I’ve been photographing my son almost daily since the day he was born and completed 2 project 365s since then.

Sometime during my first project 365 I started exploring sleeping photos because let’s face it, some days it’s just impossible to pick up the camera during the day.

Late last year when he started to run away from my camera I decided to give him a break and did a 2-week sleeping project.

Here are some tips I’ve found helpful when photographing my sleeping child:

1. Find or create good light

Not unlike daytime photos, directional side light is more flattering than flat light or overhead light. My favorite tool is the soft box app on my iPad. I have the Pro HD Photo Soft Box. You can also use the light from your smartphone, Ice Light, hallway light or even bounce your speedlite off of a wall.

black and white photo of boy sleeping by Vironica Golden

boy sleeping picture by Vironica Golden

2. Don’t hesitate to use your tripod

The minimal available light at night sometimes makes it difficult for the camera to lock focus. With the camera on a tripod I often use manual focus and zoom all the way in to make sure the focus is where it should be. Sometimes my vision requires me to use a long exposure.

F2.8, 30 sec:

photo of boy sleeping with dreamlight lights by Vironica Golden

boy sleeping in crib by Vironica Golden

3. Think about your composition

Before I even bring in my camera I often just sit quietly and watch my son sleeping, trying to envision where to place him within the frame. Think about the possibility of incorporating leading lines and framing elements and don’t be afraid to experiment with different angles.

photo of boy sleeping from above by Vironica Golden

using a window to frame your subject by Vironica Golden

4. Don’t forget the details

Sleep is often the only opportunity I get to come in close and photograph those lashes and toes. Favorite blankets, lovies, dolls, stuffed animals, etc. are a big part of childhood memories. Be sure to include them if your child has a favorite sleeping companion.

close up of boy sleeping by Vironica Golden

sleeping girl holding stuffed bunny by Kristy Dooley

Photo by Kristy Dooley

5. Be in the picture

If you cuddle your child to sleep like I do don’t forget to capture the moments before those days are over. Trust me, you’ll be glad you did.

mom and boy sleeping by Vironica Golden

photo of mom and son taking a nap by Vironica Golden