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DPChallenge Forums >> Photography Discussion >> Break out your pro baby portraits
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07/30/2008 11:49:28 PM · #1
I have agreed to do a studio shoot for the wife of a friend of a friend. I love shooting toddlers, but mainly when they are close friends or family and babies are a little more difficult I think. The subject is an almost one year old girl and I have never met her or the mother. I am just doing this for the fun and the experience because there clearly aint no money in it when mom says "I just hope you're cheaper and better than than JC Penneys" (Just let that one go, Prof_Fate, I did). :)

Anyway, I told her I am not a pro and to bring some baby toys and stuff and we'll work something out. So now I need some ideas for poses and easy to create settings and stuff. So if you're a baby photog (I mean a photog that shoots babies, not a one that whines and cries) - PLEASE post your typical or best shots and any advice here and you will have my eternal gratitude.
07/31/2008 12:03:33 AM · #2
Hey Art... I haven't done much baby photography, but I just found a couple of pretty good "tip" links:
Link 1
Link 2
Also found some really good ideas/examples by rifling through these links.
07/31/2008 12:04:20 AM · #3
Babies are fun, but tough. Each age is so different. A 1 year old can stand and usually walk - and the parents are proud of that so capture it.
Be patient, get on the kids level and don't try much in the way of posing - it won't work anyway so why frustrate you, the mom and child?

Clean toys (dirt will show) are great props -either their toys (fave stuffed animal is always good) which mean more or just prop type toys can work. Expect them to eat it so be careful of what you give them. Cute fake flowers have sharp ends.

Outiside a blanket in the grass can be a nice 'backdrop'. Pics with mummy would be great, but getting mom into the pics is a tough one. Outside is nice cause you got drive mode - easier to catch 'the' expression.

I've got an 18month old coming saturday morning followed by a 90 minute drive to a wedding and i've not met mom or baby. After 5 or so infants now I'm getting the hang of the wee ones - it's the toddlers that are going to be new to me. I have an idea if mom is up for it...a 1 year old might be too young...white seemless and either crayons or paint and let the kid go to town. I also have some newspaper end rolls - not as pretty but cheaper!

From a 1 year old session
//www.pbase.com/cpphotography/image/87116530.jpg
//www.pbase.com/cpphotography/image/87400516.jpg (they brought the horse, straw and such.

07/31/2008 12:08:08 AM · #4
Does the Mom specifically want a "posed" shot look? Your shots of Riley are so amazing, I think that capturing the shots in a more "photojournalistic" way would be really cool. I particularly love your collage type stuff (running, crying, tantrum erupting, laughter, etc). Just letting them play outdoors and catching the cool moments would be the way I would go.
07/31/2008 12:10:16 AM · #5
Well... I'm particularly fond of this pose, though it's a little difficult to replicate on demand:

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But if baby won't cooperate, maybe dad will:

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I like close-ups of the baby:

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I love shots where the parents are paying attention to the baby ... I feel it adds warmth to the image as well as added importance to the baby's presence within the image:

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A little more traditional portrait:

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And if you're really clever, you can somehow manage to get yourself into the picture:

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07/31/2008 03:04:23 AM · #6
Feel free to look for my portfolio....but one of my fave poses is getting the bub inbetween the mum and dad(whether the mum and dad are facing me or not) and get them to give the bubba a kiss on either cheek like this :

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And close ups are great... ' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/0-999/692/120/541320.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_challenge/0-999/692/120/541320.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

I gather that if the baby is nearly the age of one she will be able to sit up, so give her plenty of attention let her play....You'll do great!

Message edited by author 2008-07-31 05:05:16.
07/31/2008 03:11:12 AM · #7
I prefer Black and Whites with plain backgrounds to promote the subject more.

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07/31/2008 06:01:39 AM · #8
Wow - GREAT samples and advice from all! Much appreciated. I am heading out of town for a couple days & won't be online much, but any more samples and tips are always welcome. I'll definitely post how it goes.
08/01/2008 09:32:13 AM · #9
here are my shots....Gavin was just 1 at the time. Not good technically, but good poses/captures
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Message edited by author 2008-08-01 09:34:39.
08/01/2008 10:23:18 AM · #10
I saw one photg that took a pezz dispenser and filed the edges to fit in the hotshoe as a way of attracting the eyes. Has the added benefit of making you look like a fool :-) Try something colourful or noisy or both just above the camera.
08/01/2008 10:31:13 AM · #11
I sort of hesitate to call these pro since they were done while this was still very much a hobby for me...but here are some thoughts for you.

