Shoot With Confidence: Ideas for Photographing Dads and Babies

  • © Laura Swift

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    The joy on dad’s face in this moment stopped me in my tracks. By using the window as my light source, I was able to capture a soft light on dad that accentuates his delight that much more.

  • © Laura Swift

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    The sweetness between father and son in this photo with the baby’s mom looking on is priceless to me.

  • © Laura Swift

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    Can you image looking back on this photo when dad teaches his sixteen year old baby to drive someday?!

  • © Laura Swift

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    I loved the energy in how they were responding to each other, the classic game of dad throwing his child up in the air, and the red hair that goes flying!

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By Laura Swift

January 15, 2013 -

I realized how important it was to show relationships in a photograph when I lost something highly valuable to me. Two years ago, my parents’ home was burned to the ground in a fire. The neighborhood was sharing a meal together because of a weeklong power outage. As my sister looked up from the dining table, she could see our family home, which was now her house, in flames. After most of our family photos were destroyed in the fire, different family members made some photocopies for me of photos they had gathered of me with my parents.

One photo struck my heart the most: It was a photo I had never seen before of my dad holding me when I was a baby. Even though I’m a grandma now, the little girl in me treasured this image of my dad holding me in his arms. Finding this image was like a reassurance that everything would be OK.

This photo means so much to me that during family photo shoots I make certain to photograph parents interacting with their new babies, especially dads. Images documenting the awkwardness a dad can go through, or the pure joy of holding and responding to his new baby, will be priceless to the child as it grows up.

Here are a few ideas for photographing dads with their babies.

In image one above, a new dad is showing me how he holds his baby girl, which I asked him to do. There’s no posing here; he is just doing what comes naturally for him. The joy on dad’s face in this moment stopped me in my tracks. By using the window as my light source, I was able to capture a soft light on dad that accentuates his delight that much more.

Image two shows a dad kissing his baby boy. I love that this first-time dad is comfortable enough with his son to lean in and kiss him. The sweetness between father and son in this photo with the baby’s mom looking on is priceless to me. It shows a deep loving relationship between each of them. That is what family is all about and I love being able to see it in a photo.

And in image three, while mom was momentarily busy during a photo shoot, dad was entertaining the baby by letting him pretend to drive the car. The joy and timelessness of this moment was too sweet to not capture! Can you image looking back on this photo when dad teaches his sixteen year old baby to drive someday?!

For the photo shoot during which I made image four, I had a portable black backdrop set up in the kitchen. Dad and daughter were playing on the floor in between outfit changes, but this was the shot to get! I loved the energy in how they were responding to each other, the classic game of dad throwing his child up in the air, and the red hair that goes flying!

In our American society, we often accept moms being affectionate and getting excited about the baby, but sometimes dads are not so eager to show their feelings. They want to remain strong and tough, but it is an awesome time to let those feelings out and show how they feel about being a dad, again or for the first time.

Years later, when the baby now has babies of her or his own (or even grandbabies!), we know that these photos will continue to encourage confidence and that sense of security that dads give their children.

Laura Swift is a grandma, retired nurse and is living a second life as a professional portrait photographer. She is a certified Me Ra Koh CONFIDENCE teacher holding beginner and intermediate photography workshops for women in the Christiansburg, Virginia area.

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