So, you’ve got Baby posed and surrounded by props — but, where’s his smile? In last week’s post we began discussing baby portraits, what makes them tricky, and how to overcome hurdles. Now that you’re in the know about prep, gear, and posing, you may be ready to dive into some nitty-gritty details. If so, read on! In Part Two, we’ll discuss how to capture the perfect facial expression, and ways to bring emotion through in an image via editing.
Babies are full of expressions — open-mouthed wails, yawns, awed gazes and grins, to list just a few. But capturing the right body language at the right moment can be tough with a finicky baby. And some parents are set on getting a smile, regardless of Baby’s mood. In these cases, you’ll need to cover your bases.
If you can’t get a smile right away, capture other expressions that might surprise Mom and Dad. Sometimes a sleepy pout, yawn, or wonder-stuck gaze can be just as cute as smile, particularly when you apply the right edits.
After you get these shots — quickly, to preserve Baby’s mood — go for the golden smile. To make things easier, you may want to consult Mom and Dad. They know what makes Baby smile, and may be able to clue you in to a particular toy, sound, or tickle that does the trick. If Baby needs you to do something silly — say, “moo” like a cow, or pretend to bonk your own head — get over your embarrassment, and do it!
However, if Baby needs Mom or Dad to inspire the smile, frame around them. Come in for a close-up or a birds-eye (a shot from above) if they’re tickling Baby’s feet. But remember, when you hit the shutter button, you want Baby’s eyes on you. Sometimes I grab Baby’s attention at just the right moment by asking, “isn’t Mom silly?” Any words will do, as long as your tone is loud and upbeat.
All the editing in the world can’t turn a bad baby picture into an adorable keepsake. But editing can affect the tone of an image. Adjusting color is one way to change tone. Switching to black-and-white or sepia can drastically alter the mood of an image — positively, if applied right. For example, switching to grayscale can reduce any red coloration around Baby’s eyes left over from an episode of tears.
I also like shifting to black-and-white when Baby isn’t looking straight at the camera, but the image is still cute. This produces a more wistful or sentimental-looking picture. Lastly, the stark contrast of Baby’s soft skin against a dark muslin background can be emphasized by a quick switch to black-and-white, particularly when it comes to “naked baby” pictures. Softening the focus in these images, as well, can add to their glowing, fragile feel.