A Guide for Parents
I love taking photos. I love taking photos because I love love love to scrapbook. I took thousands of pictures before my husband and I had kids and since adding onto our family I'm a crazy person when it comes to pictures! My husband is a good sport and only complains mildly when I drag the family out in the wilderness a couple times a year to take a family photo.
The baby is here! Time to grab the camera, right? Even if you've never really been a picture-taking kind of gal or guy, parents always take time to snap pictures of their babies to some extent, especially in those precious first months of life. I'd like to offer some tips and tricks on executing some nice photos of your children and improving your photography with just about any camera. You don't have to be a professional to have great pictures, though I do highly recommend finding a professional photographer to take pictures of your children sometime when they are babies. You will not regret it and will cherish your photos forever.
Let's dive into picture taking for the everyday Mom and Dad.
Fed Baby = Happy Baby: If you want the best chance to have a successful photo session with your little one, make sure he/she is fed. Plan on shooting your special photos shortly after you finish feeding the baby.
Comfortable and Warm Please: All professional baby photographers know just how important it is to keep the room extra warm and cozy for babe. In fact, many of them have portable heaters they may bring if they are doing a session at your home. It's not a bad idea to have one as well. If you don't have one on hand, that is fine. Just turn up the thermostat a few hours before.
White Noise: Many newborns are comforted by white noise or static. Use it to calm or keep a baby sleeping. You can just go on Youtube and play a track from there. It's a great tool and trick to have up your sleeve.
Plan Ahead: What do you want to do? Know before hand. Some things to consider: What do you want your baby to wear or not wear? If baby isn't going to wear anything do you have something waterproof to put down underneath or are you okay if they pee or poop through your blanket/pillow/etc? Where do you want them to be, bed/floor/in something like a basket? Are you going to use props or any backdrops? What kind of shots are you trying to shoot? Look online for ideas of styles you like and photos you'd like to capture and have them all ready to go. Even make a cheat sheet so you don't forget!
The Sunlight Is Your Best Friend: If you really want high quality photos of your baby you MUST take advantage of sunlight. It will make or break your photos. You may own a nice DSLR camera or a simple point and shoot but it won't matter if you do not have adequate lighting, and nothing can substitute natural light. Find the best lit room in your house, usually the one with the most windows, lightest wall paint color, and possibly faces the sun during certain hours of the day. So open up those curtains and let it shine. Overhead lights can cast yellowish and orange cast on your photos and create unflattering shadows. Just turn them off if you can. It will be much better if you do so.
Please No Flash Photography: Sometimes you should use flash for photos but we are talking about taking photos during the day in the best light we can find. Flash can also startle and upset a newborn. If you MUST use a flash in a situation it is best to invest in a bouncer or light with a filter to dilute and disperse the flash light in the room rather than one spot (deer in the headlights).
Take 100 Keep a Few: Choose shots carefully and have your settings correct but try to take many photos in your session. You can pause, fix or change settings. I also don't think it is taboo to peek at what you've taken to make sure things are turning out well. When you have taken all the shots it's important to get rid of the bad ones or the ones that are basically copies of one another. Choose just a handful of photos to spend time on editing in detail. I highly recommend learning and using Lightroom and/or Photoshop. If you have time later then you can go back and edit more, but pick between 5-10 photos you are really proud and make those your top priority.
Shoot Down at Their Level: When capturing your subject it is important to go down eye to eye for the majority of your shots. Sometimes you are trying a specific artistic shot overhead but for the most part you should be taking a majority of your photos at level with your baby.
Keep It Simple: You are not a professional so keep your expectations realistic and simple. The simpler the better the chance of executing your photo session with success. Don't end up being a Pinterest Fail. You will be surprised how amazing and beautiful your simple photography will turn out. We also need to remember that our main focus is on baby so don't detract from them. Use only one or two outfits and maybe one background change. Your baby will become irritated quickly if you are moving her/him everywhere and trying to change them into multiple get-ups.
Patience Is Key: Sometimes babies just are not going to cooperate. Sometimes they need time. Keep your expectations of them realistic. Be flexible and set a lot of time aside. You may need to take breaks to feed or change their diaper. You may get all of your shots in 15 minutes or it could take 2 hours. It's hard to predict. If baby or you are getting more and more frustrated try for another day.