Use natural light
I have a very small handful of photos that were taken at night or indoors with a flash. They just don't look as good, even with a good external flash like mine. If you are indoors, pull your subject to a window and go from there. Ash turned 3 months on the 5th, but I waited until the 8th to do his pictures because I needed to do them during the day when I wasn't at work. Work, who has time for it?? Seriously!
This is the setup I use for Ashford's monthly pics:
The buggy is positioned with the window light on the right, and an umbrella light on the left to avoid shadows on the other side of his face. The overall effect is not like a flash, but a well-lit room.
With that said, there are plenty of photos that look awesome with shadow on one side of baby's face. I love this contemplative pose from his 1st month shoot, without the umbrella light on the other side.
Find a good backdrop
Nobody wants to see your dirty laundry or a bunch of random stuff/people in the background, so find a pretty background and make sure you can't see any clutter in your frame. I have been known to use a blanket in the park and zoom in tight....
or a white sheet thrown over pillows in the living room.
Manually select your focus point
As good as auto focus can be, it doesn't always know what is most important to you in your shot. Whenever you are taking photos of a tiny human, the eyes are the important part. The selection button is here on my camera:
I always make sure to select the point closest to his eyes when I set up the picture. This changes depending on whether I'm doing a tight face-only shot, or a full body one.
Once you have it set, if you aren't changing positions, you can leave it the same. It makes a big difference in the clarity of your picture when the eyes are sharp.
Adjust white balance
You might think auto white balance is coolio, and usually it is, but there are some times that it doesn't cut it for me. Take these two shots for example...the first one was taken using auto white balance.
I thought it was looking a little too 'blue,' so I changed the white balance to 'daylight' so the camera would warm up the cool lighting. I thought the second photo looked more realistic to his skin tone. Of course, temperature can also be changed with editing later.
I also find when I'm taking photos outside under a tree, the 'shade' option is a must to warm up the photo. It looks very cold and blueish without that change. It's as simple as selecting the type of lighting you are in from the easy-to-understand icons.
Get in close
The closer you are to the subject, the easier it is to focus and eliminate distractions in the background. I love this photo because his eyes are the star. Speaking of, I will miss those baby blues when they change! (Shaun and I both have brown eyes, so I'm not holding out hope for a blue-eyed child)
Use continuous shooting
If you have continuous shooting on your camera, it can be the difference between a blurry shot and a clear one. Babies move quickly, so continuous shooting allows me to capture a great shot in the middle of all the flailing legs and blurred arms. It is also great for catching your baby looking at you for a split second before looking away again. I took this photo of my dad and Ash last weekend, and was upset that he had looked down at the last minute...
...but continuous shooting saved the day because he looked up a second later and the camera caught it.
That function has saved me more times than I can count. Of course the downside is after a 15 minute shoot you have 150 bad blurry photos to go through and delete, but that is a price I'm willing to pay....most of the time!
Choose your photo time wisely
Only you know when your baby is happiest and most photogenic. For me, the best time is when he wakes up and has eaten. He is usually smiley and happy before his morning nap, so I hit him up at that time. I made the mistake of trying to take pics one evening because he was wearing a cute outfit, and this is what happened:
Use your manual settings
If they won't look at you
I've found that calling his name and making clicking noises usually doesn't work with my babe, what works is holding a toy with flashing lights directly above the camera, then starting to shoot while you pull the toy away. I use the Baby Einstein Take Along Tunes, works great! Of course, you can also take a cute shot with them not looking...
Be sure to check out Darby's post on photography here, and Katie's posts here. I also love this book:
Of course all of the tips I mentioned here can be used for taking pictures of anyone, not just babies. Well, except the 'toy with flashing lights' bit, unless your family and friends are into that sort of thing. Happy shooting!