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    Top Ten Baby Photo Tips

    You're going to be taking hundreds of pictures of your growing child over the next few years - here's how to make every one of them count. Professional photographer and photo-mom Joanne Dugan's top ten ten tips will make your everyday baby photography more beautiful, more meaningful and more fun for you.
    •    Keep it real and tell a story Don't be afraid to include the messier side of family life. That photo of your screaming or yawning baby might tell a much sweeter and funnier story than a generically "pretty" picture.
    •    Get close Get close to your baby when shooting - you'll see an instant improvement in your photos. When your camera lens " frames" your baby tightly, you avoid distracting background details.
    •    Baby's more than a cute face You can tell a story about your baby without ever showing his face. Think feet, fingers, belly button, shoulder, butt, hair (or bald head), toys, books, teddy bear, bedding, shoes. In ten years’ time, when your baby's a big kid, you’ll love seeing the toys he cherished as an infant and how tiny his feet were.
    •    Lose the flash Unlike film cameras, most digital cameras take perfectly good pictures in low-light conditions - so learn to turn off the flash. (If you're not sure how, check the instruction book or ask a photo-smart friend.) Move the baby to a reasonably bright setting near a window and shoot away. You’ll be amazed at the elegance of a non-flash portrait. Or go with lower-light conditions; you'll end up with a beautiful movement “painting” of your little one…try it!
    •    What's your angle? Unusual perspectives can make for more interesting photos. Try these: To add energy to your picture, turn the camera on an odd angle so that the picture's horizontal lines are not perfectly straight. Or try putting Baby on the floor and shoot him from above. Or (this one's a two-person operation) lie on your backs on the floor and ask your partner to hold the baby in the air in front of the camera while you shoot from below. Be daring, and you'll find other unusual angles.
    •    Be prolific Pretend you’re making a movie about your baby and that each shot is a still frame. This way, you'll take more pictures -and the more pictures you take, the more chance you have to take a great one. If you've got a digital camera, all the better - memory cards are cheap!
    •    Think photo series Gather your photos in album groupings to tell a set of unique stories. Ongoing series ideas: "Baby Day by Day" (a picture a day - title each shot with the date.); "Baby's Toys" (name the toys and who offered them); "Baby's Smiles" (title by date); "Baby Tears"; "Baby's Friends" (title by names): "Holidays with Baby" (title by celebration and year).
    •    Background matters Sometime a simple change of background (a colorful blanket under your newborn, long green grass, Mom’s beautiful skirt can turn a good photo into a great one.
    •    Be candid A great picture does not have to show your baby gazing at the camera. Sometimes a contemplative, peaceful moment says much more than a perfectly framed smile.
    •    Keep yourself in the story Often one family member takes most of the photos and never gets pictured. If that's you, hand off the camera whenever you can or just stretch out your arm to hold the camera at a distance, so that photos of you with the baby will be part of your archives. You’ll change, too, over the years, and that’s part of the story.