Answer me this - what is the time of the day, when your baby is likely to be calm, relaxed, not move too much, and give you the best chance to photograph all their adorable features?
NAP TIME of course!
Yes, I know that you also want photos of your baby with their eyes open and giving you their best gummy smiles - you absolutely should get those too, but the best thing you can do to get the photos of their gorgeous eyelashes, little curled up baby toes, sweet little hands with those miniature fingernails, the gorgeous bow shape of their lips or the swirl of their hair - the absolute best thing, is to get your child asleep.
Trust me, it's THE best way to capture lovely photos of their little hands and feet. The nature of those type of images requires you to get pretty close to your baby or zoo in a lot, and without going into all the technical details, those two actions makes your camera more sensitive to movement, so you're more likely to end up with blurry photos when their little feet jerk and move.
We actually created a "sleep deprived parent's guide to taking 10 modern baby photos" if you would like more detailed instructions on photographing your baby
It's how the pros do it!
If you've ever booked a session with a child photographer, you know that before they show up on the day they ask you lots of questions about your baby's routine - especially their sleeping. That's because they will want to spend a good portion of their time when the baby is asleep. What they know is that when your baby is napping, they'll be able to reposition them with ease and get all those key shots.
No, they don't wake up when touched
Most new parents are terrified to even touch their baby when when they're asleep. It's completely understandable - after all, you may have spent a long time getting them to sleep in the first place. But actually, once they drift off into a slightly deeper sleep (where the muscles relax) - you are unlikely to wake them up quickly. As long as you're not trying to undress / redress them and keep them warm and snug, they'll be fine! Which leads me to the next point:
Preparation is key
If you know you will want to take photos of your little one asleep, get ready ahead of time. Make sure they're dressed like you want them to be dressed for the photos. If you want to take photos of their little feet - leave them to sleep without socks or footed overalls. Keep the room extra warm and if you're taking photos on your bed - make the bedding plain and preferably bright. And yes, your camera ready and charged. Keeping a little blanket on hand to partially cover them as you take some photos to keep them warm and snug may be a good idea too.
Get the light right
Ideally, you want to take the photos somewhere near a large natural source of light like a nice window - in many cases that will be your bedroom, but it could be a mattress next to your patio doors is that gives you a better access. Make sure that your baby is facing the light and that you have the light behind your back to make the most of it. Don't be tempted to use the pop up flash on your camera - unless you can change the direction and point it towards the ceiling, you'll end up with horrible light and distracting shadows.
Use your Zoom
The temptation with baby photos is to just get close to them with your camera. But actually, you shouldn't. I know it sounds counter intuitive but hear me out. To take a great looking close-up shot ( and that’s what you really want with those little hands and feet) - use your camera zoom instead. Without going into technical reasons for it, getting in closer when your camera is ‘zoomed out’ just distorts the proportions of the thing closest to the lens. Added benefit of the zoom is that it will allow you to create that blurry background and foreground which helps your details stand out.
Those early days with your babies pass so quickly - they change and transform from one day to the next. Don't miss out on getting beautiful mementos of that time with your baby and make the most of those napping-in-the-day months. Take it from a mother of one rascal who just dropped a nap - you'll miss them when they're gone!
More sleepy babes by our students:
Photos by Laura Lane