Babies at this age are not active (other than being a little squirmy), so it is a good idea to focus on close ups. Don’t limit yourself to just the face, but make sure to get shots of the feet, hands, ears, etc. These make a great collage and are beautiful as stand-alone pictures, too. Also, use the baby’s mom and/or dad as a prop! A newborn resting in the arms of a parent makes for a beautiful portrait, even if the face of the parent isn’t showing.
Once babies get more active, you have the opportunity to capture some great expressions and smiles. Usually, mom or dad knows exactly what will make the baby smile. Let them stand behind you to make that special funny face or noise. Another idea is to let mom or dad be close enough to tickle baby, then quickly move their hand out of the frame for you to take the shot. You will have to be quick and ready at all times! For this reason I never use a tripod when photographing children. I get down on the floor with them and hand-hold my camera.
Toddlers can be the trickiest of all to photograph, but also the most photogenic! Toddlers have the most angelic faces and beautiful, genuine expressions. Have some child-sized furniture on hand. Toddlers love little tables and chairs that are “just their size.” Other props such as rocking horses are good (just make sure they are safe and sturdy) because they allow the child to play while staying in one spot. Using games such as peek-a-boo or telling the child to blow a feather off of your head are good ways to get smiles (just be ready to quickly press the shutter!). If possible, get the toddler outside and capture some natural shots of them at play. After all, that’s what they do best!
Make sure to be patient and allow enough time when photographing babies and toddlers. Here are a few tips to keep in mind:
- The room should be comfortably on the warm side, especially if you are doing any shots of the baby without clothes or just a diaper.
- Allow for frequent breaks for the baby to rest, eat, or just play
- Clothing changes are okay, but limit them to just 2 or 3… most babies get fussy if their clothes are changed
- Don’t force it. If the baby is crying, just let mom or dad cuddle them and take a break from shooting
- Leave the baby on the floor. Tables are dangerous…don’t take any chances on the baby falling. If the floor is too hard, place some padding underneath your background (such as a carpet pad or soft blanket)
- An infant car seat makes a great place for baby to sit/lay for their portrait. Purchase some nice fabric (I like the silky, gauzy or tulle type fabric for a dreamy effect – a fuzzy blanket is good, too) to cover the car seat so that it won’t show
- Keep toys on hand for babies of all ages. Things that light up and make noise are best (and don’t forget the power of bubbles!)
- Don’t pick up any baby or child without the consent of the parents!!! It is better to instruct the parents on how you want the baby placed and let them do it
- Always get a model release. You never know when you’ll want to use one of the images in your advertising!
- Don’t be afraid to engage the baby by playing and being silly!