by Susan Flynn
For photographers, an infant offers so much material to mine; tiny toes, a big yawn, or a clenched fist can all make for irresistible images. Here, five local professional photographers offer 10 tips on how to capture this magical time, even in the throes of sleep deprivation and spit-ups:
1. When taking newborn photos, a well-fed, sleeping baby is your best subject. “A newborn's expression softens when [he’s] dozing,” says Cheryl Steinhoff of Groton-based Cheryl Steinhoff Photography (www.cherylsteinhoffphotography.com). She also notes that a warm room allows you to ease an infant in and out of different poses.
2. Don’t go overboard with props, advises Stefanie Kimball of Stefanie Lynn Photography in Boston (www.stefanielynnphotography.com). “The focus should always be on the baby. To me, less is more.”
3. Keep the focus on the eyes, says Cayce Wegman of Cayce Lee Photography in Newton (http://cayceleephotography.com/). “When using a camera, there is always a focus bracket that you see through the lens. If you focus that bracket on your subject’s eye – whichever eye is closest to you if he or she is turned – you will have nice sharp eyes in your image.”
4. Avoid using direct flash with babies, especially newborns, says Mary Roy of Danvers-based Mary Lou Roy Photography (http://marylouroy.com/). Instead, use natural light from a big window. “The photo will be softer and more professional looking,” says Roy.
5. To capture a sleepy newborn, it’s best to shoot within the first two weeks of life. “They are easily positioned and manipulated in those curled up shots,” says Kimball.
6. If possible, have someone else around to help – one person to take the photographs and the other to interact with the baby. It’s hard to do both. “In the business, this person is the ‘Baby Wrangler’ and I actually think they’re more important than the photographer,” says Kim Lowe of Kim Lowe Photography in Boston (http://www.kimlowe.com).
7. Newborn skin can be red and blotchy. It’s a good idea to convert the images to black and white to alleviate this, says Kimball. Also, "If you must dress them, keep the outfits simple and solid colors. Prints are distracting to the eye.”
8. Try not to force it. Babies never behave when you want them to, so just be patient and wait for candid moments, recommends Roy. “If they smile and look at the camera, then great, but sometimes a pensive look out the window is just as cute and frame-worthy.”
9. Keep your camera in an easily accessible place. You never know when you’ll want to get a shot, says Kimball.
10. Get in there. “Whether you have a fancy zoom lens or you need to use your body to get in close, you want to get close enough to capture the details of your miracle – the sweet pout of the mouth, the tiniest of toes, the downy hair all over the body,” says Steinhoff.