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Photographing babies is challenging because co-operation cannot be obtained. If the child decides to wave a leg in the air, that is what will happen. This is all part of the fun, and of what makes babies so appealing.

Flash equipped with a softbox, or bounced off a white ceiling, may seem the obvious approach when photographing infants. It provides enough light to work with a small aperture and good depth of field, but it can also upset a baby. If this is the case, place your subject close to a window where there is good indirect illumination. Here the daylight will be diffused, the shadows soft and the atmosphere moody. In Europe, a north-facing window is ideal but a similar effect can be achieved by covering any window with a net curtain. The aim is to find conditions that permit a shutter speed faster than 1/30 second, and an aperture small enough to achieve sufficient depth of field. ISO speed obviously has a bearing upon this.

A suitable backdrop to conceal distracting objects is the next priority. If you intend working with colour think about colour casts. Light reflected from a backdrop or a coloured baby-grow may turn the infant a sickly shade. Such casts can be avoided by using white clothing and neutral backgrounds.

Once the environment is acceptable, get in close. Go as close as the lens will focus and start creating images. Enlist Mum and Dad and a favourite toy to catch the infant's attention and get a smile. Look for eye contact and be ready to grab it - you are the one who is intimidated, not the baby. The child doesn't care how close you get or how much time you waste. Mum will know how to handle expressions, moods and tantrums. Don't worry about a few fretful tears - crying is just as photogenic as laughing. Try including Mum's face and shoulder, or Dad's huge hand holding a tiny foot, and save a few frames for when the feet go into the mouth. Just go for it because babies tire quickly and get grumpy when hungry. This sort of session can run off the rails at any moment.

Baby pictures are priceless to the parents. The early years pass quickly so a few really good shots soon become treasured possessions. The secret is to get close and use lots of film.


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