Being both a new parent and a budding photographer can be an interesting experience – here you have the perfect subject but the photos just aren’t coming out the way you want them to. So what do you do? Here are some suggestions to up the odds of capturing some exceptional baby portrait photos:
Continuous Mode is Best When Photographing Babies
Rather than hoping that your shutter button finger is fast enough to capture those few ideal baby portrait moments, choose continuous mode on your camera and shoot bursts of
Exercise: Get down on your tummy with baby, set your camera to a wide aperture (f/1.2 – f/5.6) and use continuous mode to take shots. If you can, put the camera below your face so you can interact with your baby while shooting. You’ll want to ensure that the camera focuses on baby’s eyes (or the eye that is closest to the camera). Yes, you’ll have to sort through a lot more images of your precious one to find the gems, but in return the odds of getting “the” shot is drastically increased.
Natural Lighting Makes for Better Baby Portraits
Natural light, particularly indirect natural light, is perfect for bringing out natural skin tones and offers soft light to minimize shadows. By placing your baby next to a large window you can ensure that you have enough light to shoot with. You can also work with direct sunlight by using sheer white curtains (or a sheet) to diffuse the light for a softer effect. If your home tends to be dark, wait for a warmish spring day and head outside to a location that’s not in direct sunlight, such as under a tree or beside your house in a shady area.
Get Silly for Fun Baby Photos
If you want to get some fun expressions while taking your baby’s portrait, be prepared to put on some expressions yourself. It can help to have an assistant here, to interact with baby using toys and the classic “peek-a-boo” while you operate the camera. Remember that if your baby is really active you’ll need a faster shutter speed (1/250s to 1/500s) to ensure you don’t end up with a blurred face or arm.
Make Memories, Not Just Baby Portraits
While catching cute baby photos is great, capturing memories is even better. Baby’s first bath, tummy time, cuddling with siblings, etc. make for excellent photographs and help you to capture those important moments that you want to remember forever. Here it can sometimes help to “back off” and use a telephoto lens to get natural photos of your baby interacting with siblings, pets, or the things around them.
Consider Your Equipment
If baby (or people) portraits are a passion of yours then consider a good portrait lens (one with a large aperture and a standard focal length). Many amateur photographers recommend the 50mm f/1.8 – it’s super affordable, reasonably sharp, and offers a large enough aperture that you can easily blur your backgrounds and keep baby’s precious face (especially the eyes) in focus. If you have a lens recommendation to share, please do!
Finally – if you’re expecting a baby or want to get better at baby photography, fast, consider taking a workshop. In just a day or two you’ll have a ton of photography experience under your belt and will be ready to hit the ground running!