I love little babies, but photographing them can be challenging. As you know, I love a challenge. My solution starts with my camera and lighting equipment. I use a Nikon D3s and 24-70mm Nikkor lens. I'm usually right over the baby, so I prefer a shorter lens.
As for lighting, I use two Elinchrom BXRi 500 heads with Elinchrom Rotalux Octa Softboxes. The light it produces is incredible soft and wraps the baby. There aren't any harsh shadows, which smaller light sources can produce.
I use the mother as much as possible, so that the baby relaxes. Having her smell and body heat acts as a calmer. By placing a neutral cloth over the mother, she becomes part of the background. Rarely can a person tell it's the mother who's holding the baby.
I shoot with the baby over the mother's shoulder so I can get a full face portrait. Then I'll have mom hold the baby in front of her and get a couple more shots.
I do my best to get as many detail shots as possible such as eyes, feet and hands.
I shoot everything in RAW, so my editing process starts with ingestion into Lightroom. I make minor changes to my overall images such as exposure, saturation and cropping. When I'm done, I export the files as high resolution JPEG's.
I launch an editing software called Photomechanic, which allows me to quickly move through all of the pictures. I can also plug in general IPTC data like the subject's name and the date of the photo shoot. It even allows me to launch an editing sweet like Photoshop.
From there, I use my actions and plugins to finesse the infant portraits. One of my portrait editing plug-ins is Imagenomic Portraiture. You can see what the program looks like below. It's very simple, however, can be over-used. I recommend taking editing very slowly and not over-work your portraits.
It usually takes me two hours to shoot babies. This gives me time to put both the baby and the mother at ease. Plus, it also allows time for a quick bottle break or the occasional diaper change. After the session, it takes an hour to edit. Photographing babies takes patients, but the end results are worth it.
The Charleston Center for Photography offers a one-day workshop called Photographing Your Infant. To learn more helpful tips and get hands-on instruction, be sure to sign up today!