Welcome. Are you pregnant? Or are you figuring out your way through new parenthood? This is the blog for you! As a mother to a 3 year old boy and 1 year old boy/girl twins, I've been there, done that. From breastfeeding to potty training. From natural labor to c-section. And from swaddling to car seats. I have advice and I'm not afraid to share it! If you have a question, just ask me!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

How to Do Your Own Baby Photo Shoot!

Wondering how to photograph a baby? I am by no means a professional photography. I'm not even an amateur. But I'll tell you, when it comes to getting some nice shots of your baby, it's not as hard as you think. All you need is a camera that you can set to "portrait" mode. If your camera can be set to a "continuous" release mode, that is even better. By continuous release, I mean you press and hold the button, and it just keeps taking tons of pictures. You want continuous release, because you want to be able to get those great shots in between potential crying. I've gotten some amazing shots in the middle of a complete fit, because the camera can shoot so fast. Portrait mode will give a blur to the background, which will put focus on your beautiful baby. You will also want to make sure you turn your flash OFF. I can't set my camera to portrait AND no flash, so I set it to portrait, and before I press the button all the way done, I close the flash. A flash will not give you a natural looking photo, so it's better to choose No Flash over Portrait if you have to make a choice. If you don't have a camera like this, ask some friends, you're likely to find someone who would be willing to let you borrow it for a few days.

The great thing about taking your own photo shoot, is you can do it when your baby is happy and ready. Be sure to set up your background and props before your child wakes up. Be sure to set up your shoot near a bright window or door. If you don't have one, you can set it up outside or in a garage, just don't do it in direct sunlight if you can help it.

I have had the best luck in the morning or afternoon, depending on when the sun hits the window/door you want to use. 9AM or 3PM are good times to shoot for. (no pun intended.)

The key to taking a nice picture is GET CLOSE. Don't be afraid to GET CLOSE!

I have found for small babies/newborns, it's best to use a bouncy seat with a blanket over it. I bought a twin size white throw style blanket from TJ Maxx for $20 and have used it a lot. You want plenty of blanket behind the bouncy seat. You then want to use whatever you have to drape the left over blanket up. So I set a chair behind the bouncy seat and draped the white blanket over the chair and the seat. You then put the baby in the seat and you have a nice backdrop:

You can also drape a blanket on someone, and have them hold the baby. In this picture we had the blanket also draped on the couch behind the baby.

You can also put the blanket right on the floor (or couch if good lighting there.) to get some tummy time or back photos.

You can also put the blanket all around the face for a peek-a-boo look.

For older babies who can lift their head, you can put a cushy blanket on your coffee table, and put the table right next to the couch. Then drape the white/solid blanket over the coffee table and up the sofa back (over the cushy blanket so it's soft for baby.) Here is a picture using this technique:

Then you can get creative. Here is one of my favorite shots I've taken. It's got $1/yard black fabric that is draped on furniture near a bright window. I used a bucket and some pillow filling. Under the filling, I put some throw pillows to prop the boy up. I actually took this picture w/ a canon point & shoot!

If you having trouble getting a smile for your little one (6-18months or so), try a feather duster.  "Dust" their face and pull the duster away.  It's sure to make them smile!

If your shot is not quite right, you need to edit something out, or you want to blur out the background even more, download GIMP.  It pretty much does what the WAY too expensive Photoshop does, but it is free.  The above picture needs to be edited...see on the right where I didn't have enough black fabric?  GIMP can easily fix that.  There is a learning curve to this software, but I've found lots of tutorials online, which has helped me do what I want to do.  With GIMP, you can even do some Anne Geddes style pictures (like a naked baby out on a tree limb or flower petal.)  Some of my favorite tutorials are Here.  Check out this one that I haven't tried, but think is pretty cool. 

Here I used GIMP to blur out the background just a little.  You can see the before and after:

The key is to not expect too much! If you want to try different setups or different outfits. Just do one thing a day. Otherwise, you and baby could get frustrated. This is a great way to save some money on newborn portraits. Will you get 50 great shots? Probably not. But you will get enough for announcements or to print into wallets, etc.  DON'T FORGET TO GET CLOSE!  :)

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