Undoubtedly every parent has had the desire to freeze time for a second and enjoy that precious moment with baby; photography allows us this fleeing opportunity to forever remember a fraction of a second. You don’t need a fancy camera or editing equipment to take a great picture – even a cell phone will do (though there are limitations to what you can do with any camera). Here are some starting tips for photographing your favorite little ones, along with some examples of what I mean.
Use the viewfinder instead of the display. When people use the display to take a photo, they tend to hold the camera an arm’s distance away, which allows for more instability, resulting in images that can be blurry. By using the viewfinder, the camera will be more supported and it’s less likely the camera may accidentally shift when you press the shutter release button.
Take LOTS of shots…this is the beauty of the digital era! Don’t delete them right away, either – sometimes a picture won’t look so great on your camera screen but upload it and you’ll find something magical when you can view it on the computer. The digital space each photograph takes up is miniscule, and you can always go back and delete images you are certain you don’t want at a later date (though sometimes looking at them with fresh eyes helps you find something new, too).
Look for natural light. This might mean moving closer to a window, or outside. Test out a few different angles of natural light to see which you might like the best, and go for it. Becareful of shadows overtaking your pictures, too, as sometimes they accidentally appear. We took this first photo for our son’s 2 month birthday and saw how horribly dark it was (and noticed a wrinkly blanket!). We moved a few feet closer to the window and ended up with much better natural lighting.
Watch your crop. Basically, make sure you don’t chop off the top of anyone’s head if at all avoidable. This gets a little trickier if you have people of various heights in the photo (think family photo shot) but your subjects will thank you for appearing to have complete heads in photographs. Step a few feet back if you are about to cut someone’s body parts out. If that’s not an option and you have to crop out part of someone’s body, try to go for something logical, like the waist instead of just the person’s feet.
Know that crying and sleeping pictures are cute too. If you spent hours waiting to catch that first smile picture you might become delirious in the process. We all know how unpredictable kids and babies can be! It is adorable to have crying pictures and for those first few weeks, sleeping pictures ARE the action shots. Babies and kids do these things, and capturing these seemingly less desirable moments are actually helping to capture one of the essences of childhood. Think about how sweet it would be to have great photos of your young one’s first trip to the zoo…and also the deep slumber that followed a great day of playing and learning. Precious.
Don’t get obsessed with having people in every photo. If you truly want to capture the experience of childhood, look at the things they love – foods, toys, animals. Capture these moments to remind them about later, long after the objects themselves may have expired. A friend made this adorable cupcake for her daughter’s first birthday, and the photo says so much about the day.
Try these tips out and don’t be afraid to take some risks. Take a few moments during your photography sessions to check out some of your images – if you like them, great! If not, retake to preserve the moment. Most importantly, have fun! Stay tuned for part II of photography tips.