Baby photography - Any tips?


Link Posted 27/01/2014 - 13:06
Excitingly, Mrs Mongoose and I are expecting a mini-Mongoose in the near future.

Among other non-photography related things (which believe me I am busily looking into elsewhere!) this is a whole new branch of our hobby for me. Obviously I intend to document his early life and the various firsts, I'm also hoping to try some more posed photos and that's where this will be entirely new to me.

Historically, aside from 2 weddings (which I got roped into and managed to pull off more by luck than judgement), people photography has never been my thing, I'm more of a landscapes, birds and aeroplanes kind of guy. When I do do people, it tends to be candids, so any tips from those who have done this sort of thing will be greatly appreciated.

Specifically, I'm looking for tips along the lines of what focal lengths you find most useful, what do you use for a background, is flash totally out or is bounced/defused flash ok (obviously I'm thinking about the welfare of my son as well as the photos here!).

thanks in advance everyone!
you don't have to be mad to post here

but it does help


Link Posted 27/01/2014 - 14:22
Hi Mongoose

Can I ask what lenses you currently have? In relation to focal length anything from 50mm to 200mm depending on how you want the image to look.

If you own or can borrow a Pentax DA* 50mm-135mm this would be an ideal lens to photograph people young or old. Moreover, with it's constant f/2.8 it will provide you a little more light too, you can also get some lovely backgrounds with this lens.

Lighting wise, I personally would avoid using flash on new borns. However, from what I have read, other people use a variety of lighting for new borns, some use video light, others use reflectors and window light, some use flash and softboxes. I think care, attention and moderation in relation to using light with very young children should be the most important thought when taking photographs, bouncing flash and mixing it with ambient would be my option if I did have to use flash.

You should be able to isolate backgrounds if you give your self enough distance from the subject to background. 6ft can work well between f/2 and f/4 look for complimentary colours, tones and textures these will help give portraits more impact you can also use props to create scale and emotion.

There are some great articles online about photographing children and infants, and lighting, I will try and post a few links later when I get the time.

Here is one link
Last Edited by Fletcher8 on 27/01/2014 - 14:25


Link Posted 27/01/2014 - 14:36
Someone once said to me, 'you must have lots of lovely film and pictures of your daughter growing up'. in truth there was hardly a frame. In the fiddler's house no one dances! So on our next holiday I really went for it, after a day and a half they were thoroughly fed up with the whole carry on.

The best pictures I always think are the natural and unposed when the children are engrossed in something.
“We must avoid however, snapping away, shooting quickly and without thought, overloading ourselves with unnecessary images that clutter our memory and diminish the clarity of the whole.” - Henri Cartier-Bresson -


Link Posted 27/01/2014 - 17:34
Mongoose wrote:
what focal lengths you find most useful

Whatever focal length I have that will do the job.

With kid photography, you must always expect the unexpected.
Yves (another one of those crazy Canucks)


Link Posted 27/01/2014 - 17:47
four tips...

1) baby can't fall off the floor, so the safest place to set up is the floor.

2) a formed foam pillow (you can even mod it easily with a electric bread knife) and swatch of faux fur makes a great propping mat and cusion.

3) flash won't hurt baby but might startle, so keep the power dialled down.

4) after feeding, bathing and napping all done is best time to get a bright eyed, co-operative, smiling baby.

Fired many shots. Didn't kill anything.


Link Posted 27/01/2014 - 18:05
Don wrote:
3) flash won't hurt baby but might startle, so keep the power dialled down.

Good for you, Don, thank goodness someone said it.
Pentax K-3, DA18-135, DA35 F2.4, DA17-70, DA55-300, FA28-200, A50 F1.7, A100 F4 Macro, A400 F5.6, Sigma 10-20 EXDC, 50-500 F4.5-6.3 APO DG OS Samsung flash SEF-54PZF(x2)


Link Posted 27/01/2014 - 18:17
Wouldn't have a clue but congratulations anyway



Link Posted 27/01/2014 - 18:57
If you want to take pictures of the little "bundle of joy" in it's "birthday suit" (always a classic), it's best to take off the baby's diaper (I think you call then "nappy" in your part of the world) about an hour or so before the picture session to avoid diaper marks on the skin. They're not funny when you try to clone them out. You can let the baby rest on a throw away under pad in the meantime to avoid messes.
Yves (another one of those crazy Canucks)
Last Edited by pentaxian450 on 27/01/2014 - 18:57


Link Posted 27/01/2014 - 20:09
Congrats, near the due date, go to bed early every night!

