I am an amateur photographer and attempted to have a practice 'photo shoot' with my 15 month old daughter yesterday. Here are some lessons I learned and thought I would pass them on:
1. Make sure the child is well-rested, fed, clean, and happy. Sound like too much to ask for? It probably is. At least make sure that you, as the photographer, are well-rested and fed. Don't count on being clean. And at least pretend to be happy.
2. Set up soft lighting using a soft box, or if using natural lighting- a north facing window works well. If the baby knocks over your lighting equipment, try not to yell, as you don't want to scare the baby and make him or her cry- remember the goal is HAPPY babies!! You may also need to get out the Windex to wipe off the strained carrots, handprints, and other goobers from the north facing window.
3. Make sure you have a non-distracting background. Solid colors work well to focus attention on the child. Oops- the baby just spit up on the black background? Try the white. Oh dear, the baby just had a massive, exploding diaper that leaked on your white bg? Change the baby and keep smiling!!! Remember, taking baby photos is FUN!
4. You can create charming, special memories using cute props such as baskets, stuffed animals, blankets, etc. If the child starts screaming and throwing the props, however, it may be best to try using no props.
5. There are many ways to capture a child's attention, such as bells, whistles, squeaky toys, or anything that would get them to look at you and your camera. Snapping your fingers and yelling LOOK AT THE CAMERA FOR THE LOVE OF ALL THAT IS HOLY!! may not be the best way to achieve your goal of happy, smiling children.
6. Take a LOT of pictures. 99.9% of them will be of the top of the child's head, with the child's finger up the nose, a big blur as the child is running away, a beautiful, clear photo of the child- who is crying with snot running down his or her face, etc. Hope, pray, and cross your fingers that JUST ONE of the 1500 photos you just took turned out.
7. Put the camera away and have a nice glass of wine. You deserve it!!!
I take pics of my kids all the time! The white backdrop is pretty much a necessity for me. With any experience at all, the tripods are stategically placed and are secured properly so they can't tip easily and no child can tip them over. I hope that tip was not out of experience.
I've shot models, weddings, sporting events and children and the kids and babies are the most rewarding. 2% of the pics we take are good, so when you get that one of a child, KNOW HOW LUCKY YOU ARE!
**Tip for seeing a photographer - make sure they shoot digital!!!! The mall studios with that huge freaking, bolted to the ceiling and floor, cameras are IMPOSSIBLE to get a good photo with. The things don't move NEARLY as quick as a baby or toddler! (I survived 2 weeks working at a studio like that before I had to just leave.. wasn't happy with my quality of photo's to be anywhere near comfortable selling them).