4 Steps for “making” Better Baby Photos
When people ask for advice about how to photograph their baby, the first thing I suggest is to hire a professional. Of course, I could be a little biased because that’s how I make my living.
But that isn’t why I suggest it. It’s because taking pictures of babies can be extremely challenging, even for us trained professionals! Hard to believe, right? They’re so small, cute, photogenic. “Can you even take a bad picture of a baby?” Well the answer to that is, yes. Yes you can.
Here are 4 pointers to make your baby’s pictures reveal the little model that they are.
- Set the stage
One of the biggest things about taking baby photographs is eliminating the distraction. Now I don’t mean the distraction for the baby. I mean distraction for the viewer. As a parent, our focus is on our beautiful angel of a child and not that pile of laundry in the background. And a viewer may not even notice the laundry; (one can hope, right?) they just notice that the image is not as striking as some others they’ve seen. And they don’t even know why.
Setting the stage starts with eliminating clutter. And for goodness sake… Don’t photograph your baby on that dark, loud patterned blanket from Nana! Sure, it’s a beautiful heirloom but it is hogging up your photo.
- Let There Be Light
Lighting is often what sets the quality of professional photography apart from DIYing it at home. But lighting doesn’t come cheap, or easy for that matter. And with babies, there is a long-learned art to it. My suggestion is finding the spot in your home with the most amount of natural light and building your “set” around it. The result is a gossamer glow that sets off your baby’s skin, and the mama’s skin too. 😉
Now, “the most amount of natural light” does NOT mean the most amount of sun. Noooo. Very different. In fact, direct sun is the harshest light to photograph in. I mean light without shadows. A diffused, afternoon light is my favorite.
- It takes a village
One of the hardest parts of photographing your baby is trying to do it yourself. In a perfect world, there would be a whole crew.
Person #1 could hold the baby or prop him up while Person #2 handed props in and out of the picture. Person #3 would change a diaper here and there and Person #4 would hold a rattle and shake it vigorously above the camera while cooing repeatedly as Person#5 actually took the picture. As a bonus, (this is a perfect world we are talking about, remember) Person #6 could distribute glasses of wine to alleviate stress.
But if you’re short on help, at least one assistant will suffice. Just prep your set, props, rattles and glasses of wine ahead of time.
- Wait. Just Clear Your Schedule and… Wait.
Because babies do whatever the heck they want! And that could mean pooping all over that white fluffy fur rug or deciding that naptime will be moved up today. If you have all afternoon, that perfect shot will show itself, even if after another nap/feeding/meltdown/diaper change/bottle of wine.
Besides, the stress of trying to change a baby’s mind will make it an awful experience for everyone. Trust me. I know these things. I’m a professional.
It’s just like Ansel Adams once said, “You don’t take a photograph, you make it.”