Home Photography Ideas: Take Beautiful Bokeh Baby Portraits

Watch Video: Home Photography Ideas – Take Beautiful Baby Portraits with Bokeh Effect

Most parents want beautiful photos of their babies, and one way to achieve this is to use a shallow depth of field to add lots of background blur, emphasizing the softness and fragility of the subject.

A prime lens with a wide maximum aperture like a 50mm f/1.4 is handy here. The large aperture means we can shoot with a shallow depth of field, picking out detail while blurring everything else. The large apertures also allow us to work in low-light conditions, so they’re perfect for window-lit portraits where the light can be quite dim.

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Younger babies, like two-month-old Alice here, won’t crawl or sit up on their own, which means you can focus precisely and take some time to frame the shot. On the other hand, this also means that you are limited in the types of poses you can try.

There are really only three options: lay them on your back, try them on your stomach, or have the parents hold them. The limitations of shooting can be a blessing, forcing you to focus your attention on perfecting shots while working with what’s available.

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Get great baby portraits with nice soft depth of field (Image credit: James Paterson)

It helps if you come prepared. Bring a few blankets and pillows to the shoot – furry rugs can be handy as they add texture to photos and babies love the feel of them on their skin.

To the outside observer, one baby looks a lot like another (but don’t tell the parents that!), so look for ways to add personality to the shots. A favorite toy or blanket can work well. Also ask the parents for a change of clothes. Hats are particularly effective, as they frame the face and provide a pop of color.

A reflector is invaluable when shooting with window light, which illuminates one side of the subject more than the other. Placed in front of the window, the reflector returns part of the light towards the subject, raising the shadows. The effects are often quite subtle, but essential for professional results.

You never know what you’re going to get from photographing babies. They could be happy, grumpy, sleepy, hungry, or a combination of these things. You must be prepared to adapt your approach. One thing is certain: we will have to work quickly!

Baby portraits: step by step

Windows work like softboxes in many ways: the closer your subject is to the light source, the stronger the light. Unless the sunlight is falling directly through the window on the baby (which will probably cause a lot of growling and squinting), it should be pretty soft. To increase or decrease the light, you will have to move the baby closer or further from the window.

01 sweet options

(Image credit: James Paterson)

Bring light and dark covers to the shoot. They give you different background options and babies like soft textures or fur against their skin. Use quilts, clothes and personal toys for the baby as accessories. They will help you add color to your portraits, and for shooting with shallow depth of field, all the patterns will be beautifully blurred.

02 Position the baby

(Image credit: James Paterson)

In a photograph, you can tell where the window is from the spotlights in the eyes. Make sure the light is coming from above the face rather than below – choosing the top of the head, the cheeks and the tip of the nose, not below the chin and nose. It’s a more natural angle for light, because our eyes are used to seeing light coming from above.

03 Select aperture priority

(Image credit: James Paterson)

Set your camera to aperture priority mode. This way you can choose the aperture while the camera determines the correct shutter speed for the correct exposure. This means you have full control over the depth of field of the shot and can reduce the aperture slightly if you decide you’re getting a little too much blur.

04 Choose a large aperture

(Image credit: James Paterson)

Set your lens’ maximum aperture – this allows for low light and allows you to create a very shallow depth of field. This is where prime lenses with wide maximum apertures like f/1.8 or f/1.4, or even f/1.2 come in, because the wider the aperture you can use, the greater the depth of field in your pictures will be low. to be. A lens like the Canon RF 50mm f/1.2L USM will produce exquisitely smooth results.

05 Set a high ISO

(Image credit: James Paterson)

As the baby can’t pose on demand, you’ll be shooting handheld for flexibility, so set the ISO high enough to allow for a fast shutter speed of at least 1/100 second. With window light and a wide aperture, ISO400 should suffice, but you may need to go all the way up to ISO800 or 1600 (or set the ISO to auto).

06 Precise focus

As is usually the case in portraits, the eyes are the most important point. Although for some shots you can get creative and focus on the tiny fingertips instead – perhaps with the parent’s fingers to give a sense of scale, allowing the rest of the baby to blend into one slight blur. But you will have to work quickly because babies do not stay still for long!

07 Reflection time

A pop-up reflector is really useful for bouncing light from the window back onto your subject. Most come with matte and silver surfaces to change the character of the light, and the best reflectors for photography come in all shapes and sizes.

However, if you’re not going to be using a reflector regularly, you don’t need to rush out to buy one for this project. A piece of white cardboard will reflect the light back to the baby, removing harsh shadows and reducing contrast, or for a more reflective effect you can cover the cardboard with aluminum foil.

Presentation of your portraits

Baby photos are going to be on display from proud parents – possibly for decades. Think carefully about what they will look like on the show. An unusual shape or other method of presentation can really make your portraits sing.

(Image credit: James Paterson)

Crop to Square

A square crop helps give your portraits a timeless quality and lets you get really close to the baby’s face.

(Image credit: James Paterson)

Convert to mono

Use the HSL panel in Adobe Camera Raw or the black and white presets in Lightroom for a punchy monochrome conversion.

(Image credit: James Paterson)

Compile a grid

Details and close-ups can be beautiful when presented as a grid of images. Crop all the images the same way and arrange them in Photoshop to see how they will look when grouped together.

More videos:

10 tips for baby portraits: Take beautiful newborn photos at home!
Best Lenses for Bokeh: Quick primes that are perfect for blurring backgrounds
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Essential tips for portrait photography

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