How to take the perfect baby photo

Never work with animals or children, so the saying goes. However, anybody who has tried to capture memorable photographs of their newborn son or daughter will agree babies should be added to that list of troublesome subjects.

Despite this fact, the process of creating mantelpiece-worthy baby photos should be a little less painful if you follow the tips below.

1. As with anything baby-related, it pays to get the job done at the time of day when the baby involved is the happiest and most settled. As every baby is different, parents are the best placed to make that judgement.

Keep the background simple to let your gorgeous baby take centre stage.
Keep the background simple to let your gorgeous baby take centre stage. Photo: Getty Images

Some babies are happy and settled as soon as they wake in the morning, others are more content after a long afternoon sleep. Choose what time is best for your son or daughter and get the camera ready to go then.

2. It sounds obvious, but sometimes in the the middle of a photo shoot it is easy to forget you will achieve nothing unless the baby's basic needs are met first. Make sure they have a full tummy, are not tired and are not too hot or cold.

It may mean you have to stop the photo shoot for a little while so baby can have a feed and/or sleep, but the patient wait will pay off with a content baby much more lilkely to be co-operative with a photographer.

3. If it is a classic sleeping newborn shot you are hoping for, try to get the photos taken before the baby is two weeks old. After that even the most content babies tend to have longer stretches of awake time, making it trickier to capture those peaceful newborn poses.

4. Keep the background simple, especially for newborn photoshoots, and let your gorgeous boy or girl take centre stage.

For older babies, a simple prop, such as a small toy, can be useful for the baby to interact with while being photographed. However be sure not to go overboard with props or background that will take the focus away from your child.

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5. Where possible, use natural light and avoid using the flash. A flash can startle babies and result in more time spent resettling them before continuing the photo session. If you need to use a flash, try to also use a flash diffuser.

6. Don't wait for the perfect pose to appear - keep taking photos as quickly as your camera will allow.

It's impossible to predict when your baby will have their sweetest moment, and when the moment does happen it might last for a split second. By taking lots of photos you are more likely to capture the winning image, and then you can delete the other less perfect frames.

When possible, use natural light instead of a flash.
When possible, use natural light instead of a flash.  Photo: Getty Images

7. Photographing your baby at any age is fun, but lots of parents are choosing to do "cake smash" photos to celebrate their child's first birthday. For these shoots many of the above tips still apply, but there are a couple of extra things to take into consideration.

Firstly, take some photos of baby in front of the chosen background before adding the cake to the scene. This way you can make sure lighting and any other elements of the scene are perfect. This is important as once the cake is smashed and the baby is covered in icing the photo session cannot be redone.

Secondly, most photograghers say light coloured cakes work best as pictures of a baby's face covered in dark cake are not as appealing. Also make sure the cake and icing are soft so the baby doesn't have too much trouble using their hands to make a mess.

8. Last but not least, no matter what age your baby is, make sure you have a helper on hand during a photoshoot.

Babies cry, roll, crawl and need changing. Dealing with all that on your own, while also trying to capture beautiful images would be a challenge for even the most experienced photographer.

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