© Anne Geddes 2012
© Anne Geddes 2012

Practical Parenting steals five minutes with one of the world's most famous photographers for her tips on photographing your baby

We're all familiar with Anne Geddes' iconic images: she's been photographing babies, toddlers and, more recently, pregnant women, for over 30 years.

So who better to ask than Anne for the best tips for photographing our little cherubs? We sat down with her to ask her advice on photography tricks, soothing babies and her favourite photos.

Anne Geddes' advice for great baby photos

1. Joyful and spontaneous moments always result in the best images so keep your camera handy at all times.

2. The more familiar your baby is with having a camera around, the more relaxed they will be and not be tempted to pose.

3. Get down to your baby's level and see the world from their point of view - it's fascinating.

4. Zoom in nice and close to capture all those lovely little baby features, the chubby arms, little feet, their beautiful faces of course, oh and that lovely little bit on the back of their neck.

5. Try to include yourself in photos with your baby because when they are adults they'll be interested in how you looked way back when you were younger (and they'll love to mock you for it!)

6. Turn off the flash: full on flash is very unflattering. Don't ask your baby to pose. Be mindful of what's going on in the background. Keep it simple and don't try to copy my work at home because it's far more complicated than it looks!

Anne's advice on getting babies to sleep

"I wish I had a dollar for every time I've been asked this question, often by tired new parents! Thirty years of working with babies has taught me a few simple solutions:

1. In the studio I always shoot in the mornings as I find babies are better at the beginning of the day.

2. The sleeping newborns you see in my images are all warm, secure and well-fed, and in those first few weeks of life, babies generally sleep a lot. Mostly I just pretend that I don't mind whether they sleep or not, and the next minute they're nodding off!

3. I also have a special music file that I always play when I'm shooting, to create a lovely calm atmosphere for the babies, and it's all music that I love myself. Universal Music heard about this and we've just collaborated on a beautiful, soothing series of CDs for babies so you can recreate that calm environment at home - after all, a calm baby makes for a calm household!"

© Anne Geddes 2012

Her favourite image

"One of the most emotional images I've ever created was of "Jack holding Maneesha" (pictured above) in 1993. At the time, Maneesha was the smallest baby I had ever photographed. She was born prematurely at 28 weeks' gestation, weighing 680g (a little under 1.5lb) and was just about to leave hospital after her long stay.

The shoot took place at a hospital in Auckland, in an anteroom directly outside the neonatal ward. One of the reasons for using this small room was because it could be effectively heated - most important, as Maneesha would be naked and the temperature needed to be similar to that in her incubator.

I can't imagine how emotional it must have been for Jack, to hold such a tiny and precious human being; watching them both was certainly one of my most moving experiences. That day was the first time Maneesha had been completely disconnected from all of her machinery, and I remember when I settled her into Jack's huge hands and was photographing her, the look of amazement and wonder on her mother's face."

© Anne Geddes 2012
I photographed Maneesha again 16 years later (pictured above), holding another tiny premature baby named Gabriella, who was exactly the same weight as Maneesha had been all those years ago.

This time the image was created in The Grace Unit at the children's hospital at Westmead, Sydney - another very emotional but joyful day for everyone.

I hope both these images will continue to provide hope and comfort to the many parents of premature babies, and shine a light on the wonderful work of the dedicated medical personnel who care for them. Gabriella is now a happy little 3 year old - Maneesha has just turned 19 - and the two of them will always have a very special bond.

Want a new way to save and show off your baby photos? Try the digital version of My First Five Years

© Anne Geddes 2012
Anne Geddes recently became a Global Advocate for the United Nations Shot@Life and is also an ambassador for The Woolmark Company.

Like her on Facebook or chat with her on twitter!

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