How to Save on Baby Photos

Record Your Precious Memories at Prices You Can Afford

As parents, we love taking lots and lots of pictures of our adorable babies. But it can be hard to capture those special smiles and irresistible dimples on camera, since you can't tell your teeny model to pose. What to do?

One surprisingly affordable option is professional photography. Many cameramen and women specialize in shooting children and know exactly how to capture them at their most adorable. The best savings to be found are through large department store chains. For example, Walmart's Picture Me Portrait Studio gives you over 30 portraits taken by an ace photographer for only $7.99. Simply go to pictureme.com to see a gallery of baby shots, to find the studio nearest you and to book an appointment. Sears, JCPenney, and Target may also have photo studios close to your home.

Another option: Barter your own talents (tutoring if you're a teacher; carpentry if you're a woodworker) for those of a photographer in your area. The free website U-exchange.com can match you up with a photographer who is willing to work in exchange for bartered services.

Whether you go pro or go it alone, there are five secrets to taking a great baby picture:

  1. Timing is everything. A tired or hungry infant can throw a bigger tantrum than any adult supermodel. The best pictures happen when your child is well-rested and fed. After a nap and a bottle or nursing session she should be good to go (but add in time for burping so any major spit-up happens before you put her in the dress Grandma sent). Also, is there a time of day when your baby is particularly happy? The morning? Late afternoon? Each child is different.
  2. Get on your baby's level. Squat down or kneel on the floor. This makes your baby, not the background, the focus of your shot.
  3. Don't wait for the perfect opportunity. Calling your baby's name for an hour before she looks at you (and then looks away the millisecond before you snap her photo) is exhausting for you and your baby. Give her a toy to play with and talk to her in the soft, loving voice you usually do. She'll be happy and relaxed, which makes her a perfect picture subject. And remember: The best images don't have to feature your baby making eye contact with the camera. Just keep snapping candid shots of your cheerful child, and you will strike gold.
  4. Use natural light coming in from a window. Sunlight is always nicer than a flash when capturing a baby's flawless skin. Noontime sun can be harsh, but if that's when your sweetie is happiest, click away!
  5. Let your baby be the star. In general, dressing her in solid colors rather than patterns is best so that the focus is on your baby's own beauty (exceptions can be made for the flowered frock Grandma sent, of course). Similarly, keep the background quiet. Put your baby on a plain-colored blanket or rug and away from any scene-stealing furniture.

This article was written by the publishers of Parents and American Baby magazines.

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