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Tips for Photographing Infants

Authored by Sylvia Colette Branch in Photography
Published on 10-14-2009

Infants are not the easiest subjects to photograph. With no muscle tone to speak of, a ticking time bomb for a personality and generally accompanied by two sleep deprived adults they provide a challenge. But, they are truly only infants for a very short time and capturing that look is a privilege not to be taken lightly.

Getting Ready

  • Be well prepared for the shoot. Have your cameras set up with the settings the way you want it.
  • Practice with a baby doll. Try out the poses you have in mind. If you are going for concept shots using props, this is when you can put the plan in place. Once the infant arrives you want to be ready to move fast.
  • Have the shoot set up for the baby’s sleepiest time. After a mid day meal is usually good.
  • Ask the parents ahead of time if naked baby photos are an option. An infant looks perfectly natural in the buff. If they agree, then request that the infants clothes are loose, even the diaper, to avoid lines on the skin.
  • Get a good night’s sleep and a snack before the shoot. You could be the only person in the room to have had more than an hour’s sleep.

Get Set

  • Have soft black cloth available to drape over the area, the parents and parts of the baby if necessary. Pure white is another great option to have on hand.
  • Set up a heating pad under the cloth to keep the baby warm and comfy
  • Turn up the heat in your studio, especially if doing naked baby shots
  • Having a couple bean bags is a good strategy for infants. Drape the cloth over a bean bag and gently set the baby in position. Practice with a baby doll.
  • Keep a container of baby wipes handy for wiping tiny noses or mouths.
  • Have a few choices of infant hats available. Slipping a beanie on helps keep the infant warm and hides oddly shaped heads. Be sure to take cone head shots, but having the option of a rounded, more human head is good as well.

Shoot

  • Get down low; be at the baby’s level. Shots from above may work, but as a general rule get in their face.
  • Go for the close ups. Completely fill your frame with the infant. Everything is about them at this moment in their parents lives, have the photos reflect that.
  • When the infant starts getting fussy, take close-ups of body parts. Tiny fingers and toes, the nose, an ear, these make beautiful companion pieces to their portrait.
  • Typically infant shots do not include smiles. Go for an aware expression, although sleeping infants look beautifully peaceful.
  • Laying an infant on its stomach is a typical shot.
  • Let dad cradle the baby in the crook of his arm, or hands, if the baby is small enough. Focus tightly on the baby and you’ll have a nice classic shot that will be treasured.
  • When including siblings or parents in the shot, keep the background neutral by draping black or white solid cloth. Keep everyone’s heads close together to show the relationship. You don’t want to baby to look separated from the rest of the family.

These are a few simple steps to help you prepare for an infant photo shoot. Be sure to check out examples online of successful infant photography for inspiration. Photographing infants is a rewarding practice that brings a real sense of satisfaction. Those photos are priceless and will be cherished for a lifetime.

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