Moms with newborn babies know the deep-seated desire to capture every wink, cry, and yawn on film. We’re dazzled by our babies and entirely smitten by their soft skin and pudgy curves, but when it comes to taking at-home baby photos, something becomes lost in translation.
As a professional newborn photographer, I want to share with you 5 simple tips you can use to improve your baby photography practically overnight. These tricks are used constantly in the photography industry and they can work for you regardless of what camera model you own.
Still need help after reading this article? I’ll be teaching a class, Snap Happy: Photo 101 for parents who want to learn to take better photos of their children. The class will be on July 11, 2015 from 1pm to 3 pm at the Breastfeeding Center for Greater Washington. Follow this link to learn more or register! Half of the proceeds will be donated to support the Breastfeeding Center.
Standing back from your baby to snap off a few portraits is a comfortable position for you – and a rare chance to realign your vertebrae – but it really doesn’t improve your images. This from-a-distance shot has a tendency to allow the background to take over the photo, causing the newborn baby to become a secondary subject rather than the protagonist. Try stooping to your baby’s level and filling the entire frame with your baby – whether it’s a photograph of his face, toes, hands, or rump, make sure that he is the center of attention. Just avoid shooting up the nose, that’s never a beauty shot.
Soften your camera’s flash
Baby photography has a way of making people swoon because of its ability to capture the natural delicacy, innocence, and softness of a newborn. The moment you flash an LED on that scene, the softness is as good as gone. For that reason, I recommend moms use indirect sunlight (through a window) whenever possible. Flash has a tendency to wash out and flatten the details of a photograph, so turn off the flash or try creating a soft light box to fit over your camera’s flash to soften the light.
Shoot in macro mode
Portraits of tiny babies are all about the details and textures. Capturing these minute elements requires changing your camera’s settings to macro mode or zooming in as much as possible (without sacrificing your image’s definition). Zoom in on your baby’s feed, hands, thigh rolls, and wrinkled toes. Capture a snapshot of the way his tiny hand wraps around your finger, or the way his eyes look up at you when he has just finished nursing.
Widen the aperture for soft backgrounds
Blurry backgrounds in portraits are an excellent way to highlight your baby. This is achieved by widening the aperture (the size of the hole in your lens), just keep in mind that the smaller the number the larger the aperture. Try fiddling with your cameras settings and seeing how it affect the background of your images, when you hit a sweet spot make note of the settings so that you can quickly come back to them in the future.
Don’t be a poser
As a professional newborn photographer, I can testify to the fact that this tip can really make all the difference in the world. Your newborn baby’s age will determine, to a great degree, how active he or she is. Babies in their third month and older tend to be quite squirmy and active in their own ways, refusing to fold into perfect little poses. That’s just fine. Rather than repositioning your baby into some hallmark-esque pose, challenge yourself to capture their beauty in their natural posture. This will require that you experiment with distance, height, and camera modes but it will also ensure that your camera skills – and artistic eye – improve with every shot.
One of the greatest gifts of being a professional newborn photographer is being able to capture these precious portraits of my own children and while I enjoy working with moms from around the Washington DC area, I know that there are millions of memories taking place when I am not around. That is why I want you to get more comfortable with your photography skills and to start using these 5 tips to improve your baby photography overnight. Just be sure to let me know how it goes in the comments section below!