DIY tips for photographing your Toddler or Baby by Bronwyn Parsons Photography, Canberra Baby and Family Photographer
Toddler and Baby Photography
Photographing a toddler or crawling baby is one of the most rewarding aspects of being Baby and Family photographer. They have long progressed from the immobile state of a newborn and photographing them is challenging. You don’t need to be a professional photographer to get some wonderful shots of these busy little bee’s. While it does require skill to produce a certain look and feel to a photograph and professional photography is much more than clicking a button, there a few tricks of the trade that will help improve your chances of getting a great shot. Here are some great DIY tips for photographing your toddler or baby.
I never go to a shoot without firstly finding out about the little person I am photographing. It would be like turning up at a job interview and not knowing anything about the position. I come prepared with things for them to do, items that appeal to their personal interests and above all else make it fun. As a parent or family member, you are in the fortunate position of knowing your toddler or baby better than anyone else however to have a successful DIY photoshoot, you too will need a well thought out game plan.
As a mother of a toddler, there is definitely something true about the existence of a bewitching hour. This is definitely the worst time to photograph your toddler! Plan ahead, work out what time of day your toddler is most happy. Morning after breakfast and a full rest are generally good. Pack some snacks and drinks and take them to a location that is safe to explore but has minimal distractions. Unless you intentionally want photo’s of your toddler climbing on play equipment, skip the park completely. Instead, consider a location that is sectioned by natural shrubbery. Canberra’s natural borders make a lovely background and will help keep your toddler in the same area as you.
Set up your camera
When you arrive at your location set up your camera. Set it to a fast shutter speed to compensate for your toddler or babies rapid changing movement. If your not familiar with shooting in manual mode the simplest way to achieve this is to switch your camera to sports mode. Not sure what sports mode is? locate the dial on your camera and turn it to the icon of a running man. If you don’t own a DSLR most point and shoot cameras also have this function. Alternatively, if you want a little more control to blur the background switch to a multiple shot aperture priority mode (AV icon on your camera) and set your f-stop to 2.8. You will need to position yourself up close to your subject and have them well forward of the background to achieve the blurred background look
Composing your photo
To compose your photo, get down on the same level as your toddler or baby and focus on the eyes. Some of the most magical portraits of children are achieved at a 45-degree angle while the photographer lays stomach down. Pay attention to your where your light source is. Are there shadows on your subject’s face? a quick fix to this is to move into a fully shaded area without dappled light and wait till your toddler moves into a position where they are facing the light source. Alternatively, you can use a DIY reflector to reflect light and fill shadows. A car sun visor with silver lining is a fantastic DIY fix for this. The use of a flash can also help fill shadows. When using a flash take care not to fire it too close to your child. Wait until the sun is positioned behind your toddlers back rather than them facing the light source. This will produce a nice rim light around their hairline and put catchlights in their eyes.
Getting the shot
Up until the age of 3, children rarely pose or smile on demand for photos. Persisting with a smile on-demand approach will result in an unwillingness to cooperate and possibly a full meltdown. There are a few little tricks you can try to achieve natural smiles and from dashing away in the opposite direction at the sight of a camera.
- Bubbles, bubbles and more bubbles
- Make fun exciting noises. Use a triangle, some bells or a whistle
- Make a fun prop your toddler will be willing to sit in. Cardboard boxes are great and with a bit of creativity you can turn that cardboard box into an airplane, a train, a car or even a hot air balloon
- Crown them king or queen and sit them on a chair. It will take time for them to figure out how to climb down
- Stick a fun sticker or themed band-aid on the back of your toddler or babies hand. It will hold their attention for some time while they figure out how to peel it off
- With the help of an assistant, start a game of peekaboo using a sheet. When your toddler or baby becomes interested, drape the sheet briefly over your toddler and lift it up again quickly. Tightly frame your shot so the sheet is not visible, time for when the sheet is in the air and shoot away. Toddlers and babies absolutely love this game, while the sheet is in the air you will get giggles and plenty of natural smiles
- If you have a zoom lens photograph your little one from a distance
- Kick around a ball, let them push or pull a wagon
- Show your toddler a playback of their picture or give them something to hold
- Be prepared to play a game. Chase your toddler and have them chase you. As an adult, you are way faster and it will take your toddler longer to catch up to you, that’s your opportunity to turn and snap a photo