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MAKE SURE THEY'RE READY
When photographing a baby or even an older child, preparation is key. Make sure bellies are fed and hands are clean. For a baby, your best bet is to shoot after they've nursed and have a clean diaper. They are likely to fall asleep and will be easy to move gently as needed.
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FORGET THE FLOWERPOT
Let Anne Geddes do her thing, and you do yours. Keep your environment as natural as possible and do not
contort your infant or baby into unnatural positions. Beds with crumpled linens, a family member's loving arms and a favorite baby blanket will always be beautiful and natural.
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KEEP YOUR COOL
Take a deep breath! It's important to speak in a soft, warm voice so your subject stays relaxed and comfortable. If at any point your child shows discomfort or irritation, use your parental instincts and put your camera aside for the time being.
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GIVE THEM SPACE
Kids need room to move – whether it be in a play area or as they sit on a piece of furniture in your living room. For babies, the middle of a large bed is great, as you have time to get to them when they start inching toward the edges.
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GET THEIR ATTENTION
As your baby gets a bit older, try using his or her favorite plaything as a prop. It's a great way to give them something to focus on while you take pics. Hold it just to the side of your camera or above your head so it doesn't get in the photo.
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LET A KID BE A KID
Be sure to really embrace the moments themselves – those are the shots that will make the album. Your tots don't need to engage the camera every time. You'll definitely treasure these more natural, candid photographs.
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EMBRACE THE FUNNY FACES
Ah, the "face phase"! Most children will go through a period when they always make a silly face at the camera – and you should just go with it. Try not to reprimand as you fire off a few shots. You can both laugh over them on the camera screen. Later, ask that they act a bit more natural.
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DON'T FORCE IT
Tell them it's the one time they’re allowed to completely ignore Mommy. If they turn to you with a forced smile, encourage them to pretend you're not in the room.
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I photograph my 7-year-old daughter's self-styled outfits for her own blog. And this experience has made her extremely relaxed and natural in front of the camera. If you focus on something they love, it may lead to their own photography project.
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KNOW WHEN TO STOP
It's important to remember to embrace the moments that you are capturing. It's more than all right to put the camera down every once in a while. The grandparents will forgive you. I promise.
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Based in Asheville, N.C., the photographer and mom of three is a pro at taking pictures of kids. Thankfully, she's sharing all her trade secrets in her new book, Photographing Your Children: A Handbook of Style and Instruction, available in March.
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