Taking photos of a baby …. how hard can it be?
Now that we all have affordable digital cameras, tablets and smartphones, it has never been easier to take a photograph.
And that’s not a bad thing: I think it’s fantastic that people can now take their own photos and create their own memories, but at the same time, I think it’s important to realise that as parent photographing your own children you will get different results to an experienced baby photographer. And here’s why?
Some people may think that because a baby is so small and powerless capturing a great photo will be a piece of cake. In my experience, this is never quite the case!
The challenge of baby photography
In my experience baby photography is one of the most challenging types of photography, and this is why:
- The baby doesn’t know what’s going on: Usually, when a baby is being photographed they are aware of the fact that someone is taking a picture, and are able to respond, but not in the same way as a 5 year old, who will take a bit of direction on how to stand & where to look does. When it comes to babies, all of that convenience goes straight out of the window. You just cannot coerce them into a facial expression – I don’t blame them! Poses that suit their stage of development are possible, and in the early months, they cannot run away! As a photographer you have to roll with the babies emerging personality too, and try to schedule a photo session so you are not competing with food or sleep. And even with planning, routines can change.
- What to try. Baby photo poses 3 months plus – I prop them up using a beanbag, but you could use a pillow or your shoulder (if someone else is around to take the photo), and a little squeaker to draw their eye to the camera. Although often a game of peek a boo also works, and generates some great expressions.
- Shyness of the camera: Not so much when they are babes in arms, but around 12-15 months they have a brief phase of shyness. Some children are quite unsure of the camera (I have no idea why!), so it can be difficult to get some decent shots particularly if they won’t look towards the camera. One way to minimise this is to avoid getting too close, and it’s one of the reasons I like to shoot sessions outside. The natural environment is very calming, their aren’t flashes going off to distract, and I can still direct the parents to get the shots I need, with the natural light enhancing the photography. As a professional photographer I have been trained how to use natural light in the same way I would use studio lights. And unless the rain is horizontal, you can shoot whatever the weather. In fact cloudy days are the best, as the light is naturally diffused. And what child doesn’t like to jump in puddles? (obviously dressed for it :-))
- Time is not on your side: Once a baby has had enough, needs milk/food or a sleep. The session is over. Spend too long trying to capture one photograph, or expecting a baby to smile on demand, just won’t happen. A babies attention span isn’t long enough, and changing what you are doing really helps. This is when experience of photographing babies really helps, as you begin to notice when you need to change things, introduce a new prop or distraction to get the best results, without over stimulating baby.
it’s also important to be in few photographs yourself. A baby photoshoot with parents is SO important, as the grew older they love looking back on their baby photos, so you want to be part of that. Sometimes it may just be your hands as you hold baby, and other times a close snuggly shot of Mum & baby.
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About the photographer: Sue is a professional portrait photographer based in Harlow, Essex and she specialises in baby and child portraiture. Being a parent, she understands just how special your child is to you and her aim is to produce a collection of images that are natural and meaningful to your family. No two moments are ever the same and she wants to perfectly capture those early precious memories and the natural character of your child. For more information please call 01279 433392, visit the Sue Kennedy Photography website and follow Sue on Facebook or Instagram.