3 Tips for Taking Better Baby Pictures at Home
Want to learn how to take better baby pictures? While there’s no replacement for professional baby photography, you can’t bring your little one to the studio every day. But you can learn to take better baby pictures yourself at home.
Use Good Lighting to Take Better Baby Pictures
Natural lighting is best for at-home baby photography. Turn off the lights and open the curtains for natural illumination. It’s helpful to only open the curtains on one window, to minimize light from other sources.
Overcast days are ideal, since the light is soft. If the light is bright, just position your little one farther away from the light source, or use sheer curtains to filter the rays.
The kitchen corner. For the purposes of this demonstration, I chose this area because it would allow me to show a few points. This is a bad light: light is coming from the outside (ambient light), and it is overly diffused by the shutters, making it have a horrible fall-off. When used for purposes of photographing the kids, it would do more disservice to the child than anything else.
Better light. Opened the window shutter and allow the light in. It is softer then above, more spread onto the wall. Would require different camera settings where the image would be brighter but as far as quality of the light goes, it is better.
The best possible light in this situation. I’ve opened the shutters about half way, directing it onto the wall where #1 I had softness and had direction of where and how I wanted it to fall.
I pointed the camera at my son and took the shot. The camera saw LIGHT from the window and expected it be well lit (well exposed). When my son entered the scene, the camera didn’t adjust for me, making the scene and him dark.
Here, I’ve told the camera to 1) concentrate on the face and 2) push the exposure. The result, his face is well exposed but his right side of the face is a bit hotter (overexposed) while the rest of him is “good enough”. For the purposes of demonstrating good light/vs bad light, the above images were photographed w/o giving any direction on how to pose.
Position Your Baby Correctly for Pictures
Position your baby at an angle to the light so that it falls at the side of their head, highlighting their features. If the baby is facing the light directly, your photo will have a flat effect. And if the baby’s back is to the light, its face is in shadow.
If your baby is too young to sit or be propped up for a photo, you can still get adorable baby pictures with them lying on their back. In this case, make sure their head–not their feet–points toward the light.
Once I found the location where I want to photograph and I found the light: quality and quantity, I brought my youngest son to take a few test shots. I took this angle to demonstrate where the window was w/ respect to him. I would not use this image as a photograph I would keep it as this angle w/ respect to the light, doesn’t flatter him.
I changed my camera angle again and took few shots of him. These are straight out of the camera, you can see electrical outlet, the fire extinguisher (safety first). The point again is to demonstrate good quality light: soft light on the face, with one side of the face fully exposed and left side (in this case) about 1/3-2/3, thus taking three dimensional subject, placing into 2-D medium and representing 3-D view. Had the image been edited: colors, contrast, crop. Dimensional view would be visible but the rest of the imperfections of the portraits (mentioned above) would be edited out.
Take Your Baby Pictures from the Best Angle
Always photograph from above, not below. This holds true for better baby pictures whether baby is sitting up or lying down. Hold your camera so you are taking the photograph down baby’s face, not up it, to make your baby picture look properly proportioned.
Here, I took a good light, that we’ve discussed above, but bad bad BaaaaaD angle. I lowered the camera at around waist level and told him to turn away from the light. The result was overemphasized midsection, right side of the fast looking bigger than it really is, thus making him look overweight.
Quick fix: raised the camera a few inches above eye level, had his face turned towards the light with the LEFT side of his facing (the side that is closer to the face) getting a bit of light, emphasizing his facial features without adding extra weight.
For the purposes of posing, for young children under about the age of 5-6, the rules of posing are the same, whereas, for older children, rules vary by feminine vs masculine pose. These rules are guidelines that have been used by artists for over 3oo years in creating portraits. All of the images above can be photographed with a phone or a camera.
The last image would be a good starting point. Phone or camera, the next step to improve the images would be to add a reflector. A DIY reflector is a piece of white printer paper near the left side of the face that would fill in the shadows. Another would be turning on kitchen lights – but this would introduce different color lights which created a slew of other problems that can be fixed by either manually setting white balance or making images black/white. Adding external flashes and/or light modifiers would be another gigantic step to further improving this image but most people at home do not have access to such equipment.
With these 3 tips, it’s easy to take better baby pictures at home. It’s still a great idea to invest in professional baby photography for newborn photos and milestone occasions, but for everyday, at-home baby photography, you can capture memories with your little one in beautiful, DIY images.