Night Photography Couple Newborn Photography

March 4, 2019 2:55 am by crzybulkreviews
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Night Photography Couple Newborn Photography

We all love newborn babies because they are cute and small (if only they stayed that way). As a whole they are cute but they also are made up of many little cute body parts that present a photographer with an array of wonderful subject matter – especially if you zoom in on them.

A beanbag rather than a tripod is great for stabilizing your camera and getting down on the ground to a baby’s level, and a silver or white reflector is ideal for bouncing light so that it is soft and flattering.

While I had visions of taking lots of ‘cute’ shots of Xavier in his first week I found that what actually happened was that the first week of his life ended up being more like a documentary shoot. The focus of my shots ended up being of a lot of ‘firsts’. First moment with Mum, first bath, first time on the scales (he was just under 9 pounds), first outfit, first manicure (he had long nails from day one), first time meeting grandparents etc. I ended up taking a picture of him with every visitor that came (these will make nice gifts) and decided to leave the ‘cute’ shots until when we got back home and he’d settled a little more.

Firstly timing your shots is important. Babies don’t move much but they subtly change their position and expressions in ways that can make or break a photo. I’ve had my camera set in continuous shooting mode since Xavier was born because I find that shooting a single frame often misses ‘the moment’. I’ve also ended up with some wonderful sequences of shots by shooting off three or four shots in a row.

Similarly you might also like to experiment with de-saturating the colors in your shots to a lesser extent than going black and white. Leave a little color in your shots and you’ll end up with pastel like images that again soften the feeling of the shots and give it a very different look and feel.

  • Close Ups – another way to improve the angles and make your shots seem more intimate is to get in close by either physically moving in or by using a longer focal length. I’d suggest a longer focal length for the really close shots is better than getting too close as shoving a big lens in your baby’s face could freak them out a little.
  • Get Down Low – one key to many natural baby shots is to get down on their level. I’ve spent quite a bit of time over the last week or two lying on the floor next to Xavier. It’s something I think we both enjoy anyway but it’s also a great place to use your camera. Getting down low and getting in close (see below) does present some challenges in terms of focal length (I’m using a 24-105 zoom – usually at the widest focal length) but it means you end up with shots that feel like you’ve entered the babies world rather than you’re looking down on it from above.
  • Nursed Shots – some of the bests shots I’ve taken over the last month have been taken when people have been nursing Xavier. This puts him into a more upright position which makes him look a little more ‘human-like’ and opens up the angles for your photos. Try a number of positions (over the shoulder, sitting him up, laying him back in arms, lying him on his tummy etc) as each one opens up different possibilities. Also remember that your baby is not the only potential subject – parents, grandparents, siblings, friends etc all can add context to the shot and you’ll appreciate having more than just baby by themselves shots later!

Birth is such a powerful moment in a parent’s life. The hours and days following a birth are very special too and filled with “first times”. Imagine capturing the first time your older children meet their baby sister or brother. Or when you bring your baby home from the hospital. Maybe you’d love to capture the moment your dog (or cat!) is sniffing the head of this new little intruder. The first bath. The first time with the grandparents, or great-grandparents!

This time in your life doesn’t have to be perfect. It will probably be different from what you have imagined. Finding your feet in your new role or as a bigger family will take time as well as getting to know this new little person.

I have friends who took hundreds of shots in the first few days after their baby was born but who didn’t take any shots again until he was 6 weeks old. They realize just how much he’d changed and how much they’d failed to photograph him until they compared their early shots with the 6 week shots.

Our baby is pretty predictable in terms of his daily routine (we seem to have got him pretty settled into one already somehow) but there are moments all day long that he does something cute, disgusting, funny and worth capturing. Without the camera handy you’ll miss these moments as they are usually fleeting. We tend to leave our DSLR in our livingroom where we spend most of our time with him but also have a point and shoot in the bedroom for other shots.

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Few things in life can be as rewarding as photographing babies- after coaxing an expression of cherubic joy – caught with a click.

