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Pointers for Baby Pictures

General Hints & Advice for Photographing Babies


Direct sunlight causes strong, harsh shadows which work in this picture only because the baby's face is not the centre of interest.
Direct sunlight causes strong, harsh shadows which work in this picture only because the baby's face is not the centre of interest.

1. THE BABY'S CONDITION IS IMPORTANT

Babies must be rested, look healthy and be comfortable (dry, warm and feeling secure) to look their best when their picture is being taken.

2. CLOTHING AND APPEARANCE

You may be tempted to dress your baby in the latest designer outfit or a costume that is brightly-colored or boldly-patterned, but odds are that you will get a better picture if the baby's clothing is more neutral, because nothing should draw your attention from the baby's face and eyes. Gentle pastels, whites, blues or pinks are usually fine. Patterns in both the baby's dress and surrounding blankets or comforters should be compatible with babies, not garish or bold. Simplicity is usually better than a busy setting. After all, the baby should be the center of attention, not the clothing.

A bib is a good idea for baby to wear to protect his or her clothes, but should be removed just before pictures are taken.

Be sure that bonnets and hats don't create too dark a shadow on the baby's face. Tilt them up or remove them altogether if they do. Be sure to have a soft hairbrush handy to straighten to ensure the baby's hair is tidy, and keep a washcloth nearby to catch any run-away drools.


3. BE PREPARED TO DEAL WITH A BABY'S REACTION TO YOU

If the baby does not know you, be alert to the baby’s reaction when you meet. Some babies may find you with your camera to be a curiosity and others may be frightened by what to them is a strange sight.

Take the time to establish a rapport with the baby so that you don’t appear in any way threatening.

Don’t move suddenly or make loud noises. Speak in a soft, reassuring voice, and establish friendly eye contact with the baby. Say and do things that will elicit a happy reaction.

You may look as imposing as this to a baby who is not familiar with you or your camera
You may look as imposing as this to a baby who is not familiar with you or your camera

Natural indirect light coming through a window is ideal for baby pictures
Natural indirect light coming through a window is ideal for baby pictures

Mom or dad should be nearby at all times for the baby’s reassurance, and should remain handy throughout the session.

Having mom or dad stand behind you and attract their baby's attention will often produce the bright-eyed looks of joy that can make a baby picture great, but be prepared to hear a lot of strange sounds and unadult-like noises right in your ear. We are all gulity of throwing our inhibitions to the wind and acting silly when babies are involved, and parents are the guiltiest.


4. PLACE THE BABY IN SOFT LIGHTING

If shooting outdoors on a sunny day, the baby should be placed in open shade, away from the direct rays of the sun, but still brightly illuminated. Ideal outdoor lighting occurs when the sky is lightly overcast (bright illumination but no direct sunlight). The baby can be placed just about anywhere that is safe and provides an attractive setting, and the overall diffused light will be soft, without harsh shadows and without the baby having to squint.

Natural, indirect window light indoors remains our first choice for baby pictures, as it is for many portraits where you wish to have soft, surrounding illumination without strong shadows. You may not have a lighting choice sometimes, and will have to take your picture in whatever illumination there is. Be sure to take your light meter reading from the baby's face, the center of interest, so that it will be properly exposed.

Although soft lighting suits a soft subject. sometimes high-contrast light will produce a fine baby picture, too.
Although soft lighting suits a soft subject. sometimes high-contrast light will produce a fine baby picture, too.