1. Use soft lighting
Indoors, choose a room that’s got a good sized window and aim to have the light falling onto, and ideally across, the subjects face rather than from above or behind. If outdoors, avoid midday when the sun is high in the sky and the sunlight is harsh and casts shadows. Late afternoon and early evening light is much softer.
2. Keep clothes simple, or strip off!
Not all Dads feel comfortable taking their shirt off for a photo which is fine, although it’s lovely to get the skin on skin look, particularly with a newborn baby. If clothes are worn, have Dad in a simple, plain white t-shirt and baby in a white baby grow or playsuit. Clothes should be free of logos and collars ideally and the dad should remove his watch, wristbands and any jewellery, unless it is sentimental, to avoid dating the photograph.
3. Strike a pose
While the baby must be held securely and safely at all times, he should not be gripping the baby too tightly. If you have a newborn or small baby, be sure to make the room comfortably warm.
- Baby held in the father’s hands
- Baby resting on the dad’s shoulder with the dad standing side on
- Baby held in the crook of the dad’s arm
- Baby lying in the dad’s cupped hands with his legs against the Dad’s chest
Please do NOT be tempted to try and recreate complex newborn baby poses at home that you may have seen done by professional photographers. Professionals are trained and highly skilled in handling babies safely and they use lots of cushions, padding and usually another adult to provide support for the baby which is later removed from the photograph using digital editing techniques. Please do not put your baby in danger for the sake of a photograph.
4. Have fun
Family photos should be fun for all involved. Aim to capture natural smiles and the interaction between father and child. If your child is older than newborn, Dad should play with him or her to encourage them to feel comfortable and to smile naturally. Dads could crouch or lie down so his and the child’s head and shoulders are at the same height, or he could lift the child into the air. The person taking the photo could also experiment taking the picture from different heights.
5. Stylistic considerations
Black and white images give great contrast and texture. A black and white treatment is also a great way of masking the different skin tones of the father and child, particularly with newborns as their skin can be red.
Karen specialises in newborn, baby and family photography and operates from her studio in Poole, Dorset. For more info visit: www.kw-photography.co.uk