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Tips for photographing babies
Here are some tips for photographing babies that can help you focus on the important things you should do. Babies can be really difficult to photograph as they tend to move a lot and get bored or moody all of a sudden. Whether you are shooting in your studio, in a client's home or you are just taking photos of your son/daughter or family kids, you should do some preparation before actually taking the photo. It is also better to help the baby get used to you by playing with him for a while, with the help of the mom of course. Some kids are very shy in front of stranger or worse, they start crying if you are not nice with them.!
Before taking the photo
Photographing babies, kids and toddlers require some preparation. First, you should choose a suitable "location" for the session and make sure the baby is comfortable in it. Try to imagine the photo before taking it; do you want to photograph the baby while setting, crawling or just playing with his toys? What clothes you find it better for him to wear? Also, don't forget the nice accessories (hats, headwraps, headbands, etc), or you can also try photographing him naked.
Contact. It is important that both of you and the baby enjoy the process. Take some time to help him get comfortable for you and don't expect him to be interested in looking at the camera in the moment you want. Babies are also impatient so don't expect them to stay still while you struggle with your lenses and stuff: be ready!. Kids are spontaneous, you can let them play and just be themselves while you take their photo. Keep smiling and be nice with him, babies love laughter and happiness, this is important for a good baby portrait.
Timing is very important for baby photography. Make sure you are coming at a time when the baby is calm and in a good mood. You don't want to try shooting a sleepy or a hungry baby.
Mood and attention. Don't make this a boring assignment for the baby. Sometimes you will have to DO something to get his/her attention like making a sound, wearing a funny hat, or having the dad holding something interesting next to the camera, etc. The mother is absolutely important here and can be of great help; ask the mother about his favorite toy, what he likes and most importantly: if the baby becomes grumpy or starts crying for any reason: ask the mom for help! (well, if YOU are the mom, I guess you know what to do :)). The important thing to remember is to never let that happen! If you notice any sign of discomfort on the baby then it is time to stop and allow him to be in mommy's arms.
Lighting is crucial in any type of photography. If you are not shooting in a studio make sure you have a plan. Do you wanna use external flash and strobes or just ambient light? Make sure there is enough light and a window in the room if you have no lighting equipment.
Intimacy. If you want some intimacy in your shots, you can also shoot one of the parents holding their baby, or both of them with the baby. Another tip that can give a sense of intimacy are close-up shots specially with shallow depth of field (small aperture value). These shots can be head only shots, feet or hands shots.
Tips for photographing babies: Camera settings
- Be calm! Try to be relaxed and as calm as possible. Babies react to your gestures and frustration and the last thing you want is to frighten the baby with your bad temper!
- Don't push it too hard. Take a break if you, the baby or the mom is uncomfortable. If you notice the baby starting to get uncomfortable, get the mom to handle the situation. A little cuddling or changing diapers can solve your problems, never upset the baby.
- If you are shooting the baby while playing or if he's moving his hands and legs too fast, remember to use a fast shutter speed.
- You will have to move with the baby if he is moving and if you decided to shoot him while playing or crawling. To get at his eye level you may have to get down or lay beside him.
- Try to avoid using the on-camera flash as it produces harsh shadows and flatten the skin details.It may also hurt the baby's eyes. Use the window light with the room lighting when you don't have external flashes or strobes. If you are shooting outdoors, choose a good time of the day like a or 2 hours before sunset.
- Tell the story. Maybe you can shoot the baby's brothers too with him or try to photograph a few things from the surrounding environment (the bed, the toys, etc). It shows how many things have changed since the newcomer and how the family has prepared for him/her.
- Remember to be patient, be calm, relax and have fun!.