Top Tips For Busy Parents – How To Photograph Your Baby
I was asked many times by parents - how to take baby portrait? OK - believe it or not, I still don't know how to change diapers but given the number of babies and children I photographed. Here are some tips:
No expectation is the key. Don't expect a baby to pose for you, or respond to your verbal tricks, although some babies with a beautiful mature mind might respond... whether it is the right face or expression is totally another story though.
Your adorable infants are pure souls, which means they couldn't care less other than their basic needs, not to mention photography!Having said the above, a baby's ability to "pose" depends upon their mobility and strength as he/she grows... So here are some unique stages to photograph your baby and sample pictures.
Before 3 months:
They are like soft dough (or doll). You can lay them down, or hold them up with neck support. Unless you capture them while they are asleep and in the perfect mood, you might want to try this: use something that gives steady static wave sound, like a hair dryer, and you'll see the magic! They generally calm down and even fall asleep. Don't ask me why - I tried and it worked.
You can stay really close to their face and practice focusing on their eyes. Move yourself around and try a few different compositions - e.g. photographing their whole body, or only the head and shoulders, or even just the face and compare results.
It's a baby's natural instinct to follow the light, so put him/her next to a large window and place yourself between the baby and the window might give you tons of opportunity to get a nice exposure.
6 to 9 months:
My personal favorite stage to photograph babies. They now can sit but not old enough to crawl. They respond to words/sound much better than before and easily make a smile - won't you feel happy to see a genuine smile from your little sweetheart? :-)
Try to face them into light, lower yourself at the parallel level with your infant (it could be bed level or carpet level depending on where you put your baby), and take out any clutters behind him/her.
Unless your camera is set on low aperture and / or fast shutter (not in the auto mode), don't expect anything other than slightly blurred baby images.
Here's the best chance to practice aperture priority and get some artistic images with the focus on the baby and the background blurred.
9 to 12 months:
Your babies likely have just graduated from "posing for parents 101", and now they can crawl. Ah ha... that means you have even less chance to get them to sit still for you, unless they still haven't figured out why you cover your face with that giant black box and just stare at you.
OK mom and dad - here's your one split second opportunity to click! Getting the right focus is the key. Otherwise, continue practicing... and practicing!
14 months afterwards (could be earlier or later):
Watch out, your baby is walking! Chances are that they are not running away faster than you, but unless you know how to set your camera's aperture/shutter correctly, especially at indoor settings, you have higher chance to get that frustrating blurry image.
But don't worry, if you have practiced since your baby was born, you might have learned a few tips in the manual mode. I'd set a combination of low aperture (eg. F2.8) with a relative fast shutter speed (eg. at least 1/250 or faster), again!
With the right focus (try use single focal point to dictate your camera what to focus) and composition, you will get some really nice images! It's all about practice and experience!
Don't give up, keep taking pictures... since you have one of the most valuable elements in achieving photography excellence - a perfect model!
Of course the difference from a correct photo and an AMAZING photograph has more to do with lighting, exposure, composition, focus, ISO and many more... I'd be happy to share more tips going forward.