I chose Infant Photography for the topic this week since I had a fun photography session with an adorable mini-model this weekend. Proud parents Rob and Claire graciously allowed me to post some of the photos of our session with their lovely daughter Posy:
Tips For Infant Photography Sessions:
We held our photography session at our friend’s mom’s house. Off-site locations have a few challenges, especially if it is your first time at that particular location. I recommend doing a quick assessment of the location when you get there. Some of the things you should be looking for include:
- Natural lighting – are there locations in the home where you can get nice natural light?
- Are there spots where you can set up off camera flash or studio strobes if the natural lighting isn’t adequate?
- Is there enough space to move around and get good angles for your shots?
- Which focal lengths would work best for the location? For example, in a tight space, an 85 mm prime lens might not allow you to get the parents in the shot or even the entire body of the baby. You might need a shorter focal length such as a 50 mm prime lens instead.
- Background – are there items you can remove from the scene to reduce distractions in the background of your shot? If not, you often remove some of the distractions by using a shallow depth of field. Check out one of my previous posts on shallow depth of field for more info regarding depth of field,
Lighting is essential, as it is with any portrait photography session. We lucked out with the natural lighting in the living room of the house. Several huge picture windows let in beautiful natural light – so much so that I didn’t even need to use my off camera flash units. We also lucked out with the weather – it was a very cloudy day. Clouds really soften the sunlight and act like a giant softbox, diffusing the light and preventing any harsh shadows or bright spots. If it’s a bright sunny day and the light coming in the window is too harsh, you can diffuse it by pinning white blankets or curtains in front of the window.
If you don’t have sufficient natural light, you can create a similar effect using off-camera flash or strobe units with softboxes. Softboxes diffuse the light from the flash and soften the light.
A happy baby makes your session much easier. Some of the things that can make the baby more comfortable and happy include:
- having the mother feed the baby right before your arrival
- having the photoshoot in a location that the baby feels comfortable in (e.g. a house they’ve been staying in)
- making sure the baby is warm enough (using heaters, cranking up the heat in the home if needed or using blankets/clothes)
- using some of the baby’s favourite toys
- having someone make silly noises, crazy dance, etc. to make the baby smile. I’m a bit shy with babies, so luckily my boyfriend and the baby’s father Rob were great at amusing Posy and making her smile.
I researched infant photography tips before our session and found several gear recommendations for infant photography sessions. I didn’t have all of these things for our session but they would be worth picking up if you plan on doing many infant photography sessions.
- a small space heater for keeping the baby warm
- fluffy blankets and wraps for the baby
- pillows for arranging the baby in particular poses
- props such as baskets for posing the baby in
- moisture soaking pads to put under the baby to prevent messes from getting into carpets and cushions if you are taking off their diaper for some of the shots
- flash or studio strobes for creating a natural lighting effect if the natural light isn’t sufficient at your location
- pretty headbands and other fun clothing accessories
I used my Nikkor 50 mm f/1.4G prime lens for this particular shoot. I liked having a lens with a large aperture. It enabled me to have a nice shallow depth of field which created the primary focus on my subject and reduced some of the distractions in the background. It also let more light into the camera which allowed me to stick to natural lighting for the shoot rather than requiring the use of off-camera flash.
50 mm was a good focal length too. It was wide enough to get everything in the scene that I needed (e.g. both parents with Posy) while also allowing me to get close up shots when I moved closer to Posy.
Other lenses you might consider would be a zoom lens with a large aperture or an 85 mm prime lens. I have a 24-70 mm lens that would have worked; however, I can’t open the aperture as wide with that lens. It does have the advantage of being a zoom lens though – zooms can be easier to adjust the field of view compared to a prime lens. Prime lens only have one focal length – you cannot zoom in or out with these lenses. With the 50 mm prime lens, I had to move myself closer to Posy if I wanted to get a close-up shot of her or move away from her if I wanted to be able to include her parents in the shot. The 85 mm would have been good for close up shots but I wouldn’t have been able to get shots of Posy’s parents and full body shots in the living room (not enough space).
I hope you get a chance to give infant photography a try – it can be a lot of fun and quite rewarding!