Photographing babies is a pleasure that many doting parents, family members and friends will be rushing to enjoy as soon as they meet a new arrival, and it’s easy to see why: they’re ridiculously cute and, as they grow, more and more signs of their personalities start to shine through. Whether they’re being giggly, curious, thoughtful or lively, photography is one of the best ways to track and preserve these unique and fast-moving developments.
Anyone can take a quick snap, but these techniques will help you to produce amazing images that truly capture such precious moments – ready to share with family and loved ones near and far.
With the exception of newborns, babies are creatures of habit. Nearly every baby is going to be used to doing certain things at certain times of the day. You’ll know when your baby is at his or her happiest, so aim to shoot during these moments. For instance, your baby might be at its calmest just after feeding. Or just after a mid-morning nap.
Classic newborn shots include close-ups of their tiny feet and hands, or sleeping on mum's or dad's shoulder. For toddlers and older children, images that incorporate movement, showing them at play or within the context of their lives, are timeless memories. The golden rule of these types of shots is to shoot from their eye level to ensure a feeling of intimacy.
It’s always a good idea to plan the shots you want to take. You never know how long your baby’s good mood is going to last, so be prepared to skip lower priority shots if time is running short.
Time is of the essence when you’re photographing babies. In moments of calm, you might find you’ll get 10 minutes of shooting time. Make sure your equipment is ready when that clock starts ticking so you have the maximum amount of time with your happy baby. Of course, lighting changes and babies move, so it’s inevitable you’ll have to adjust settings as you go. But getting the basics – such as your lens, exposure mode, white balance, drive mode and other fundamentals – set up in advance ensures you have more time to shoot.
A flattering and intimate way to brighten up your baby photos is to make the most of natural light. A simple technique is to use a reflector to bounce some window light around. You don't need a professional photo reflector, just a white sheet or a big piece of white paper or cardboard. Pose your child next to a window and enlist a friend or family member to angle the reflector so that the light from the window lightens the shadows on the side of your baby's face that's away from the window.
Which lenses you use will depend on the type of photo you’d like to take. For general shots, try a prime lens such as the Canon EF 50mm f/1.8 STM, which handles low light environments such as bedrooms with ease, or a portrait lens such as the Canon EF 85mm f/1.8 USM, It has a fast autofocus speed that could come in handy for capturing movement such as crawling and eating.
If you’d like to get clear close-ups of your baby's tiny features – hands, toes and eyelashes – then a macro lens such as the Canon EF-S 35mm f/2.8 Macro IS STM for DSLRs or the Canon EF-M 28mm f/3.5 Macro IS STM for mirrorless cameras is an excellent choice.
Generally, lenses with fixed focal lengths, such as 50mm or 85mm, are great in dark environments because they let in a high amount of light. But you might want to use a zoom lens for situations when your baby is active. A zoom such as the Canon EF 24-105mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM allows you to keep framing as your baby moves around, and gives you a higher chance of getting the shot within a short timeframe.