There are certain baby moments that are engraved on your heart forever, but a great photo always helps! There’s a world of difference between a newborn, a twelve-month old and all the months in between, so we asked children’s photographer extraordinaire Camille Nuttall to share some tips for photographing your baby during these months of development.
Babies lose the ”newborn baby look” within two weeks of birth. If you want that little rump up and the baby mouldable and sleepy, try to shoot within this window. Newborns are easier to pose when sleepy so keep this in mind. If you are going to try shooting your newborn in the nude at home, don’t forget to heat the room. Cold babies are cranky babies.
Three to five months
Babies of this age make direct eye contact and smile at first, but soon become agitated and lose interest. Be prepared and work fast. You get fifteen to twenty minutes tops, so plan ahead. Have them fed, rested and dressed before shooting. Queen beds are great locations to shoot on at this age. Try putting them in something so they can sit up without falling, but keep it tasteful. Get down on their level during tummy time to shoot (be ready as you will only get a couple of chances when they lift their head). Photograph them in their cot or from above on your bed.
Over six months
Shoot lots and shoot from their level – preferably on your tummy – so it’s more intimate. Make sure you have a large clean area for them to crawl around in before you start so you’re not constantly moving things. I’d definitely recommend an assistant – partners are good – because half the time your baby will be crawling towards you. You will need someone to move them back into the ‘starting blocks’.
Most children in this age range love to climb on things and explore, so let them be and see what they get up to. Just make sure whatever they are climbing on is sturdy enough to hold them and that a trusty assistant is there to help. For quieter shots, give your baby something to play with. Try a pile of wooden blocks, kitchen pots, dinosaurs. You are sure to get a positive response and it may just stop them moving for a minute.
TOP BABY PHOTOGRAPHY TIPS
Tip 1 – Happy babies take the best photos
Never waste your energy trying to get shots of tired, hungry babies or children, it rarely works. Babies are smarter then you think. They can sense when you are feeling tired or stressed and will respond in kind. If you are feeling this way, it’s probably not worth trying to take photos.
Tip 2 – Lighting
At home, make sure there is plenty of light in the room you are using – the last thing you want is a gorgeous but blurry shot of your baby. If you must use flash, point it at the roof so the light is diffused and more natural. Photographing babies in outdoor locations with strong lighting can be too much for sensitive eyes, so choose an overcast day or find a shady spot and get up close.
Tip 3 – Random details
Babies wriggle, but as long as their eyes are in focus, the rest of the picture can be slightly out of focus and still look great! Disposable nappies are ugly. Use nappy covers and fold the nappy down at the top to stop it peeking through clothes. Beanies or little hats are great. They draw your attention to your baby’s eyes, hide a misshapen head and soften a baby’s features.
TIP 4 – Document the little things
Don’t be afraid to get in close and focus on the details. Put your camera on manual and experiment. It’s been done a million times but there’s something very beautiful about a baby clutching a parents’ finger or a tiny foot in a mother’s hand. Highlight how tiny he or she is by using stuff around the house as reference points, like a favourite toy, a shot of them in their cot, wrapped up neatly on your big bed. Don’t forget to document the little things – the nursery, your baby peering at you through the cot, your favourite outfit, the first pair of shoes.
TIP 5 – Tidy backgrounds
Props and toys in photos can be distracting. Clear away clutter and keep the background and flooring simple.
How to get the best shots of kids
Most kids respond to an adult getting down to their level and playing games, rather than a formal portrait sitting. My advice is to muck around, play music and make it fun. The moments they are not posing are often far more revealing so be patient and watch. The brilliance of spontaneity in photos is also why you should always keep your camera handy. Don’t always rely on your camera phone.
Natural light and a slightly overcast day is best if shooting outside. Choose simple backgrounds where the kids aren’t squinting and shoot early or late in the day when the light is at its best.
Let the kids have fun. Children are most expressive when being themselves. Too much direction and you risk diluting the whole experience for both of you. You’ll get some great action shots showing movement if you set your camera right. If you want to “freeze” the action, set your camera to its fastest shutter speed with a higher ISO. Get down on your knees or stomach to avoid any strange proportions your lens might create from being at a different level.
Kids have moods, sometimes they are happy and sometimes tired and sad. If your kids don’t want to take pictures, don’t force them as it won’t work. There’s always going to be another chance to take photos.
Camille’s biggest tip
Don’t just take the photos. Get them off your computer and enjoy them. Books, frames, calendars – there are so many gorgeous and tasteful options out there.
Still not confident? Camille can shoot family or child portraits for you if you live in Melbourne and Sydney. Until the end of the month, Babyologists can get a free 8×12 print with any standard photographic package from Camille Nuttall Photography with code-word Babyology. You can also check out her Facebook Page for more information and inspiration.
Camille is a fashion editorial and advertising photographer based in Sydney and is also available for family and kids portraits. She will be shooting in Melbourne next week and will be available for portrait sessions.