When I check out mommy/daddy blogs/Instagram accounts, and see photos of their cute babies and toddlers, most of them are pretty good. I do say most of them, some of them are kind of lacklustre and don’t do their kid’s justice. I mean it shouldn’t really matter if they’re not professionally done, but I always think in my head, “well I think they could do a little better.”
I am by no means an expert (a photo snob – yes), but I feel that I have been quite successful in capturing some of my daughters moments and expressions.
This shot was taken with an iPhone
The purpose of this post is to share some of the techniques and knowledge that I use when I take pictures, and hopefully this can help improve the quality of the photos that you take of your kids.
So if you ever asked “How do I take better photo’s of my baby?” I hope this post can offer you some guidance and put you on the right track. It is safe to assume that most people reading this already have a phone with photo taking capabilities so that is why my tips focus on taking good pictures with just a cellphone, not a fancy DSLR or expensive Mirrorless camera. I mean, having children is expensive enough, I’m not going to advise you to spend more money on some stupid camera when you have everything you need already.
Your Smartphone Camera is Good Enough. Truly.
With the prominence of smartphones, gone are the days where the best quick snapshot we got is a grainy low resolution cellphone photo.
If you want to think in terms of megapixels (as the general public do), most of the phones on the market offer more than enough ‘megapixels’ to allow large enough prints to be made. In fact, the Iphone 6S’ 12 megapixel camera will allow you to print large size photos as big as 20 x 15! This is the size of most small posters or artwork.
While I can geek out on megapixels, resolutions, and camera specs, I simply want to make the point that your existing smartphone camera is more than adequate to take fantastic photos of your loved one.
Though, I do have my own equipment from my professional work and it really does allow me to take some fantastic pictures. I want to make the case that having expensive equipment does not necessary guarantee great photos. Much of great photo taking comes with understanding the surroundings, planning, and a little bit of thought. Just keep in mind that whatever camera you have in front of you is completely fine to use.
Unless you have one of these phones as a camera:
Of course I am only kidding, as a proud Canadian, it pains me to see a local company suffer so much.
Digression aside, truly use whatever camera works for you… Even if it is a Blackberry. 😉
So now that I got that out of the way, here are seven tips that can instantly improve the pictures that you take of your baby.
Note: In staying true to my own advice, I would like to point out that all photos that I took for this post were from my Samsung Note 5 camera with the exception to one example that I point out later on.
Tip#1: Good Lighting
Most visitors on this site are stay-at-home mom’s and some dads like me. One of the benefits of staying at home in the daytime is the abundance of light in your home. And because us stay-at-homes are around and up during the brightest times of the day, we can take advantage of every photographers best friend: Window Light!
Window Light is basically light that is diffused by a window and so that the brightness of the sunlight does not over-brighten your photos. Window light offers softer light that really injects life and beautify your baby’s features.
So next time you wish to take some photos, do it near the window when it’s nice and bright outside. For our Canadian winters, any sun exposure for our babies only helps with their vitamin D intake, so any contact with sunlight is good contact.
Quick Note: On the topic of lighting, it’s a good idea to turn off flash as their have been (unconfirmed) stories of a flash blinding a three-month old. Whether or not this story is true, it probably isn’t a good idea to flash bright lights on your baby anyways. So always be smart with your flash, and if you must use it, be sure to keep at least a meter away from the baby.
A close flash in pictures tend to be unflattering as it lights up all the wrong parts and casts a shadow. In other words, it’s just better to just leave the flash option off. Period.
Tip#2: Finding Their Good Side
I know what you’re thinking: “All of my baby’s sides are good!” That is very true, however, babies can look weird in some angles. I know my baby certainly has less flattering angles, such as her tiny eyes or the wrinkly forehead she got from me. Phone camera’s have fairly wide lenses (this is due to the selfie pandemic), and with wide lenses, the closer you are, the more distorted they may look.
A bi-product of a wide lens is that the corners of the photos distort an image. So if you want your baby to appear to have a longer face, take the photo near the edge of the frame. If you want the least distortion, simply keep them in the centre of the frame as much as possible.
