When my kids were born I barely knew which way up to hold a camera, never mind have any idea of how to photograph babies in the best way. As a result my photographs of them are very average (still very special to us though!).
The odd good picture happened by lucky accident and we resorted to professional photographers to take the sort of images we wanted to frame and hang on the wall. Hard to believe that 14 years later I have photographed hundreds of babies for other people, that I teach parents how to take pictures and that I am about to publish a book on baby photography!
A new parent asked me the other day what was it that really made a difference to my photography and what would really help them know how to photograph babies. It didn’t take me long to come up with these 7 tips:
How to photograph babies – my 7 top tips
1. Switch the flash off.
Camera flash is awful and should be avoided whenever you can. Also switch off electric lights indoors. Make the most of the natural daylight by shooting outdoors in the shade or by photographing near a window indoors. Make sure your baby is facing towards the window but out of direct sunlight.
If you are in the AUTO mode the flash may go off automatically. If so, turn the mode dial onto the P setting instead. Now the camera is still in an AUTO mode but the flash will not fire unless you switch it on.
2. Fill the frame
Leaving too much space around the baby is a really common mistake. Get in close and concentrate on your baby’s beautiful face and eyes, or hands or toes. It’s better to zoom in a bit rather than have the camera extremely close as this can distort features. But don’t be tempted to use your smartphone’s zoom as it is usually very poor quality.
3. Buy a decent camera
Whilst smartphones and compact cameras can produce good photos if the light is good, they simply cannot compete with a D-SLR (camera with interchangeable lenses), especially for indoor photographs without flash. You can get a Canon or Nikon model for between £200 and £300 now, so price is no longer a real barrier.
4. Find out how to get off AUTO & use ISO
You can take some nice photos on AUTO but you’ll start taking great ones if you learn about a few other settings. Turn the dial on to the P mode and check out what ISO does for starters. ISO is the magic button for taking photos indoors.
5. Buy a 50mm f/1.8 lens
Don’t worry about what those numbers mean, just take it from me (and thousands of other portrait photographers) that this is one of the best small investments you can make! This super cheap lens (Canon £90 Nikon £140 approx) makes photographing indoors much easier and it creates those lovely soft focus backgrounds that we all love.
6. Learn how to edit your photos
You should try to get the basics right in camera – correct exposure, in focus and nice composition) but all photos benefit from a bit of editing to give them a bit of a polish. Editing doesn’t have to mean taking a lengthy Photoshop course; PicMonkey (mainly free website) is very good, as is Snapseed (free app). I recommend Photoshop Elements for people who want to do a bit more editing but find Photoshop a bit too much.
7. Practise, practise and more practise!
I didn’t become a good photographer overnight. I learned the basics (got off AUTO and got my head around shutter speeds, apertures and ISO) and then took lots and lots of photographs. I read blogs online and I looked at other people’s photographs. One of my favourite resources is Pinterest, great for inspiration and tips. Check out this link to my Let’s Shoot The Kids board.
Another great tip is to take a photograph of your baby every single day. Not only will you document some amazing changes but you’ll find that you gradually improve over time.
I run photography courses and offer one to one tuition especially for parents, just click on the links to find out more. Take a look at some of my other blog posts too. If you’d like to be kept informed of course dates and find out when my book Photographing your Baby’s First Year is available, just sign up for the email reminders top right of this page.
Did you like this blog post or find it useful? If so, please leave a comment, or share it with your friends. Thank you – Jane