Which adoring parent doesn’t love to capture every cute action her little one makes in loving detail? Yet, instead of gummy grins and sparkling smiles, we’re often met with sobs, grimaces and wails ― which is downright frustrating! Get the best shots with our tricks and tips.
1. Matter of timing
The first thing to decide is when you’d like to do the shoot. Each session will be different as your baby goes through many changes in his first year. For instance, a newborn shoot should be done as early as possible, within the first five to 10 days of his birth. As your baby is usually very sleepy and very “mouldable” at this age, you can take all the intricate details ― his tiny toes, earlobes, bits of hair on the nape of his neck, even his wrinkly skin. And since baby will need to feed and have his diaper changed frequently, you’ll need loads of patience.
At 3 months, bubba would have made strides in his milestones, so you’ll be looking to capture a cheeky smile, and perhaps a tummy-time shot once he can hold his head up comfortably. At 6 months, get pictures of your baby sitting up, or if he still can’t, use cushions to prop him up. If your little one is starting to crawl, shoot him in motion, too. By the time he’s 1, you should have photos of him cruising, or perhaps even taking his first unassisted step.
2. Light and location
You probably don’t have to look beyond your own home. Pick a spot with plenty of natural light, for example, next to a big window. Then lay your baby on a soft bean bag, soft towel or a rug. Stay away from bold patterns or colours, as focus should be on bubba. Positioning your baby at an angle to the light source ― in this case, the window ― creates soft shadows which add critical depth. The best times to photograph your baby are just after sunrise and just before sunset ― since the most natural and flattering light will be thrown over your kewpie.
If you really want to add some toys to the setting, pick something that has special meaning.
3. The setting
You don’t need too many props or a fancy background. Choose light-coloured or neutral fabrics, while babies love soft, comfy surfaces. A great idea is to shoot your baby immediately after his bath. Ruffle a towel through his hair, and focus on his gorgeous rosy cheek. Use a towel or robe to frame the baby’s face. If your baby is wriggly, you can even use your car seat ― simply drape some cloth or blanket over it, then zoom in for a simple, yet striking backdrop.
If you really want to add some toys to the setting, pick something that has special meaning ― it could be the very first stuffed toy your husband bought for him, or perhaps even a plaything from your own childhood.
To take a shot with your sweetie, think about how you’d like to pose with the little one. Posing with fragile newborns can be tricky, so practise holding your baby in various positions: Try the cradle hold, the “nest” (where your arms cradle baby with his legs facing out and the back of his head rests against your chest), or the chest-to chest upright hold.
Photo: File, from Mother & Baby Singapore
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Turn to the next page for tips on picking bubba’s outfit…
4. The outfit
Whatever the outfit you choose, make sure your baby is comfortable. If your background is colourful, don’t choose clothing that will fight for attention. If you’re averse to plain clothes, try layering, which will look great even when you convert the photo to black and white, or sepia.
Using a plain background means you can select more interesting or colourful outfits, but stay away from big logos and text. Of course, another option is to just shoot your little one in a diaper ― everyone loves chubby baby arms and legs!
Lying on the floor next to your baby lets you get shots that make you feel like you’ve entered his world.
5. Managing baby’s mood
It’s a real art to get your peewee in the right mood ― key to this is to always ensure that he is comfortable. Check his clothes ― remove clothing labels and avoid scratchy materials. If you’re shooting him in the buff, make sure he’s warm and toasty. If that satin sheet you plan to lay him on feels a tad cold, use a hairdryer to warm the surface up first. If you are posing him in a certain way, rub your palms together first, so you don’t handle him with cold hands.
Don’t use a flash. Apart from being too harsh and unflattering, the bursts of light may disturb or agitate your baby. If your baby is older, you’ll want to catch that engaging smile or sparkle in his eyes. So, grab his attention by using a squeaky toy or his favourite song to make him laugh. This might also be the, ahem, rare occasion to whip out your iPad and stream a YouTube video!
6. Snap away
Don’t be afraid to be trigger happy, since this is the time to capture every movement ― a yawn, a grimace, a sleepy grin. Rather than snapping from a top-down angle, get down low to his level. Lying on the floor next to your baby lets you get shots that make you feel like you’ve entered his world. Make sure to get close-ups ― you’ll be amazed by the intimate pictures you get of your baby.
Above all, allocate adequate time for the shoot. If your baby gets too cranky, don’t fret. He might need a nap, a feed, or simply some quiet time. And know when to stop because you can always try again another day!
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