Local photographer and guest feature Russell Smith shares his thoughts on the topic of baby photography.
Article and photography by Russell Smith.
I never saw myself photographing babies, until I had my own that is!
My son is 6 months and has been under the studio lights twice already not to mention the numerous spontaneous shots with natural light.
It got me thinking a little harder about the art of photographing little people.
We all remember the iconic baby photographer, Anne Geddes, who took what was being done in the field and turned it on its head. Introducing concepts and beautifully lit images to a somewhat existing homogenous genre of photography.
I believe that too many baby images look the same and in my opinion, are poorly executed perhaps for a number of reasons. The genre of baby photography does not have the sexiness or the big budgets that attract the master class photographers like fashion or advertising photography would, in fact often quiet the opposite, it attracts many people with the latest digital SLRs posing as photographers. Another reason is that babies are almost impossible to direct, it is more about patience and timing; you have a limited time to work with them before they get niggly and tired. You have to get all your lighting and prep done before hand with little time to test and shoot. You also need to have the personality to work well with babies and kids. Like a good portrait photographer, you need to draw as much as you can from your subject with your personality. A well-trained model can often get into pose pretty quickly, not with babies.
And so I think we need to photograph babies and young people with the same high standards as other fields of photography are judged. Of course expression and emotion are important but this needs to be enhanced by exceptional lighting, concept and composition.