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Everyday Easy: Newborn Photography Tips from a Hobbyist Mom
I remember when I got my first point-and-shoot. It was a “fancy” Canon Elph and thus began my part-time love affair with photography. I suppose it’s fair to say that I’ve never really gotten into it fully, because as a creative, one has to put a limit on how many skills they try to master.
Although, we creative types are notoriously known for trying to do everything. But personally, I don’t care too much about that. My mantra is that if something doesn’t stress you out, and you love it, then just try it! I’ve recently moved through two DSLRs and currently rock a the Canon EOS Rebel T3, a Sigma wide lens (10-20mm) and a couple of other zoom Canon lenses.
For me, my love (and slow, homegrown talent) for the lens has definitely blossomed alongside the growth of my beautiful
monsters children. Another outlet for my lens is food. I’m in a happy place when I’m taking pictures of my babies and whatever I’ve got going on in the kitchen and the garden. I never went hard at it, learning my very few photography skills. It’s happened slowly over time, in the way that all good things do.
It helps that I have adorable, willing subjects and a love for composition, texture and angles. Not to mention a deep respect for the art form and dedicated skill it takes to be a good photographer. It’s a workout in fact! While I definitely promote and advocate the hiring of a local photographer for family pictures, not all of us can afford to do so with the birth of every child, or multiple times a year for all of the special occasions and magical moments in between…
How We Do It
For those who don’t have it in their budget to hire a pro with the birth of every child and all of those magical moments in-between…
Ask a Friend
If you can’t justify the expense of a birth photographer, or aren’t comfortable with it…ask a talented friend! We did this with the birth of our second and I treasure those first moments that she captured.
Photography by Melissa McCauley
We all know that getting a toddler to stay still for pictures ain’t easy – so things may be a bit blurry. Better than nothing, right? I usually have my camera within reach to capture a brief sweet moment or for those special occasions like Christmas eve in matching jammies by the tree. Hold your camera at different angles like birdseye (from above), or crouch down low and steady. Think about composition and having your subjects well-centred or off to the left or the right.
Morning Is Best
Early mornings were always my favourite time of day to take photos of my babies. The light is perfect and the world is quiet. I don’t have too many ideas swimming around in my head and jammies seem to be the perfect outfit. No frills, no whistles. This is another example of the birdseye angle at fine work. Make use of contrasting textures and colours in everyday things. Like a soft grey shag rug and a precious newborn in petal pink jammies.
Have some fun with the funny faces that newborns make and enjoy a sweet morning in your living room with a few simple toys, lots of hugs and kisses and your camera. Vintage outfits and knitted/crocheted accessories are a must too! Practice shooting in Macro Mode AP (Aperture Priority) Mode. You can get these kinds of shots with a point-and-shoot or DSLR camera, all you need to do is play around with what you’ve got and learn about your settings! Again, angles play a key role here.
Make a Series
I’m a big fan of photo series style lay-outs. As in, take a lot of pictures in a few moments. Sometimes a random few minutes in time, without doing anything contrived can turn into a really great set of shots showcasing your little sweetie’s budding personality. I’ve always found that natural light and not being rushed or expecting anything all that great is when I take some of my best pictures. It’s as if I enjoy dabbling in photography or something.
Get Right In There
You want to soak up every inch of that fresh, darling little face with your lens. Highlight every curve of delicious chunk, every curl of eyelash and shimmer in the eyes. Instead of staging a moment, use what you have. If you’re not knowledgable about how to adjust your camera’s ISO (basically light sensitivity) and shutter speeds (how long your camera shutter stays open to let light in, which is what you want for well-focused pictures), for night-time shooting without flash (flash makes me shudder), then daylight is your friend. Natural light portraiture is THE BEST. Unless you know you to get all bokeh with your Xmas lights, then yes – DO THAT TOO.
Bokeh = Money Shot
Sometimes you can get the bokeh effect by fluke, often you gotta work for it. Totally worth it, right? The main thing to remember is that bokeh (essentially blurred lights or shapes created by particles of light creating a pattern in the out-of-focus area of a photograph), is created by you, not the camera! Stand as close as you can to your subject (or kneel, or lay right down – remember my tip on the importance of interesting angles!) Set your camera to Aperture Priority and adjust your lens aperture to its lowest setting. On most cameras this means turning the front dial to the left. Experiment!
You know what’s better than a picture with an adorable newborn? TWO! Especially when they are wearing hats like that. Seriously though, all it takes is one seemingly perfect afternoon, wherein the light is just right and the company is fine to get a great shot.
Remember about how I love natural light? Another case in point. The sun was setting, my guy was having a blast playing with himself and entertaining me in his exersaucer so I grabbed my cam and snapped away. I love how the light and shadows play off of his face here; another example of how later on framing a series of photos can really work!
Remember To Include Yourself
Yes you there mom. There aren’t enough moms in pictures! We all know this, right? If you’re not asking someone else to snap a few of you and your babe(s) every now and then, get yourself a tripod and have some fun with it. You’ll regret not having lots of pictures of you and your kids later on. They’ll want to see you in pictures too! ALL MOMS ARE BEAUTIFUL THE END.
Photo by Melissa McCauley
One 'Prop,' Many Years
These rabbit furs that were gifted to me many years ago by an elder have seen many a chilly stroller or carrier walk, bassinet nap, naming ceremony, cuddle, photo-shoot, feasts and ceremonies. Indigenous cultures use all of the animal when hunting for food; for clothing and jewellery and shoes and much, much more! (I swear I didn’t put my babies hands on his cheeks to make them squish like that in his sleep! Newborns are like cats, they do the darndest things!)