Photo Tips: Baby Photography

by | Nov 5, 2013 | Photography

Dygiphy, Baby photography tipsI can think of countless funny moments when I think about baby photography.  Lenses covered in sticky fingers and dribble, toppling tripods complete with cameras, and urgent nappy changes to name a few.  And all in pursuit of that decisive moment that captures a fleeting aspect of a tiny personality before the arrival of the next wonder week.  Of course it’s all worth it, because those early years are so precious, and as those of us with older children know, the memories they create are so very special.

Dygiphy, Baby photography tipsWindow Light

Fast Lens

A fast lens is one that lets in a lot of light, and is the number 1 tool for shooting indoors or in low light situations. All lenses have a diaphragm that opens and closes to adjust the amount of light that can reach the camera sensor. This works on the same principle as the human eye, which has a pupil for the same purpose. When it is dark, your pupil will dilate to let in more light, and the same needs to happen with your camera. In lenses this is called the aperture, and the size of this aperture is one of the main things that differentiate professional from standard lenses. My advice to anyone who is serious about photographing children and babies, is to get themselves a fast standard zoom lens. The fast bit will mean the largest aperture is at least f/2.8 or larger (in lenses a larger aperture has a smaller number, e.g. f/1.8 is larger than f/2.8). The standard bit means the zoom range will be between 28mm and 70mm (or for a cropped format SLR camera something like 17-50). The lens is more important than the camera, and is the first thing to upgrade if you want to improve your photography. The other benefit of a fast lens is that you get a shallower depth of field, meaning only the part of your shot on which you focus will be sharp, and the rest will be softly out of focus (this is called the “bokeh”). A shallow depth of field will help you blur out those parts of your image that are distracting, and as for all busy parents with small babies there is likely to be a bit of clutter in frame somewhere that needs blurring out!

Having moved down to eye level, stopped down your lens to f/2.8 so that only the in-focus part of your frame is sharp, and moved that window reflection into the baby’s eyes, it’s time to focus right on the eyes. This will probably mean you need to turn off the standard auto focus in your camera, and turn on spot auto focus. Most modern cameras have more than one focus point, especially phone based or compact cameras. Software in the camera then tries to guess where the focus point should be and focuses the lens. Unfortunately it almost never gets it right, even on professional cameras, and this is a bigger problem than ever with a small aperture. Spot autofocus is a feature where you choose which focus point the camera will use (usually the centre), and then you just need to put the spot over the closest eye, half press the shutter to let the camera autofocus, and re-compose while holding that button down to achieve your desired composition, then fully push the button to take the shot. So in summary, these are the essential ingredients to look for when assessing a professional photographer or trying to find that special shot yourself. As with any great photo, if it’s good, you will engage with it emotionally.  Great baby photography will leap out at you, make you smile, and be something you can easily relate to as a parent. In time, it will also become a memory that you will treasure forever. Dygiphy, Baby photography tips