Many of my photography clients who come to see me complain that they wish they could take better photos of their own baby – to capture beautiful memories of their day to day life. If you’re not a professional photographer, these tips will help you capture better photos of your baby and these special moments forever!
Here are my easy top tips to help you take better photos of your baby
Tip #1 – Happy Baby, Happy Photo!
For the best results, you need to make sure that your baby is happy. When they are very young, babies only have short windows of time that they are happy – rested, fed, changed, and content. The best time to take baby photos is usually in the morning after they wake up from their first nap (if they’re on 2+ naps a day), they’ve had a feed, a fresh nappy and are ready to show you some smiles.
Tip #2 – Think About the Background
When you’re taking photos of your baby or children, think about the background of the photo. You want your baby’s face to be the feature of the shot so be sure to move them somewhere where there is nothing distracting in the background. There are so many cute photos from my own childhood with random things in the background – garbage bins, even shots of my Dad in his undies at the kitchen table(!!) etc. It’s rather funny! If in doubt, just place your baby on a plain white blanket or sit them in front of a plain wall.
Tip #3 – Find the Light
Any photographer will tell you that light is the most important element of any photo. The angle, direction and type of light will make or break any photo that you take.
The first step is to turn off your flash. On camera flash creates a very flat looking photo. You want to create soft light coming from one side to accentuate your little one’s cute little face.
Indoors: For the best results indoors, find a large glass door or window that gets indirect sunlight. (In Australia and the rest of the Southern Hemisphere, the very best light is from South-facing doors and windows). Otherwise, if you don’t have one, if you have some sheer curtains these can be pulled across a window with direct sunlight to make the light nice and soft.
Outdoors: If you’re taking photos outdoors, you should aim to take photos just before sunset or just after sunrise for the best results. This is so that the light is nice and soft. Midday sun is the worst time of day and the hardest time to get pretty results (lots of dark shadows and squinting babies don’t make for a pretty photo!)
Tip #4 – Direction of Light
Once you’ve found some pretty soft light, the next most important thing is the direction of this light in relation to your model. For the most part you either want the light coming from the side, or at 45 degrees to your baby. If your baby is laying down, this would be at either 3 o’clock or 9 o’clock for side lighting, or at 2 o’clock or 10 o’clock for 45 degree lighting. The best way to check whether the light is in the right spot is to look for the reflection of light in your baby’s eyes. These are called “catchlights”. You want to make sure you can see catchlights first of all (if you can’t you will need to move your baby closer to the light). Once you can see some catchlights, you will want to make sure that they’re coming from the right angle (see the clock angles above).
Tip #5 – Get Down!
When photographing little people, the best way to get a good angle is to get at their level. This means kneeling down or sitting so that you’re in line with their sweet faces.
Tip #6 – The Eyes Have It
According to the old saying – the eyes are the window to the soul. It is the part of your photo that you will want to be in focus and as sharp as possible. If you have a higher end camera that will let you choose your focus point, you should aim to focus in on your child’s eyes.
Tip #7 – Preserve Them Forever!
Whilst not a tip for taking better baby photos, once you have captured beautiful photos of your baby it’s important to make sure that you back them up and preserve them for the future. In this digital age it’s all too easy to lose your photos in an instant. I have heard so many horror stories about friends losing their mobile phone, and with it all the photos of their baby in their early years. The first step is to make sure that you back up all your digital photos often and to multiple locations. I am pretty paranoid about my backups so I have multiple hard-drive backups on my computer, as well as off-site cloud backups (I use SmugMug but there are lots of great inexpensive back up options available). For my iPhone I use PhotoSync which can automatically backup my photos on my phone as well. At the end of the day though, no matter where your digital files are stored, digital data does degrade over time. Once files are corrupt there is no way to get them back. The very best way to protect your images for the future is to make sure that you PRINT them out. There is no better way to preserve them for your children and grandchildren. This is one reason why I include complimentary prints in all my digital packages for my clients. Despite the best of intentions, I know that if I sell digital files only to my clients it’s likely that they’re going to be put away in a drawer somewhere and not looked at. By printing these out for my clients, they have a physical photo that won’t get corrupted in 10 years time and lost forever.
Tip # 8 – Invest in Professional Photography
If you’re not a photographer, I highly recommend making an investment in at least one session with a professional photographer in the first year of your baby’s life. This special time goes by so quickly and babies grow so rapidly. You might regret capturing these special moments later on. Every year I get professional photos taken of my family by another photographer. This is so that we capture images of us all in front of the camera – even me! I have these printed and framed hanging on my wall. It’s a lovely thing to greet you as you come in your front door.
Need a baby photographer? I’m a multi-award winning photographer in Sydney specialising in maternity, newborn and baby photography from my Balmain (Sydney Inner West) studio.
Happy photo taking!!