How to Photograph Babies

February 23, 2010 | Mark Goldstein | Photography Techniques | 15 Comments |
How to Photograph Babies Image

Photographing a very young baby can seem like a daunting task for even the most accomplished of photographers. Most babies aren't at their most photogenic at this age; many of them smile infrequently and when they do its usually wind! They also spend a lot of time sleeping, feeding, crying or dribbling - none of which has the makings of an amazing shoot...

Yet some of my most poignant and rewarding shoots have been with parents and newly born babies. New parents often experience emotions akin to being 'in love' at this time, giving the resulting images an emotional depth and character, as well as prompting tears of joy and laughter either during the shoot, or when the parents view their photos.

So how is it possible to capture this special time in a family's life?

One of the keys to a successful baby shoot for me is to prepare the family for the shoot beforehand. Ask when the new arrival is most lively and happy - many babies are at their best early in the day. Ask mum to have several outfits at the ready for the shoot, to create a few different looks: several babygrows, a small bathrobe, and a few everyday clothes are ample.

How to Photograph Babies

Natural light is my ally when shooting babies and young toddlers. Firing flash may make an infant blink or cry, and it flattens the gentle skin tones and shadows I am trying to capture. Our clients like images with a very natural, lifestyle feel, so I shoot using a wide aperture (around F4), and when faced with a darker location, I'll use the camera's higher ISOs, and a reflector directed at the model to boost the ambient light. If I need additional light, I'll use a flashgun with a Lightsphere diffuser, and bounce it off white walls or a ceiling.

As I'm not studio based, I am usually shooting in a client's home. When I arrive for the shoot, I'll look around for the lightest and brightest spaces with the biggest windows and least clutter. I'm looking for clean, simple backgrounds, and I'll choose a couple to use. White sheets and duvet covers or a soft baby blanket are great to give a very clean, fresh look to the shots, not distracting from the baby.

How to Photograph Babies

Having plenty of time is essential to give the images a relaxed feeling - make it clear to the parents that you're in no rush and if little Freddie needs a break for a feed or a sleep during the shoot, that's fine. Why not use the opportunity to capture a beautiful shot of the baby blissfully asleep? Straight after a nap is a great time to pick up the camera again as babies have a wonderful ability to completely rejuvenate after a short sleep.

How to Photograph Babies

I'll usually start a shoot with the infant in a simple babygrow, lie him or her on a bed or on the floor to capture some simple portraits first. Getting in really close and shooting macro can add a different dimension to the images and will make for great shots for multiframes and albums which the parents may buy. Little toes and fingers, dad's big hands with little hands and of course close-ups of eyes, offer great options for some creative and abstract imagery.

How to Photograph Babies

Encourage mum and dad to interact and have fun with their little one by smiling or calling the baby's name - you stand a much better chance of achieving that elusive smile or grin or an intimate 'moment' by asking them to do this than trying to yourself. Remember, you're a stranger to this vulnerable little bundle.

How to Photograph Babies

As well as having baby lying down, you can create some different poses by asking a parent to cradle the baby in their arms, or hold him or her up at shoulder level.

During the shoot I'll suggest one or two changes of clothes - if the parents request or like the idea, I may also do a few nude shots - baby's bottoms can be very cute! A bathrobe with a hood is a great choice, and an outfit with a cute hat or cap to finish will look great.

How to Photograph Babies

As a baby becomes more mobile, your options for photographs expand. By 6 months, most babies can hold their head up, sit up and crawl. At about a year many will take their first steps. This may be a great time to head outside, and use a natural backdrop such as a garden, a nearby country house or the beach.

How to Photograph Babies

How to Photograph Babies

This allows space for a young toddler to move around and play, giving you scope for beautiful natural images, and a good backdrop for some portraits of the family together.

In postproduction, I will spend some time re-touching images, to soften skin tones and remove blemishes. I'll present many images in black and white, as this is naturally a very flattering format.

