Lighting is Key
In order to take a beautiful picture lighting is always the key. Soft, natural, indirect lighting will always give you the best results. Turn off your flash, which gives a flat look to your photos. Find a window with some indirect lighting and shoot away. This natural light will bring out all of the natural highlights and shadows on your subject's face.
Here is picture my husband took of our daughter holding her new brother. This photo was taken in our hospital room with her sitting on a bench by a window with indirect sunlight. I love the results, and it is photo I will always cherish of my sweet girl holding her little brother for the first time. No photo studio required!
Set Up Your Photo
Select a background. Some of the best portraits are set up with very simple backgrounds. This allows you to focus solely on your subject. To do this in your home, choose a plain background. One of my favorite techniques is to use a simple length of black velvet as a background. Grab a 40% off coupon for your favorite fabric store and purchase a 3 yard length of black velvet.
Choose a location. Select a spot a few feet away from a window with lots of indirect sunlight. Direct sunlight will give you harsh shadows. Indirect sunlight is perfect for soft and natural highlights. Experiment by different windows and at different times of day to find the perfect spot for your portraits.
The next big question is what to wear. Don't stress! Most times you will find simple is best. A plain white t-shirt is often perfect. When my youngest son was born we had a lot of fun using these techniques. Here are a few of the photos that are my favorites from our at home photo shoot.
Finally, when taking your photo. Zoom in on you subject. Don't be afraid to get in so close that you crop off part of their head. This will allow you to capture all of the special details and expressions on your loved one's face.
Sometimes the pressure to take the perfect picture can take all of the fun out the the process. For these pictures I took with my daughter, we used a the timer on my camera. We choose the fun daisies as a prop and to get her to smile naturally, I used the tickle technique! Guess what the results were? Most of the pictures were blurry because she was moving too much for a picture without flash. So, I used the flash for some of our photos. Not ideal, but still produced some of my favorite photos I have of us together.
My final tip, take a lot of pictures. Professional photographers always take lots of photos. We don't always get to see the not so perfect shots. If you take several photos, some of them are going to turn out beautifully.