How to Create DIY Baby Portraits
Hello everyone, Armands from A-Fotografy here, I'm an Edinburgh-based newborn, maternity and family photographer.
In the past year I’ve concentrated on creating various helpful guides for parents, and my 'How to Create DIY Maternity Portraits' has been especially well received. Therefore I’ve decided to do one more photo guide, this time focusing on baby photos.
Perhaps you just take photos of your baby as it happens, the light won't be the best, there will be strange angles and grainy photos. These are fine, they have their place but keep in mind that with just a little planning and effort, you could be creating professional-looking portraits on you phone.
What do you need to create your own portraits at home?
Remote control to trigger the phone
An app to manually control the camera on the phone (the native phone camera can be ok, but I find that in some situations manual override settings work better)
An app to edit photos - including smoothing skin, blurring the background, etc.
A Tripod or some sort of phone holder so you can be hands-free
Before you start taking any portraits, please make a shot list
What kind of photos would you like to have?
Your shot list can be baby’s head shot, full-body photo, family photos, close-up photos etc. Once you have that you need to think about colours in your photos. You don’t want the colour of the blankets or clothes to overpower the baby and you should also try to avoid busy patterns on fabrics. Essentially, anything that can distract attention from the baby’s face should be avoided.
This is probably the most important part, good light will improve the quality of the photos; they will be cleaner and not as pixely.
Have a look around where you’re taking the picture – where is the best light? What time of the day has the best light?
Work as a team
Get your partner to help or bring in a friend to help. You will need someone to hold the blanket and watch the baby while you take the photos. If you’re planning to do photos with siblings/pets, you will definitely need an extra hand. I would say two extra people actually.
Warm up the house to so it is nice and toasty. The baby might be wearing little or no clothing, so we need to make sure the house is very warm and they are a bit sleepy. You might get sleepy too, but stay focused here.
Start taking portraits
You have tested the camera. You have found good light. Now it’s time to get going with portrait creation.
Place the baby so they are safe and can't roll off the bed. Place rolled up towels under the head and around the edges. Place one under the baby’s bottom too so they don’t slide down. BABY'S SAFETY COMES FIRST.
Place your baby in a way that their head is at the closest point to the camera. This way you focus on the baby’s face first.
Take photos from different angles and if the baby is sleeping, you can also get detailed shots of hands and feet, close-ups of the face or full body shots. These are the photos you can take on your own or if your partner is around, they can help with blanket stretching.
Be careful of the exposure on your phone camera
This point is super important, especially if you’re using a native phone camera. For example, if the baby is wearing dark clothing or you have put the baby on a dark tone blanket, the camera might think it needs extra brightness to get a good exposure. This will leave the baby’s skin overexposed, simply adjust the exposure in manual settings so it stays the same all the way. As long as the light doesn't change you are good to keep taking portraits.
For these, you will need the tripod and the remote control to trigger the camera.
Position the phone slightly above your eye line and tilt it forward a bit. It is crucial that you don't take photos from below the chin line as these will not look pleasing. The same goes for standing and sitting on the bed family portraits. You should also wear similar toned clothing.
This can be a fairly subjective point; some people like all-natural, some want all imperfections to be edited out. The phone could limit you a bit on this, but you should always be able to edit a few simple blemishes and wrinkles. If the colour looks off you could convert it to black and white.
Most important job after
Print your photos and enjoy them for years to come. Back them up and back them up again!
This is a shortened guide but you can find a full in-depth guide on each topic on my blog. If all this sounds a bit overwhelming, consider hiring a professional baby photographer like me to create these special moments for you.