During a pre-shoot consultation, I go over simple suggestions with clients that can help make their photo shoots more successful. Here are some ideas to consider, which you can also apply when taking your own photos:

1.  Well rested,  well fed – The best time to take pictures of a baby is during a “quiet, alert” period, which usually occurs right after a nap or meal. When scheduling your session, it can be hard to predict when this period might occur. We might set an approximate time based on when you expect the baby to wake from a nap. Then on the day of the shoot, we can coordinate the exact time with a quick phone call.  I don’t schedule any other appointments on the day of your shoot so there is a lot of flexibility for shifting the start time. I would much rather move the time if it means the shoot will be more successful. If necessary we can also take a break to let the baby get in a little cat nap and still get nice shots.

2.  De-clutter – If we decide to use a location in your home for the shoot, think about clearing the space as much as possible beforehand. A clean background can make a huge difference in making compelling photos. This helps keep the focus on the baby and not on a distracting clutter. In my own home, this can be a tall order (as anyone who’s been here knows), but when I want to take nice pictures of my son I’ll at least move the bright colored plastic toys out of the way.  Take the series of pictures below. The baby and the ball make a simple scene framed against the blank concrete wall, while the colorful graffiti wall in the background adds another interesting visual element that says something about the location. Any guesses where this is?

3.  Complimentary colors – Just like the previous tip, we want to keep the focus where it is intended to be: on the people in the photo. I’m not necessarily into everyone wearing matching clothing, but if we’re doing a family shoot and one person is wearing bright red and another is wearing bright green, the viewers’ eye will linger on the bright colors and not on the intended subject matter. Consider having family members wear complimentary colors.

4.  Props – The right props can add a nice touch to your pictures. I like to include items such as a hand-knit blanket made by grandma or a favorite stuffed animal. Don’t forget tip #3 though! A brightly-colored patchwork quilt might be distracting.

5.  Relax! – The best images come when you’re able to be yourself. Your baby probably won’t notice that I’m snapping away, but adults are usually a bit more self-conscious and used to posing for the camera. Rather than posing, think about how you normally interact with your baby. If you’re like me with my son, you probably get pretty goofy and playful and can’t keep that loving look out of your eyes. I do my best to make you feel comfortable and uninhibited for truly great images.

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