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Photographic Tips - 3

Baby & Toddler Photos

For over 10 years I have been the official photographer for a
glossy magazine for a baby and toddler section in it, when they need me.
Here are a few pointers to share that I have picked up along the way.
Children are the families most photographed subject, but it is so easy
to finish up with disappointing results. The main point is to try and
approach it with the mind of the photographer, not of a parent.
I find taking newborn babies perhaps the hardest. They are floppy,
either crying, feeding or asleep. Avoid using flash it is not the best
light medium and often frightens them. Use natural light, even window
light. I find that they are best taken when cuddling up to mum or
another adult.
One of the most common mistakes when photographing very small
toddlers is to stand above them and point the camera down.
You need to get down to their level. I get right down on the floor or
have them on a armchair or settee. Have a parent amusing them
from behind you to try and keep their attention off of you. Try not to
use the flash.
Although we tend to think portrait when taking small toddlers try some
really close up shots. I like to concentrate more on the face and facial
expressions. From 6 months onwards they tend to develop their own
characteristics and this includes facial expressions. Don’t think that this
must only be done with a telephoto lens, some like the intimacy of you
being right there next to them (especially if you are the parent) and get
some nice close ups with the wider setting of your camera. Think, eyes,
hands, even feet, something a little different, like hands in something
messy.
Older toddlers are best photographed when they are doing something
and not thinking about you doing photography. Wait until they are
occupied playing, reading, something they enjoy, then get the camera
out from it’s hiding place and snap away, again without flash, and you
will be surprised at the pictures you get that have character built in.
If this “without flash” is a problem use a different ISO setting or switch
to Natural Light mode if your camera has it. But good natural window
light on not too bright a day is excellent.
Think about the framing and composition of your pictures. You can
of course do a little post-processing to crop and improve any, but
try and aim for more on the portrait side of your thinking.
Consider too the background, clutter around, and where you are when
taking these pictures. Think light, safety, what else is in this frame
that I don’t want. Like I said at the start, use your photographer’s head.
Older toddlers tend to play up to the camera, so for better pictures you
are better off employing the tactics of the Candid phototgrapher.
Hang back a bit and use the top end of your zoom to snatch a more
realistic, natural element to your Image. When my children were
small and we went to the beach or park I would use my 300mm to
catch them finding shells, playing on park amusements, zooming in
sometimes quite close and yet from so far away.
The beauty of digital is that you can fire away and delete those that
don’t make the grade. Children have this annoying habit of moving
quickly just as you press the shutter and their hand, head or
something comes out blurred. I have never had to go back for a
second shoot when I used film, but only because I took so many that
some had to come out all right!!
Hope this all helps as you capture those wonderful childhood moments
that should never be forgotten. – Ted

Journal Comments

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  • ©FoxfireGallery / FloorOne Photography
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  • Edward Denyer
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