Get Down Low – one key to many natural baby shots is to get down on their level. I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last week or two lying on the floor next to Xavier. It’s something I think we both enjoy anyway but it’s also a great place to use your camera. Getting down low and getting in close (see below) does present some challenges in terms of focal length (I’m using a 24-105 zoom – usually at the widest focal length) but it means you end up with shots that feel like you’ve entered the babies world rather than you’re looking down on it from above.
Once you have the baby posed, step back and look at the whole picture for a few minutes, checking for details that need fixing. If her hand is visible, make sure you can see all her fingers are visible – sometimes one or two get tucked into a fist and then if the photo it looks like the baby only has three fingers. Also, be sure baby’s eyes are closed completely – in the second photo above the baby’s eyes are not quite closed. A simple stroke down the bridge of her nose will cause her to close her eyes all the way. Make sure the headband is positioned how you’d like, and the background blanket is free of wrinkles, etc. Above all, make sure the baby looks comfortable and peaceful – if not, try again.
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For good portraits you must turn off your flash. Your camera’s pop-up flash does more harm than good in most photography situations, so make sure you aren’t using it when you try to photograph your newborn. Instead, find a good source of natural light, like a large window or glass door, and set up close to it. If you have enough light coming in you won’t need either your flash or your overhead lights (which are also not a good plan when taking portraits). If it’s warm enough you can even set up in your garage with the door up to allow lots of light in. Start paying attention to the light in the room in yourself with the largest window – notice when the room is bright, but you can’t see the shadow of the window on the floor in front of it (see this post for more explanation of this). That’s the time of day when you want to plan your newborn photo shoot.
Women don’t generally feel very sexy when they’re pregnant. Understandably so, and trust me I connect with this feeling as much as the next gal. But just because an expectant mother doesn’t feel sexy, that doesn’t mean she’s not totally knock out. Bring that out in her. Pull that beauty out of her. A good way to do this is by talking as you shoot. It’s perfectly appropriate to say things like: “That’s beautiful!” “Yes, perfect!” “Oh that’s just LOVELY.” “Pregnancy looks good on you girl!” Whatever works! If you’re a male photographer you’ll need to be careful about what you say in this crazy world of sexual harassment, but you’re even more capable of pulling the beauty out of her than a female photographer. It’s one thing when your girlfriend tells you you’re beautiful, but when your girlfriend’s brother tells you that you’re looking good, you actually believe it. Obviously be careful and be genuine. The success of this tip will depend on your personality, but you can help her help herself. If she feels pretty she’ll look a whole heck of a lot better. It’s that simple.
Dress your partner and other children to complement your style. If you are including your partner and other children in your photo shoot, help coordinate their outfits in advance so that everything will work well with your outfits. Talk to your family about what they would be comfortable wearing and include their ideas and visions into the overall look. Consider having everyone wear a certain style of clothing, or have them dress in varying shades of a particular color.
2. Backdrop board. I have a couple DIY backdrop boards that I made for about $10 each (full instructions in this post). I stand one up against the backs of two of my kitchen chairs. The backdrop boards can be used alone for a solid colored background, or can be used to drape blankets from for more background options. The background should be angled so it faces the right or left side of the window, not the middle of it, as you can see in the photo above. This will allow the baby’s head to be a little closer to the window than her feet, allowing the light to hit her forehead first, causing gentle shadows just under her nose and chin. If you don’t have a backdrop board, stand two kitchen chairs backwards here anyway so you can drape a blanket from them. If you use a backdrop board it must be secured with clamps to the chairs it stands in front of to assure it will not fall over.
Lori Wilson Photography is a photography studio located in Dallas, Texas that specializes in wedding, travel, puppy, portrait, newborn, child, expecting, family, and engagement/couple photography. Since she was a little girl, Lori has been in love with taking photos. Her mission is to capture beautiful, real moments that make people identify with the subject. Lori Wilson studied photography under the best photographers, including her mom.
When styling a photo session, I like to start out with a basic color palette and go from there. It can help to have one “rock star” in the photos who carries a pattern in their outfit that the rest of the group’s clothing or accessories pulls from, while keeping everyone else’s outfits more simple. You can do this with a neutral and a few colorful brights, or try a softer palette that has different tonal ranges of the same shades.