Everyone enjoys looking at a few baby photos – especially if they’re of a smiling healthy baby. But what is it about a baby that makes it so appealing? What makes the little bundle of joy so difficult to capture in a photo?

Let’s consider some of the reasons why we swoon over baby photos. Adapt these suggestions for capturing better baby pictures at home. Or when you go photographing babies professionally.

Babies and all young animals are naturally cute. Looking cute may be a survival mechanism built into your baby / kitten / duckling etc. Anyone who feels human warmth while looking at a baby photo understands the natural urge to cuddle and nurture this defenseless little creature. So there is a universal primeval purpose for the cuteness.

Artists who specialise in portraits assert that babies are cute because of their eyes. The eye is the only organ in the human body that does not grow. Our eyes are the same size now as they were on the day we were born.

Prove it to yourself. Look at your baby photos and see. Better still, hold an infant next to you while looking in a mirror. You and the little tyke will have eyes that are about the same size. This also makes infants a challenge for artists to draw because they are relatively disproportionate.

It is the lack of proportion that makes baby photos so appealing. Think about the cute cartoon characters you have loved. Most have large, wide eyes. The majority of widely-appealing cartoon characters have bigger eyes, just like the big peepers found in new baby pictures.

Ok, now you know why babies are cute but you still need to find a way of capturing their cuteness in a photo. The first thing you need is patience. Babies are not natural models so they don’t know or care about their baby photos. They have other things on their minds – usually food and comfort. Bear with them. 

Luck is also a factor but as a photographer you know you make your own luck.

  • Ensure the focus is on the infant’s face.
  • The cutest baby photos are close-ups.
  • Keep it simple.

Avoid using extravagant or complicated backgrounds because they pull the viewer’s attention away from the subject. Getting the infant to smile is one of your biggest challenges. This is where extra luck is needed. But we know luck doesn’t always work in our favour.

Tip: Use what you know about your little one to encourage a smile.

As the photographer, your task is to catch your baby making a perfect smile.

Before the photographic session, experiment with different tricks and approaches to discover what makes your baby smile. This will be different according to the age of the baby. The difference between a smile and a burp might be 1/100th of a second. Learning all this is part of the fun of parenthood. When your camera is set up, engage the infant in that smile-inducing activity again. Sometimes you use a toy. Or a kitten. Or recognition of baby’s mother’s face.

Tip: Someone else needs to make baby smile while you take the photos. Patience means you may have to try again tomorrow because baby is now tired and wants to sleep.  

Abridged from article by Eric Raymond. Reproduced for educational purposes.

The NZIBS Photography course offers the training you need to become a competent photographer. Photography can give you individual freedom, self-expression and financial gain. You’ll also find photography is an adventure, limited only by your imagination and flair – qualities which will be enhanced throughout the course.

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