Babies can be the most challenging and rewarding portraits to take, but can also be the most frustrating. Babies tend to sleep, eat and cry a lot and won’t pose in front of the camera but don’t let that put you off photographing them. Creating the perfect baby portrait, when done right, will certainly be rewarding. One of the most important factors in photographing babies is patience and the way you apply child psychology when relating to the baby.
Babies over six months may be shy and won’t react well to a complete stranger. This is where child psychology comes in – you must try to play with the baby, or even become a child yourself while taking the photograph. The keys of your car can be very effective. But remember, your job is to take a baby portrait; you must be able to react quickly when the infant responds to your entertainment. Shooting a portrait of a newborn baby can be difficult. At this age the baby will not be active, so it’s better to focus on close-up headshots. Try using natural light from a bedroom window to add mood to the portrait. Babies over a few months of age will be more alert and will have a lot more movement in them. Shooting fast is a necessity, the infant will tire quickly. Babies seven months or older can be very tricky to shoot.
The baby will bore quickly and will not want to stay in the same position. If you are serious about baby photography and you tend to shoot from your own studio make sure you have a lot of toys to amuse the infants. A light colour background will work best and shoot the portraits in colour and black and white. Parents may be worried about the affect of studio lights on their baby. Point out that strobe lights have no effect on kids. Try to point this out before the parent asks. Don’t ever handle a baby without the parents consent. Most parents will be very protective and won’t react well to a stranger lifting the infant.
Watch out for the fingers – fingers in the mouth can be attractive but on most occasions they will obscure the face. If you plan to resell the baby photograph to an agency make sure you get a release form signed from the parents. There is a large market out there for baby pictures but agencies or magazines won’t touch them without the parents consent. For baby portraits to be sellable they must be technically perfect, but the picture must illustrate the baby being active or some form of child care.