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Photo Lighting Tips for Baby Pictures

Learn How to Take Better Baby Photos

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Updated April 30, 2014

photo lighting

Natural light often makes the best photo lighting for baby pictures.

Dana Hinders

The right photo lighting can bring out details in your baby pictures such as the twinkle in your child's eye and the silkiness of her hair. Good lighting makes a photo seem warm and inviting, while poor lighting can make your subject look rather flat and lifeless.

Lighting for Outdoor Photography

If you're photographing your baby outside, such as in a garden or at the park, the best photo lighting will be available right after sunrise or just before sunset. The bright midday sun produces harsh shadows and can cause your little bundle of joy to squint when you try to snap a picture.

If you must take pictures during the midday hours, try positioning your baby so he's under a tree or another shade source. You can use your camera's fill flash if you find that your baby's face is too dark. Fill flash helps "fill in" light when there would otherwise be shadows in an image; it is useful for balancing out extremes of light and dark in your baby pictures. To use the fill flash, you need to override your camera's automatic flash setting and stand less than 10 feet away from your baby.

Photo Lighting Tips for Indoor Baby Pictures

Avoid using a flash whenever possible if you're taking baby pictures indoors. Babies do not like having bright lights shone in their eyes. If you use a flash, you're likely to end up with tears or displeased expressions instead of cute baby smiles.

If it's practical, move towards a window so you can utilize some of the natural light from outside. Don't get too close, as this can make the light seem unnecessarily harsh. Move back a few steps and have your baby face the window at a 45 degree angle for the best results.

When taking pictures inside, remember that you don't want to have the photo lights coming from behind your child. This will result in a silhouette for your baby photo.

As you have probably already guessed, nothing ruins a cute baby picture faster than red eye. Fortunately, most digital cameras today have a red eye reduction function that you can use when shooting indoors to help deal with this problem. If there's no way around using flash photography for taking indoor baby pictures, make sure you know how to operate this feature on your camera.

Photo Studio Lighting

Taking baby portraits at home can be a good way to save money. You don't need a lot of fancy photo lighting equipment, either. Halogen work lights or desk lamps are widely available and fairly inexpensive. Position your photo lights at an angle in order to minimize shadows in your baby pictures.

Reflectors and diffusers can be used to enhance pictures during your baby photo shoot. Anything white or metallic placed near a shadowed area can act as a reflector. Try using a piece of white foam core board or foil covered cardboard to make a homemade reflector. Translucent material, such as a sheer curtain or a light colored sheet with a low thread count, works well as a diffuser for taking baby photos.

Practice Makes Perfect

Mastering the art of photo lighting takes a lot of practice. Even professional photographers struggle to grasp the proper techniques for lighting various types of pictures. So, be patient with yourself and don't be afraid to experiment. The more pictures you take of your child, the better your baby photos will become.

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