Photographing babies isn't my thing. Not that I don't enjoy it or slightly get early onset of "baby fever" whenever I am lucky enough to photograph a new little person, but there are some photographers out there that really hit their stride when photographing babies. (the hats, the blankets, little chairs and little baskets) That all being said, whether you are an amateur with a point and shoot camera or have a nice new DLSR, getting the cute and comfy baby shots above are very easy to accomplish.
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- BABIES OVER 4 WEEKS OLD - TOO OLD FOR THIS SHOT - I have had a lot of clients that contact me and want to get "newborn" shots of their 2 to 3 month old baby. It will usually not work out well for you. Babies over the age 4 weeks want to open their eyes and move around a lot more than a very sleepy newborn.
- PATIENCE - Don't think you can just set a baby down and start snappin'. Especially if you want the little naked shots, babies like to be warm and cozy. It may take a bit to get the newbie settled down enough to start to work on your shots.
- BEAN BAG CHAIRS - some people use these chairs because they are cozy and usually hold the baby up high enough off the ground that you aren't laying on the floor with your camera. You can pick these up at Target for like $20 (cheap enough to replace once they get peed on...because they will) The baby in the image above is actually laying on a Boppy with some blankets underneath for support and one a decorative one over the top to cover the hideous patterns that these things come in. Most likely any new mom will have a Boppy...just name drop it. (great gift is she doesn't own one)
- KEEP THE ROOM WARM - babies like to be warm. Keep in mind the room temperature when photographing a newborn. Don't shoot next to open doors or windows that might let in a draft or have the AC cranked. I have seen some people use Hair Dryers to warm up the area the baby will be laying in as well. Also if you are going for the naked baby shot, keep them covered up until you are about to shoot.
- HUNGRY = HAPPY! - a nice full tummy puts a newborn in a nice milk coma. Combined with being warm, you will get your best shots with the two ideas combined. Don't stress if you have to take time in the middle of the shoot for re-fills. (see Patience...)
- SHOOTING IN THE HOME - I always request shooting newborn images in the clients or friends home. Parents don't have to pack the wagon and travel which relieves stress from the shoot (babies feel that stress for sure!) and one less thing sleepless zombie parents have to worry about. This will also give you an opporunity to take others shots like the baby and parents in the nursery or even just lounging in bed. (oh..your baby sleeps through the night? give it a couple weeks :)
LIGHT! - Plan to photograph the baby in an area of the house where the most sunlight comes in. The baby in the photograph above and below in the diagram is laying next to big sliding glass doors in the dining room of the house. Just about everyone has an area of the house with sliding back doors or large windows. Setting up next to one will give you the ability to have a large resource of light that you can control. The diagram below shows that distance from the light source that the baby is set up at.
CAMERA SETTINGS: camera settings will change depending on how much light is coming through the windows. The day I photographed the baby in the image above, it was actually a pretty overcast day and the light coming in through the door was not very strong at all. Instead of wasting time on those sleeping baby moments, I usually set the shot up with something in the room to focus on. If you are photographing a baby there is usually a stuff animal or something similar in size you can test some shots on to see how the light is effecting the area and the settings you will need in order to start.
If you find yourself lowering you exposure below 1/100th or having to bump your ISO above 400, try moving the baby (or whatever you are testing on) closer to the light or vice versa if you feel you are getting to much light or too strong of light.
Below is a quick video of the slight edits I did to this image in Photoshop. Natual controlled light images rarely need a lot of post production work done to them, but of course editing is all to personal taste.
If you want to share your Photomerge results, I would love to see them. And of course if you have any questions or need any help, hit me up on the comments below, Facebook, or shoot me an email - email@example.com