12 baby photography tips you can use today

Preserve those precious moments and capture your baby's development with our clever ways to make baby photography fun and get great results.
A baby holding a teddy bear sitting on a patchworked quilt on the bed, smiling straight to the camera. © Tomsickova Tatyana / Shutterstock

Photographing babies is a pleasure that many doting parents, family members and friends will be rushing to enjoy as soon as they meet a new arrival, and it’s easy to see why: they’re ridiculously cute and, as they grow, more and more signs of their personalities start to shine through. Whether they’re being giggly, curious, thoughtful or lively, photography is one of the best ways to track and preserve these unique and fast-moving developments.

Anyone can take a quick snap, but these techniques will help you to produce amazing images that truly capture such precious moments – ready to share with family and loved ones near and far.

1. Choose the best time

A baby wearing pink cap and grey/brown sweater lying on the side on brown blanket looking and smiling at the camera.

The happier the baby is, the better the picture you take of them will be, so make sure to choose the best time to capture that moment and an easy-to-use camera so you don’t have to waste time playing with the settings. © Samuel Borges Photography / Shutterstock

With the exception of newborns, babies are creatures of habit. Nearly every baby is going to be used to doing certain things at certain times of the day. You’ll know when your baby is at his or her happiest, so aim to shoot during these moments. For instance, your baby might be at its calmest just after feeding. Or just after a mid-morning nap.

2. Shoot at eye level

An infant wearing light pink top lying on the side on a fluffy beige blanket.

Get close to your baby’s eye level to take a picture that shows the intimate bond between you and your child. Make sure the autofocus is set to Single point or Face + tracking, if available, so your baby’s eyes are sharp in focus. Taken on the Canon EOS R10 with a Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM lens at 1/100 sec, f/2.8 and ISO640. © Mark Fensome

Classic newborn shots include close-ups of their tiny feet and hands, or sleeping on mum's or dad's shoulder. For toddlers and older children, images that incorporate movement, showing them at play or within the context of their lives, are timeless memories. The golden rule of these types of shots is to shoot from their eye level to ensure a feeling of intimacy.

It’s always a good idea to plan the shots you want to take. You never know how long your baby’s good mood is going to last, so be prepared to skip lower priority shots if time is running short.

3. Set up your camera before you shoot

Grandfather taking a picture using Canon EOS R100 of his grandchild riding a bike. Grandmother is sitting close by smiling.

Make sure to have your camera at hand when you know your child or grandchild would be learning something new. It’s important to capture those once-in-a-lifetime moments in the best quality possible so you can enjoy looking at them way into the future. © Gary Morrisroe

Time is of the essence when you’re photographing babies. In moments of calm, you might find you’ll get 10 minutes of shooting time. Make sure your equipment is ready when that clock starts ticking so you have the maximum amount of time with your happy baby. Of course, lighting changes and babies move, so it’s inevitable you’ll have to adjust settings as you go. But getting the basics – such as your lens, exposure mode, drive mode and other fundamentals – set up in advance ensures you have more time to shoot.

With cameras like the Canon EOS R100, it’s easy to just pick it up and shoot. The automated modes and guided menus and displays will help you with the settings, so you can concentrate on what is important - the precious moment you want to capture and preserve for years to come.

4. Work with natural light

A black baby girl wearing a pink bow on her head is smiling straight to the camera. The natural light coming from a side window is spread across her face evenly.

If you’re considering a reflector, make sure to test which colour is right for your baby’s skin tone. You might find that the golden side is actually more flattering than the silver one. © pixelheadphoto digitalskillet / Shutterstock

A toddler sitting in a swing chair looking at the window through which natural light is coming in.

Sometimes the best moments for a picture come while doing something mundane, like preparing the food for your baby in the kitchen. That’s why it’s important to have your camera ready to shoot. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 85mm F2 MACRO IS STM lens at 1/400 sec, f/2.0 and ISO400. © Ilvy Njiokiktjien

A flattering and intimate way to brighten up your baby photos is to make the most of natural light. A simple technique is to use a reflector to bounce some window light around. You don't need a professional photo reflector, just a white sheet or a big piece of white paper or cardboard. Pose your child next to a window and enlist a friend or family member to angle the reflector so that the light from the window lightens the shadows on the side of your baby's face that's away from the window.