Biography

Jo studied for a degree in History before training to be a journalist and subsequently deciding on a career as a photographer. After training with Annabel Williams and Catherine Connor on their 12 month Bespoke Programme, Jo established Jo Hansford Photography in 2000. Jo is now a key trainer at the Annabel Williams Contemporary Photographic Studio, where she runs several seminars each year - www.annabelwilliams.com or 01539 821791.

Jo also has a passion for creative and abstract imagery, and her love of all things Portuguese & Mediterranean is reflected in her photographic work, she has exhibited widely and since 2004 has specialized in wedding photography and lifestyle portraits.  Based in Bristol, Jo has shot commissions for in Italy, Spain and Portugal as well as the UK.

For more information on Jo and her work, visit www.johansfordphotography.com or call 0117 953 5801.

Entry Tags

photos, how to, technique, photograph, shoot, location, child, babies, baby, natural light, How to Photograph Babies, infant

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Your Comments

15 Comments | Newest Oldest First | Post a Comment

#1 digital photography

Fantastic article, with amazing photography! last one is my favorite, baby walking back view - amazing shot.

2:02 pm - Tuesday, February 23, 2010

#2 Lisa

Fantastic ARTICLE & Photography!
Thanks for sharing will definately pass this on.

3:11 pm - Tuesday, February 23, 2010

#3 Mandeno Moments

The photograph where the focus is on the baby’s feet is very unusual and captivating.

I agree when the author says that you have to go along with the baby’s rhythms.

Photographing small children is like photographing a natural disaster: you have to seize your opportunity and shoot as rapidly as possible for as long as possible :-).

http://MandenoMoments.com/

3:55 pm - Tuesday, February 23, 2010

#4 Amember

Every shot a shallow depth of field, beautiful shots I am inspired, just need a baby!

4:49 pm - Tuesday, February 23, 2010

#5 Robert M

Such great photos. In the past I admit to having problems because I find that babies are easily distracted. But of course, like anything else worth learning practice is needed.

I love the youngster on the boardwalk photo. Such a great visual.

On another related note, my site is currently having a photography contest for The Most Photogenic Child. Maybe some of you will be interested.

http://www.talenttrove.com/most-photogenic-child

Cheers!

5:43 pm - Tuesday, February 23, 2010

#6 Mei Teng

Lovely baby images. My favs are 5th and last one.

4:07 am - Wednesday, February 24, 2010

#7 jerry

It is very artistic and Children are pure, their eyes are so beautiful…

8:31 am - Wednesday, February 24, 2010

#8 Texas breast reduction

Last weekend I went to a small dinner party at which some friends’ baby, Ollie, was the guest of honor. For a few hours, I felt like a Brooklyn cliché. Here we were, a bunch of twenty-somethings hanging out with a baby, joking loudly about sex, eating brie and bruschetta, drinking tea, and listening to the new Beach House record. Ollie was wearing a striped onesie that looked remarkably like something I would wear come summer and faux-fur booties. I kept thinking of this photograph my parents have of their friend Peter passed out drunk in their rosebush while little two-year old me ran around clad only in sandals. How bohemian. How hip.

2:18 pm - Wednesday, February 24, 2010

#9 Carl

Babies or little kids are fun to photograph as you never know what they are going to do. The little guy with the hat on was my choice.

4:38 am - Tuesday, November 9, 2010

#10 wendy

this kid so cute,i love it,take more cute picture!thank you!

3:54 pm - Thursday, January 27, 2011

#11 Alex Standiford

Fantastic advice!  I myself, as well as my photographer affiliates will get some use out of this.

5:53 pm - Thursday, July 21, 2011

#12 Sourav Chakraborty

Babies move around a lot and it is important to have enough natural light to get a good shot.

2:39 pm - Wednesday, November 16, 2011

#13 Baby Photography Perth

All baby photography are unique and wonderful. Its great photography

6:51 am - Friday, September 28, 2012

#14 canvas prints

this is a nice photo. i like the angel.

7:10 pm - Tuesday, April 2, 2013

#15 Hire Professional Photographer in Toronto

Really, a wonderful photography!  I am so much impressed by your way of capturing. All the baby pictures are photographed very beautifully.

6:41 am - Saturday, March 15, 2014