Photographing Babies - Getting Started By Bobby Jonnes
This article will focus on photographing babies. The baby portraiture session gives you a good opportunity to get to know the family and sow the seeds of a long-term relationship with potential for repeat business.
Baby portraiture, is unlike other forms of portraiture, yes it is still about capturing light and complementary images, however you don’t have the same opportunity to communicate what you are looking for from the subject! This requires a different approach to posing as well as lighting your subject.
There are some basic rules to follow to achieve your goal. Some methods and techniques work best with newborn babies, while others are most used for older babies (by older my definition is up to approximately 2 to 3 years old). No technique is restricted to a specific gender or age group, however.
It is up to you as photographer to determine the wants and needs of the parents, then adjust your lighting and posing to meet those wants and needs. You should also keep in mind that when photographing babies all of your best laid plans can be turned on their head, and you can end up with no saleable shots.
This is one of the reasons that some photographers refuse to photograph babies. I have found that it is best to have some standard lighting setups and ‘poses’ to use as a starting point. I use the word poses loosely, because it’s more a case of you positioning the baby in a pre-determined way to leverage your chance of a good shot. These can be varied to better suit the individual subject.
Using more than one setup is something you should do to keep all of your baby portraits from looking the same. You will get many and varied bookings as a long-term result of customers being satisfied with the portrait of their beloved baby. I have had many customers who have started their relationship with me through having their baby photographed. This has led to birthdays, anniversaries, graduation and even wedding shoots for the same family, so never underestimate the earnings potential of that first baby portrait session.
Do I Need a Studio?
Before I had my studio I started doing baby portraiture in the homes of my customers. You can do this too. Some of the best shots I have taken of babies were taken in customer’s homes, with minimal equipment.
For example a hand held single brolly can give excellent results when photographing babies.
There is obviously a limit to the amount of equipment that you can easily transport around, assemble and disassemble, without the exercise becoming counterproductive. If you have the luxury of a large enough spare room at home you can elaborate on the portable setup.
One advantage that I find in the studio is the immediate availability of a large number of props. This coupled with the consistency of semi permanent lighting set-ups and backgrounds will give you the added confidence of predictability of results, compared with the range of different environments and potential enforced variations in lighting encountered when visiting the customer’s home.
However, having mentioned the advantages of having a permanent studio, I am not suggesting that being portable does not have its own advantages. Parents often feel more comfortable in the surroundings of their own home; this is often reflected in the mood of the baby, relaxed parents give more chance of relaxed baby! Also, if the baby is wearing something which you know will look dreadful it is easier for the parents to change them quickly into something else.
I hope you have found this article helpful.
Do you want to learn more about how I do it? I have written a comprehensive guide on baby photography.
Find our more from here Photographing Babies
Bobby is a photographer and author. He has been commissioned to shoot thousands of events, including weddings and portraits.
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