Making baby photos is a lot of fun. But babies can be the most challenging portraits to take. Sometimes even the most frustrating ones. Usually babies sleep a lot, cry and eat a lot and they won't really pose for you in front of the camera the way you want them to. But don't let all these facts put you off to photographing them. Creating the perfect baby photos, when done right, will really be rewarding. When you start doing this, you might want to start with a light colour background. Shooting the portraits in colour will give you the option to make them black and white afterwards. But when you look around, you will quickly notice there are many creative ideas that can create far more interesting photos.
Play to get baby photos
One of the most important factors in photographing babies is patience. But not every baby is the same. Babies over six months may have become shy and won't react well to a complete stranger. In these cases child psychology comes in handy. If you understand the phase babies are in, you will also know how to get their attention. Often it comes to a playfull interaction with the baby to take a good photograph. This can sometime be done using simple things like the keys of your car. Because your keys create high tones from the metal and have shiny reflections they will easily attract the attention of a baby. If you are serious about making baby photos, it doesn't matter wether you shoot at location or from your own studio. Just make sure you have a lot of toys to amuse the babies at different ages. There are many companies that have specialised in baby toys, and they don't have to be really expensive to be effective.
Flash lights for baby photos
When I'm asked to make baby photos, parents often worry about the use of studio lights. You can easily prevent parents getting worried about the affect of studio lights on their baby. Explain them that strobe lights have no effect on kids before they ask questions. However, you might want to chose not to point your lights straight at a baby. Bouncing your studio lights via a reflector or a wall will give you softer and better light anyway. We prefer to work with tools lights and light shapers from Profoto.
Making baby photos is hard work
Remember, it is your job to make a good baby portrait, the baby doesn't really care. So it is going to be hard work creating a good baby portrait. You will have to be able to react really quick when the infant responds to your entertainment. Often parents will try to help you out. They do know the tricks to make their baby smile, but there is something you should be aware of. The baby will look at the parent that tries to make them smile. So make sure the parent is standing or sitting behind you, otherwise the baby will not likely look at you or your camera.
Shooting new born photos
Shooting a portrait of a newborn baby can be difficult as well. At this young age a baby will not be very active, so it is easy to keep them in natural poses. Using natural light from a bedroom window will add a nice mood to the portrait. But you might want to try to break the light with a white blanket, when direct sunlight shines in.
Babies up to three months
Babies will develop in the next few months. They will become more alert o their environment and will have a lot more movement in them. Shooting fast is a necessity, because the baby will tire quickly. So you need to plan what you want to do. If a baby is tired, than give up and try again later. You are about to get frustrated, and this will also affect the parents.
6 months or more
Babies that are six months or older can be very tricky to shoot. They will not only be bored quickly, but they will probably not want to stay in any position you have planned.
Sell baby photos on stocksites
If you make baby photos with the idea to sell them as art or stockphotos, make sure you get a release form that is signed by the parents. There is a market out there for baby photos but agencies and magazines won't accept yours without the parents consent. For baby portraits to be valuable they must be perfect in a technical and creative way.
Touching the baby
You should never handle a baby without the parents consent. But most parents will be very protective anyway. They rarely react very well to a stranger suddenly lifting their baby. And there is not really a reason to do so anyway.
Just ask the parents to move the baby in a pose you would like. Having a moodboard with examples of your ideas and poses will make this even easier and it will save you a lot of time. Watch out for the fingers - fingers in the mouth can be attractive but on most occasions they will obscure the face.