Baby photo tips
Interview with Isabelle Gauthier, professional photographer
For PhotoInPress, by Isabelle Gauthier, professionnal photographer from justeciel.ca
Newborn photography is your expertise: what should we keep in mind before taking pictures of a baby?
Since I specialize in newborn photography, I keep on learning and discovering new hints and new shooting possibilities. From my experience as a studio photographer, I learned that some specific points are essential to get beautiful shots. Some very basic preparation is necessary to get rewarded with nice photos.
Baby's comfort is key.A baby that is clean, fed and set in a warm room will maximize your chances that he is in good mood. You know your baby more than anyone: use this at your advantage. Choose the day when you know that baby will be at his best. Knowing this, you will be ready for beter shots. Generally, babies coming to my studio took a nap before and they are at their best!
Use a clean and uncluttered spaceMake sure to remove all unnecessary objects as it may cause distraction. We want to focus on baby! Cluttered bedside tables are probably the best example. Do a little work on your side and define what kind of photo you have in mind. Portrait close-ups ? General photos of baby in his playground? How your little one catches his feet? Just be aware of the elements that will appear on your photo composition. This will help you a lot to prepare your environment.
Light is everything.Chose the place where there is the most light in your house, looking for example for a location near a large window. There is no need of a complex lightning system to get a good light and be inspired.
Know your equipement and some very simple techniques.
Whatever camera you own, do not use the flash. The flash will never replace natural light and will flatten all perspectives and details of baby's delicate face features. Also, it put too much contrast for the softness of a baby's face.
If your photos are blurry because of movement, raise the sensibility of your camera using the ISO setting of your camera (using 400 or 800 should be fine, depending on your camera model). Also, you can stabilize your camera with a tripod or using a fixed object to remove movement generated by yourself.
Then, make tests! Get to know the minimal focusing distance of your camera. This is key point if you plan to take portrait close-ups of your little one or put baby on front plan.
Important accessoriesGet ready with wipers, a blanket or cushions to adjust the position of baby is necessary. An illuminated or noisy toy will help you catching his attention and why not, make baby laught or smile.
Also, make sure that baby is safe. In our studio, a baby photo session requires 2 persons and lots of patience. Some baby posing photos are not real and are arranged using photoshop, as it would not be possible to take this picture in the reality. Don't always rely on the Internet for your inspiration!
Let's talk about light. How to use it at your advantage?
Light is the main component of a nice baby's photography. This ideal light can be found at home. This is daylight, coming through a large window. This light can be filtered using a light white curtain. If that day you have an overscast sky, this is also perfect as direct sunlight creates too much contrast. Take your baby close to the window and turn his head 45 degrees toward the source of light so to give him a very soft and nice contrast. A more direct light would flatten details on baby's delicate face. You can also use a white fabric or a white cushion to reflect light on the other side of his face.
When the weather is better, go outside to shoot photos. Overcast skies bring the best results as this soft light is filtered by the clouds and there is no harsh shadows on baby's face. During sunny days, you will get shadows and this will create shadows on baby's delicate face, making it more difficult to get nice results. And we do not want to put baby under a direct sun light!
What is the best moment of the day to take photos of a baby?
As a parent, you have a big advantage compared to a photographer : you perfectly know your baby's pace. Just follow his own mood and habits and you will get nice results. It is not a real science but if your little one is fine just after breakfast, then you get your timeframe for nice photos! When he sleeps, take advantage of this situation to shoot feet, arms and little tiny details like fingers and nails. Do not forget to take portraits when baby sleeps to capture this specific moment where baby seems just happy and relaxed.
What is the best age to take photos of baby?
Let's say that the first 2 weeks are the best to take posing photos, as baby is easy to manipulate. Baby's body is still remembering the 9 previous months in foetal position and baby sleeps a lot! Comfort and safety are important at this stage of baby's life. Even if his little muscles have not lot of strenght, baby can easily use legs to kick and then move suddendly. Put him in a nice blanket or in comfy cloths that you will have prepared before. If baby is comfortable, you will be rewarded and baby will remain calm. If you want to shot pictures of baby naked, warm up the room (at least 27 degrees celcius).
For a newborn, the best is to try to recreate the foetal environment. It means that you should not be afraid of making noise! Let the TV playing in background. Even a hair dryer can make a baby to sleep. Baby was familiar with noises so don't be afraid of keeping your habits as usual. When baby sleeps, you have plenty of time to put his hands near his face and capture his tiny face details. Patience is the key : in studio, it can takes 30 minutes to make baby fall asleep and then make him posing. And taking the picture takes only 5 minutes!
The more you will be prepared, the more you will get the best results.