  • It’s great for dealing with the scratches, marks and blotchiness that I discussed above and significantly lessens the distractions that they bring.
  • It is great for ‘birth shots’ or those taken just after it. I’ve written about this before and we found that it really did work.
  • It softens your shots somewhat. Babies are soft, cuddly little things and taking the color out in this way accentuates this.

Get “your better half” to coax that perfect expression, as you set up the shot.

For my style of photography, there isn’t actually a time that suits everyone. I personally would want all of those times captured and I encourage you to take a lot of photographs yourself as well as hiring a professional photographer. It passes so quickly and we often feel like we can’t take it all in.

Simple baby shots are usually the best; there is no need for cluttered or overly bright backgrounds.

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As well as a good camera, a standard lens of around 50mm is a good tool for baby portraits.

Turn the mode dial to AV (Aperture Priority) mode and select a large aperture for a soft and blurred background. Use the spot metering mode and meter on the baby’s face.

To take memorable pictures try to capture the baby engaged in an activity, or with family and friends.

A challenge that I’ve faced is that it’s Winter here in Australia and that the lighting in our home is a little bleak. There have been a few brighter days than others when I’ve had some great results photographing him near windows in natural light – but in most cases I’ve needed to use a flash to some extent.

I’m no lighting expert but have found that my best results have been when I’ve used my flash in a ‘bounce flash’ way – shooting it up into a ceiling so that it’s indirect. This diffuses the light a lot which leaves Xavier less washed out in the shots, and more importantly means he’s not blinded by the light from it (we don’t want to blind our little ones by our photographic obsession – I actually asked a pediatrician about camera flashes and his advice was that it wouldn’t do damage but that for a babies comfort that indirect flash (ie bounced and/or diffused flash) would be advisable. I’m sure different doctors would advise different things but I play it safe with my bounce flash – and avoid flash altogether where possible). It also gives a fairly natural looking shot.

Doing this accentuates the detail that is often missed in the shots many of us take – and you’ll find they punctuate your full collection of photos beautifully and can even make great feature shots.

Instead of being invited into a home for one hour to do a photo shoot I’m presented with a never ending variety of opportunities to photograph our baby.

If you can’t choose, why not do an early newborn session then a session when your baby is around 6-8 months and finally a last one around his/her first birthday? First-year baby plans might be the perfect option for you.

Babies change every day, especially in the first few months, it’s exponential and quite amazing to watch. However unless you’re looking for the changes you can easily miss them so it’s it’s important to take shots regularly.

You might like to keep a warm, wet face washer handy to wipe away some of these things but in some instances they will come out in your photos.

Secondly I guess I wanted to remind us all that having a baby is not just a photographic opportunity and that it’s important to put the camera down every now and again. If you’re anything like me you could easily walk around with your camera permanently to your eye and forget to actually enjoy the moment. Don’t just create wonderful images of your baby – create memories with your baby – balance is a great thing!

Sophie was ten days old and spent 90% of a 4-hours session sleeping and the rest nursing, with one nappy change in the middle. The session shows how tiny she was and the wonder in her parents’ eyes that they were able to create another little being.

This can include making funny faces, playing hide and seek from behind a piece of cloth, or making goofy clucking noises.

In the days following birth it is especially difficult as babies tend to be kept swaddled in bunny rugs and all you end up seeing of them for 99% of the time is a little red head. Add to that the complication of the bumps, marks, scratches and misshaped heads that newborns also tend to arrive with and finding a flattering angle that will make more than just the proud parents ooh and aah can be difficult.

Ellen was 5 weeks old for this session and while she still looked small and super cute, she had longer alert periods which meant I could capture her big open eyes.

Siblings, especially if they are close in age can add extra interest to the photograph – get them playing together, eating or interacting as friends. Keep back and don’t try to force friendliness – let the children do what they do. Take the photos from the background, so as not to disrupt them.

If your camera has a macro mode or if you’re lucky enough to have a purpose built macro lens use it to isolate a single body part (like a hand, an ear, a foot, a mouth etc) and use that as the complete focus of your shot.

