Taking great photos of your baby

Your little bundle of joy does the cutest things! You want to capture every precious moment, and the latest digital cameras and camera phones provide parents with a quick way to preserve the funny faces and first steps so they can keep these memories for a lifetime.

Baby in tub

During the first few months especially, it can be hard to find the right angles to capture those cute faces when they’re swaddled up tight and still have slightly misshapen little heads (that can look really exaggerated if you shoot from certain angles). Then once they start to crawl or walk, good luck keeping up! But getting great shots of your babe doesn’t mean you have to hire a pro to follow you around paparazzi-style for the first year. You just need a few tips and a little practice.

cameraKeep that camera close

These days, we probably all have a good-quality camera. Certain smartphones even have built-in cameras that rival the digital versions you can buy. But even if you spend $1,000 on a top-of-the-line model, it doesn’t really matter if it’s in the other room (or worse, has an uncharged battery!) when you need it.

Keep your camera or phone close. It’s easy to keep a cell phone in your back pocket, which is why we recommend upgrading to an iPhone 4 or Galaxy S3 (or another model with comparable camera quality) rather than investing in a digital camera that can be a bit clunky to carry around. That being said, there are some nice digital cameras that fit in your pocket well enough.

Learn to set up your shot

We’ve all heard the old cliche, “get my good side,” right? Professional photographers’ pictures often look so much better than ours, not because they’re posing us to perfection, but because they understand that the slightest variation in angles can make a huge difference. Anyone who’s ever un-tagged themselves in a Facebook photo because their schnoz looks huge knows just how important it is. When taking the photo, try different angles. Move right or left (or even down) slightly to see if that improves the shot. You can also try these tried-and-true shots.

  • “Mr. DeMille, I’m ready for my close-up!” — Close-ups will make your photo seem more intimate and personal. Just make sure you’re using a close-up lens or zoom setting so you don’t make your little sweetie nervous.
  • Macro shots — You’ve seen these a hundred times on recipe sites, but they’re also a great way to add character to your scrapbook. Use the macro setting on your camera (or download an app for your phone that has one) and do really close-up shots of your babies sweet ear, adorable smile or cute little feet.
  • Held close — With newborns especially, it’s often easier to get a good shot when they’re in someone’s arms. Whether they’re being fed, burped or just held, try taking shots when someone else is holding them in position. As an added bonus, you can also snap a pic of them with Mom, Dad, Grammy or Grandpa.
  • On the level — Get down to your child’s level when you’re trying to get a photo. Sometimes the most precious pictures are those taken from “inside” your baby’s world.

Photoshop is your friend

OK, it doesn’t have to be Photoshop, it can be any more sophisticated photo editor, but you’ll need it to really perfect your pictures. A baby’s eyes are more prone to the dreaded red-eye (especially since their eyes don’t always work together when contracting, so it can happen in one eye and not the other!). Add to that a baby’s fast-growing nails that can lead to scratches and lack of full coordination that can lead to bruises and bumps (and the inevitable spit-up or food smudge), and you may have several photos that need a little clean-up.

You can also use these programs to create black and white or sepia-toned photos (or go all out with an Andy Worhol-inspired montage). Tip: they also work well to erase Mommy’s fly-aways, smooth out wrinkles and color-correct that (tragically) hip lipstick.

Baby crawing in grassAu natural

Natural light is always best. Your flash comes in handy when it’s dark and it’s impossible to control the lighting in a candid shot, but if you’re trying to do an actual photo shoot, use as much natural light as possible. Open the windows or move near them if possible. The natural light will keep your baby’s delicate skin from washing out.

If you have to use a flash or a lamp, try to bounce the light off another surface. This only works, of course, if you can control the direction of your flash or lamp. Try bouncing it off a ceiling or wall to diffuse the light and rid yourself of shadows and other photo-killing side-effects.

Get more photo advice

10 tips for taking memorable pictures
Best photography blogs for moms
Five ways to improve your photos