13/07/2009

Photographing Babies

It’s a fact that we can never take enough photographs of our first born. I believe the second born generally gets second billing. Probably because you are spending most of your valuable time chasing after the first born.
Anyway, this chapter of photo tips looks at that age from when you first bring the little darling home till just prior to it being able to scurry off on all fours. That is, it doesn’t need to be tethered yet.
Where to shoot? Indoors or outdoors, you can probably think of many options for the best place to photograph your child. But outdoors is not always a good option because you can’t always rely on the weather. Too chilly, too sunny, too windy. And having to cart everything out and bring it all back in again. It is much easier to do it indoors.
“What about lighting indoors?” And may well you ask.
The best overall indoor lighting, whenever possible, is natural lighting, as it is much safer with colours and skin tones. That means choosing the room in your house that has the brightest available light - natural light but not direct sunlight. This is likely to be either in the main bedroom, living room or sunroom. Or even a room where there is a skylight in the ceiling.
You should use your own imagination to set up a little area, that is easily dissembled, in the brightest part of the room or an area that you think will best suit the following photography suggestions.
Whatever you intend to use as a backdrop, it is important to at least have one. Preferably of a plain or soft neutral colour, so as to put more emphasis on your little one.
Place the child in the spot where you intend taking the photos and start with a few practice photos to check how the exposure or quality of the light is. While you’re at it, check for any background annoyances or distractions. If the child’s face is over bright, you may have to move slightly to one side or reduce the amount of light entering the room.
If the child’s face is too dark, you may have to move closer to the window or allow more light to enter the room.
Depending on the type of camera you will be using and I assume it will be digital, so at least you can repeatedly check each shot till you feel that the lighting is right for the child’s skin tones and this is very important for the outcome of your photos. After all, they have to last you and the child a lifetime and believe me, you’ll be glad you went to all this trouble.
When you finally get down to some serious photography, you’ll find your photos will look more natural and come out better if you get down on eye level with the child and at times, even lower. There are just too many of those photos around where the photographer is standing up, looking down at a child who’s head looks three times bigger than it’s body due to camera distortion at that close-in high angle. As I said, get down at eye level or lower and shoot heaps from different angles and various view points. Get as much variety as possible.
If you have a problem getting down on the floor with your child, because you might have a problem getting up again, use a higher base such as a bed, high chair or even someone’s shoulders.
Include props like toys, family pets, or even other people or someone else’s baby.
Catch the child’s emotions - laughing, crying, eating. Especially eating something new for the first time and watch for funny facial expressions.
A great pose is when the little one is either in the bath or has just had a bath and is lying belly down on a towel.
I am sure I don’t have to tell you how to pose your child, you know what you want and you are only limited by your own imagination. Just enjoy every pleasure that this valuable time with your child can bring. Because pretty soon your going to have to nail them down to hold their attention.