Now that you know when to take your baby’s portrait, you need to decide where you’re going to get your best results in terms of lighting. I’m going to assume you don’t have studio lights or an external flash, since these things will give you a lot more control over the lighting of the photograph, but are not necessarily required. If you are just an amateur like I am, you’ll need to be a little more picky about where you place your baby.
Typically, you’re not going to get terrific results from the flash of a point-and-shoot digital camera. If you are looking for professional looking photos, you’ll need to recreate studio type lighting in your own home. The best way to do this is to take the photo near a window with indirect sunlight. If direct sunlight hits your subject, he or she will be quickly washed out. You can also use a light shade over the window as an alternative to indirect sunlight if you must.
How you position your baby and the camera is also important. You want to create a nice triangle between you, your baby, and your light source. Ideally, the light should hit your baby’s face at a 45 degree angle, which will highlight the facial features and create subtle, flattering shadows in all the right places. If the light source is behind your baby, you will not be able to see her face. If the light source hits your baby’s face directly, you will not achieve the desired effect. If the light source is directly to the side of the child, the opposite side of her face will be too dark.
Once you find the ideal position for you as the photographer and your baby as the subject, you will need to tweak your camera’s settings to take full advantage of the natural light. This means turning off the flash and adjusting the exposure until the picture has just the right amount of light and is not too grainy. I would advise reading your camera’s user manual since there are different ways to achieve this in digital camera, depending on your particular model. I would also suggest practicing on a more patient model, such as your spouse, since your baby might not appreciate sitting around while you make adjustments!
In the next installment, I will talk about using props…