Give the baby something to play with— and hell give you a grand
picture. In color shots, dark backgrounds need careful exposure
CATCH TH I IN COLOR
"Anybody who knows the front of a camera from
the back can make priceless color shots of
the world's most lovable subjects — babies!
by Fulton Williams
The other night at the New \ ork World s
Fair I stood among several hundred
spectators who were watching the '^Cav
alcade of Color” in the Eastman Kodak Com
pany’s exhibit — when suddenly a gust of
I ' "Oh’s” and "Ah’s” almost blew my hat off.
What happened? Well, a flock of baby pic
tures in natural colors were flashed on the
screen and the gasps of delight actually
drowned out the commentator’s voice.
Was all this due to the fact that these
baby pictures were twenty-two feet high"
I No. all the other projections had been of the
same size and quality. It was merely because
they were pictures of babies in natural, life
like colors. Just to show you that the size
had little to do with it, three of them are
reproduced here, one on the cover of this issue.
Remember, these shots were made on
j 35 mm. film with amateur equipment, and
although the originals are little more than
an inch square, they pack a wallop because
they have human interest, or "heart appeal.
All of which leads up to the point that you
can make color shots of your kids that will
pack that same heart-warming wallop. Color
film is so perfected nowadays that you don't
need an expensive camera, or any other
equipment than you’d need for black-and
white snaps under the same conditions. An
inexpensive miniature camera with a lens no
faster than <5.6 will take care of practically
We re not interested m tecnnicauues neie
— you can get all the data you need in free
literature at the photographic shops. Suffice
it to say that snapshixiting in color has been
simplified to the point where anybody who
knows the front from the back of a camera
can make acceptable pictures.
Pick Your Method
How do you get such charming poses?
Well, you either lay in wait for them or stage
them, as you prefer. But no matter which
method you choose, first get pencil and paper
and make a list of possible poses such as:
Washing and Bathing: Baby in the bath;
being powdered; being dried; etc. Older chil
dren: brushing teeth; drying in big towel;
combing hair; washing behind ears, etc.
Eating and Drinking: Baby being fed;
older children feeding themselves. You can't
beat that old classic of the child in the high
chair, a dish of gruel before him, parting his
hair with the spoon 1
Dressing, Undressing, Sleeping. Since time
began, the picture of a yawning baby has
never missed fire.
riaying: in me ingu uwii, uu me ,
in the play pen; with the dog or cat; with
Daddy’s watch; with Mama's powder puff.
To which can be added, for older children:
Doing homework; practicing at the piano:
drying the dishes; sprinkling the lawn: play
ing dolls; supervising the toy railroad; navi
gating boats in the bathtub.
The main thing is to know what poses you
want, and then either be prepared for them
when they happen or else stage the situation.
If you just wait for the striking poses to
occur and then rush for your camera, the big
moment will have passed before you're ready.
With young babies it is simple to set up
your camera and your lights just before bath
ing or feeding time and await developments.
If you're alert you may get a dozen shots.
Or you can select a likely spot, focus on it,
set up the lights and then place the baby
there with something to amuse him — and let
nature take its course. That is precisely what
was done with the child at the bureau drawer
in the accompanying illustration, and with
the youngster in the chair with the hamper
of yam. Such pictures are rarely accidental.
They are planned, in the sense that the snap
shooter prearranged his equipment, the sub
ject and the props, and was ready to shoot
when the right pose suddenly appeared.
That's all there is to it, yet few parents
plan ahead for this type of shot. I used to
make a living doing home portraits of chil
dren and I’ve heard parent after parent rave
about a cute pose that I had to instigate
but which had occurred right in front of their
eyes fifty times before. And if they ever did
think of their camera, it was too late simply
because they weren’t ready beforehand. *
That, in a nutshell, is the secret of good
baby pictures, and it is far more important
than those other factors that most amateurs
worry about: technical skill and quality of
In the early stages of your color work, of
course, it is advisable to have all of the light
come from in front of the subject. It also
simplifies matters to keep the background and
the surroundings as light as possible — as, for
example, in the accompanying shot of the
baby at the bureau. Nevertheless, the other
photograph on this page and the one on the
cover indicate that, if you are extremely
careful about estimating the correct exposure,
dark backgrounds can serve the purjxise of
throwing the main subject into striking con
Photoelectric-cell exposure meters are, of
course, ideal for color work, but you needn't
despair if you don’t own one. Both film and
photo-bulb manufacturers publish free tables
of exposure data for all light conditions, nat
ural and artificial, and if you follow them
carefully you need have no trouble. A point
worth mentioning here is that for color snaps
indoors at night you should use either photo
flood or photoflash bulbs: ordinary light
bulbs are too yellow for accurate color ren*
Be sure to use Type A film, which is ex
pressly adapted for making color shots by
flood or flash bulbs. If you do not use Type A,
you must use a filter, and this cuts down the
film's speed, compelling you to make longer
One respect in which color snapshooting
differs from black and white is in the matter
of backgrounds under artificial light. That is
to say, with color film the subject should be
quite close to the background so the lights
will flood both equally. If the background
must be several feet or more away, it ought
to be lighted separately or else its colors will
be falsified by underexposure.
However, the one all-important thing is
that if you have a baby and a camera, there s
no excuse in the world for your not taking
some color snaps of the child during this,
charming period that is so rapidly slipping
away, never to return.
Just think what those shots will be worth
twenty years hence! And then get busy with
your pencil and paper, itemizing the situa-.
tions and circumstances that are so full of
possibilities for living, breathing, human
As an old hand at camera work. I can't
help but marvel at the photographic advances
that make beautiful baby pictures so easy
to get today. But as an old hand with babies,
1 can still see that these improvements have
n’t altered the fact that the baby pictures
that make you gasp with delight are those
made by snapshooters who were ready when
the right moment came.
“Lights — Camera — Action!”
Take that familiar Hollywood phrase into
your home and try it on your baby. And if
you’re all prepared to shoot when he wrinkles
that cute little nose — or sparkles those big,
blue eyes — or Hashes those ravishing dim
ples, you’ll have some pictures you won't
part with for love or money. Especially if
you catch them in color!
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