My baby portrait…

 before recomposing shot

 JORDAN BUTTERS: Photographing babies is best suited  to soft, diffused lighting conditions. If you are using

J window light, try to position both parent and child near a large north - or south-facing window to avoid direct sunlight. If necessary, use a reflector to bounce some light back onto the baby to fill in shadows. If you can t avoid direct light then you can use ne: curtains or hang some muslin ora bed sheet in front of the window to soften the light. Alternatively, some reflectors double up as diffuses, too. Avoid using on-camera flash if possible - however, if this unavoidable, bounce the flash off a wall or ceiling.

Remember when shooting at wide apertures that your band of focus is very narrow, making it easy to miss your mark, especially if the baby is moving and kicking their feet. Pick your moment and be prepared to take several shots before you get your final image.

1 Position the baby Babies lend to kick and wriggle when they are awake, so asking for the help of a parent or friend to occupy their attention is often a good idea, allowing you to concentrate on getting the shot. For this image, I asked baby Georges mother to sit back with him in her lap, cupping his feet in her hands. Not only did being in his mother s arms put him at ease and stop him from moving about too much, it also helped create a sense of scale between her hands and his feet.

2 Experiment with apertures

Using aperture-priority mode, select a wide aperture and single-point autofocus in order to selectively focus on the area of interest before recomposing the shot. Choose too wide an aperture and you might not get both feet in focus, too small and the background could become distracting. I chose a final aperture of f/2.8, which allowed me to get both feet in focus whilst achieving a shallow depth-of-field, rendering the background out of focus.

3 Be careful of the exposure

As I wanted a low-key image,

I asked George s mum tc wear a dark top, which acted as the backdrop. If you choose multizone metering, the camera will try to compensate for the dark background, overexposing the image. If this happens, you can dial in a touch of negative exposure compensation to correct it, or use spot metering to take an exposure reading from the baby s skin, ensuring that the most important areas are metered for.

4 Finishing touches Use a

Gradient Map in Photoshop to convert the image to black and white. In the Layers palette, click on the Add new adjustment layer button and select Gradient Map.

In the Adjustments palette, choose the black to white gradient. You can alter the strength of the gradient to adjust the dark, midtone and light areas of the image independently. The mono conversion should hide most skin blemishes, but I also use the Healing Brush Tool to tidy up any remaining marks.

TRY USING PROPS

Props are very on-trend in baby photography at present. Hats are a popular choice - not only do babies look adorable in them, but they can also help to disguise a misshapen head or patchy hair-common issues with newborns. Also consider sitting or laying the baby in items that add interest to your shots, such as a basket or an old vintage suitcase.

DIFFERENTIAL FOCUSING

Try switching focus between two points from the same viewpoint by aiming at the area you wish to be in focus and half-depressing the shutter button before recomposing the shot. Use a wide aperture for a shallow depth-of-field. The results can be combined as a triptych to display both the baby s portrait and a detail shot in the same frame.

BACKGROUND

The best solution is often a soft blanket or throw draped over a settee for the baby to lay on. You could choose to inject seme bold colour by laying them on a bright throw. Use cushions as support under the blanket, or askone of the parents to sit with the blanket on their lap, so they can support the baby. A newborn s sk n is sensitive, so choose a soft fabric.

INCLUDETHE PARENTS

Remember to include the parents by gathering the family together to fuss over the child. People can quickly forget you are there when they are cooing over the new baby, allowing you to get some fantastic natural shots of the family together. Alternatively ,try using a wide-angle lens for a fun family portrait with a difference for a shot like this.

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