BY DIANA HINEK, CD, MFA
So you just bought a new fancy schmancy smart phone and you can’t wait to see how smart it really is -- especially given those billboards you see all over town promising that it will take the BEST photos EVER of your favorite restaurant dishes, your dog, and your brand new baby.
Take it from a professional -- you need more than a smart phone for smart (meaning beautiful) photos of your precious one(s). Here are some simple ways to help the camera in your new phone take photos you'll treasure forever:
#1 Take Photos During the Day -- Especially Indoors.
Yes, your new phone has a flash. And you could use the flash. People Do. But the truth is, they always hate those photos. That's because taking pictures in the dark, even with a flash, often results in ugly red-eye, harsh, unwanted shadows, garish skin tones and tons of grain. Not to mention, cranky, startled babies!
So instead of sub-par night shots, look for the the daytime sun spots around the house -- they will change throughout the day as the light moves around your abode though windows or other light sources. Indirect light is best -- through a window for example or one of those IKEA lamps that directs light upward to bounce off of the walls or ceiling to light the room. Be sure to face your baby toward the light. For example if lush light is wafting through the window in the living room, face your baby toward the window to get the best lit shot.
#2 The Best Outfits Are Simple and Comfortable.
Every new baby receives ugly, itchy outfits from their loving relatives and you may feel obliged to have your sweet baby wear them in your smart phone fashion shoot. Toss that guilt out the window -- that same window you're going to be taking gorgeous photos of your baby in front of. Remember, photos are forever! Babies are happier if they are comfortable, so skip grandma's hand-knit wool matinee jacket and scratchy caps and pull out the soft comfy clothes your baby can move around in. While you are at it, avoid plaids, small dots, stripes and brand labels (those are just tacky!)
#3 Go Horizontal
Unless you are trying to capture your baby climbing a palm tree like a baby sloth, don't shoot with the camera in the vertical position. Photos taken in the horizontal (wide) position are best and give ample space to catching your baby in action -- reaching, waving, stretching out. And don't forget to zoom in now and then, close up on his face or her tiny foot or hand.
#4 Don’t Say "Smile!" To Your Baby or Whoever is Holding Him or Her
There is nothing more counter-productive (or forced) than telling someone to smile for the camera. Instead think of something else to say, anything else, whether the subject of your photos is a baby or a grown up. Get their attention with a joke or a surprise word or move and help them smile spontaneously! Be imaginative. Use humor. Do something silly. For a baby, Peek-a-Boo works EVERY TIME!
Shoot quick -- that real smile is fleeting. You've got to get that shot before your subjects (at least the older ones) realize they are on camera and return to the fake, forced smiles.
#5 Remember the Rule of Thirds
Break your camera screen into thirds horizontally and vertically. Try to get your baby's face into any one of those thirds but the middle one. That middle square makes it a mug shot. The others make it art!
Here's the technical meaning of this phrase (thank you wikipedia): The rule of thirds is applied by aligning a subject with the guide lines and their intersection points, placing the horizon on the top or bottom line, or allowing linear features in the image to flow from section to section. The picture on the left is BAD. See the rock right in the middle of the phone? The picture on the right is following the rule. It's more interesting. By placing the rock in an outer third it the eye is led into the photo.
#6 Shoot Your Baby From Above
You have that sweet little thing in front of you and it's easy to forget your are bigger and taller than the baby!
Shoot from above. Put your baby in a basket and shoot down at her. A lot of professional photographers will climb up on a ladder and literally shoot down at those little angels you see on calendars.
If you DO climb up on a ladder over your newborn, of course exercise common sense. Be sure someone is holding the ladder.
And of course be sure you have your smart phone attached to your body somehow. someway -- by lanyard perhaps or taped to your palm if needbe. She's not going to smille if you drop your smart phone on her super smart brow.
Getting above your baby truly makes for some awesome newborn pictures!
#7 Print Print Print
Back up your phone frequently and make sure you print the photos you capture on your phone. Making printing a monthly task. Put it on your calendar and set aside and hour to gleen and pick and sent to print. Consider creating a photo book. A simple Google of Photobooks will give you lots of easy options for creating and printing photobooks online.
Birth Doula and Photographer