One thing to keep in mind is to celebrate your baby’s key features. For example my daughter has extremely chubby cheeks, so I love getting close and under her chin to them to really emphasize how chubby they really are.
Quick Note: Their good side also applies to how cooperative your baby is. After a certain point you figure out when you baby is most active, if you are planning to do a mini photo session, it is a good idea to plan ahead when you know they will be giving you their “good side.”
Tip#3: Think Beyond the Face
I know we get so caught up in a baby’s facial features. All of our friends and family love debating whether our Charlie looks like me more, or mom. While the face is a popular thing to talk about, how about the other body parts? But one thing to remember is their body parts won’t stay tiny forever, so be sure to capture their little other parts too. Like their faces, their hands, arms, fingers, and toes will all change weekly, so don’t forget to document them before they change too quickly. You never know when those stubby little fingers will be reaching out to ask you for lunch money before heading their way to school.
My personal favourites are my daughter’s fists and knuckle. I mean just look at them!
Quick Note: If your phone camera has a macro function (that is the ability to take photos close up in detail): put it to good use! But again, because it is so close, you would need to ensure you that the room you are taking the photo in has good lighting, as well your baby is calm. The slightest movement can cause the photo to blur, so be sure to practice with your macro function to learn how close you need to be to focus.
Tip#4: Stoop to their Level: Ground Floor
One of the best ways to make your baby photos more interesting is to change perspectives. Nothing philosophical or anything, but literally get down on the ground and start capturing from a lower perspective. When we shoot at our eye level, it’s actually quite boring as we much rather see things that we normally do not see.
For example, my daughter is was trying to master belly time, and as hilarious as this already looks:
It’s even more hilarious AND more interesting from her perspective:
That’s the thing to remember, get lower and try to take a photo from their perspective. As for my daughter, she recently mastered belly time with out crying, and here is a shot that I absolutely love:
am, you are likely going to slap on a filter anyways, so you might as well have some first hand control of things before posting.
Snapseed and VSCO come to mind as apps that I use to make edits in my photos. The key is to use in moderation, but adjust to what looks nice to you. Typically the post-processing apps have the ability to create really outstanding black and white photos, so try to take all photos in colour from the get go, and then edit them. Below is what I sometimes go through to make the adjustments:
In three easy steps, I took this photo (with good window light); processed it through Snapseed; and it is now ready to be shown off to the world. This was done all on my phone without any special equipment. Simple and easy.
Tip#6: Staging the Area Nicely
If your house is anything like ours, it is likely messy right now. That comes with the territory of taking care of a baby, but when you want to take a photo, it’s a good idea to remove any clutter that might get in you photo. The last thing you want is to have a perfect shot of your loved one staring straight on at your camera, only to have a used burp cloth in the background.
For example, the banner that I used for my website has a pair of slippers on the side, a teddy bear up high, and a blanket hanging over the pack and play. By the time I wrapped up and edited the photo, it was too late to redo.
Note: this photo was taken on a DSLR and not my phone camera, but the point is the same, it’s best to reduce some clutter when you are ready to shoot.
So when you want to stage a photo, make sure you tidy up a little to avoid awkwardly including background clutter.
Tip#7: Enjoy the Moments!
This final tip is not really a photography tip, but I will guarantee that you will enjoy and appreciate your photos a lot more if you know when not to take them. I am guilty of doing this as I spend much of my time behind a camera. There were so many times where I missed everything simply because I was reaching for my phone. Just remember that without actually acknowledging the moment, you won’t have any memories to remind you why a photograph was so special.
So next time your baby hits a milestone, just simply take a step back and watch it unfold.
To take a page out of the sweetest TV couple in life: Jim and Pam, the best photos are the mental ones that you simply enjoy and can keep in your mind forever.
I hope you enjoyed this post and the photos in this post. If you are interested in seeing more XT-2 photos or my other photos (I also shoot with a Canon 6D and FujiFilm X100T), do check out my Instagram feed where I post daily.
Thanks again for reading this review, now if you excuse me I have to toddler to chase. 🙂