Five lessons I learned during my first family portrait shoot

Look what I did this weekend!

Baby Everitt: 6 of 10

No, I didn’t go out and have another boy… but after spending a lovely morning taking pictures of Baby Everitt and his sweet parents, I sure was thinking about it!!

Everitt is the son of my friends Sheila and Rob, and this was my first ever not-my-family photo shoot! Exciting — and more than a little nerve-wracking!! It’s one thing to be taking pictures of your own kids, when you can boss them around or give up and try again later, but to take on the responsibility of capturing decent pictures of somebody else’s family was a lot more stressful than I expected!!

Everitt, who turned four weeks old the day these pictures were taken, was a dream baby. His bright blue eyes watched the crazy chattering lady with the clicky black camera with bright interest and infinite patience. His parents, bless them, were equally patient.

I had some ideas in my head going in of shots I could take like classic newborn poses, close-ups of fingers and toes, and other examples I’ve seen. Trouble is, even babies don’t sit still and they can be as wriggly and vexatious as toddlers! And I certainly didn’t want to stress out mom or baby when they’d been kind enough to invite me in. So I kind of went with the flow, and while I did a little “stand here, move the baby this way” kind of directing, mostly I moved around and tried not to be too intrusive.

Here’s five things I learned about taking pictures of newborn babies:

1. The macro filter works great on fingers and toes, but unless you capture the baby’s face straight on, one of the eyes will be out of the plane of focus. Applies equally to the nifty fifty wide open at f1.8.

Baby Everitt: 7 of 10

2. Shoot in RAW for extra exposure control, and what you can’t fix in RAW you can hide with B&W!

Baby Everitt: 3 of 10

3. Even when baby fusses a bit, snap a couple of frames.

Baby Everitt: 4 of 10

(And this one, too. It was almost a discard, but the more I looked at it the more I thought it captured something essential and lovely about those early, bleary days with a new baby in the family!!)

Baby Everitt: 10 of 10

4. Keep an eye on your LCD when the light is harsh or contrasty. I had to toss more than half the images because the baby’s face was overexposed beyond redemption in the bright light streaming in through the window. Next time, I’m bringing a muslin sheet to cover the windows — or at least draw the curtains a bit. I’m used to northern light — southern light is much harsher!

Baby Everitt: 5 of 10

5. It’s hard to go wrong when you start out with a really gorgeous family as your subject!

Baby Everitt: 2 of 10

Not bad for my first time out of the house! There’s a few more worth sharing on Flickr, should you be curious enough to see more. 🙂 Thank you so much, Sheila and Rob and especially Everitt, for inviting me into your home and for being so darn photogenic!

Author: DaniGirl

Canadian. storyteller, photographer, mom to 3. Professional dilettante.

12 thoughts on “Five lessons I learned during my first family portrait shoot”

  1. Awesome pics! My favorite is the one of Dad and the baby (the one before last)… You were able to capture such an awesome look! That pic transmits love DaniGirl!

  2. Love your photos here. WOW! The close up of baby Everitt (great name) with his darling little mouth all puckered and his eyes wide open…so sweet. Parents must be so proud and you should be very proud of your first non-family shoot. Well done!

  3. I love the baby up-close shots. 🙂

    The Man does family photos from time to time, it is something I must consider doing again..

  4. My favourite is also the one of the baby looking up at his Dad. What a great expression you captured!
    Beautiful photos and beautiful family.

  5. Do you have Lightroom, Dani? Could you recover any of the blown highlights using LR? Newborn photography is definitely a exercise in patience and good timing… but isn’t it fun?! I haven’t posted my most recent sessions on my personal blog (and am a bit behind on my photography one) since I’m trying to figure out where to draw the line between the personal and “professional” (if I can be so bold as to call myself that). They’re on flickr though, if you’re interested in having a look.

  6. Everitt looks just like his Daddy. What a super looking family and the photos are awesome.

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