The Cutest Little Baby Face: Baby Portraits

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I love little babies, but photographing them can be challenging. I also love a challenge. Surmounting this challenge starts with my camera and lighting equipment. I use a Nikon D3s and 24-70mm Nikkor lens. I'm usually hovering right over the baby, so I prefer a shorter lens.


 For lighting, I use two Elinchrom BXRi 500 heads with Elinchrom Rotalux Octa Softboxes. The light this rig produces is incredibly soft, and wraps around the baby. There aren't any of the harsh shadows that smaller light sources can produce.



I make sure the mother is near as much as possible, so that the baby relaxes. Having her scent and warmth beside the baby has a calming effect. By placing a neutral cloth over the mother, she becomes part of the background. Rarely can a person tell the mother is holding the baby in my portraits.

I shoot with the baby looking 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 finished, I export the files as high-resolution JPEGs. 

I then use editing software called Photomechanic, which allows me to move quickly 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 also allows me to launch an editing sweet like Photoshop

From there, I use my actions and plug-ins 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, but it can be overused. I recommend taking editing very slowly—try not to overwork your portraits.


It usually takes me two hours to photograph a baby. 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 for me to edit. Photographing babies takes patience, but the end results are worth it.


Stacy L. Pearsall

Charleston Center for Photography

www.CCforP.org

F8-Photojournalist

www.F8PJ.com

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Do people usually like photos like these which are so unnatural looking? (With such exaggerated colors and fake-looking skin?)

 Editing "sweet"?

@ Mike, Apperently they do or her work wouldn't be up here . . .

I love this!!! Makes the babies look like little angels that hold the world in there eyes!!!! Thanks for sharing

Interesting look.  A little too much wash-out for my liking on a few of them, but still it has it's attraction.

I think the baby looks like an alien... I perfer a warmer more natural light.

I guess it comes down to personal preference - these look like they'd be at home in a magazine ad, but I prefer a more natural look and not something that shouts "Artificial lighting!" "Overdone photoshopping!!" "Creepy-looking fake blue eyes!!!" quite so much.  But if this is what sells, I guess everyone's gotta make a living.

First two things we learned in photo school: don't photograph babies or pets - unless you're Anne Geddes, then go wild. Or, unless you want to work for Sear's Portrait Studio.

I am a photographer and a gradmother and I love your picutres! Your lighting makes the baby look evan more angelic and pure than he is, as if you are seeing the babys innocent soul. This is an artistic view, BEAUTIFUL WORK!

Thanks for sharing,  I love this  look  Great photos

How many photos do thay get ?  One hour for editing is not that mucnh.

 I'm glad that this blog has sparked healthy debate. I believe that photography is subjective, so there's a type or style of photography for everyone. When I approach a shoot, I try to know my client and their "style". Knowing what they want helps "direct" my photo shoot's vision. With the client's direction and my creative vision, both of us walk away happy. 

In the end, my client must leave feeling elated and I must maintain quality and standards as a photographer. I understand that one client's AWESOME is another's UGH. My measure of shoot success is in my client's face when they see the end results. Nothing matches that professional high. 

Thanks a bunch,

Stacy

BTW: You should check out this gal Bethann Caporaletti. She makes some really beautiful baby portraits! I'm always impressed with her approach.

Great portraits, Stacy! Your work is always inspiring.