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Be open, friendly and playful – if you are awkward the baby will be too.

You should work fast to capture the moment so choose a fast shutter speed of 1/500s or more, use a wide aperture (f/1.8-f/4) for a blurred background and shoot!

For the best baby shots, photograph during the daytime when there is plenty of natural daylight. Natural light gives a soft focus look to the baby’s skin. Use window light if possible and avoid the harsh sun because it tends to casts shadows and is also unhealthy for the baby’s skin.

Babies offer an excellent opportunity for creating beautiful and treasured photographs, though they are by no means an easy subject!

The first few days of a new baby are very special. So soon after the birth and most likely sleep deprived, our memory quickly becomes foggy. Photographs help you remember what you felt like at that time especially if you are in the picture too.

Willemein said: “If you want photographs that represent you in your own environment (where you feel relaxed) and you like a documentary style photography then don’t think twice. A beautifully captured moment in your life that you will forever cherish. If you like studio style staged photographs than she isn’t your thing. She’s talented, non-invasive and very good with kids as well as adults.”

When shooting in monochrome consider contrast; black and white backgrounds will be the most striking, and contrast in the lighting will also give a dramatic effect.

We’ve actually converted quite a few of our shots of Xavier into Black and White format. This has been useful for a number of reasons:

With good daylight you want to use 1/500s shutter speed. F/5.6 and wider is also a good rule of thumb in terms of aperture, giving sharp shots without sacrificing shutter speed.

Expecting parents ask me when is the best time to do a newborn photo session. My answer to that question might be very different from photographers who do posed newborn photos.

Therefore choose fast shutter speeds and/or high ISOs. There’s nothing worse than capturing a great moment that is slightly blurry because the shutter was too slow.

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If you don’t have a bouncable flash try bumping up the ISO setting on your camera and increasing the aperture setting – this will mean you won’t need to use the flash at all if there is at least some natural light in the room. The other strategy would be to diffuse the flash a little by putting some tissue over the flash.

Margaret said: “I was worried that it would be stressful to have a photographer in the house with such a new baby but Johanna was totally unobtrusive, and so good at developing a rapport with us and with the children, that it wasn’t stressful at all. Our photo shoot was totally relaxed. My favourite moment has to be when we saw the slideshow and the images – it was so lovely to see all the little moments that were utterly familiar but which I hadn’t realised had been caught on film. Now, every time I walk into the sitting room, the pictures make me smile, and I love knowing that we’ll be able to look back at the album in future years and remember exactly how it was at this special (but slightly hazy) time!”

Use an external flash (with a diffuser) to fill in any dark spots.

Some parents like to wait a little longer to capture more of their baby’s personality. 4-12 weeks old is a great age to capture a more alert baby, with open eyes and maybe a smile or two. Interactions with parents and siblings (and pets!) will be a lot different too.

Seat the kids in an uncluttered area that has lots of natural light, like a large window.

One of the biggest challenges in photographing babies that I know many of my friends struggle with is finding a good angle to shoot from.

Don’t give up though, all is not lost – here are a number of things that you might want to try to help with the above problems:

A great way to get a photo that looks professional is to get some white, grey or beige cloth and lay it over two chairs. Place the cloth near a large window with the baby on it with some toys. Turn the mode dial to AV (Aperture Priority) mode and select your desired aperture. Feel free to push the ISO up if the window light is not very bright.

A lot of shots that you see of babies in Flickr are quite amazing in how smooth and perfect they make them look. The reality is that many babies are not quite so ‘perfect’ (however much their parents think they are). Little scratches, sleep in the eyes, snotty noses, dried milk around the mouth, blotchy skin, birth marks and bumps etc are common for all babies.

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A standard lens of 50mm is ideal for this kind of image. Turn the mode dial to AV (Aperture Priority) mode, select a high ISO and a wide aperture. Let the camera choose the correct shutter speed.

