Springtime Photo Tips
“Spring is a wonderful time to take your child out to the garden,” says Monica Michelle, owner of White Rabbit Portrait Studios in San Mateo, California, and a mother of two. “Photos of your crawler going through green grass or showing your just-standing baby next to your growing plants make great photos.”
A few simple tips and tricks will ensure that every shot you take this spring is picture-perfect.
Timing is everything. Plan your photo shoot when your little one is typically in her best mood, rather than during naptimes or after a long day.
This is especially important if you”re hiring a professional photographer. “Parents should allot 30 to 60 minutes for the photo session,” says Karyn Giss, owner of Karyn L. Giss Photography in Los Angeles, California. “This time range accounts for feeding, changing, and other needs of a child during a shoot.”
The best photos of Baby are up close and personal. “Show your baby”s fingers stroking leaves and petals,” says Michelle. “Photograph their face as you have someone hold a blossom up for them to smell. This is an amazing new environment, full of new sights and smells, for your little one to explore. You will get some great shots of their smiles and curiosity.”
Jonathan Payne, owner of Jonathan Payne Photography in Oakland, California, has some practical tips. “Fill the viewfinder with a face, or better yet just some details of your child, like their ears, hands, or feet. It’s important to figure out how close your camera will focus, and maybe even switch into the macro mode if it’s available.”
Forget the Flash
As tempting as it may be to put the camera on automatic, turn off your flash. “Nothing kills a nice photo like a blast of harsh light from the camera,” says Payne. “The flip side of this tip is that you need to find good light. Basically, look for big windows, with indirect light, like those facing north.”
Added bonus: killing the flash helps avoid red eye.
“The location should be somewhere the baby/toddler is most comfortable, which includes their home or a neighborhood park, even the beach can work,” says Giss. “All of these have wonderful, natural backdrops for beautiful portraits. I don”t generally use props or artificial backdrops, finding nature to be perfect for both. Sometimes a toddler playing with a rock can be a stunning portrait.”
When you”re outdoors, though, be mindful of the light. The biggest mistake people make is putting their kids in bright sunshine, adds Giss. “This causes big shadows on the face, as well as squinty kids. Look for a big patch of shade, where the light is even. Everyone will be happier.”
Other possibilities for taking superior photos in natural light include porches, doorways, or shady areas of the yard facing the open sky.
Keep It Simple
Put Baby in simple clothing to help focus in on your child”s special expressions, rather than their outfit. Even a baby wearing a diaper is an adorable photograph.
“I like to tell parents to dress their babies and toddlers in neutral colors, with patterns kept to a minimum,” says Giss. “After all, what you’re trying to capture is the essence of your baby, a moment in time, that special expression that you’ve seen yourself 100 times. Black-and-white photographs, as well as no crazy patterns on clothing, keep the focus on the baby’s face, exactly where you want it.”
Make it Personal
If you do want props in your child”s photo, bring your child”s favorite toy, blanket, book, or anything else you would like to include in your portraits. “Personal items help capture a better sense of your child”s personality,” says Elizabeth Scully, owner of Lasting Impression Portrait Studio in Hampton Bay, New York.
Personalizing your child”s photo – with props or backgrounds – is a wonderful way to create a memorable spring picture. This also helps your child to feel comfortable during a photo shoot, surrounded with familiar items.
Tricks of the Trade
Professionals know things that regular shutterbugs don’t.
“One of my favorite tricks when photographing babies is to put a sticker on their belly or foot,” says Sandra Coan, owner of Sandra Coan Photography in Seattle, Washington. “They’ll spend a long time trying to get it off, and you”ll get some great candid-looking photos of them playing with their toes and tummies.”
Diana Berrent, owner of Diana Berrent Photography of New York, New York, is sure to have a damp washcloth on hand for any face cleaning. “It’s a much better tool than a tissue or paper towel for that stubborn runny nose.”
Another tip from Berent: To keep Baby’s wide-eyed gaze directed at the camera, have someone shake a rattle or squeeze a toy that makes animal sounds right above the photographer’s head.
The best tip of all? Go with the flow. If a baby or child senses Mom feels uptight about the session, they”ll be more likely to feel stressed too—which unfortunately will reflect in the photos, Giss says.
“Most importantly, just have fun and take a lot of photos,” adds Coan. “These little ones grow and change so quickly.”