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The set up
The easiest way to take pictures of your baby at home is with a big fluffy blanket and a boppy, or a pillow near a window on a cloudy day around mid-day. The window on a cloudy day gives you the best light and you can choose which direction the light is coming in towards your baby. The best light is side light. So if the baby is in front of you the window should be to your right or left instead of behind you facing the baby, which might be your instinct. See the following picture for a simple set I made in my living room:
With the set up shown you can take pictures like those below:
The picture to the left was taken about an hour before the sun went down so the light is much cooler and not as nicely flattering. The picture of the toy to the right was taken around midday; you can see that even on a cloudy day, midday sun can create very warm pleasing effects. Sunny days however can create harsh shadows and difficult lighting situations.
Something else you can do for a set is to put the pillow and blanket in the backseat of your car and shoot from the front seat, the light coming in the door window will automatically be side and above light. This will give you the pretty light to the left.
The picture on the bottom left is the toy using a homemade reflector from aluminum foil taped to a cereal box and set on the side of the toy where the shadows are to lighten them up.
Tips for lighting:
- Always try and place the light source to the side and above of the baby, this is easy to remember and is always pretty.
- Never use the flash! The light is terrible but you can make this right by taping toilet paper over it, this softens the light. This is a good thing to do in any situation, it makes your camera look a little funny but your friends and family will love you for it! This will also reduce if not eliminate red eye!
- A lamp with a pillowcase over the shade makes a good light source.
Later on when my son woke up I put him in the set with evening light coming in the window and a large lamp on the other side, this is the set and the results:
Let’s talk composition
Notice how all of these shots have a lot of room to one side, top or bottom? This negative space makes the baby stand out more. I’ve also put the camera at a bit of an angle so his head is leaning towards the corner of the frame, when things in your picture are on a diagonal they look more dynamic.
I have sectioned of this photo using green lines into thirds to demonstrate the “rule of thirds” when taking a photo (this ties into what I said about leaving some space) your main focal point should be on one of the red dots, notice how Max’s forehead is smack dab in the middle of a dot. When you center your baby in the middle its fairly boring, granted there are always exceptions to the rule, in photography rules are always meant to be broken but you must know the rules before you can break them.
As for posing, you could put your babies feet where the lower left dot is and have those in focus, you can have your baby on their tummy with their butt where the upper right cross dot is, so many options. Looking online for inspiration for poses is a great way to go since I am sleepy and losing steam 🙂
Enjoy this tutorial; I hope it helps you all take some amazing pictures of your little ones!