Babies and children are unpredictable creatures, but one thing is for sure – they grow up so fast that they are teenagers before you know it.
Creating a record of those precious moments in photographs is a fantastic idea, and you don’t have to pay a fortune to have a special photoshoot done – you can create professional baby and child shots at home with a little equipment and some tips on how to best capture those stages along your child’s journey.
This article is going to give you some ideas on the best DIY home professional photography setup, and advice on baby and child photography, as well as cake smash photography.
What Will I Need?
Many people waste a lot of money on expensive props and equipment for taking photos of newborns and children, but you really don’t need to. There are a few essentials that you will need, however.
While you can use natural light if you have plenty of it, it can be difficult to get enough of it indoors to make it easy to shoot without needing a tripod and slow shutter speed. Using a lighting and softbox kit such as the Spectrum ‘Kreator Kit’ Double Rectangle Dimmable LED Softbox Bi Coloured Lighting Kit, or the Spectrum 'Illuminate Mate' Double Rectangle Softbox Continuous Lighting Kit will give you much more control over the lighting, and the softbox light modifiers give a gentle, even light that is ideal for baby photography.
If you are looking to upgrade your existing lighting, or need a more pro-spec lighting kit, the Spectrum PRO DUO 'S-Beam 150' LED Softbox Lighting Kit will do an excellent job. It’s currently the most powerful single-continuous lighting kit of the Spectrum range, and is ideal for all kinds of studio photography, including newborn, child, and cake smash shoots.
For those who would like an entry-level kit, the Spectrum DIY Newborn & Baby Photography Lighting 'TWINKLE' Kit is ideal. It has two reflective and two diffuser umbrellas as well as a backdrop stand to create versatile lighting setups.
Backdrops are necessary to set the scene for your baby or child photography, and you can choose from many different colours or textures, as well as paper rolls or cotton muslin backdrops.
Cotton muslin backdrops such as the Cotton Muslin Backdrops Range by Spectrum are washable, easily transported and stored, as well as coming in several sizes and a range of colours.
Full paper backdrops come in rolls, and when one piece gets torn or soiled, you simply cut that bit off and pull the fresh paper from the roll. The Spectrum Full Paper Backdrop Collection comes in a range of colours so if you have a specific theme in mind – nautical, for example - you can choose a backdrop to suit, such as Caribbean Sky Blue or Baby Blue.
Spectrum’s Half-Paper Backdrops are an ideal size for newborns, and are available in 24 different colours, so you are sure to find something to suit your theme.
1. Newborn and Baby Photography
If you want to shoot newborns and babies, one of the most important things you can have is a warm, comfortable space to do it in.
For newborn photography, you’ll need several soft blankets and something to put the baby on. You don’t need to buy expensive beanbags for this, but you do need something soft, such as a large sofa cushion. It’s also wise to have some waterproof sheets underneath the layers of blankets!
If you use a lighting kit such as the Spectrum 'Illuminate Mate' Softbox Kit, you have much more versatility than relying on window light – plus, you can move the lights around while you work, without disturbing the baby by moving him/her to catch the natural light.
Newborn and baby photography tend to be all about the dreamy, soft-focus glow, so you will need softboxes or diffusion umbrellas to achieve this look.
Place your softbox fairly close to the baby, and at a 90 degree angle for softly feathered light and beautiful shadows:
You can buy a variety of props for newborn and baby shoots, from baskets to little themed outfits. You can also decide to shoot the baby simply natural, without any extra props.
Try to fit the shoot around your baby’s schedule, and when they are most relaxed. With newborns, they are easiest to shoot whilst they are sleeping, with perhaps some soothing tunes playing in the background.
2. Toddler Photography
Toddlers are constantly on the move and into everything, so you’ll need to have your wits about you!
With toddlers, shooting them whilst playing outside in a park or garden is probably the easiest route to go, but if you want an indoor shoot, you’ll need studio lighting and a backdrop.
Toddlers look good with bright, even lighting from each side, as in the diagram below. You will need to drop the lights down on the stands so the tops of the softboxes are just above the toddler’s head height.
Toddlers get bored very easily, so props they can play with are a great idea. Artificial flowers, soft toys and toy musical instruments are just a few ideas.
Get down to toddler level and shoot from there – your photos will look much better than if you shoot looking down from above. Don’t try to force toddlers to pose – you’ll have a tantrum on your hands! Let them play and try to make a game of the photoshoot.
3. Family Photography
Shooting groups can be challenging, as there is always someone with their eyes shut or looking away!
Full-size backdrops are a good idea for family groups, as you’ll need to fit everyone in. However half-size backdrops are a cost-friendly and space-saving option that can still fit a father-son or mother-daughter duo. Studio lights such as the Spectrum-PRO Duo 'S-Beam 150' Softbox 2-lighting Kit will ensure that you get good illumination of everyone in the photo.
Try lifting your light up as high as you can, and tilt it slightly forward, so it is shining down on the group from the front and side:
A chair of a stool is a good prop, as one family member can sit, and you can group the rest around them.
4. Cake Smash Photography
Very popular, and very messy!
Cake smashes are great when done outdoors, due to the mess, but if you want an indoors studio setup, you’ll need a large backdrop and studio lighting kit to capture all the action.
You’ll also need plenty of stuff to clean up with – paper roll backdrops are probably best for cake smashes, as you can simply cut off and dispose of the messy part of the backdrop, but muslins can be put through the washing machine.
A three-light setup is a good idea like the Spectrum Photography Lighting 'LITTLE FASHION LOOKBOOK' Kit, as it enables you to position both lights a good distance from the cake action to avoid splatter!
Cake smash photography is all about the child and the cake, but if you want you can add some balloons, streamers and bunting to the backdrop.
Get some photos before the cake gets smashed, when both child and cake are pristine! Take shots from all angles, including some close-up ones too.
These setups are great for taking photos of your baby and child, but they do have limitations – you can’t do massive group shots, for example. However, it still beats propping your baby up on the sofa for those same-old, same-old shots that you see all the time on social media.
The little amount of time and outlay you need for setting up your home studio will ensure your images are something to be proud of in years to come.