As moms, we have to get pictures of our kiddos doing absolutely anything and everything.
Of the many types of photography I get to do as a family photographer, baby shots may be the most challenging. Even if you are not a professional photographer, but you are trying to get a great looking portrait of your own child, getting them to cooperate is a major undertaking.
Here are some helpful tips to help you get better shots of your baby
Baby is The Boss
The first rule to live by with baby photography is that, they ARE the boss of this shoot. The entire process has to be built around that fragile, ever-changing mood of your child. We have to cater to that, but also help guide their attention. It can be difficult to get them to cooperate sometimes, but there are a couple of tricks of the trade you can use, professional or amateur to get the best shot of that sweet baby.
Baby’s are usually happiest on a full tummy and after a good nap; and babies like people they know. It helps when they are with people they know and trust, and when they give them attention. They tend to be the most responsive and easy to work with when they have these basic needs met. I know, it may seem obvious, but sometimes these are the things we miss.
So you as mom and dad can make sure that the shoot has the best chance of success by just ensuring requirement number one has been met. Now, is that always easy? Of course not, but you just want to make sure you have the baby in the best mood to start with.
A second tip comes from the fact that babies are easily distracted. You will have to be clever how you introduce the camera as it can either be something that scares them, intrigues them, or becomes a toy and the baby will want to play with it. I’ve found that either of the latter two options can work if you approach it right.
This will depend a lot on your babies temperament and ability to hold their attention, but sometimes hanging a toy from your hand or lens (if using a DSLR camera) can help to keep their focus right where you want it. And sometimes even help catch that perfect smile! :)
Baby’s Portrait, Mamma’s Camera
As far as the camera itself goes, think about the kind of equipment you will want to use to get that perfect baby portrait. What do you have and what are you most comfortable using without thinking about it too much?
Most of us run around with some pretty amazing cameras these days attached to our phones, and they do a good job for the most part. But there is a reason most pros still shoot with DSLR cameras. Your choice should be based on what your ultimate final format will be for your portraits – if they will just live on your phone and computer, make small prints like 4×6, (and post on Facebook & Instagram obviously lol) then your phone may be all you need.
If you want to have larger prints made you may want to think about a better camera that will produce higher quality images. Some of us still have old film cameras hanging around that we love and take great warm images, but are a pain to use because of…well the film. :)
Digital is best because you can shoot lots of shots and never have to reload. Trust me, you will want to take a lot of shots, because this gives you the best chance of getting those couple of money shots. But make sure it’s a good quality piece of equipment that will shoot at a high resolution so when you get that prefect shot, it will transfer to a portrait printing nicely.
It may not always be possible, but when lighting isn’t abundant inside, try to use a tripod to get the sharpest pictures you can. When you hold your camera it’s very difficult to eliminate “hand-shake”; and even the slightest movement can throw your pictures out of focus.
By setting up the room with the kind of backdrops, props or accessories that will create a good portrait, you can then have the baby begin to play with his or her toys and interact with parents, siblings or the photographer in a happy way. Before long that sound of the camera clicking and even the flash will become familiar and the baby won’t pay it any attention.
The best shots are always of the baby smiling and laughing. Try to get on the same level with the child as he or she plays. Mom and dad know the sounds or games that always get a giggle so use that insight to make them give you that grin. The baby will enjoy hearing those familiar games coming from you, and that usually will do the trick to getting that sweet laugh or smile you want.
By bringing out the baby’s personality, and getting in sync with the child’s mood that day, you can coax pictures, and create moments in shoot that might other wise be impossible to get. And that is what you want, a perfect portrait of your baby that will last a lifetime.