Three children in, I'm starting to get a hang of this infant thing. I don't consider myself an expert at taking baby photos, but I've had a lot of babies and taken a lot of pictures. If 10,000 hours of practice makes you an expert…I'm almost there.
Here are a few key things I've learned along the way that can take your baby photos up a notch. Or two. Or ten.
10 Steps to Perfect Baby Photos
Mind your photo background. You don't want to get the perfect baby photos only to later realize you had your tightey whities flung somewhere behind your baby's head.
The rule of thirds. I have a tendency to break this rule and rogue-crop my photos. But when shooting your baby photos, you should at least be cognizant of the rule of thirds. Imagine two lines running vertically and two lines running horizontally through your picture, breaking your frame up. For optimally-balanced baby photos, your subjects or focal points should fall at a cross-section or along the length of one of those lines.
Photo Lighting. Most people will tell you that natural light is the GOLD standard of photography. This is true except when your subject won't stop moving. For squirmy babies, I prefer to use my camera's built-in flash with a Lightscoop Deluxe. It's a relatively cheap way for novices to make sure their baby photos don't wind up all blurry.
Make baby photos a comfortable proposition. Bust out the baby lotion! Studies show that infants who experience routine touch are 50% more likely to make eye contact and 3 times more likely to have an overall positive expression such as smiling and eye contact. Routine massage leads to improved cognitive performance and increased alertness and attentiveness. That extra TLC goes a long way not only in development, but also in the outcome of baby photos.
I've honestly developed a faster connection with Minion than I have with my other children, and I know it's because I've been so confident in cuddling up with him (as opposed to when I was a new mom, unaccustomed to that much closeness). Experience and research has helped me understand that my babies NEED that time in my arms. Studies show that skin-to-skin contact for 25-120 minutes after birth positively affects interactions between mom and baby one year later!
Cover up. Every crevice of your baby is the most adorable, blessed thing on the planet. But people don't necessarily want to see full-frontal baby photos. A conveniently-placed towel or a small white onesie can help you capture those sweet chubs in a shareable manner.
Focus, focus, focus. Most cameras have an auto-focus setting, but that computer chip doesn't always get it right. For baby photos, it's best to manually focus on your baby's face (or foot, or hand, or whatever) to avoid getting a crystal-clear lampshade/pillowcase/bed frame and a blurry baby.
Change photo positions. You want to capture your precious cargo from all sorts of angles. Get close-ups of those nummy little thighs and precious fingernails.
Get in the shot yourself! I regret not having more staged photos of the other boys with me in it when they were younger. You don't even need another person to help you get in the picture. Place your camera on a nearby table, set the auto-timer and hop in.
Make simple photo edits. Your baby is beautiful all by himself. You don't need to over-saturate or add in a bunch of wacky Instagram-style filters.
Don't stress over baby photos. The important thing is to simply be in the moment to capture the magic that your baby beams at you. If all else fails, converting a sloppy photo to black-and-white can go a LONG way.