Ah, six month olds…my most favorite age to photograph. I love it when my littlest of clients starts to sit on their own and truly take in the world around them. They are usually very curious, happy and easy to work with. I honestly cannot think of a reason not to love photographing a baby at this age! While they are sitting on their own and a few may be getting ready to crawl, a baby this age is still usually pretty immobile and cannot stand on their own just yet. Which means, that posing can become somewhat limited. Fear not, there are several things that you can do to be sure that you are achieving a nice variety and of course, capturing some great expressions!
I typically start out by having my little subject sitting, this can be especially helpful if baby is new to sitting and cannot do it for long without becoming tired. Always have mom or dad nearby (typically in arms reach) to brace baby if she starts to teeter. I will also start out with a longer focal length to give them a chance to warm up to me without having a giant lens in her face. Plus I’ve noticed it starts to get their curiosity after a little while. The image below was shot with a 135mm, nice and far away.
After getting what I would like with my 135mm, I will often switch to my 85mm, slowly working my way closer to my little model.
Once I have shot some with baby sitting, from a bit of a distance, I like to shoot from above while she is still happily sitting up. I then will switch to my wide angle, for this a 24mm. This is only a shot that I will do if I know that baby is a sturdy sitter, as when they look up sometimes they can lose their balance and I don’t want anyone to take a tumble. Safety is always my first concern.
While I still have my wide angle lens out, I am always sure to get some fun laughing photos, which often requires a game of peek-a-boo from behind my lens. This will ensure a good grin or two in most cases!
Sometimes by this point the baby may become tired and need a break from sitting, at which point I will always turn to tummy time styled poses, again always making sure to interact as much as possible to get some great expressions! If I am having difficulty getting my baby friend to smile and giggle, I will ask mom, dad or my assistant to step in and try to get a genuine smile or laugh. Most of the time, mom or dad knows what to do to ensure a great reaction!
Be sure to try different angles while the baby is on their tummy to get different effects for the background. Standing slightly above will usually guarantee that you get more grass in the shot as opposed to what may be in the direct background, this is especially helpful in simplifying a photo and pose. For those in business this can also make for a great gallery canvas wrap since it results in simple edges to wrap around the canvas.
Once I have a nice selection of tummy time poses, I will let baby roll over to their back, this almost always results in my favorite pose. Once a baby gets sight of those little toes they, 9 times out of 10, will start to reach for them! Of course, these images are my favorite because they remind me of when my little ones were this age! I try to get at least one in this position with eye contact too.
Be sure, once again, to get different angles, as it completely changes up your pose and your photo! Shoot from above and get some action shots too.
Then, at the very end, if baby can stand with support, I will often ask mom or dad to jump in and interact with their little one. This will result in some fun, candid images and of course, photos that mom and dad will always love.
A few more tips for working with and posing babies around this age…
1. Always be smart and keep baby’s safety your first priority.
2. Be patient. The old saying, “the best things come to those who wait,” is totally true when working with babies.
3. Don’t be afraid to be a little goofy to get a big grin.
4. Be sure to have snacks and a drink… once a baby get’s hungry it’s all down hill unless you have the remedy.
5. Take time to observe and really capture the little one’s personality.
Jennifer Dell, Texas
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Armed with a Nikon D700 and an assortment of prime lenses, Jennifer enjoys photographing children and families in her own style, candid and full of natural expressions. When asked how she got her start in photography she explains, “I got started in photography in high school for photojournalism when we still used film and had to develop it in a darkroom. I never really pursued it until in college working on my degree in graphic design. We had several classes that required original photography and this re-sparked my interest in the craft! From there, photography was just another extension of creativity and art to me. Once we had our daughter, I knew I had to document her and all the details that I loved so much. It was my way of preserving her babyhood.” Other than photography Jennifer loves to read and finds cooking an elaborate meal relaxing. She also enjoys the show Friends, coffee, a nice bottle of wine, and spending time with her family including her husband, two children, and two stinky English bulldogs.