Newborn baby photography for beginners
To put it bluntly: having children is absolutely amazing. Having the privilege of this little person growing inside you and then them being born and being yours, is not something that should be taken for granted. If you’re a parent, then you’ll know exactly what I mean. Also, if you’re a parent, you’ll know that when your child is born you’ll want to take photo after photo after photo of your new little precious one.
It’s only natural to want to snap away at your little baby, but the truth of the matter is that if you’re not a professional photographer it can be hard for you to get shots that you’re really happy with. Obviously I am an advocate of professional baby photography, but I also think that it is really important that as a parent you’re able to get shots that you’re happy with. With that in mind, here’s four of my most important newborn photography tips:
1) Make sure that the photograph focuses on the child
This is an absolutely golden rule with newborn photography, but unfortunately it’s a rule that way too many people break. Having clutter in the shot or your child in focus-pulling attire is a surefire way to ensure that when someone looks at your photo, they’re not thinking about how wonderfully cute your baby is, but instead about all the mess behind the child.
Clean and simple backgrounds make for the best newborn photographs, so doing a little bit of groundwork before shooting to ensure that you’ve created an environment free of clutter can pay dividends.
2) Work with existing light
If you’re an amateur, it’s best to leave professional lighting to the pros. It’s difficult enough to get your baby to stand still without trying to point a lamp in the right direction. A better approach is to work with the light that you’ve already got, so it might be sensible to shoot in a room that has a decent level of light (big windows) rather than a dark and dingy one.
If you’re shooting with a digital camera, plenty of modern cameras have a ‘low light setting’ that will help you take the best picture that you can in the light you have available. Don’t be too proud to use some of your camera’s automatic functions – it could make the difference between a good and bad photo.
3) Take closeups (without necessarily being close up)
One of the best things about newborn photography is capturing the wonderful array of expressions that your newborn baby is able to provide. With that in mind, photographs that have your baby’s face as the focus are often likely to be very good photographs.
However, sometimes a baby can be distracted or confused by someone getting in their face with a camera, and that can have a negative impact on the final result. With that in mind, if you’ve got a good optical zoom function on your camera, use that to take closeups without getting really close to your baby. You’ll be able to capture your child’s wonderfully expressive face without intimidating them and losing the lovely expressions.
4) Get down to your baby’s level
One of the wonderful things about baby photography is the way that it can give the viewer insight into the life of the child. Looking at a well-taken newborn baby photograph is a great way to meditate on the innocence of youth and how perfectly unspoiled your baby is. However, one surefire way to ensure you don’t create a photo with that sort of meaning is to take the photograph in a way that makes the child look like he or she is very much subject to the photographer.
Photographs from high above or from a long way away emphasise how small the child is, and whilst that can be cute, generally it produces a photograph that doesn’t really capture how great it is to be a child and how joyful and happy your baby is. One way to counteract this sort of effect is to quite literally get down to your child’s level. This puts you on equal footing with the child and allows you to get take photographs that highlight everything that is great about kids.
Written by Sue Kennedy
Sue Kennedy is a professional photographer based in Essex and specialises in studio baby portraits and outdoor child/family portrait photography.
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