Since your subject is almost one, chances are she can stand and/or pull up by herself. So, having props that can help them do that will be good...rocking horses, little sturdy chairs, or benches covered in a drape. If they are closer to one and sit pretty well unsupported, then put them in the chair! That age, they are always moving! That's all they want to do is crawl away, or get up and stand so be ready! I keep bubbles on hand to get their attention. Props are great because it can keep them still enough to snap one good shot, or two, or three depending on the tot. I usually have Mom bring a favorite toy or item to get into the picture.

this girl was about 4 months old and not the best at holding her head up, but we still manged one that Mom loved!
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Case and point of a 1 year that WOULD not sit still! I snapped this without Mom and Dad knowing, they were placing the props and trying to queue him to stay sitting.
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This is the same little guy at 6 months old just learning to sit.
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/25000-29999/25183/120/540905.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/25000-29999/25183/120/540905.jpg', '/') + 1) . '
' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/25000-29999/25183/120/540907.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/25000-29999/25183/120/540907.jpg', '/') + 1) . '

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' . substr('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/25000-29999/25183/120/705539.jpg', strrpos('//images.dpchallenge.com/images_portfolio/25000-29999/25183/120/705539.jpg', '/') + 1) . ' 9 months learning to stand holding on

About one year old,probably a little older
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Message edited by author 2008-08-01 10:32:14.
08/01/2008 11:34:14 AM · #12
Not pro, just my wife with my film SLR (Canon elan7e). This was before I had a dSLR. I should find the scan and reprocess, I don't like my skin tone.

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Me and my Boy
08/04/2008 10:02:36 PM · #13
Well I had MUCH less time to prepare for this shoot and had little in the way of props & backdrops. Still - I took about 100 shots of Jade and looks like I'll have about 12 keepers. She was a curious little lady who didn't hold still much. :) I learned a lot from this - like how much I need to learn more about flash photography.

Thanks to Julie (' . substr('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', strrpos('//www.dpchallenge.com/images/user_icon/21_F.gif', '/') + 1) . ' luv2photo) for the metal washtub suggestion. It worked out pretty well!

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Some other misc processed shots...

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And in case anyone was wondering, NO, she didn't get along well with Godzilla. Who knew??

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THANKS again for all the advice and samples. I may try this again.

Comments & honest critiques are always welcome.
08/04/2008 10:31:31 PM · #14
Ken,

I must say I love the posing, and I love the ideas that you used. However the motion blur in the photos suggests that you used way to slow of a shutter speed, especially since you were using flash. The one EXIF I checked shows you used your 50 1.4 at 1.4 and they shutter speed was 1/50th. While shooting with strobes(flash) I generally shoot so that my strobes overpower my ambient that assures no blur in the shot. You can shoot at 1/250th with most strobes. And with your camera you could have easily kept the 1.4 and gone up to 1/160th by bumping ISO and not giving up anything in quality but killed the blur. Although I must admit in a couple of the shots the blur adds something special that I like, most people wont like it.

When I use my strobes. I shoot at 1/250th F? whatever I need and whatever ISO I need. Basically because thats the max sync speed of my wireless system. You can also go down to 1/160th and not have a problem. If you go slower then that you really have to over power the ambient so none comes in while the shutter is open and the strobes stop the subject. In a bit I'll upload a couple from a baby session I did. Overall you did very good, I think the client certainly got their money's worth.

Matt

ETA that when you go to strobes or external flashes, a lightmeter is your best friend.

Message edited by author 2008-08-04 22:37:30.
08/04/2008 10:35:08 PM · #15
For your first baby shoot, I think you did really well. I agree abut the motion blur...but I would highly suggest.....keep the Godzilla under wraps at all times!
08/04/2008 10:38:06 PM · #16
Originally posted by MattO:

However the motion blur in the photos suggests that you used way to slow of a shutter speed, especially since you were using flash.

Thanks Matt - I should have mentioned I used flash for most of the shots - the ones with motion blur I did not - I went into handheld, AV mode, f1.2 (85mm) and f1.4 (50mm) and I realized after looking at the shots on the PC that I should have stuck with the flash the whole time! When I shot the flash, I used my 580EX off camera and 2 softbox slaves on each side of the little girl. My problem with controlling the flash is I can't go larger than f8 without blowing everything out even with the softboxes on lowest power and the 580ex pointed at the ceiling.
08/04/2008 10:43:48 PM · #17
Originally posted by Art Roflmao:

My problem with controlling the flash is I can't go larger than f8 without blowing everything out even with the softboxes on lowest power and the 580ex pointed at the ceiling.