50mm can be a bit long indoors and the DA35 is perfectly good. Model the shot before bringing the star on and get your exposure close. You can shoot raw and develop in camera the ones you like or process them on a PC. These are from when he was a bit older and most of the early shots were on the s95 or a Sony NEX5, The pentax MX-1 would be a pretty good choice to have hanging about for the hospital/birth and just to snap away. The first couple below made really nice canvases. EXIF is intact I think.

This was a single off camera remote (seculine twinlink) flash manual settings (flash probably on 1/4 power) on a stand through a white umbrella. A bit of black cloth draped over the playpen for the background, props by mummy, ebay wings and a white babygrow. DA35

Babies/toddlers don't know the time and are quite happy getting you up early when the light is good. Just keep your camera ready. DA35

Shame the arm was there but life isn't perfect so just keep taking shots and you'll like them even if they are not competition winners. DA50

Get a lovely shot of Mum carrying baby to his bath, hopefully in the evening light from a window. Nothing too harsh and soft enough to flatter both.

If you have a couple of hundred quid (I know new baby=skint buy it now before you know how skint you'll be) then get a compact like the MX-1 ( I have a canon s95) always handy to have about when the main camera is not available. Listen to people. i,e, my MIL said I'll remember him in the doorway looking out into the garden.... hey presto a commission, or at least a lovely present if you can get that moment.

If the other half wants a camera then get something with excellent AF like a Sony NEX.

Just keep taking photos, the baby will grow up used to the camera and school shots will be more natural and they will be happy to give a big smile for Mummy etc etc Shoot moments after a feed and being tiger held and going for a shoulder ride and sitting on grandparents etc etc I got a fun one with the nappy, the baby grow, the baby and the comforter all laid out on the bed, a DIY baby kit
Lurking is shirking.!
Last Edited by dougf8 on 27/01/2014 - 20:42


Link Posted 27/01/2014 - 20:50
Wow thanks for some great tips and ideas everyone.

in terms of kit I'm reasonably well set up I think

bodies: k5 ii and *ist dl2
flash: sigma pttl bounce swivel flash with omni-bounce
lenses: da 35 f/2.4 and fa 50 1.4, tamron 90mm macro
da 16-45, f 35-70, fa 80-320 and da 50-200

Obviously if money were no object theres things I'd change but I used up most of my brownie points on the k5 body so no major purchases are likely in the near future.

My current thoughts are that for posed shots the three primes will come in handy, and the 35-70 will probably be useful for candids, although perhaps the 16-45...
you don't have to be mad to post here

but it does help


Link Posted 29/01/2014 - 07:52
Very helpful tips! I'll use the tips and links that I got from this thread. I love to take baby pictures but I'm finding it hard to capture the right angle because babies tend to keep on moving. Taking baby picture is both challenging and rewarding.


Link Posted 02/02/2014 - 12:32
My thoughts:

1. For the most part you'll probably want to do candids, because setting up any kind of formal shot with a small child is a pain as soon as they can move under their own power.

2. Flash is fine, often preferable once they start moving quickly. Bounced is better, but that's generally the case anyway. If your child doesn't like the flash going off, it will let you know very quickly.

3. Generally, try to get on the same level as the child. Photos of the top of a kid's head are not very interesting.

4. Kit wise, automatic everything (well, maybe aperture priority exposure) is usually a good thing because they will rarely stay in one place for very long. Focal length doesn't really matter but for a truly candid shot you may want to use something a little longer than you would for a grown-up so you don't distract them while you set up. That said, I've also had fun at 10mm for distorted close-ups of playtime so remember to experiment.

5. Keep your camera ready to go and easily accessible so you can grab it as soon as you see something photo worthy.

6. Remember to copy your images to your computer regularly and back them up. You may well end up with thousands if you're anything like me, so take the time to get rid of any that are total rubbish and select your favourites from what's left (I use Lightroom "pick" flags). Print your favourites. If you don't do this regularly you will end up with a massive backlog to sort out and have trouble finding the time to get on top of it again.

7. At some point, your child will be taught to say "cheese". You will then have to develop the stealth skills of a ninja to get any photos without cheesey grins in them.

8. Although you will know your children are the most beautiful creatures in the world, other people will not agree (after all, I know mine are) so only share your very best ones. Quality over quantity. Obviously this does not apply to grandparents, who generally can't get enough of grandkid photos.

9. Remember to stop taking photos occasionally and actually enjoy watching them develop and grow.

My online scrapbook:


Link Posted 02/02/2014 - 13:18
Congrats! ;P

Don't know much about baby photography although I think I read somewhere you can put them in the freezer for a bit to stop them moving around too much. (Or was that something else? )
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