5 Tips For Photographing Babies

First of all, congratulations! If you're reading this, chances are you've recently welcomed your new baby into the world and are overwhelmed with joy. You've come so far through pregnancy and managed to survive the birthing experience...this is no small feat, kudos to you!

How to photograph babies. Pixels & Pigment

Now that you're getting the hang of parenting (with your first or multiple kiddos),  you're ready to shoot some amazing photos to share with your family and friends right? Maybe you've tried but haven't come up with anything share-worthy? Maybe you need a special photo for a birth announcement? Well, those little babies can be tricky to photograph so don't be too hard on yourself. They're moody, they drool, don't smile or hold their head right...the list goes on. I'm a photographer and mother of 2 boys so I've learned a thing or two about photographing babies over the years :)  ...here are some tips to help you get great baby pictures.

First let's answer this question:

When is the best time to take newborn photos?

If you're looking for newborn photos, you'll want to get those done in the first two weeks after birth. Little ones sleep a lot and you can pretty much mold them into any position all while they snooze away.

Pixels & Pigment. Baby Photos

If you can't get them done in the first two weeks, you can still get great pics but you'll have to go with some different types of poses. They'll most likely be awake and a lot more fidgety so getting that perfect sleeping baby curled up in a ball might prove difficult. Whenever you decide is the right time to get your photos, these tips will help you along the way...

#1 Soft Lighting Is Key To Beautiful Baby Photos

We're going to focus on shooting indoors so choose a spot in your house where there is a nice big window. Shoot at the time of day where the room is bright but there are no streaks of direct sunlight beaming through. Choose the room that is naturally brightest throughout the day so you have a few chances to try if you don't get it the first time. 

How to photograph babies. Pixels & Pigment

How to photograph babies 

#2 Try Different Setups

Overhead: You can shoot directly on top of your baby as they lay on the ground or on a bed. Just be very careful to wear the neck strap of your camera...you don't want to risk dropping it on them! If you're using your phone, make sure you keep a good hold on it, even cell phones can be heavy.

How to photograph babies. Pixels & PigmentHow to photograph babies. Pixels & Pigment

Tummy Time: Once your baby is holding his or her head up, you can also shoot while they do tummy time. I like to roll up a towel (or use a Boppy) then put a blanket or sheet on top of it to make a nice place for them to prop up. If your blanket is big enough pull the back side up over some high pillows or the headboard of your bed and it'll double as a backdrop.

How to photograph babies. Pixels & PigmentHow to photograph babies. Pixels & Pigment

 

For this setup you'll want to make sure to have their face pointing towards the light source / window / door. If the light is coming from the side, you'll get unwanted shadows. Here's a diagram of an ideal setup. 

How to photograph babies. Pixels & Pigment

As I mentioned in my blog post about photographing kids, you'll want to get down on their level. Put the camera eye to eye with them, even if that means you have to get on the floor. It's key for getting up close and personal.

#3 Use A Prop

Babies, especially infants, sleep a lot and this can lead to some kind of boring photos. If you're little one is snoozing, try adding a stuffed animal or other prop to add some interest to the photo. A soft plush animal or something hand made by a family member can add some visual dynamics and also some sentimental value.

How to photograph babies. Pixels & Pigment Pixels & Pigment. Baby Photos

#5 Keep It Simple

As far as backdrops go, I like to keep things simple. I use a lot of white sheets and have a favorite white fur (faux of course) throw rug that works wonders. Why white? Light is the name of the game here and using a white background will give you the added bonus of some additional reflected light. Plus...babies are little angels and they look amazing in a sea of glowing light. It also makes things easy and readable if you're using the photo for a card where they'll be text on top (hello birth announcement). Also if you go with a fun colored hat or outfit, the white won't clash :)

 How to photograph babies. Pixels & PigmentHow to photograph babies. Pixels & Pigment

Final Thoughts

Make sure you're having fun through this process. It's a great time to bond with your little one and if you're stressed trying to get the perfect picture, they'll pick up on that energy and you may end up with a cranky kiddo. So keep it fun and remember you can always try again tomorrow. Good luck...you got this!

Pixels & Pigment. Baby Photos

How to photograph babies. Pixels & Pigment

 

Glass Has 2 Disadvantages

First of all, it's heavy. I don't know about you but the thought of busting out the wall anchors, level and power tools just to hang a print seems like a lot of effort to me. That, plus the risk of the frame falling and shattering all over your floor is enough to give me anxiety (very possible with my two young sons running around). Going with plexiglass is a good alternative but it can be even more expensive than glass when you need a big piece. 

Second, glass creates a glare. You can spring for the non-glare version at your frame shop but, let's face it, if you're trying to frame your art on a budget, it just isn't in the cards.

Now, I'm not one to spend hundreds of dollars on framing my prints...I like to change them out too often to invest in any kind of expensive, breakable solutions so I found a way around it.

The Old Days

When I was in photography school at SCAD, we used to print, mat and frame all our own work. One of the things we used to do was dry mount our prints onto a foam board before we presented them for critique.

This basically glued the print to the board, creating a rigid image that was easier to frame or hang. The process involves using a heat activated adhesive film and a press which melts the film and adheres the photo to the board.

Here's The Trick

For larger prints I take them down to Michael's (or your local frame shop) and for about $25 they'll dry mount your print to a piece of 1/4 in foam board. You can then just pop it right into your frame, no glass needed. This actually looks really nice when your print is on glossy paper...gives just the right amount of glare so it almost seems like there is glass but without all the weight.

A Few Words Of Caution

1) Make sure your frame has enough room to fit the 1/4 inch board inside the lip or the backing won't close. Some frames have very shallow depth (the area where the glass, print and backing sit) and you could end up with a print that doesn't fit your new frame. If your frame has a shallow depth, see if they can use a thinner board...maybe a mat board or an 1/8 inch foam board to be safe.

2) Be sure to call Michael's (or your local frame shop) to check that their heat sealer can accommodate the size print you have. I believe Michael's can do up to a 30x40" but it may vary from store to store so make sure you call first.

To Sum Up

Framing your print without using glass is a great low-cost and lightweight option for framing your photography prints. Once you find a good frame shop that can dry mount your prints, you are well on the road to success. Just be sure to measure your frames carefully and you'll end up with a stunning piece of art that will elevate the look of your space.

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