Photographs of your baby beautifully dressed in your favourite outfit, with a shiny clean face and huge smile are fantastic and they are the pictures that end up in frames around the house. However, some of our favourite moments may not be “frame-worthy” but are still very special and the ones that make us laugh every time we look at them. Moments like this one, where baby Oscar tries carrot and swede for the first time and is not majorly impressed! When my children were babies I wasn’t much of a photographer and pictures of moments like this are pretty bad – always shot with flash, usually too close so that their faces are white and their eyes are red. When I didn’t use flash the photo is blurred and looks orange from the lights in the kitchen.
Many of these every day moments take place indoors and that’s where taking pictures is trickiest. But once you’ve learned the basics of photography, there’s no reason why you can’t get great shots almost every time.
Here’s my top tips on how to photograph babies indoors with a bridge or SLR camera.
(SLR camera – the ones with interchangeable lenses; Bridge camera – in-between a compact camera and a SLR. The lens doesn’t come off but you have a dial that allows you to change Aperture, Shutter speed etc.)
If you’re still fairly new to venturing off the Automatic settings you might want to take a look at my blog on Using the Exposure Triangle to take Portraits.
- Have your camera out and within reach, not in a cupboard or its box. Get into the habit of always having it around and taking lots of shots with it. Practise makes perfect!
- Plan ahead a bit. If you’re putting baby down on a play mat, put it in front of a window, where it’s nice and light – but not in bright sunlight.
- Switch the lights off. Turn your flash off. As you’re going to be shooting in Aperture mode it shouldn’t fire anyway.
- Put your camera on Aperture (A) mode and set a low f number like f/3.2. This will help you get a soft focus background.
- Focus on baby and half press the shutter – this will tell you what the shutter speed is going to be. You need it to be at least 1/125 for a kicking, wriggling baby.
- If it’s slower than that, then you need to increase the ISO number. In the picture above, I had to increase it to ISO 2500 as it was a really dull and rainy day in Manchester (typical!). That might seem very high but most SLRs should cope with it and probably bridge cameras too, although this is where they can tend to under perform (you’d see a lot of graininess in your photograph).
When Oscar was eating his lunch and pulling some hilarious faces, I used the same principles. We set his seat up in front of a window, I used a low f number (that’s a wide open aperture) and then I should have checked my shutter speed! I was too carried away what he was doing and I forgot to check so some of my shots were a bit blurred!
This one, however, is fine and very very cute. He’s smiling because he really likes pear!
When your baby gets a little more mobile, then you need to use a faster shutter speed – it’s scary how fast a toddler can go! I’d go for at least 1/250th of a second or even 1/500. In this shot of Max it was a lovely bright day and I was using a fab lens – the so called “nifty fifty” (really cheap, lets in loads of light, gives amazing blurry backgrounds – if you haven’t got one , get one – that’s an order!). So I only had to use ISO 500 to get a shutter speed of 1/500.
And finally, a word of caution. If you are using a very low f number, be very precise with your focusing as it’s really easy to get the wrong bit of the picture in focus. You should almost always be aiming for the eyes in portraits (unless you’re purposely doing an arty shot of a hand or something). In this last shot I missed Oscar’s eyes and although it’s cute it doesn’t work for me, as his eyes aren’t sharp.