In the world of quarantine, photos have become more important than ever before. They’re how we share our children’s days with friends and family through social media. How grandparents see them grow from infants to toddlers. How we keep track of our lives when weeks stretch into months.
But with unlimited storage, we fill our phones up with so many snapshots, sometimes the sheer volume can prevent us from the very thing we’re trying to do: making beautiful photos of our babies that we can print, frame or send.
That’s why we’re so excited to make space for one of our favorite photographers, Kristine Boel, to share her amazing tips for how you can photograph your babies like a professional -- by yourself. Check out her photos of her beautiful baby enjoying our brand new alma grow crib, and read on for five tips you can’t afford to miss. And don’t forget to follow her on Instagram for even more inspiration!
- Plan your shoot.
Plan for a time in the day where you don't feel rushed or stressed, and consider if you want the images to be active or calm -- then you know if it should be before or after naps.
Envision at least one idea you want to create. This could be a photo you have seen or an idea you saw somewhere. Print it out or have it saved on your phone. Study it. Try and copy that and then shift over to your own interpretation. Don't direct too much, since kids tend to shut down or do the opposite. Keep it playful and engaging.
- Find a window.
Window light is my favorite kind of light. It's soft, it's flattering and it always makes dreamy pictures. Make your "scene" as close to a window as possible. Either have your kid sit or stand close to the window or if your baby is little "build" a bed by tossing some pillows and sheet on the floor where the light falls in.
Direct sun makes a dramatic and almost editorial shot. Observe your light in your home consider the contrast between light and shadow. Place your sweet subject in the light and play around with how the shadow can be the frame. Most kids will squint their eyes when being placed in this light, but let them do that and get a fun pic of your kids squeezy face or even more fun, of them covering their eyes with their little chubby hands!
If you don't have great window light you can also open a door or choose a place outdoors in the shade where the sun comes in from one side. Great window light doesn't mean huge big open windows and tons of light streaming in. Almost the opposite! Great window light is actually a small light source into a darker room. That's at how I perceive GREAT window light.
- Focus on the details.
Get in close! Capture the different body parts up close and take isolated images of your baby's bum, legs, feet, double chin, rolls, half of a face, just the eyes, or one hand or arm.
Crop and frame in unexpected ways to accentuate the fun of the details. I love capturing only half of a face, framing it on the side of the image or capturing just the bum and legs and frame it on the top of the image. Makes it artistic.
Focus and isolate the details by shooting with a super shallow depth of field. I recommend an aperture of 1.4 if your camera allows it. If you shoot on your phone the newer iphones allows you to play around with an aperture via portrait mode. You can adjust in after you take the image.
Simplicity and purposeful crinkled sheets is the key to make the details stand out in a relaxed and down played way. Really, please don't straighten those sheets and blankets... CRINKLE them up, it makes it look effortless.
- Get yourself in the frame, too!
Selfies with your phone are always a good idea. Here’s how I do it:
- Set your phone on portrait mode.
- Find your window light.
- Set your phone up somewhere: up against a window, book or get a tripod made for iPhones.
- Set the phone on self timer for 3- or 10-seconds, depending on your child’s response time and patience. If your child is old enough, let them help you hit the timer and run back to you. Make a game out of it. If with a baby, hit 3 seconds and cuddle really close. Take tons of photos and sort through them afterwards.
- Edit your favorite ones.
Expect to be sweaty and exhausted and craving a drink afterwards, and do the editing after bedtime when you have some quiet time!
- Use fun editing apps.
Editing on your phone has become so much fun with all the apps available now. Also the iphone has a lot of built-in features that deserve to be explored. These are some of my favorite editing apps and features.
For iPhone images:
- I love the already built in “dramatic warm” filter on the iPhone. I tweak the light, shadow and warmth depending on the picture.
- Portrait mode is a must use and crank that aperture down to 1.4!
- Lightroom Photo editor app.
For DSLR images:
- Lightroom for look and tones. You can edit your own colors or purchase lots of amazing presets. Some of my favorite presets are from Mastin Labs.
- If you have an iPad you can download the Lightroom version. I started working on an iPad Pro and it's so intuitive and easy to edit. It's an easy way to edit between diaper changes, playtime and house cleaning. Sometimes I lose motivation if I have to open up my computer and sit down. Choose the way that works for you!
For Collages and carousels:
- I love Swipemix and SCRL for pretty collages and carousels on instagram.
- I'm all about the vintage look and retro vibes. Even though I shoot digital, my work has a heavy film and cinematic vibe, I like to enhance this mood by adding film frames to my digital files. My favorite film frames apps are Film Frames Creative, Unfold and SwipeMix again.