Babies are some of the most beguiling and bewildering subjects that you can photograph. It’s worth the effort in the end, but it can sure be difficult in the moment! If you need a little help capturing high-quality stills of your snot monster, here are just a few basic baby photography tips.
1. Get Closer
One of the most common tips for baby photography that you’ll see is the suggestion that you buy a macro lens. These lenses are made for detailed close-ups that can highlight your baby’s bright blue eyes or perfect little feet. Research the different sizes and strengths of macro lenses to determine which is right for your baby photo album.
Recommended read: If you’re a complete beginner, you should see our collection of macro photography tips to get a grasp of the whole idea!
2. Bounce and Soften Your Light
You don’t want to place a hot, bright light directly into your baby’s eyes. But what if your photos need more illumination? Try “bouncing” the light off the ceiling or a piece of curved poster board taped to the wall. This will shine some light on your baby without overwhelming them. You can even create fun and natural special effects if you’re willing to play around with your light streams!
You can find out more about how to use artificial lighting here or you can use our collection of natural light photography tips for a softer effect!
3. Bring a Box of Props
Props are a great way to get your baby in a playful, photogenic mood. They can also serve as backdrops and secondary focus points in the composition of your shots. Start collecting things like toys, rattles, blankets, bottles, bean bags and teething rings, and store them in a “prop box” that you can bring out whenever it’s time to take pictures.
3. Change Your Perspective
For a tranquil, womb-like shot of your baby curled up in the middle of their crib, shoot the picture from above. For a happy candid of their smiling, scrunched face, get down on the floor and shoot from their level. Different perspectives will give your baby photos entirely different atmospheres and aesthetics, so experiment a little to invoke the perfect mood.
5. Soften Your Shots
Baby photography tips aren’t complete without this little secret. Instead of avoiding things like motion blur and off-focus backgrounds, use them deliberately to give your pictures a soft, fuzzy, and cuddly feeling. They’ll pair quite well with your subject matter and increase the “aww” factor of your photos.
A great set of tools to help soften your shots are MCP Baby Steps™ Lightroom presets, which include 28 different haze overlays to help soften the look of any baby shot.
6. Expect to Take Lots of Breaks
This may sound like an obvious piece of advice, but it’s one of those baby photography tips worth remembering. Your little bundle of joy isn’t a trained model that can hold their pose for hours without flinching. Your baby is going to get hungry, bored, irritated and overwhelmed very easily, so regular breaks are essential for keeping them in an accommodating mood.
7. Leech the Color
Taking a good black-and-white photo has its own set of rules, but if you’re willing to learn them on top of general baby photography tips, you can combine both disciplines into something remarkable. Monochrome baby photos look gorgeous and timeless when framed and put on a wall.
Recommended read: Find out more about the best techniques on BW photography from our collection of black and white photography tips!
8. Use Fill Flash
If you’re shooting outdoors or in a brightly-lit studio, your camera might not give you the level of flash that you require because it already senses a lot of light in the surrounding area. You can get around this with one of the lesser-known baby photography tips: fill flash. It will “fill out” the shadowed areas of your photos without forcing any changes to your light, making it perfect for baby photo shoots of all kinds.
9. Hide Their Flaws
It’s common for newborns to have physical imperfections like lumps, bumps, birthing marks, and prominent veins. You’ll want to hide these flaws for the most picturesque portraits, so either cover them up with props or angle them out of the shot. You can erase them in post-processing if all else fails, but that’s extra time and effort that you don’t have to expend if you solve the problem on location.
10. Overlay Your Photos
This is one of those sneaky baby photography tips that separates the professionals from the amateurs. Instead of struggling to arrange your baby in, say, an upright position, just take two photos: one of the plain background and one of you supporting him in his pose. Then overlay the photos in post-processing and erase your hands and arms from the final product. It’ll look like he’s sitting up on his own!
11. Try a Faster Shutter Speed
Do you find it difficult to capture the exact flutter of your baby’s eyelashes? Or maybe your subject is closer to toddler age and already crawling around the studio like a speed demon. Increasing your shutter speed can help you freeze the motion of a photograph while still retaining clarity and focus. It’s one of the great secrets of baby portrait photography tips!
12. Mind Your Backgrounds
This is especially critical if you’re shooting candids at home. You don’t want the perfect shot to be ruined by a pile of dirty laundry in the background, so perform a general sweep of the room before taking out your camera. Make sure that unseemly things are hidden out of sight. If possible, put your baby in front of a neutral background that can be edited however you’d like at a later date.
Note: If you’re in need of some ideas, check out our article on the coolest photography backdrops you can buy or make!
13. Create a Sense of Scale
You can make your baby seem quite small by posing them with or against something quite large. You can also make them seem like giants by posing them at the right angle to create an optical illusion. Tips on baby photography don’t always cover scale, but it can be an invaluable technique for creating one-of-a-kind photos.
14. Learn the Basics of Photo Editing
We’ve touched on post-processing already, but if you weren’t already aware, most of those adorable baby photos on Facebook and Flickr have been edited to a major degree. It’s important not to get discouraged if your own photos have things like dried milk stains and crusty, sleepy eyes. Just load them into Adobe Photoshop and teach yourself how to edit.
Recommended read: If you never used Photoshop before, don’t despair! Our collection of the coolest Photoshop tutorials for beginners is sure to help!
15. Give Your Photos Some Context
Where was the photo taken? Who was home at the time? How did you feel? What emotions were invoked? Try to capture these things with the lights, angles, shadows, perspectives and colors of your photos. You’ll be glad that you did when you’re looking back on childhood photo albums 20 years from now.
16. Take Excessive Amounts of Photos
This is one of the most important baby photography tips that you can learn. Always take more photos than you think you’ll need! Take dozens of photos of the same moment. Capture the scene with hundreds of shots that vary only slightly from frame to frame. You never know which frame will be the right one, so it’s important to give yourself options.
These are just a few baby photography tips to help you capture life’s biggest moments with its littlest subjects. What do you think, parents? Were these suggestions useful to you? Do you have other baby photography tips and tricks to share with new moms and dads? Let us know in the comments!