When you first walk into a restaurant, you wouldn’t necessarily think this is a worthy location to capture the perfect shot of your baby. Yet, there are props, colored walls, maybe even bright, orange curtains waiting to be used in your picture taking! When Brian and I teach our CONFIDENCE photography workshops, part of building women’s confidence is showing them how to take great photos in the most unlikely places.
There isn’t anything empowering about learning to take great photos in beautiful settings with perfect lighting. But if you can capture the perfect shot of your baby or friend’s baby in public with less than perfect surroundings–you can shoot anywhere! The first and foremost step is to find the best light. Once you’ve found the light, the possibilities are endless!
Look for Bright Colors to Accent the Photo 1 of 15
Mom sees a bright, orange curtain, but I see a WONDERFUL pop of color for this photo's story! Look for bright colors against muted backgrounds. By off centering your subject, the bright color helps frame mom and baby even more giving us a
"tucked away" feeling.
Is This What You Pictured? 2 of 15
I had to grab a quick snapshot of the restaurant so you could see that the setting for the last photo REALLY was a restaurant! The orange curtain you see to the side is the same one I used in the first photo. You can also see how I positioned mom to be facing the window. Will table tops of silverware, glasses and salt and pepper shakers be an issue? Nope! No one will ever see them! (Two spots left in our Last Seattle CONFIDENCE Workshop next weekend!)
Spotlight the Youngest Generation with Light 3 of 15
Let's unpack this photo. We are next to the same window. I LOVED the brown toned walls because of how it complimented the skin tones of mom, grandma and baby. Notice how mom and grandma's face are shadowed. I had both of them put their back to the window so the window light was only shining on baby. I wanted the photo's story to show the love of mom and grandma but not have that dynamic take attention away from baby. By putting their backs to the wall, we spotlight baby while also creating a loving moment of three generations.
Solid Wall Colors are Great for BW 4 of 15
Erica, a NY mama workshop student, took the same lighting technique of having baby face the window light and mom's face shadowed. I LOVE the result! Mom looks softer, more gentle when she is not as bright as baby. Shadows are the BEST. They give room for dimension and depth. And a solid, colored wall is the perfect backdrop for a black and white portrait!
Restaurant Waiting Areas are Worth Checking Out Too! 5 of 15
Every restaurant has a waiting area for customers. We took advantage of the white floors and sky lights. Again, an unlikely place at first glance to capture the perfect shot of your baby, and yet endless potential from a photographer's view.
Shooting Down Hides Distracting Surroundings and… 6 of 15
By shooting down on mom and baby, we can't even tell where the location of this photo is. We could be shooting in a studio but instead we are in the restaurant's waiting area! Isn't that fun! The white floors made for a perfect, clean background because I'm shooting down. AND, shooting down is always slimming for mom!
Accenutate One Detail About Mom 7 of 15
Before you change shooting locations, try shooting straight on versus down. Get in real tight so we can't see the other restaurant customers waiting for a table. And pick one feature about mom to accentuate. I love this mom's hair, so I brought her hair forward to soften the overall image and show it off.
Fussy Moments Work Too! 8 of 15
If baby gets fussy, there are still some great photos to capture. Mom can shift how she is holding baby, and instead of focusing on baby's face you focus on mom's face. Or you can get in tight and fill your frame with the fussy face too! Those are some of the sweetest photos to look back on (and baby won't remember you taking them).
Look for Benches, Chairs, Stools 9 of 15
I love this orange bench because of how the texture adds even more dimension to black and white tones. Benches, chairs, and stools often provide a solid or textured background. In a few moments, you'll see how I used a black couch in this same area to capture a different baby. It may sound crazy to consider the "waiting area" of a restaurant for a photo setting, but you never know when inspiration will take hold!
Get in Close to Create Buttery Blurred Backgrounds 10 of 15
The closer you stand to your subject, the more blurred the background will become. This is a bit of the science behind the term "depth of field". If you don't have a fancy camera and lens, put your point and shoot camera on Portrait mode (P) or on the Face Icon. Get as close as you can to your subject. Focus on mom's face or her eye that is closest to you. When you get in close and blur the background, no one can tell there are people waiting for a table behind your subject. One more note, beginning photographers often switch locations to quickly before seeing if there are any other view points or angles to be captured first. The last five photos of mom and baby have been in the same spot. But instead of me moving them, I've moved around them--looking for any angle I've missed.
Before Example: Ensure a Clear Background 11 of 15
There is nothing worse than taking a great shot of baby's smile and then seeing distracting objects in the background! We have this cute little guy sitting on that same orange couch, and I took this "Before Example" so you could see what shows up in the background if I'm not careful. See the next photo for the "After Example".
After Example: Subtle Shifts Make ALL the Difference 12 of 15
Baby is in the same spot. But I made the subtle shift of getting in closer and shooting down on baby a little bit more. By shooting down on baby, the legs that were in the background before are no longer visible.
Flatter Mom with a Slimming Pose 13 of 15
This is one of my favorite poses for mom when baby is first learning to sit up. Mom looks so gorgeous on her side, and baby sits right in front of her tummy to keep baby propped up but also hide mom's tummy. Everybody wins! And you got it, that is the same orange couch, and we are still in the restaurant waiting area. Fun, right?! For the full photo recipe on how to set this up (along with 39 more!), see my bestselling book Your Baby in Pictures.
How Else Can You Get Out of the Box? 14 of 15
Mom put baby down on a black couch that was near the orange one for a quick diaper change. There were so many fun photo opps for our workshop ladies in this single moment because his toes went right into the mouth. Shooting with a group of three or four is a GREAT exercise because it forces you to get out of the box and look for a point of view or angle that you wouldn't necessarily see. When I looked over the side of the couch, I saw this moment. I decided to try shooting down on baby by using the tiltable viewfinder, so I didn't have to stand over him but could still get the same result.
New Item 16 15 of 15
All photos shot with SONY a99 DSLR. Are your little ones no longer babies, but you love taking photos? See Me Ra’s newest book that releases on October 1st, Your Child in Pictures: The Parents’ Guide to Photographing Your Toddler and Child from Age One to Ten!
*To see more videos with fun photo tips, see my Disney Junior show Capture Your Story with Me Ra Koh
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13 Ways to Engage the Photographer in Your Kids (from Me Ra and her two kids!)