They melt your heart.
God made them so so cute because He knew that moms would need to have extra doses of patience and grace when dealing with them! It is true that mom has a maternal ‘eye’ that dad doesn’t – – which is why we are drawn to baby pictures. That instinct makes us ooh and awe over that cute little face with those big eyes and those chubby little cheeks and arms and legs. ..even if it isn’t our baby! If it is our baby, we ooh and awe but we also usually get a tear in our eye when we see shots that capture ‘the look’ we know and love!
So how do you photograph the most spectacular of all of God’s creations? And why can it be so difficult?
Here are some tips for capturing babies. Remember that I am not a professional photographer….just a mom who has a passion for capturing the unique personalities of the people I know and the wonderful bits of life that the pros generally aren’t around for. You can do this too!
Tip 1: Plan for the unplanned. Most of my very best photo shoots of babies have taken place when there was no prior plans or ‘appointment’. It is nuts, but it seems that the best time to get good shots of baby is when the baby, not you, plans it. We had some friends over and I noticed that the light was good and the baby was happy so I had to grab my camera.
Tip 2: Keep your camera by your car keys. Because most of your best shots are going to be unplanned you have to be ready on a moment’s notice. Keep your camera handy. Oh, and babies love to ‘eat’ car keys so they come in handy too when you are in the middle of your ‘unplanned’ photo shoot!
Tip 3. Switch to the M button. The best portrait type shots are when the subject is in focus and the background is blurry. In order to achieve this and have the most control over your outcome you will want to choose your settings. You also want to control the focus and you want to focus on their eyes. A lower F stop number will give you a blurry background but if you get too low you may have one sharp eye but not the other (because of the shallow depth of field.)
Tip 4. A little dirt never hurt anyone! Babies crack me up the way they pick up the tiniest pieces of ‘stuff’ and focus on trying to get it from their hands to their mouth. I love their expressions as they work so hard then finally reach their goal; the pine straw made it to the mouth! Thank goodness that this mom didn’t interfere! A little pine straw never hurt anyone!
Tip 5. Get in their world. Don’t quit shooting when they start doing ‘baby’ stuff. Even crying shots are OK.
Tip 6: Be patient and keep shooting. Follow them and don’t dictate their next move. Don’t have too many preconceived ideas of what you want; babies will give you the best shots if you wait for them. You will have to work for it but the camera mom who has the most patience will win! Don’t give up when the crying starts…it will stop quickly and if you pack up you will miss your next favorite shot.
Tip 7: You don’t always need a smile. Keep shooting through the more simple poses even if they are not looking at you.
Tip 8: Get really close …
…then get closer in post editing if needed (and get rid of the drool if you want!) It is not a bad idea to keep a hanky handy to wipe up the constant drool.
Memory Manager software does all of this and is very mom friendly! No need for Photoshop; this is much easier and quicker to use! Link below.
Tip 9: A tripod usually won’t work with babies…. because they move too fast. Be prepared to do some major moving around to get the baby to look at you. This is not easy! You may have to stand on your head, so do some stretches before you start! You have to follow them because, guess what? … they don’t do what you tell them to do! Make your body a tripod. Brace 3 parts of your body if possible to prevent camera shake and blurry photos: both feet or knees on the ground and an elbow against something like a chair, tree or your knee if it is bent, or your elbows tight against your body. Sometimes I sit down with one knee up with my camera propped up on my knee so I can get on their level.
Tip 10: Early morning or early evening is the best time to photograph people.
Photography is all about the light. When the sun is not quite overhead or when it is behind a cloud or has ‘set’ you will get the best exposures. Remember to look for the catch lights in their eyes (the little white reflections) that way you know you have enough light on their face. You may have to have them face another direction to get this.
You can never have too many photos of your baby! Take lots of them and take them often. You will blink and your baby will be grown and you can never go back to capture those magic little moments along the way. Don’t get discouraged if you don’t have pictures of your baby; just go get your camera and take a photo of your child today…then go put your camera by your car keys…..so you won’t miss another unplanned shot!!
Finally, if your baby is all grown up, find a friend’s baby to practice your photography! Photographing babies is so much fun and rewarding!
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Most of these shots were taken with the following settings:
early evening light, ISO 500, F Stop 3.0 SS 1/125 50mm very little post editing. As the sun goes down your ISO will need to go up.
What I will do different next time: I usually set my shutter speed faster with kids, at least 1/200. I will pay more attention next time and up the ISO sooner to get a faster shutter speed (very important to keep the image sharp). I also will take his shirt off for a few shots next time. I like baby skin.