Most parents are always looking for ways to capture that winning spontaneous smile of their baby, that totally genuine reaction and capturing that on camera can be tricky, but fret no more as the experts at SmugMug, the world’s largest independent photo-sharing platform, know a thing or two about good photography and have compiled their top 11 tips to help you capture that winning smile!

Top 11 Tips to capture your baby

1. Smile  – Set an example to your little one, show them how to smile like a superstar! Your child is looking to you for guidance, so show them your best winning smile and they will emulate you!

2. Alter Your Perspective – Some of the best photographs are the ones that break the rules. So instead of shooting your subject at eye level, try changing the angle, either get up high and shoot down on your subject or get as close to the ground as you can and shoot up. Either way you will see your subject from a different perspective which will instantly add interest.

3. Eyes Tight Shut – It might sound simple, but ask the child to close their eyes and then ask them to open them suddenly – their muscles will have relaxed and the first smile you get will be open and genuine.

4. It’s not just about the smile – A strong gaze will give a powerful impact to your photograph and will also create a real sense of connection between the child and those viewing. The direction of your subject’s eyes can also give character to your image. For example, you can create a little intrigue by making your child look off camera, at something hidden from the viewer. Alternatively, you can give your child something to look at that is inside the frame, creating a second point of interest and a relationship between it and your primary subject. This will also help create a ‘story’ within the image.

5. Experiment with Lighting – The power of lighting is sometimes overlooked and there are almost unlimited possibilities when it comes to using light in portraits. For instance, side-lighting can create mood, whilst backlighting and silhouetting your subject to hide their features can be powerful. Window light is also very beautiful for taking photos indoors, but you will need a reflector to put light back onto the shadowed side of your subject’s face. You can buy a reflector or even try making your own from a large piece of white card or a white sheet.

6. Move Your Subject Out of their Comfort Zone – Head and shoulder shots and other standard pose images can be nice but will they really make your picture stand out from the crowd? Agree with your little one to create something special and out of the box, make them jump, for instance, or do something with their body that might sound silly at first but might turn out to be surprising and create a unique portrait.

7. Shoot Candidly – Posed portraits can sometimes limit your creativity and also block your subject to standard expressions. You will get the best natural smiles when your subject is not focusing on the camera. Adopting a candid approach is particularly good when photographing children or really any active subject that is changing their position or pose in quick succession.

Photograph your subject in a familiar space or doing something that they enjoy. This will put them more at ease, reacting naturally to the situation that they are in. Get them to have some fun and be spontaneous. The resulting photos will be full of life.

8. Crack a joke – If you can make people laugh, capturing natural smiles will become so much easier. Prepare a range of one-liners, this will lighten the mood and the smile will come naturally.

9. Play with Background – Once again, the person in your portrait should be the main point of interest. However, you can dramatically alter the mood in a shot when you place your subject in different contexts. For example, choose a dramatic or colourful background, or be as minimalistic as possible and make you subject stand out. Experimenting is the key.

10. Go with a Wide Angle – Shooting with a wide angle lens can help produce creative and memorable environmental portrait shots. Often overlooked as just a landscape lens, a wide focal length can open up a whole new world of opportunities and, contrary to popular belief, you can still get a flattering portrait of your subject – you just need to be mindful of where you place them in the scene. If you are planning to take a distorted style wide angle portrait it is crucial to make the effect look as deliberate as possible, otherwise it will simply seem as if you have used the wrong lens.

11. Share Your Photos with the Right Tools – Finally, what’s the point of taking stunning portraits if nobody sees them? You can share your portraits with your friends and family by using SmugMug. With secure photo sharing you can create an online photo album where you can store and share all of your smiley photographs in a simple, safe and secure place.

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