Harlow is 7 months old and loves to paint
For Harlow’s 7 month baby photoshoot we thought we’d let her paint. Andrea made some homemade, non-toxic baby paint out of corn flour and food coloring, and I photographed the magic that ensued.
Here are some fun facts about the happiest baby around, as she turns 7 months old (by Andrea):
1. She loves blowing bubbles/raspberries with her mouth.
2. She is famous for her backwards scoot.
3. She can stand (with assistance).
4. Current favorite songs: All About That Bass and Clean & Fresh which happens to be a mommy & daddy original.
5. She can say “mama”.
6. Had her first sleep over at noni and papas.
7. She had her first time in a swing and on a slide.
8. This girl is obsessed with solid foods
9. Carrots are her favorite food.
Setting up the baby paint photoshoot
All photos were taken in my makeshift home studio (living room!).
Photography equipment used:
- Nikon D3100 camera
- Nikon AFS NIKKOR 50mm f18G lens
- Neewer TT560 flash
- 2 clamp lights from Home Depot with daylight bulbs
This is pretty much my standard setup for my makeshift home studio. The flash I use is a relatively cheap on-camera flash I got on Amazon and the clamp lights were about $8 from Home Depot. The additional continuous lights (clamp lights) help to fill in the shadows and give me the option to shoot without the flash (although the photos below were all shot with flash I think). I just clamped the continuous lights to a step ladder and had them basically pointing at a down angle towards Harlow’s face, about 10 feet away.
One of the challenges with the cheap flash I have is that it is manual, so it does take some fiddling around with flash power and camera settings to get the exposure just right. You can see the exact camera settings I used for each photo below, and the flash power was usually at about 25% – 40%. The continuous lighting meant that I didn’t need a very powerful flash but I always like to use the flash to allow to slightly faster shutter speeds (to mitigate a wiggly baby!) and to bounce off a side wall to the achieve a gentle shadow across the face.
To get the beautiful soft shadow I simply point the flash against the side wall (rather than using a bounce card or softbox). The trick here is to ensure the flash is pointing in the same direction the baby is looking (I got this tip from Jerry Ghionis – watch this amazing on-camera flash lighting segment if you want to know more). Of course this technique isn’t always possible when you have a baby that is playing with paint. In fact, I quite liked some of the photos where the highlight was on the closest part of the face, but anyway, it’s a good starting point for flash technique.
I found that I liked four shots the most:
- Front on with Harlow looking at me.
- Low-angle with Harlow looking to the side – to get this I laid on the ground and got Andrea to stand to the side to get Harlow’s attention.
- High-angle with Harlow looking straight up at me. To get this I stood directly above her, while Andrea made funny faces to get her to look up.
- Side profile at a Harlow’s eye level.
Additional stuff required:
- Baby-safe paint (as below)
- Two white sheets
- One tarpaulin
The setup was simple. We placed a tarpaulin underneath a white sheet, setup a white sheet as a background (we just hung it over some chairs) and then gave Harlow the paint to play with, one color at a time. I snapped away. She had an absolute blast, but I think Andrea and I enjoyed the experience as much as she did…
Baby-safe paint recipe:
- 3 cups of corn flour
- 1 cup of cold water
- 4.5 cups of boiling water
- Mason jars to store the paint
- Food coloring ’til the cows come home!
Put the corn flour in a bowl. Mix in water one cup at a time and stir thoroughly. If it doesn’t thicken, put the mixture in a saucepan on low-medium heat and stir until it thickens.
Split the mixture up into mason jars and stir in as much food coloring as required to meet your desired color.
The resulting baby paint photos
Here is what we came up with! If you want to see all the photos from this shoot, I uploaded a video with all 100+ photos down below.