Sometimes the light makes the picture, and your only role is to capture that moment. Make sure the focus is on your baby’s eye and that composition looks good and quickly press the shutter button to preserve the fleeting memory.

5. Prepare your lenses

A toddler deep in thought looking into the distance with their finger seemingly touching their brand new tooth.

Fixed focal length lenses, also known as prime, are great for portraits in low light. Taken on a Canon EOS R6 with a Canon RF 85mm F2 MACRO IS STM lens at 1/1600 sec, f/2.0 and ISO2500. © Ilvy Njiokiktjien

A top-down picture in black and white showing the baby’s face with their eyes closed and long eyelashes in focus.

Sometimes colour can be a distraction, and the details stronger when captured in black and white. You can check if the photo you took of your baby looks better in black and white in-camera by going to Picture Styles or you can change it in post-processing if you shoot in RAW format. Taken on a Canon EOS R with a Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM lens at 1/160 sec, f/2.8 and ISO200. © Helen Bartlett

Which lenses you use will depend on the type of photo you’d like to take. For general shots, try a prime lens such as the Canon RF 50mm F1.8 STM, which handles low light environments such as bedrooms with ease, or a portrait lens such as the Canon RF 85mm F2 MACRO IS STM, it has a fast autofocus speed that could come in handy for capturing movement such as crawling and eating.

If you’d like to get clear close-ups of your baby's tiny features – hands, toes and eyelashes – then macro lenses such as the above mentioned Canon RF 85mm F2 MACRO IS STM, Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM or the Canon RF 24mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM are excellent choices.

Generally, lenses with fixed focal lengths, such as 50mm or 85mm, are great in dark environments because they let in a high amount of light, thanks to their large aperture opening. But you might want to use a zoom lens for situations when your baby is active. A zoom such as the Canon RF-S 18-150mm F3.5-6.3 IS STM allows you to keep framing as your baby moves around, and gives you a higher chance of getting the shot within a short timeframe.

6. Shh! Shoot silently

A black baby girl wearing off-white woollen onesie is smiling in her sleep.

Baby’s sleep time is precious so make sure not to wake them up with the shutter sound when you try to capture their blissful expression. Taken on a Canon EOS 5D Mark II (now succeeded by 5D Mark IV) and a Canon EF 24-70mm f/2.8L II USM © Mellz Photography Ltd

Babies can be easily distracted and even scared by loud beeps and shutter releases. This is where your quiet or silent shooting mode will come in handy. If you have an EOS camera like Canon EOS R100, you can choose silent mode from within the scene modes. Another option is masking the shutter noise with soothing or playful music, depending on the mood you are aiming for.

7. Shoot in shutter priority mode

A black toddler is walking towards the camera with their hand held up high as if reaching for something.

If you’re photographing a toddler, make sure your camera is set up for a subject in motion by changing the mode to Tv. Taken on a Canon EOS R100 with a Canon RF 16mm F2.8 STM at 1/100 sec, f/3.5 and ISO1600 © Gary Morrisroe

In Tv (Shutter Priority) mode, you can set the shutter speed you want, and the camera calculates the best aperture accordingly. This mode gives you the freedom to work quickly and creatively without having to concern yourself with making a lot of adjustments mid-shoot. For example, the shutter speed needs to be fast enough to avoid movement becoming blurred, so when photographing a lively baby 1/250 second is a good start. Take it from there and adjust depending on the activity.

You'll usually want your baby's entire face to be in focus, so it's important to check that your depth of field isn't too shallow. Leaving ISO on auto will help you achieve your desired shutter speed and aperture settings, but keep in mind that the lower the ISO, the higher the image quality will be.

8. Use the continuous shooting mode or shoot videos

A video taken with the Canon EOS R100 of a toddler holding their hands up and walking towards the camera.

For most of your other photography you probably shoot one frame at a time. But for baby portraiture you should try switching your camera’s drive mode to its continuous shooting setting. Continuous shooting (also known as burst mode) is especially useful if you have a baby on the move! It will help you to record all of the baby’s sudden movements and give you the best possible chance of capturing that perfect moment, because no baby is likely to hold the pose you want for long.

Even better - make a video! Cameras like the Canon EOS R100 have great movie image stabilisation and autofocus that will help you keep your baby’s face sharp while it’s taking its first steps towards you. Moments like that deserve the best quality and if you shoot in 4K you can even take a snapshot from the video footage to print for your baby’s photo album.

