby is completely asleep. You are able to "arrange" them to capture detail shots in the perfect light and if you are lucky, you'll capture your little one smiling in their dreams. When photographing your newborn, don't forget to photograph their tiny hands and feet and ears and belly buttons. If you have a "macro" setting (the icon is often a closeup of a flower), turn the dial on your camera to it to get great close up shots.
As a parent, I am often drawn to the detail shots of my children. They sometimes evoke more emotion than a simple headshot, and they are easy shots to get when the children are mad, making faces, crying, etc.
This sequence of hands tells a story. Check out those crushed flowers in the little boys dirt covered hands and then contrast the way the little girl holds the flowers delicately. There's always a story to be told with kiddos, but it is often in the tiny details.
This sequence was shot with a zoom lens in a space of about 15 seconds. The first shot was snapped zoomed in to show the hands, the second zoomed out to capture the exchange and then zoomed in again to capture the little girl's hand.
Along with the details, relationship is the second concept I always try to capture in a shoot. Whether it is a brother-brother relationship, a mom and baby relationship or a sister to sister relationship, I want to capture the way they connect.
There is no better way to get natural smiles and loosen up kiddos (and their parents!) than by having them connect physically the way they normally do. Let boys wrestle. Let mamas cuddle. If they usually hold hands walking down the street, capture that. If they always kiss each other on the forehead, don't make them kiss on the cheek. Focus on the individual ways your children connect to their siblings (and you!) and capture that. Those are the photos that bring on the tears. (...the good ones...)
It takes patience to create a warm, quiet, peaceful environment where a baby will feel comfortable. Be patient and take your time. Let baby nurse if they want. Once you have the baby comfortable, then you can begin posing. One of my favorite poses is with daddy holding his newborn baby out towards the camera. I love the contrast of Daddy's large, rough hands against the tiny, fragile baby with their wisps of hair.
As babies grow a little larger, they can start to pose themselves. For a photo like this, get yourself set and let baby wiggle his way to you. LET THEM PLAY! Get yourself down at baby's level either on a bed or on the floor.
|Babies will look other people in the room instead of the camera if they are present. Kick them out!|
I often shoot by holding my camera under my chin while I look at the child from above the camera. It is much less intimidating to have the camera pointed at them if they also see your face! You will also be much more likely to get baby looking at the camera if you show them your face and make them giggle. That giant black lens can be intimidating.
|Kick everybody else out of the room and you'll have a much better chance at seeing those baby blues.|
The same concepts work with older children as well. We never would have gotten this shot:
...without letting him try to catch a hovering spiderweb...
LET THEM PLAY. Grumpy children make for ugly photos, while happy, playful kiddos will show their true personalities and give genuine expressions.
...and sometimes...there is only one thing that really works and it is...
Now grab your camera and go get some good shots!!
Want more advice on taking photos of your kids? Check out this article on self-shooting a family photo shoot right HERE!