We all want fantastic photos of our kids…and we all feel like we need to drink a vat of wine after trying to get them. After my last attempt at wrangling my two little hellions into a single frame, I thought there had to be an easier way to do this. So I asked the amazing Shanta Covington of Shanta N Covington Photography and Video for some professional help. (Professional photography help, that is.) Trust me when I say that the 7 tips in this guest post will make your life exponentially easier—and your pictures exponentially more awesome. So, without further ado…
If you’re a busy mom, getting perfect pictures of your new baby can feel like a Herculean effort.
And if you have more than one child, the whole endeavor can often come second to keeping your sanity intact. Your hopes move from that original idea of perfection to just hoping that your kids stay still long enough to let you shoot anything with your smart phone. Right, because that always works.
Well, never fear. Here’s how you can capture your baby’s special moments and milestones—and keep the meltdowns to a minimum.
1. If you’re doing a newborn shoot, let the baby lead. This first tip might be the toughest one of all. Repeat after me: Your baby is in charge. As adults, we like to think we have the upper hand…until kids show us otherwise. Poops, crying fits, fussiness and a general disdain for being posed like a cute bumblebee all leave a baby wanting to crawl for the hills. The best pictures often happen when your baby is full of milk, half asleep and oblivious to adults trying to capture their precious photos. So plan your shoots for when your baby is likely to be more compliant.
2. Get the lighting right. Photographers obsess over lighting—and for good reason. But instead of buying a lighting kit that takes a lot of trial and error to figure out, use what you’ve got. Natural light can be your best friend. If you’ve got great windows, use them. For example, diffused light filtered through a window and sheer curtains can create a beautiful, almost angelic effect. However, be careful that the light is not directly hitting your child at harsh angles or at full intensity. That kind of light will create harsh shadows and a very unhappy baby who cannot take the full intensity of the sun.
3. Pay attention to the background. Ever taken a shot where it looks like a pot is growing out of your kid’s head, or the family pet photobombs the picture in a sweet but super-annoying way? Yeah, watch your background to make sure there are no distracting elements. If possible, use a portrait-style lens (50mm, 85mm) to create “bokeh” in your photos. That’s the out-of-focus area in an image that can add soft dreaminess around your kid so that they remain the focus in the picture.
4. Don’t be afraid to ask for help. Consider asking a friend or family member to wrangle an older child while you focus on the baby. Toddlers are awesome, but they often like to show you that they rule the roost. My good friend’s daughter Isabela went from wanting to take pictures, to running away from the camera, and then interrupting a few of her brother’s shots when she saw fit. Thank goodness for her grandmother, who came to the rescue, played with Isabela (read: distracted her) and ultimately helped in achieving an even better end product. She even got to take some memorable photos with her granddaughter.
5. Talk to older siblings about what to expect. Sibling shots. They exist. We’ve all seen them out there. But just how does one get those rare shots to happen? Pray. I kid…sort of. Parents can try explaining the importance of the shot to their older child and emphasize the short amount of time it will take. However, if you’re going to promise that it will take a short time, stick to that—or else the restless jitters will set in and they will take off. Also, I’m not above bribing, so if playing their favorite song, giving them ice cream or watching a Disney movie for the 135th time works, do it. Most of all, make it fun for your older child to sit still with the younger one by creating a fun, comfortable yet structured environment to get your shots QUICKLY.
6. Think about hiring a professional. This may seem like a no-brainer, but nothing beats a professional taking photos of your baby’s special moments. A professional can help you achieve your vision, make suggestions to improve the overall product, take the responsibility off your hands, and deliver great photographs in a timely and efficient manner. Some may say, “Well, what about the cost?” Professional photographers can work with you on price, and it is often worth far more to pay for peace of mind and a great product so that you don’t miss your child’s important moments.
7. Remember that simplicity rules. Props are great. Themes rule. Yet the truth is that the real magic happens when we let go of the idea of “perfection” and capture kids in their natural environments, enjoying and exploring this thing called life.
Now it’s your turn! Good luck capturing your children’s special moments, and let us know how it goes!
Shanta Covington is the owner of Shanta N Covington Photography and Video LLC, a NYC, LA and beyond media business that specializes in creatively capturing her clients’ most important and precious moments through photography and video. Her years as a cable and digital producer help her in executing the visions of her clients. Shanta can be found on Facebook and Instagram.
Tell Us: What are your personal tricks to getting great pictures of your kids?
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