Copyright 2005 Roy Barker
Babies make best and worst subjects to photograph. They are best for two reasons, people are more tolerant at looking at baby photos, as well as fact that babies are not aware their image is being captured, and therefore they do not tend to put on “camera face” so typically used by elder children and adults. They are worst subjects because their behaviour is unpredictable. Because their behaviour is uncensored, they show their emotions, and can just as easily cry as gurgle happily into camera.
One of most challenging aspects of photographing a baby is to control subject. On one hand you want them relatively still, but too much control and photo loses its impetuousness. Lighting and background are both important, you want background as uncluttered and simple as possible if photograph is indoors, or as natural as possible outside, a piece of grass is ideal. The lighting should be coming from at least two directional sources, but if it is too strong it will throw shadows that complicate picture, and often lose wonderful facial expressions it is possible to capture. However don’t miss those impromptu shots either especially with a digital camera, you can always edit background later.
It is usually helpful to restrict babies’ activities; they are not portrayed at their best nappy high in air crawling across floor. A good way to restrict them is a highchair, or holding them in arms of another person. Baby photography is often better taken very close up, and it is a wise move to look at manual for your camera, and see how close you can get. It is better to get everything set up first, and then place baby in position when lighting and setting have been chosen. However that of course is not always possible.
Distractions in form of noise, and toys can be a tool, but never forget that a baby’s emotion’s are always lightning fast, and it all makes for great photographs, whether it is tears of frustration, pouring a drink over your best camera, or laughing.
They are often easier to photograph when there is a minimum of people around because they are so easily distracted. The old school of thought was keep mother well out of way, however I personally can't see any mileage in that, as babies are calmer with someone they know, and in most cases that is mother. Above all remember that photographing babies is fun, unexpected if caught at just right moment, makes great memories. Although I doubt if a father who has just picked up their offspring for a photograph will forget time that their child was sick all over them. Control can only go so far with babies.
Babies are babies for short a period of time, you can never have too many photographs, and here a digital camera can save enormous amounts on both film and development. It also allows for wastage as you can view results immediately and can ones you don’t want. You will have huge embarrassment value in later life showing your daughter’s first boyfriend her as a baby with no nappy! Another enormous advantage to digital photography is that you don’t have to shoot photograph with a little black box in front of your face. This will catch a baby’s emotions perfectly, but is not best way to capture their best expressions. A small child will respond better when they respond to your expressions. By being able to hold camera away from your face you have a chance to capture best of their expressions as well; an LCD screen generally reaps huge benefits.