Tuesday 20 July 2010 by Erika

Here at Little One Prints we know how important it is for new parents to have beautiful photographs of their little one to treasure as he gets older and to share with family and friends. Whilst hiring a professional is definitely an option, it can get expensive and doesn’t follow baby as he grows. In this article, award winning Welsh photographer, Eleanor Jane shares her tips on taking gorgeous baby photos.

You don’t need fancy equipment or an expensive camera to be able to make stunning photographs of your baby. Here’s how it’s done.

Be ready

Abide by the first and foremost rule of the boy scouts and always be prepared! Pretty much all modern point and shoot cameras are small enough to slip inside a nappy bag and as you’re likely to be lugging baby essentials around with you for a good while yet, what’s one more item?

Keep baby happy

You know best when your baby is at his happiest. Make sure he is well fed beforehand and comfy and warm wherever you decide to pose him. With a floppy newborn, use pillows and rolled up blankets to position him for the picture but try to keep it natural. Three week old babies can’t sit up for themselves so forcing it can look a little strange and you risk a grumpy baby. Instead, overcome his restricted movement by seeking out new creative angles. Get down low to his level or stand directly above and shoot from a bird’s eye perspective.

Birds-eye view photo of happy baby lying on grass

The technical bit

Many point and shoot cameras now have a few manual settings that give you even more creative control over your photography. Some of the most useful ones to look out for are;

ISO setting – This changes how sensitive your camera’s sensor is to light. The higher the ISO number, the lower the level of light you will be able to shoot in without using a flash. Higher ISO numbers do result in grainier pictures though so don’t be tempted to go too high. An ISO of 100-200 is perfect for bright sunny days outside, 400 is good for overcast weather or shooting in a brightly lit room and 800 is good for shooting indoors without any natural light.

Aperture priority – The aperture is the hole that light travels through in order to record an image on to the sensor. If you have an aperture priority setting on your camera you will be able to manually adjust the size of this hole. The lower the number, the larger the hole and therefore the more light let through. This also affects the focal range in the picture – what is known as ‘depth of field.’ A low aperture will give you a shorter depth of focus. This is how professionals create the dreamy effect of a focussed foreground and blurry background.

Close-up photo of smiling baby’s face taken with low aperture

Shutter speed – This is definitely one you’ll want to master once you’re baby is older and whizzing about the place! A slower shutter speed can result in a blurry picture, which is great for a creative portrait, but when you want to keep everything sharp and steady try to stick to a shutter speed of 125/s and above.

Focus – If you’re photographing a very young newborn then lots of sleepy pictures are inevitable. But if your baby is awake make sure you focus on the eyes and try to keep them as sharp as possible. You don’t need a fancy lens – most point & shoot cameras these days have a selective focus option which will allow you to move the focal point to baby’s eyes.

Lighting

Flash wont damage your baby’s eyes but is likely to be uncomfortable for him so be sure to switch it off whenever possible. Instead make use of that big old flash in the sky - the sun! Some of the prettiest natural light falls early in the morning, soon after sunrise, or towards the end of the day just before sunset.

Indoors, you can position baby in front of a large window that lets in lots of light and even hang a sheer white sheet to soften the light if it’s too bright. If you’re interested in getting a little more technical you could even make a simple reflector to bounce light back into the shadowy areas of the picture with a piece of white card or a sheet of ordinary kitchen tin foil. Move it around baby’s face and you’ll see the difference.

Outdoors, resist the temptation to stand in direct sunlight. Although it seems natural to position your subject wherever the light is brightest, this can cause unflattering harsh shadows and an uncomfortable squinting baby. Instead, pick a spot in the shade or wait until the sky is a little overcast when the clouds will diffuse the light in a far more flattering way. If this is impossible, use your flash. Yes, you can use your flash outdoors in the middle of the day! It will fill in any shadows on the face and even out the tones in the picture.

Photo of cute baby lying in a shady patch of the garden

Black and white

No-one is perfect. Even new babies have the odd blemish here or there - cradle cap, snotty nose, blotchy red bits, etc - and while it’s obviously normal and expected it doesn’t always make for the most attractive of photos. Converting an image into black and white can soften the rough patches and transform your picture.

Most compact digital cameras have a black and white mode but for greater impact you could download a digital imaging program and tweak the saturation and contrast levels in post production.

For a classic dramatic black and white picture, zoom in nice and tight and photograph your baby against an uncluttered and very light or very dark background. Get as close as you can and use the opportunity to make a point of your baby’s features that wouldn’t be as prominent in a colour photograph – details such as his long eyelashes, tiny fingernails or wrinkly little feet.

Playing with colour

While black and white is classic and beautiful, a bright pop of colour is super contemporary. Wrapping a newborn in a brightly coloured shawl and placing him in neutral surroundings is so effective. A gleaming white background may be fashionable but seen so often these days it can get a little dull. A natural surface like a rattan rug or a wooden floor is much more interesting. There’s nothing more adorable and chic than a brand new sleeping baby tightly swaddled in cute fabric somewhere organic!

Colourful photo of little baby wrapped up in a rainbow-striped blanket

Make a personal statement

Making a baby together is probably the best expression of you & your partner’s combined personalities! But take the idea a little bit further by injecting your personality into the picture through props. Perhaps you’re baking or gardening crazy and have some appropriate props that could make a picture super interesting. I’ve seen sweet (and not at all tacky!) pictures of babies in gorgeous pastel coloured ceramic mixing bowls or sitting in a wheelbarrow.

So now you know how it’s done, it’s time to go and try it out for yourself. We’d love to hear how you get on and of course you can use your wonderful new photos in many of our beautiful templates for birth announcements and baby thank you cards.

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Tags: photography |  tips | 
Comments
# re: Baby photography tips for new mums and dads
Wednesday, August 18, 2010 2:33 by Blog
What to write in Thank You Cards What to write in Thank You Cards

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