Photo Critique: How To Make Your Baby Portraits Come Alive :: Digital Photo Secrets

Photo Critique: How To Make Your Baby Portraits Come Alive

by David Peterson 0 comments

Yvonne Day sent in this wonderful little portrait, and there are so many things I love about it. From the expressive smile to the soft pastels and bright background, this photo is everything a parent could want from a baby portrait. Yvonne even got the catchlights and the focus on the eyes just right! I wouldn't change a thing about this photo.

I asked Yvonne what she did to capture this image, and it was astonishing to say the least. This photo was taken outside and underneath a carport. Yvonne used her Nikon D3000 on automatic mode with no flash. The wonderful catchlights you see weren’t planned at all. They were simply the result of being in the right place at the right time and having your camera with you to capture it.

This image speaks to the importance of having a good eye for photography and an understanding of post-production techniques. The image you see here is not the image that first made it to Yvonne’s D3000 image sensor. It has been color enhanced to bring out the bright pastels on the baby’s blanket, hat, and cheeks.

A Quick And Easy Way To Make Your Baby Photos More Colorful

Earlier in this series, I wrote a tutorial on how to use Photoshop to make your photos more vibrant and colorful. Some photo editing programs have an automatic option usually under the “Image” menu item. In Photoshop it is called “auto color,” and it does a great job of color enhancing your photos when you don’t have the time to do it.

Whenever you color enhance photos of faces, be aware that you are walking a fine line. It’s very easy to overdo it and end up with bright orange faces that aren’t very human looking. Yvonne was clever enough to not enhance the color to such an extent that the baby’s face loses its gentle skin tone. When skin starts to look orange or yellow, you’ve gone a little too far.

Dress Your Baby Up In Bright Pastel Colors

So, if it wasn’t the camera settings and it wasn’t expensive gear that helped Yvonne get such a great photo, what was that extra element? It’s all in the scene and the expressions. The reason there is so much color in this photo is because the baby is swaddled in colorful pastel garments that contrast one another enough to produce the perception of heightened color.

All of this is enhanced by the fact that none of these colors, on their own, are all that intense. Yvonne picked the right combination (perhaps intentionally) of soft pastels to set the scene, and the photo practically took itself. She just had to be there for that wonderful smile.

Be Selective About What You Choose To Keep In Your Baby’s Photo

In terms of composition, Yvonne’s picture is fairly straightforward and simple. Its elegance comes from the fact that it doesn’t include any distracting background elements that might draw you attention away from the baby’s face. Yvonne’s camera also chose a fairly open aperture, giving this photo a nice slightly blurred background that helps to keep your focus on the baby’s eyes.

There is one more thing you can do to make your photos of your baby 100% better. Simply get in closer to fill the frame with your bundle of joy and nothing else. As long as most of your photo includes your baby, and not some discarded toy on the carpet, you’ll probably have a great shot! Remember, the only thing Yvonne focused on is getting up close. Her D3000 took care of the rest.

I want to thank everyone for sending in pictures of their children. You are all talented photographers, and it was very difficult for me to pick the photo I wanted to use for this critique. It’s always great to see you have such happy homes! Thanks again to Yvonne. You’ve helped me prove my point that if you think like an artist first, all the technical stuff usually handles itself.

If you have a photo you'd like critiqued, please email it to me! I can't promise to personally reply to everyone's photo, but I'll try!

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About David Peterson
David Peterson is the creator of Digital Photo Secrets, and the Photography Dash and loves teaching photography to fellow photographers all around the world. You can follow him on Twitter at @dphotosecrets or on Google+.