Photographing Baby in Black and White: What I Learned

 

In photographing baby, my all-time favorite shots – the keepsakes worthy of being printed and framed – are the close-ups I’ve shot in black and white…  

 

photographing-baby

Since becoming mom to Trevor, I’ve accumulated about 1,400 photos on my iPhone. In terms of photos, mastering the whole ‘quantity’ thing is easy when you become a new parent armed with a smart phone! But I knew I needed to work on the ‘quality’ thing too. I wanted some keepsake photos that I could actually print and frame.

In terms of photographing baby, here’s what has worked best for me:

Keep Things Simple

baby-on-white-blanket-black-and-white

Trevy-Tru (aka Trevor), I hope this doesn’t make you cringe too much one day, but…

My favorite shots of baby are definitely the ones where he’s wearing nothing at all.

Second favorite: baby in a simple solid white onesie.

It seems, especially for black and white photos, that the most basic, streamlined outfits work best.

And white really lights up baby’s face.

 

Consider the Background

cute-baby-on-tummy-black-and-white

Again, simplicity is the name of the game. So I just place a plain white comforter on the floor for Trevor to lie on. One solid white sheet or large blanket is all you need. The white seems to really help light up the photos. And, without any distracting prints in the shot (or toys, or scratched floors, etc. in the background!), all of the focus is on baby’s face.

Have a Game Plan

I know I want shots of Trevor laughing versus crying. So I get the white comforter set up and the camera battery charged when he naps. As soon as he wakes, I feed him and get started right away. A well-rested baby with a full tummy results in the most smiles. And a camera that doesn’t die right when you’ve finally set up and started shooting helps too. Yes, I’ve learned this the hard way.

 

Find the Most Natural Light

photographing-baby-smiling

Here’s a photo I love. Unfortunately, Trevor had rolled into a dark, shady spot. His face is in shadows.

So I’ve learned it’s smart to find the room in your house with the most sunlight streaming through the windows.

black-and-white-baby-on-belly

What worked best for my photos: placing baby right in front of the french doors leading to the back porch. The more natural sunlight you can get, the more crisp and clear your photos will be.

 

Close-Ups Work Best

baby-feet-photographing-baby

Is there anything more heart-melting than itty bitty baby toes?

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Or how about those dimpled hands, complete with that perfect little chubby-baby wrist crease?

baby-holding-fathers-hand

I actually love some of the close-ups I got of Trevor grasping my husband’s hand.

Decide on your focal point, whether it’s baby’s hands, feet, face, etc. Then zoom in until that focal point fills at least half of your viewfinder. Close-ups often look beautiful as black and white shots.

 

Go With the Flow

photographing-baby-on-his-side-bw

You might have certain shots in mind before you begin. But baby isn’t interested in that. At all. And he’ll probably be on the move the whole time you’re shooting, which makes for plenty of blurry photos.

So be prepared to take lots of photos. Don’t give up to quickly. And be open-minded.

photographing-baby-on-side

I wanted photos of Trevor on his back in the two photos above. But when he rolled onto his side, I ended up with a candid photos I really loved.

 

Photoshop Is Your Friend

I love Photoshop for many, many reasons. One of my favorite features of Photoshop: it perfectly transforms color photos into black and white in one quick step. And the black and white version is always equally as crisp and clear as the original color photo.

Here’s where you can get Photoshop. The cost is $19.99 per month.

how-to-do-black-and-white-in-photoshop

To transform your photo to black and white, open your photo in Photoshop then click:

->Image

->Adjustments

->Black & White

how-to-switch-to-black-and-white-in-photoshop

This will open a new pop-up that will allow you to adjust  the hue, saturation, etc. of the now black and white image.

Check the “Preview” option to the far right so you can watch the changes as you play with different options.

Press the scroll-down arrow at the very top, “Preset,” and try the “Darker” and “Lighter” options to see what best highlights your image.

If you don’t like how things are looking, you can always hit “Cancel” to undo and start again.

 

Imperfect is Most Beautiful

black-and-white-baby-on-tummy

In the shot above, Trevor was on the move, rolling this way and that. So the photo is blurry. But it perfectly captures his sweet innocence for one special moment in time that I’ll never get back. So …

Let go of the need for the ideal image you’ve set up in your mind. The less-than-perfect moments often turn out to be some of your favorites.  I guess that’s meant to be a lesson of parenthood? I think I’m learning.

See more of Baby Trevor’s adventures.

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