Momento Musings

Photograph your Angel like a Pro: Tips for camera-challenged parents

The novelty of snapping a baby’s every move obviously wore off by the time my sister was born 4 years after me because in our family albums there’s countless beautifully composed photos of me, and hardly any of Jo, and she was a very cute baby! I still feel guilty she didn’t get the paparazzi treatment so I’ve decided to make amends and save thousands of children heartbreak with advice on how to take great shots of your bubba, and turn them in to a priceless photo book – before it’s too late.

Tip #1: Take loads of photos
Apple, Sony and Canon have conspired to ensure we can capture every moment of babyhood without effort, unlike our poor parents and grandparents who had to deal with the hardship and limitations of film. So embrace the digital age, switch your camera to continuous or burst mode, and capture a quick series of photos. The more you snap the higher the chance of getting the perfect, in-focus shot. On the flipside, be ruthless when reviewing and choose only the best – your friends will think you’re an amazing photographer.

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A burst series takes many photos very quickly in succession.

Tip #2: Call in the troops
No matter how many times and how nicely you ask babies don’t take orders so be satisfied to capture them in their natural state or take control and get some help to soothe or distract so you can focus on the photography. Our big tip is to get dad (secretly) involved. Throw a white sheet over him, place your angel on top and tad-dah, bubba thinks they’re getting a cuddle, calm in the warmth of a familiar heartbeat and smell. Pull the sheet back to reveal a beaming father if you’d prefer a family photo!

dad and bub cropped

Tip #3: Set the scene, softly
Lighting and backdrops can make the difference between an award-winning photo and an average shot so start by turning the overhead light or your camera flash off to avoid making your baby squint or look like a ghost. Moderate the lighting further by grabbing a desk lamp with a yellow globe, to cast a soft light. To create a classic background, bring in neutral soft furnishings, blankets in muted tones, and pillows without distracting patterns and textures. Enhance the emotion further by choosing our lightly textured, creamy art paper when ordering your photo book.

Shannon Cotterill Chace45

Using soft furnishings to frame your baby.
© Shannon Cotterill, Bloom Photography

Tip #4: Create emotion with black and white
We know pregnancy and the early days of motherhood can be emotional at times, heightening the whole experience. We suggest you apply the same theory to designing a photo book about your baby. Create some drama by converting colour images to black-and-white and you’ll see they take on a more poignant, professional look. Take some tummy shots before the birth too as they create great silhouettes, and while sketchy grayscale ultrasounds aren’t the best quality, they do help tell the full story when included in a book.

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Tip #5:  Celebrate the small things
The rate at which babies grow is amazing so make sure you capture every detail by zooming in and focusing on their unique features – their teeny fingernails, their dimpled chin, their chubby toes. Immortalize them in your photo book by laying them out in a grid design, or add some scanned hand prints and footprints to show how… from little things, big things grow!

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Tip #6: Professional photographers photograph babies for a living

We’ve offered lots of tips here but the long and short of it is that babies are really hard to photograph, even if you have an amazing DSLR and all the love in the world.  You may notice that your baby appears extra pink in a lot of photos!?  We see that a lot in baby photo books, it’s just the way it is, so if you want perfect skins tones and photos that will melt your heart, become a Photoshop editing guru or pay a tad more and hire a professional baby photographer – the results will be truly priceless.

And if you’re wondering … Yes! Momento is a proud sponsor of the Australian Institute of Professional Photography so we’re promoting them and their skill here.  We print photo books for mums, Gen-Y, students, emerging photographers, people-who-forget-to-take-the-lens-cap-off, commercial photographers and international award-winning photojournalists, and the reality is that every day we see the difference that years of training, knowledge, expertise and professional drive brings to someone’s photographic skills.

We also agree that DSLR cameras are brilliant (as is your photography when you use it) BUT … do you know how to magic a baby from a screaming banshee to a coo-ing angel in 5 seconds? While manipulating your camera so the depth-of-field enhances the emotion and captures the tear drops glistening in your Angel’s eyes? Then post-editing it so they have the skin tone as clear and as a soft peach?

Didn’t think so (but we know you’re capable) and if you know the answer please submit it so we can have a Tip #7.

Have fun with your photos (and your baby) whatever you choose!

AIPP Photography Rocks

Australian Institute Of Professional Photography
Kylie Lyons is the 2013 Elle Presidente of this hard-working organisation

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