There is a quote that says, “Never work with children or animals”. Whoever said it must have been talking about the absolute frustration you feel when trying to get that “just right” photo of one of your children.
Small babies, howver, are not as hard – they are a bit more “malleable” – you can bend them and lie them in certain positions and get a great photo.
Using my Canon 400D SLR, I switch my settings to “Sports” mode. That might make you laugh – that baby isn’t going for a sprint, right? No. But they do make quick movements, and they often need low light in a room to make them comfy. If you haven’t got great lighting (like me) then the next best thing is to create a light reflecting environment – lay down the white sheets as fore- and backgrounds. Turn on all the lights. Dress bubba in a white outfit. That’s a start.
The “Sports” mode in your camera will collect all the light in the room in one quick shot and still keep the photo clear.
Disadvantages of using Sports mode – you get some grain on your photo – which is more noticable when you blow it up in size. However, with Photoshop you can work wonders with Noise filters and get really good expandable photos.
Here’s a few other ideas:
1. Snuggle bub in between two pillows and have a game of peek a boo with the camera.
2. Put a pillow under their tummy (so they can lift their head higher) and get right up close.
3. Stand in FRONT of your light source (window, light, lamp etc) and have bub face you for great lighting of the face. Then get the baby’s mum to dance a jig off to the side – you’ll get a great 3/4 head shot.
4. Have them nestled in mum’s arms and get them comfortable. Better yet, get them interacting with mum in some way 🙂
5. Of course, the baby smile shot. This can be as difficult to get as the holy Grail – so don’t get your hopes up. I have been known to swirl hula hoops, spin, and generally jump about like a mad thing in order to get “the smile” but it’s just timing and baby’s schedule – ie: you won’t get much if it’s just before a feed 🙂
Given that bubs is 7 weeks old in this photo, I think we did pretty darn good.
6. Last but not least – the “Tiny parts” photos – hands and feet. Taking a photo of a bubby hand or foot is cute, but it’s cuter if it’s being held by someone – it shows the relationship with that person and it also shows size context – you can really see how small their hand is when it’s being held by a gigantic adult hand.
At the end of the day a lot of baby photos come down to luck and good timing. So if you have a good plan of setting them up, you should be OK.
Get the bub when they are in between feeds.
Warm up the room.
Have a soft rattle or something colourful handy.
Stock up on some baby wipes and bibs for the general spit ups and dribbles.
And don’t stress! With the help of Photoshop, you can make even an average photo look much better.