Ya’ll know that I am a rookie at photography.
And ya’ll know that I am totally knocked up.
Like almost ready to enter my third-and-final-trisemester-knocked-up.
And I thought a little practice taking photos of kids might help prepare me when I go full-blown paparazzi on Baby Will’s diapered hiney. And then I thought it might be uber-awesome of me to share with you some of the tricks I picked up along the way – so that you can learn with me. (pros – chime in anytime. remember I am just a rookie.)
So here are some of the little ways that I have learned to make sure I get a great photo. Here to illustrate some of the tips is Baby Lilley. You may remember her. I know I’ve mentioned her before. Oh right. Here. And here. And here. She will be our baby model for today 🙂 Now lets get to those little bits on how to take a better baby photo.
1. GET OUTSIDE
I struggle with lighting. Always have. Always will. So in order to bypass my archnemisis (proper exposure), I like to take photos outside. I learned that taking them at the beginning of the day or late afternoon, when the sun isn’t directly overhead is best for me to get enough light to boost my shutter speed up. And when my shutter speed is fast enough, I don’t get that fuzzy face photo.
2. GET DOWN TO THEIR LEVEL
Get down to their level….not mentally, just physically. This may seem like a ridiculous thing that everyone knows…but I didn’t at first. I had to learn that sitting on the ground, laying on my tummy or side or crawling on all-threes (the fourth being busy snapping shots) was a sure fire way to get a better photo. Take this one of Lilley on the chair – I was actually below her. And once you are down there, don’t take just one – take a whole diaperload of shots. You never know when the perfect little grin will pop onto their face.
3. FOCUS and REFOCUS
Learning how to focus your camera is tricky business. But learning to focus your eye is even harder. Especially when you are half-blind like me. I am talking about making a photo a piece of art. And learning to manage where clarity appears is part of art. Take this photo for instance – her shoes are in focus, her face is not. Did I take some pics where her face was the clear object – absolutely. But I wanted to show how to make one detail pop. You could do this with a child holding a flower or a favorite toy or just the itty-bitty toenails on that baby foot. I learned that if I take a photo – then I try to see what else is in that frame to focus on…then I attempt to make my camera focus on that item. Not only is the result sometimes fun – but it can be frameworthy too.
4. TAKE THEM AS IS
Sure, all parents want that perfect smile and the twinkling eye in the photo. They want the drool-less face and the cheerful expression. They want the outfit to look like it was freshly pressed and the hair to be booger-free. But this is the real world. And the real world has boogers. Lots of them. So instead of taking photos only when you have the perfect scenario, put down your parental pipe dream and just shoot the moments that are here and now. Take for instance this photo of Lilley. She is not looking at the camera. She is looking at the dog Katie who lives next door and was going nuts. She’s not in the best photo location…she is in our driveway. But the shot still looks good. Why? Because it was focused on her profile – that perfect little one-year-old profile. And not the boogers running down into her mouth.
5. USE PROPS
Props are gonna be your best friend when it comes to babies. Not only are they great distractions but they provide real-life baby scenarios that reflect your bambinos personality. This chair was used as a prop for this shoot. Since Lilley is not 100% a walker yet, she hung onto this prop for support. It was her playpen, her seat, and her boost to see the dog next door. But you could use anything – something structural like a brick wall, steps, or a fence, something decor-related like a basket, a blanket, or an umbrella, or even something of interest like a book, or a car or a frilly hat.
I know that there are purists out there that are so awesome at photography that they can capture an image and give it to you straight outta the camera. And they are perfect. So perfect that they would make the Governator cry. But me? Yeah, I mentioned I am a rookie, right? Therefore photoshop is my pictures’ BFF. Like BFFaEaE. So even when I fail miserably behind the camera, I can still salvage an awesome shot through a little digital enhancement.
Take for instance this one of Lilley-cakes:
The one on the left is straight outta the camera. The one on the right is photoshopped. The saturation was increased. The contrast was increased. The eyes were lightened. The clarity increased. The gray corner was lightened. Basically it was an okay photo before but now it really pops with the help of photoshop.
So there you have it folks – a few tips on how to take photos of your little bambino. And since I am still on the learning train with you, I would always love to hear your tips or tricks that you have stuffed up your photog sleeve. Put em right there in the comments. And remember – no matter what…invest the time to take your babies photos…they grow up so fast these days!
p.s. For those wondering, all these photos were taken with a Canon Rebel XSi – no flash, manual mode, with a Canon EF 50mm lens. And the photoshopping was done in Adobe Photoshop CS4 but I also use Photoshop Elements. xo – KB