….and one reason why I might anyway.
As some of you may know, we recently had an addition to our family. Carter Jay Helms was born on March 18th at 9:28 a.m. and was immediately the most loved baby in the entire world. He was also among the most photographed babies. As a self-proclaimed nature and farmland photographer, I’m known for being really bad at getting photos of people, but there’s something about becoming a father that inspires one to fill a 32GB SD card with nothing but close-up face shots.
Now, I don’t use Pinterest (this is pretty much the one fragment of hyper-masculinity I cling to with tenacity), but I often look over my wife’s shoulder as she peruses streams of baby photos from people who claim to be able to teach you how to become a professional baby photographer with your iPhone simply by looking at their endlessly vertical JPEG.
It seems simple enough. Just get a baby, a draped backdrop, a camera, and beautiful photos are the result. Babies are always perfectly compliant during the process and are naturals at posing.
Here’s what really happens when you try to get good baby pictures, and why I will never be a baby photographer.
(1). They puke – Babies have an innate ability to sense when they are lying on something that is either difficult to wash and/or expensive. Within seconds of touching it, they spew.
(2). They have no regard for expensive photography equipment – This goes back to the puking business. I got some fancy photography backdrops and though it would be a great idea to lay him on the white backdrop to get some studio quality photos. Of course, the first thing he does is puke all over it.
(3.) They pee all over – I don’t know if it’s because his legs are too skinny for the diaper to get a good seal or what, but that baby manages to pee all over himself and everyone else. Naked baby photos? Hah! I can’t even keep him (or anyone else) dry with a diaper securely strapped on him.
(4.) They poop – I don’t think I need to give an explanation here. It’s just vile.
(5.) They wiggle – Babies are calm and peaceful until you want them to be. Then, they suddenly start flailing like a cat thrown in the pool. This makes it really difficult to get a clear shot because I’m working with limited indoor lighting which requires really slow exposures. Sure, it’s cute when the wiggle (unless it has anything to do with the Australian abomination The Wiggles) but not when they you’re trying to get a photo that will make people say, “Awwww. Look how calm and peaceful he is.”
(6). They have skin issues that are difficult to edit – Baby acne, dry skin, splotchiness….it’s like middle school, but worse. I have spent hours upon hours editing out every little piece of flaking skin. Sure, it paints an unrealistic portrait of his first few weeks on earth, but someday he’s going to thank me when his girlfriend asks to see his baby pictures.
(7). They don’t fall asleep when you want them to – All the time, I see these fantastic photos where the baby appears to be in a moldable, posable, semi-comatose state. What are they drugging those babies with, and where can I buy some? I’m pretty sure that Anne Geddes is the queen of this drug ring, because babies don’t do that naturally. I’ve even considered having my wife eat a couple pounds of turkey in the hopes that copious amounts of tryptophan might make its way in to his system.
(8). They wake up when you don’t want them to – We finally got him into what seemed like a deep sleep, so I decided to try the baby-lying-on-his-dad’s-oustretched-arm-in-front-of-a-black-backdrop photo. We managed to get two shots before he was wide awake and threatening to jump off my arm.
(9). They never look where you want them to – Considering babies are often fascinated by shiny things, you’d think a large lens his face would get him to look directly at it. Nope. It seems whenever dad wants to get a good face shot, a blank wall suddenly becomes the most fascinating thing he’s ever seen.
(10). They make weird facial expressions – Newborns don’t really have much control over their faces. They seem to go through dozens of emotions every minute. And it’s hard to tell if they’re actually smiling because they’re happy, or if it’s just gas. Mostly, the weird facial expressions are the result of (4) and all of its vileness.
So, I know it sounds like I’m completely traumatized and never want anything to do with the baby / camera combination ever again, but there’s one important reason why I’ll probably keep taking baby photos despite my better judgment.
I HAVE THE CUTEST BABY IN THE WHOLE WORLD!