I throw my polarizer on to lose a couple more stops when I need to. The only filter I have, obviously there are better suited approaches.

Message edited by author 2008-08-04 22:44:03.
08/04/2008 10:45:22 PM · #18
Originally posted by violinist123:

I throw my polarizer on to lose a couple more stops when I need to. The only filter I have, obviously there are better suited approaches.

Hmmm - never thought of that - thanks!
08/04/2008 10:48:31 PM · #19
Originally posted by Art Roflmao:

Originally posted by MattO:

However the motion blur in the photos suggests that you used way to slow of a shutter speed, especially since you were using flash.

Thanks Matt - I should have mentioned I used flash for most of the shots - the ones with motion blur I did not - I went into handheld, AV mode, f1.2 (85mm) and f1.4 (50mm) and I realized after looking at the shots on the PC that I should have stuck with the flash the whole time! When I shot the flash, I used my 580EX off camera and 2 softbox slaves on each side of the little girl. My problem with controlling the flash is I can't go larger than f8 without blowing everything out even with the softboxes on lowest power and the 580ex pointed at the ceiling.


You really need to look into a way to lower your strobe power then. Are you firing the softbox strobes optically with the 580? If so I can see how that would be a problem. My first set of strobes had full and half power and that was it. What a PITA they were to deal with. And I also had to fire them optically with another flash on camera. If you liked what you did. And want to do more of it, I'd suggest getting a couple of AB400's and softbox or brolly's and use their wireless system. You will be able to spend more time with the client and less cussing your lights.

Like I said the customer got their money's worth, there are some great shots there that are precious and the parent will love. Just trying to offer a few suggestions from my short comings in the past. You offer so much to this community I was hoping to offer just a bit back to you.

Matt
08/04/2008 10:51:09 PM · #20
Wait... at under f/8 are you blowing the image because the shutter speed is stuck at Sync Speed? If so, put your flash into High Speed Sync mode. (but first, make sure you've lowered your ISO to the lowest it can go, no sense going into HSS mode needlessly)

08/04/2008 10:53:40 PM · #21
Thanks Matt - I really appreciate the feedback. Yes, I am firing the softboxes optically. I have them set on continuous light also, but they still flash when the detect the 580 flash. I may just invest in some AB's. My whole setup is eBay cheapo kit stuff - it's ok for goofing around.
08/04/2008 10:55:55 PM · #22
Originally posted by dwterry:

Wait... at under f/8 are you blowing the image because the shutter speed is stuck at Sync Speed? If so, put your flash into High Speed Sync mode. (but first, make sure you've lowered your ISO to the lowest it can go, no sense going into HSS mode needlessly)

I REALLY gotta curl up next to the fireplace with my 580EX instruction book! At one point I had it in high speed mode and was able to get things working better, but the 580 doesn't like me and I can never remember how to get it back to the settings I want. I could not for the life of me get it to go into HS mode again. :/
08/04/2008 11:00:13 PM · #23
Originally posted by dwterry:

Wait... at under f/8 are you blowing the image because the shutter speed is stuck at Sync Speed? If so, put your flash into High Speed Sync mode. (but first, make sure you've lowered your ISO to the lowest it can go, no sense going into HSS mode needlessly)


The exif I checked on them said ISO 100. I think thats as low as the 30D will go.

Matt

I know many people say the strobist way to go, however IMHO there is nothing like having the big time control and consistancy of a set of AB's.


08/04/2008 11:02:28 PM · #24
It's a single button ... has an "H" next to it. ;-)

So the telltale sign of this would be that you're in Av mode and suddenly the camera is picking 1/250th of a second (your camera's sync speed). If you turn the flash off and the shutter speed goes beyond 1/250th, then you know your camera is being forced to overexpose the image in order to maintain sync speed. That's when you need to hit the "H" button.

Putting the flash into HSS mode lets the camera pick a faster shutter speed and avoid over exposing the image.

Message edited by author 2008-08-04 23:03:19.
08/04/2008 11:04:22 PM · #25
Originally posted by dwterry:

It's a single button ... has an "H" next to it. ;-)

So the telltale sign of this would be that you're in Av mode and suddenly the camera is picking 1/250th of a second (your camera's sync speed). If you turn the flash off and the shutter speed goes beyond 1/250th, then you know your camera is being forced to overexpose the image in order to maintain sync speed. That's when you need to hit the "H" button.


He is also firing optical strobes with the 580, wont he end up with Odd sync issues going into HSS with those? I know when I would fire optically and go into HSS I would get a black shutter line across the bottom? of the frame.

Matt
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