9. Experiment with focus points

An infant wrapped in a blue blanket lying on a bed with their little pink feet in focus.

Change your camera setting to Scene mode Macro or Close-up to take pictures of adorable features of your baby, like their little feet and hands with everything else being blurred in the background. © James Paterson

Normally in portraits you will want to focus on the subject’s eyes. But with baby portraiture you can create some striking images by breaking that rule every once in a while.

Because babies are so small, parts of their body such as the hands and feet can make interesting subject matter. If your camera has a touchscreen, like the Canon EOS R10, it’s a simple case of touching the part of the screen where you see the fingers or toes to focus. Using a large aperture will blur everything else in the picture, keeping the focus firmly on the feature you want to emphasise.

10. Bounce the flash

A young woman is taking a photo with a camera and a Speedlite flash pointing sideways and upwards of a toddler sitting by the table surrounded by their family.

Get more creative with your children’s photos and experiment with an off-camera flash to add more directional light. © Tom Martin

In situations where you want to control the light with a flashgun, it's important not to direct the flash into your baby's eyes, as the light from your flash can be very harsh for babies both big and small. Instead, use an external flashgun and bounce its light off the ceiling or an opposite wall. If you just want to experiment with using flash, Speedlite EL-100 can be used on and off the camera and is a great and affordable option to start with. If you want to invest in a higher-class flashgun, then Speedlite EL-5 is the way to go.

11. Use a tripod

A grandmother holding her grandchild in her arms and talking to them.

If you want to include yourself in the picture, using a tripod can be the easiest way to do it. Taken on a Canon EOS R100 with a Canon RF 35mm F1.8 MACRO IS STM at 1/320 sec, f/4.0 and ISO640 © Gary Morrisroe

A portrait of a family with parents and 3 children, all sitting on a couch with balloons spelling happy birthday on the wall behind them.

When you want to get the whole family in a picture for those special occasions, tripod and a remote shooting functionality are the way to go. Taken on a Canon EOS 800D (now succeeded by EOS 850D) with a Canon EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS STM lens at 1/200 sec, f/5.6 and ISO400 © Tom Martin

Babies are likely to make sudden moves, so a tripod might not seem like ideal accessory, but it leaves your hands free to pose or distract the baby and elicit the expressions you want.

Using a tripod also allows you to include yourself in the photo and create timeless, classic shots with your hands encircling your baby's hands or feet, for example. With your camera set up on a tripod, switch the drive mode to its self-timer. Often you'll have 2- and 10-second options. Go for the 10-second option. You can also use a tripod with a Bluetooth controller, like Canon Tripod Grip HG-100TBR, to make it super easy to take photos remotely. You can take a test shot first just of yourself or ask your partner or a friend to stand where you intend to stand so that you can get your focusing and exposure settings right. Or just get into the position and start shooting to get the most out of the moment when your baby is in a good mood.

12. Make use of apps

A figure holds a Canon EOS R100 camera next to a smartphone, the same image being displayed on the camera screen and Canon Camera Connect app on the phone.

You can use the Canon Camera Connect app not only to shoot remotely from your device but also to transfer photos and videos to share them quickly with family and friends.

There are numerous useful Canon apps that will make shooting, learning and sharing easier and more fun.

If you have a Wi-Fi enabled camera, you can use the free Canon Camera Connect app to control your camera remotely from your Android or iOS device, to get yourself in the picture and avoid the chance of camera shake. With your camera mounted on a tripod, you can engage directly with the baby, monitoring your camera's Live View on your phone and triggering the shutter when the decisive moment arrives. You can also use the app to quickly import your photos straight onto your phone for easy sharing. Even some entry-level cameras, such as the Canon EOS R100, support automatic transfer, so you can review and share your images from your mobile device, straight after the shoot! Services such as are also a great alternative for transferring and storing your images in the cloud for further processing and sharing at a later stage.

The Canon Photo Companion app offers personalised tips and exercises that are suited to your specific camera model. All you have to do is select your EOS camera when prompted, and a wealth of video tutorials, inspirational articles and tips on various topics such as photographing children is available at your fingertips, allowing you to constantly improve your photography and learn on the go.

If you have a baby in your family, pick up your camera and start capturing all those precious memories and remember that instead of leaving them on the SD card, it’s worth printing them out so they can live on alongside you and continuously bring you back to those special moments in time.

Written by Jeff Meyer & Agi Wojcik

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