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Tips for photographing 3 month old babies

Peter Andrew , Jun 16, 2004; 09:19 p.m.

Photo net users,

I am meeting my 3 month old niece for the first time next week. My experience in the past for taking baby photos was very dissapointing... many shots and nothing spectacular. What are some basics for setting, film use, and framing (with adults, in crib, positioning, etc.). I really want to capture these moments before they are gone. I use a Nikon SLR with an 18-35 3.5D and an 80-200 2.8D (I dropped my favourite 50mm at Ankor Wat, hence the gap!). I also have a 3.1 megapixel Nikon point and shoot. Any tips will be appreciated.

Thanks, Pete Andrew


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Gerry David , Jun 16, 2004; 09:25 p.m.

I havent taken pictures of any babies yet, but ive read some forums that gave advice, and one thing you will want to consider is not using flash, because babies eyes are sensative. You should ask the doctor if its ok first. Ive also heard that you should snap some pictures off right away so the baby or kids get use to the sound and it doesnt scare them or get to much of thier interest so that thier not behaving normal. And of course entertain the baby or get someone that can do that to do that. :0).

George Grabrick - Rochester, MN , Jun 16, 2004; 09:53 p.m.

There was a post not too long ago about the flash issues. It can be found at http://www.photo.net/bboard/q-and-a-fetch-msg?msg_id=008GDH&unified_p=1

As far as taking pics of babies, the best advice I can offer is to get in as close as you are comfortable. Fill the frame with the baby and you will be happy with the outcomes most of the time. You don't need to worry about the baby smiling in all of you photos, it just won't happen, at least not at 3 months old. Take natural looking shots, and try some different perspectives like getting on your belly. One other thing I have noticed is that there is some amount of luck in getting good baby pictures. No doubt about it, they are hard to get sometimes.

Good luck, George

David Prouty , Jun 16, 2004; 11:47 p.m.

For some inspiration look at this woman's site! Good stuff!


Geoff Mower , Jun 16, 2004; 11:52 p.m.

Very young babies (up to about 3 months or so) are programmed to smile at human faces. This works for any face, inclding a drawing, at this age. Later, they will only smile at Mum and Dad. What happens is that the baby who smiles constantly at you while you grin inanely back, immediately becomes stony-faced when you hide behind the camera. A trick which worked for me and my kids is this: Draw a face on a paper plate. It only needs to be simple - two eyes, a mouth, a hairline, and a chinline (these last two are important.) Then cut a hole in the middle for the camera lens to poke through. The result, hopefully, is a baby smiling away madly at the paper plate, straight into the lens! Good luck, Geoff

Sheldon Nalos , Jun 17, 2004; 02:05 a.m.

I did a recent portrait session with my 5 month old son, and had some pleasing results. My suggestions...

1. Use available light, preferrably a north facing window (indirect light) I did my shoot on the kitchen floor next to our north facing sliding glass door with a blanket as a backdrop.

2. Orient your subject to create a sideways lighting across their face, it adds depth and shows features. A wall bounce flash could be used to simulate this if no window was available, and would probably be more gentle on the baby's eyes.

3. Try having the baby lay on their stomach. At three months, they are usually inquisitive enough to push their head up to look around. If they won't work with this, maybe create a little reclining seat with some pillows stuffed under your blanket backdrop.

4. Try black and white film. It's much more forgiving of babies' skin, which can be blotchy sometimes. I had my best results using Ilford XP2 400 speed film, which is C-41 process (meaning your local 1 hour lab can do it for you). If you want to go color, use a portrait film which is lower contrast to be gentle on skin tones. I like Fuji NPS 160 and NPH 400, but I've heard good things about the Kodak NC and UC films.

5. Shoot lots of frames. Don't be afraid to burn a roll or two of film at a sitting to get a good shot. Try different framings, etc, try a tripod, try handheld.

Here's one of my son, taken with a Canon Elan 7, 50mm f/1.4 lens @ ~f/5.6, Ilford XP2 film.

Hope that helps!


Happy Guy

Chris Waller , Jun 17, 2004; 05:16 a.m.

You might try an 'infant attention' filter. This is a filter ring with a piece of springy wire attached on which is suspended one of those small bells for a birdcage. As you move this tinkles and attracts the baby's attention.

M. Huber , Jun 17, 2004; 12:57 p.m.

One of my and that family favorite was "Grandma" holding the baby with the usual necessary drip towel over her shoulder and a very fond look on her face.

Eric Merrill , Jun 17, 2004; 06:10 p.m.


When you say that your past experience has been disappointing, what exactly do you mean? What was wrong with the pictures?

Search here on photo.net...there have been lots of threads about taking baby pictures.

I would say the quality of the light is what usually separates the great from the good pictures. In that way, it's really no different than any other type of photography. :) Fill the frame. Shoot from the shadow side. Make sure the eyes are in focus. Get down to the kid's level rather than just standing at your normal height.

Three month olds are pretty boring to anybody but their own parents. They start doing more exciting stuff later on. So take pictures and learn from your mistakes. Keep shooting.

For a little excitement, mix babies with animals. :) (Click on the picture for a larger version.)



M. Huber , Jun 18, 2004; 12:18 p.m.

Families love picts of baby taking bath. Baby always happy.

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