Taking baby photos is one of the most important jobs we can have as photographers. Because, if time flies in general, with babies it flies multiplied by a hundred.
Throughout my photographic path I have been able to experiment with many mistakes and successes in baby photography. As a father and as a photographer in general, I consider that every second invested in photographing your baby is a unique memory of an unrepeatable moment.
That said, I’m sure you’ll do your best to get it. For my part, I want to accompany you on this exciting path by offering you this guide where you will find everything you need to get unforgettable and lasting photographs of your baby.
And if you need advice to photograph children from 2-3 years old, either now, or when the baby you have in mind grows up, you cannot miss the complete guide where I gather absolutely everything you need to know about child photography.
Returning to the photographic discipline that concerns us today, as it is going to be a very complete guide, perhaps it would be a good idea to save it so that you can refresh concepts and tricks whenever you need it.
Lighting for photographing babies is key. As you may already know, when we talk about lighting in photography, we find different types of light depending on the source that originates it, as well as its direction or orientation. But I’ll give you a quick summary:
Light intensity is determined by the size and distance of the light source.
Hard light: it is caused by a small and intense light source, it generates a lot of contrast and very marked shadows.
Soft light: it is a diffuse light coming from a wide light source, it generates little contrast and soft shadows. The orientation of the light is the angle of illumination with which this light is projected. I’m sure concepts such as zenithal, lateral, frontal…
In portraits, the most used angle is 45º or the lateral angle. A side angle enhances textures and volume and added to a soft light, it is very photogenic. The 45º one generates a little less shadows.
When it comes to photographing babies, soft and lateral light or 45º is the most indicated, here are some tricks to get a beautiful light very easily:
Through a diffuser (they are very cheap and give very good results in portraits. You have this 5-in-1 type reflector that every portrait photographer should consider having.
Indoor window light is idyllic. Bring the baby to the window and you will see how the light changes as if by magic. In addition, you will be using a lateral or 45º lighting angle (depending on the angle at which you place the baby) so, with this simple gesture, you will obtain the best type of light and angle with little effort.
If the light coming through the window is direct and too harsh, draw the shade. Especially if it is white, you will have a very effective diffuser.
Forget the flash, it’s unpleasant for babies, instead look for corners with good
Instead of flash, try continuous light sources. If the baby is awake, look for the sparkle in the eyes. If a baby has something, it’s life;), fills her eyes with life simply by looking for the reflection of light.
Be careful with the white balance especially when working with different light sources such as natural light and a simple lamp on. Ideally, you should always have the RAW format set.
Since lighting is a key topic in portrait photography, I recommend you check out our articles like this one on 15 Ways to Master Light, or these 23 Ways to Use Light for when you’re not inspired.
Other interesting lighting techniques for photographing babies that I recommend you try are high and low key. The first is associated with purity, life and goodness. The second is more mysterious, but at the same time very elegant. Both are creative ways of playing with light to achieve images that are somewhat different from those we are used to seeing on a day-to-day basis.
BABY PHOTOS AND COMPOSITION
Leaving aside the irrepressible desire to take extreme close-ups all day, to analyze the details of their features in awe, I recommend you keep a cool head and try to achieve interesting compositions. That said, here are my tips for baby photography composition:
Try to see beyond the grace of the baby, even if it costs ;).
Varies the frame. Look for different points of view, avoiding the classic dive (from above). Stand at eye level.
Fill the frame. If you go for close-ups, remember to place your eyes on a point of interest.
Look for interesting details, dare with the extreme close-ups and even the macro.
The diaphragm opening is one more compositional element that can help you highlight the center of interest thanks to the depth of field. To blur the background, remember to open the diaphragm (low f/value).
Try not to always focus, it is preferable that you place your protagonist in one of the strong points of the rule of thirds. you do not know what it is? Don’t worry, in the link we explain it to you.
Play with the size scale. Adult hands or feet next to those of a baby quickly convey the scale of their small size.
Composition is key in photography, if you need a lot of extra tips, this guide with the best tricks on photographic composition will make you an expert in the field.
RECOMMENDED PHOTOGRAPHIC EQUIPMENT FOR A SESSION WITH BABIES
My first piece of advice is not to get overwhelmed with the equipment, with desire, motivation and creativity, you can take cool photos of your baby even with your mobile.
Having said that, it is evident that better photographic equipment, used well, will give you better results. This is the one I recommend to photograph babies:
A camera with interchangeable lenses: it will give you much better quality than a mobile or a compact one, but, above all, it will increase your creative possibilities. If you are thinking of getting a new camera and you don’t know which one to choose, I have the personalized solution for you.
A tripod: It should be part of every photographer’s photographic equipment. We help you choose one if you need it. If you don’t have it, don’t get overwhelmed, it’s not essential to photograph babies, except to self-portrait with it as I’ll tell you later.
An external flash: Although I have already told you that it is not recommended to use it directly on the baby, having a flash with a rotating head would allow you to bounce the light off a surface so that the light reaches him indirectly.
Light shapers like reflectors and diffusers are very useful to transform light and redirect it.
A good goal. It is so important that I am going to dedicate a specific section to it, keep reading.
RECOMMENDED LENSES FOR PHOTOGRAPHING BABIES:
For me, after yourself, the second most important element of a photograph is a good lens, even more so than the camera itself ;). To choose a good objective you must take into account:
I’ll explain the key adjustments so you don’t get confused with too many variables, but at the same time get great results:
If you don’t master the manual mode, I recommend the Aperture Priority mode. In this case, you will choose the aperture and the camera will choose a shutter speed to set the exposure.
An f/4 aperture is fine for portraits with a blurred background. Overusing the aperture can make it hard for you to focus.
Use a low ISO value whenever you can to avoid noise in the image and gain sharpness.
Fire in a burst if you are facing a “jittery” baby.
Do not choose low speeds or the image may come out blurred and therefore not very clear.
Use a matrix metering mode when the light is soft and even.
Use a spot metering mode when there is a big difference between highlights and shadows.
HOW TO MAKE A BABY PHOTO SESSION?
The best way to do a baby photo session is good planning. As a general rule, the more aspects you control, the better the result.
Because, think about it, if we add our own disorganization to the unpredictability of babies… Can you imagine? I don’t even want to think about it! So let’s see how you can plan a good baby session. You will see that most of the tips that I am going to give you allow you to do a baby photo session at home, so you do not need large infrastructures:
Look for inspiration on the net and write down some ideas that you want to carry out. It will help you get organized and get an idea of where to start.
The baby’s clothes and props are important, don’t leave them to chance.
Depending on the age of the baby, always have a toy or distracting element ready to make them smile or to save you when they start to get a little fed up with your camera.
A doll stuck on the camera can ensure that it looks at you.
Neutral colored fabrics can help you find a good background when you don’t see anything photogenic around.
If it is not your own baby or that of someone well known, earn their trust little by little and without pressing, each baby is different and many need a reasonable time to be receptive to new people.
Look at the camera screen just enough, let the session flow.
Don’t forget to bring empty memory cards and well-charged batteries. Nothing worse than staying in the middle of a session without being able to take photos.
In general, stick to the rule less is more. The baby is the great protagonist of your images, she needs few more decorations.
Take care of the lighting, remember that soft lighting is the most suitable.
The environment is key to transmit, take care of the background and the elements that appear around the baby. It doesn’t make sense for anything to appear that doesn’t provide information or has nothing to do with babies.
When you think of babies, also think of outdoors, a park, a walk in the woods… They can be great places for a photo session (if the weather is good, of course.