Photographing people isn’t as easy as it sounds, especially when that person is tiny, squirmy, and refuses to obey orders to pose. I think baby portraits have to be one of the harder photography fields to work in – right up there with bridezillas and pet photography.
Although I’ve done some second shooter wedding stuff in the past, I realized that photographing a baby is something totally different. I feel inadequate, frustrated at times, and totally inexperienced (funny how that echoes my parenting expertise – or lack of it!) Getting a good shot of a squirmy baby is challenging.
Portrait basics dictate that you get a good sharp focus on the eyes of your subject. Because I find myself trying to catch the kiddo when he’s not moving I can’t use my trusty Manual settings: it takes far too long to set up the shot. Falling back on Aperture priority mode can backfire – sometimes the shutter speed is far too low to catch and freeze motion, and I realized the hard way that I need to set up an automatic adjustment for exposure. Av mode on my Canon is a full stop underexposed in general. At least shooting in raw helps save some of my shots, but the high ISO isn’t helping matters either.
I find myself wistfully wishing for a good light set up. Relying on the lovely window lighting simply isn’t enough at times – and even on the best of days I still can’t get a good shutter speed that I’m happy with. It bugs me beyond measure to see soft photographs – even if I’m the only one that really cares about it. Doting family enjoy the images without the technical angst that I experience. It’s one thing to deliberately take a soft image for artistic reasons – having consistently soft images due to focus failure is humbling.
I’m also starting to think longingly of the helpful Photoshop presets like Topaz. When you’re taking this many shots, you simply don’t have time to go in and manually tweak each photograph like I do with my fine art images. As soon as we get my updated Photoshop on the (soon to arrive) new computer I plan to spend some time setting up some presets of my own. Assuming the baby schedule allows the time for such tweaking in the first place!
Overall though, most of the images look ok. They’ll look ok even printed, as long as I don’t try to do a poster sized shot that emphasizes the focus issues. And since the kiddo can’t complain at this age, I’ll keep practicing on him until I get it right – and he won’t care a bit.