Mother’s Day is slowly approaching and what better gift can a mom receive than the perfect picture of her with her child, or her children on their own. We are past the days of over processed photos and standard mall portrait studio pictures. However, everyone can’t afford a professional photographer every time they want those special photos. A few weeks back H and I met the fabulous Jennifer Loomis and she knows just the way to set up the perfect shot of your child. During the event Jennifer Loomis gave us some tips about working with light, cropping and the art of seeing a great photo. Her tips are listed below.
How to take professional looking photos of your child and baby
- Pick the right time. Studios set aside 1 to 3 hours to take a child’s photo, so you should set aside at least an hour. Your child also needs to be at his or her best during the shoot, so don’t attempt to try right before or after a nap or when they might be tired or hungry.
- Set up a home studio. Create your environment first by creating a studio-like setting in your house. Clear away the clutter, put away toys, and remove anything else that is distracting from the area, such as plants and chairs. Then use a backdrop in a neutral tone – Jennifer Loomis recommends a big piece of black velvet. You can use a white wall too (but no sunlight falling on the wall.). You are trying to create a consistent tone.
- What to photograph? Ask yourself “what do I like about my child and what makes him/her different” – is it a smile, a furrowed brow, their feet, how they hug their sibling? Resist the temptation to say “everything” and get specific on just a few things. Write them down – these will provide inspiration for your photos.
- Learn to see good light. Use of light is a key to great photographs. Start by turning off the flash on the camera. Find a decently sized window with indirect light (no sun shining on the floor). Position your child at a 90% angle to the window (no back to window, but shoulders squared to the window). Make a note of the time when the light will be at its best.
- Dress the subject appropriately. The child’s clothing should be solid colors without branding, patterns or writing on it; no white; in a different color than the backdrop. Depending on the age of child, you might consider taking picture of child without shirt or taking off the shoes because childrens’ feet are so cute.
- Use props. If there is something that is important to a child, such as a teddy bear or blanket, Jennifer Loomis recommends taking a few pictures with the item to capture the memory.
- Enlist help if needed. If photographing a toddler, you might need a second person assisting you to get the child to be more focused and participate. Work on getting your child to connect with you.
- Get creative and experiment. Try framing your images using different distances such as wide, medium and tight, but don’t forget to pay attention to your background. Physically move in and stand back from the subject vs. using the zoom lens, as you will better connect with the subject. Try getting in tight when photographing smaller body parts, such as the nose, the foot, etc. If you are using film (not digital) try some black and white film shots too.
As a blogger using social media is the way I communicate with my community. With the improvements of smartphone photo technology more and more people are communicating through photos, one photo can communicate so much more detail than 140 characters ever could. My family and what we do is my brand, and I want to portray this the best visually way possible. With this in mind it was great to receive these amazing photo tips from Jennifer Loomis. When I take photos of H I take multiples at a time but not all of them are good or share worthy. I learned to see my photos with a different eye and this will also help with my “brand”.
Jennifer Loomis (www.jenniferloomis.com) has photographed more than 2000 pregnant women and families with studios in SF, Seattle and NY. If you need more inspiration you should check out her first book, Portraits of Pregnancy: The Birth of a Mother (Sentient, May 2009, $24.95) it is an inspiring compilation of portraits of pregnant women and their heartfelt transformative journeys to becoming mothers.