How to take your own fabulous baby photos, 10 children photography tips from a pro.
One of my first jobs as a photographer was working as a baby photographer in a department store photo studio.
I was 19 years old when I got that job. The work was grueling. My days were filled with crying infants, snotty babies, and worse, demanding parents that would scream “SMILE DAMMIT!” as their two year old melted down after waiting in line for 2 hours just to get their “free” 5×7. It was my hell. The company I worked for had a formula: 5 poses, 3 background changes and the use of 2 different props. The end result was a collection of forced expressions, tacky props and a miserable experience.
As jobs go, it was horrid, but I gained a valuable understanding of what makes a portrait appealing. It has very little to do with props, backgrounds or accessories. In the end, it’s about the soul. Think of the last time you gave your baby a bath. You pulled Mr. Wonderful out of the tub, wrapped him up in a towel, laid him on your bed; as you were drying his face you locked eyes with him and crossed the threshold of your baby’s soul.
If that feeling of touching the very heart of your child is what you’d like to see in your own photos, try these 10 children photography tips.
1. Choose the right time of day. Mornings are typically best, or just after a nap.
2. Clear the room. This is not a group activity, it’s about your camera and the subject(s), no one else needs to be “helping”.
3. Be patient, but shoot quickly. You may have to wait several minutes to allow your child to emote to perfect expression, but be ready and have your camera dialed in. You’ll need to shoot fast as that perfect moment is fleeting.
4. Don’t over-burden your baby with complicated clothing, hair ties, bows and accessories. A relaxed, genuine expression is far better than a fussy face with a giant bow on baby’s head!
5. Props. Really? Must you? Your child should be the center of focus not the vintage suitcase or Dad’s college football helmet. Let your baby be their own person, not a vehicle for your own personal interests.
6. It may not be their day. Even in our studio, occasionally we have to reschedule the session because it’s just not the baby’s best day.
7. Smiles can be overrated. The look you get is often better than the look you want. Smile or no smile, their eyes are the front door to their soul.
8. Get low. As a baby and children photography pro I spend 90% of the session on the floor.
9. A few technical tips:
A. Turn off your flash and use even, soft reflected or shaded light.
B. Adjust your camera to a shallow depth of field, thus making the background out of focus.
C. Keep your focus on their eyes.
D. Get close. Fill the frame with your subject.
10. Less is more. During post production, don’t be afraid to hit the delete button. Personally I cull less than 10 images out of every 100 frames shot.
For more information about children photography by Paul Barnett please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at 619-285-1207. San Diego children photography expert Paul Barnett specializes in both baby and children photography.