Babies are unpredictable so tears and tantrums are to be expected.

Another tip worth considering for a little photo editing is to tweak the color of your shot.

Most regular Digital Photography School readers are aware that a month ago I became a Dad. Our new son’s name is Xavier (you’ll get to know him over the course of this tutorial).

To me, the focus of Fresh 48 sessions isn’t on your baby. Don’t get me wrong, there will be a lot of photographs of your baby, but what I am looking to capture is what it was like to welcome a new baby in your life.

Black and white images are classic and timeless, and are perfect for photographing babies!

Try to choose one with f/1.8 and lower, so you get faster shutter speeds and sharper shots (i.e., f/1.4 and f/1.2).

It will be harder for first-time parents to know when the time is right. I would suggest contacting a photographer early (at least two months before your due date) and plan a session in the first two weeks after the birth. Unless you know you would prefer to wait, do it early. You cannot go back in time, while you can ask a photographer to come back later.

When photographing babies, you may need to “ham it up” to elicit a reaction.

Waiting has its advantages too. Unlike me, you might be a little more organised as the weeks go by and feel more like “yourself” again. I personally think the post-birth bellies are a beautiful reminder of what just happened, but it’s important that YOU feel good about yourself too.

Generally when working with babies, we want to be quick and without hesitation.

If you love the look of a sleeping newborn baby, anytime from birth to about 15 days is the best as they spend most of their time sleeping.

This photograph was taken when Tove was only 3 days old and home for less than 24 hours. The great thing about doing the session that early is that siblings are usually still excited about the baby and taking turns to hold her. It is also a time that parents find hard to remember which makes it all the more precious.

I don’t mind them most of the time – I think they show your baby as he or she is and there’s nothing wrong with that. However at times they can be a little distracting and for those special shots that you might like to give as gifts you might like to do a little photoshop retouching. Most post processing editing tools will have some sort of airbrush or retouching tool – learn to use it, even if it’s just to smooth over the main marks and you’ll be amazed by the results.

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I did get a few more ‘portrait’ like shots in that first week but then ended up being more activity based ones, often with other family members. On returning home and over the three weeks since I’ve continued to take the documentary style shots but have seen a move to take a lot more portrait style shots also. Quite a few of our friends have commented on the nice balance between styles.

Also, don’t forget to have a helping hand. Babies crawl, they cry, they need changes, etc. A chaperone or helper will make all the difference so that you can focus on capturing the best moments.

Here are some easy steps you can follow to take the perfect portrait of the apple of your eye.

Always think on your feet and shoot more images than you think you’ll need.

There are so many ways you can coax a smile onto an infant’s lips.

Another challenge with newborns is that they don’t tend to spend a lot of time smiling. In fact they don’t spend a lot of time doing anything much. Sleeping, feeding, pooing, crying….. is there anything else? Keep on the look out for those times in your baby’s life when he or she seems most settled and content. They may not smile yet but there are times in a daily routine which are better than others for photos. I find in Xavier’s day there are a couple of moments that are especially good. One is bath time (he loves it) and another is mid morning after he’s had half of a feed and when we let him have a little ‘play’ before finishing his feed off. These are times when we’re guaranteed to get wide open eyes and even a giggle or two.

Presuming you have a good amount of natural daylight, choose an ISO of 100-400 and use a wide aperture (f/2.8-f/8) for a shallow DOF (depth of field). Use continuous shooting mode on your camera to capture 2, 3, 4, or 5 photos in a couple of seconds.

7 Different Situations Where You Can Use Fill Flash Effectively

Use the auto settings to make sure you get a sharp image, and let the camera choose flash if it is necessary.

I’ve previously written about the topic of photographing babies and children from the perspective of someone who has had his services engaged to photograph other people’s babies – but the last month has presented me with a different opportunity – to becoming a digital camera wielding parent – a very different scenario.

Don’t be afraid to keep the camera shooting rather than waiting for that perfect pose or moment because somewhere in 30 consecutive shots will be one winner.

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