Tips for Photographing Newborns, Infants and Children
The importance of taking photographs of growing children cannot be understated since they literally change before our eyes. Those daily changes are subtle and go unnoticed unless you have something with which to compare. That's where photography comes in to document the progression of a child's growth over the weeks, months and years and to memorialize the special moments that otherwise would be forgotten.
Photographs become documentation of family histories that are cherished by relatives for generations to come. While there is no substitute for professional photographs for memorable and important events like weddings, every day presents unique opportunities to photograph and capture special moments, especially with growing children.
For those times when a professional photographer is not present, parents and others can produce beautiful photographs of day-to-day events by following a few simple guidelines.
Get Permission - Because some people don't like pictures being taken of their kids, before snapping any photos of children, parental permission should be obtained. A photographer should never photograph a child without parental permission!
Know Your Camera - It's very important to familiarize yourself with your camera. Although there are many point and shoot cameras (including those on hand-held mobile devices like Smartphones) that are fully automated, those devices don't always allow you to get the most out of a photo opportunity which is why you should learn about using your camera's flash option (or not) and manually changing aperture settings and shutter speeds. Understanding when and how to adjust those settings will help produce quality photographs. Also, never leave home without your camera since you never know when a photographic opportunity may arise.
Natural Light - It's important to know how to turn off the flash bulb in cameras since natural lighting is much more flattering to photographed people and makes picture-taking less conspicuous in public settings. Indirect natural lighting can create soft and interesting shadows that diffuse light, add dimension and enhance colors. Experiment with the aperture and shutter speeds to improve picture taking skills and results.
Closeness - When photographing a child, don't be afraid to get up close since the best details are lost when the photographer is too far back. Mix pictures with distant and close shots and don't forget to get down on their level where you will have a better chance of capturing a child's perspective.
Candid Photographs - Although posed photographs are commonplace, candid shots that capture a child or other subject unaware often result in the best pictures. These unselfconscious shots can be produced by sitting and observing subjects or children at play and by casually talking with your subject who will eventually become less aware of the camera thereby allowing the photographer to capture precious moments.
Overshoot - Today's digital cameras don't require development onto film which allows for taking unlimited numbers of photos from which you can choose your favorites to print for family and friends. Especially with children, obtaining multiple shots will enable you to capture the tiniest details like facial expressions, as well as more accurately documenting the event itself. It oftentimes takes more than 10 frames to capture a photo worthy of printing so don't hesitate to overshoot your photographic subjects.
Framing and Background - We instinctively want to center our subjects in photographs not realizing that different focal points make much more interesting pictures. Instead of always centering the subject of your photos, experiment with off-center images that incorporate aesthetic backgrounds or better depict a situation (for example leaving space in front of a running child). Some cameras include adjustable focal points which allow photographers to experiment with subject-placement in their pictures. Always be aware of backgrounds that may enhance or ruin your photographs and consider whether the shot you're trying to capture should be filmed vertically or horizontally.
When to Hire a Professional Photographer - Some events are too important to risk the possibility of poor quality photographs and call for the help of a professional photographer. Taking photos at events like newborn, toddlers and children or special birthdays and other memorable occasions should never be the responsibility of a member of the party but should, instead, be relegated to a professional photographer whose whole reason for attending the event is to capture photographs.
When it comes to capturing the best photos of children, the cutest pictures of newborns are taken within the first two weeks of life when they are very sleepy and pliable, which makes for the adorable newborn poses you see everywhere. Between six and eight months, most babies can sit up on their own, are quite alert, curious and easy to photograph. Between the ages of one and four, a child's personality is developed and many milestones are reached including learning to walk, talk, starting school and/or adjusting to life with a sibling. Older kids, tweens and teens offer endless photo opportunities that reflect them at various ages and in a variety of settings.
Don't let precious memories slip away...get out your camera, take it everywhere you go and start photographically documenting your lives today!