Tips for Photographing Babies and Children - Part One

Babies and children are my favorite subjects to photograph.  They are also some of the most difficult subjects to photograph.  As a mother, I understand how challenging it can be to get good pictures of our own children.  We have an idea of the perfect photo that we want to capture, but generally our children have a different idea about having their photos taken.  Once my son became mobile, I took more photos of the back of his head while he was quickly crawling away from me than I did of his adorable little smile. Just take a look at this photo below to see my point. :-)

I wanted to share a few photography tips as you photograph your babies and children that hopefully will help you as you document their growing up.

Tip 1: Bring out the natural emotion rather than forcing the perfect posed photograph. Ask yourself: Why are you taking photos of your new baby?  Probably to preserve the memory of what they are like at this exact age.  You likely want to remember their soft newborn skin and silky newborn hair, so it doesn’t matter if they are making eye contact with the camera or are perfectly asleep and curled into a basket.  Photograph all their little details just as they are without worrying about the perfect poses.  When it comes to older ones, you can pose a child but they will look stiff and uncomfortable and not how they usually look with all of their energy and excitement and smiles.  Remember, it’s okay if the photo comes out a little bit out of focus, if it captures the emotion of the moment. Capturing the emotion of the moment will be more meaningful in the years to come than a forced smile.  My son is teething so he is always chewing on things.  He especially likes to chew on his shoes, even though I try to stop him.  The few photos below capture this brief time in his life when he LOVES chewing on shoes, along with his intent expression offering me the shoes to chew. Silly baby!

I shot a lot of images this day, but this is the only one I got of him smiling and not chewing his shoes.  I don't even think it's really a smile because I think he was actually shouting and talking to me.  But it's his genuine expression and that's why I love it.

Tip 2: Move beyond saying cheese… Photograph a serious or thoughtful expression. Asking children to say cheese elicits a horrible forced smile for most kids.  If you are determined to get them to smile in your photo tell them a joke or make silly noises to make them laugh.  This will yield a more natural smile.  But also remember that soulful eyes in the photo are beautiful and a serious look or a child deep in thought while looking at a book can be so endearing, too.  For example, I love this serious shot below of my guy while he studies a leaf.

Thanks for taking the time to read these photography tips.  I hope they will be helpful for you and stay tuned for more tips to follow in the weeks to come.  Also, feel free to ask me any questions you may have about photographing your own babies and kids and I will try to include them in future blog posts. :-)