Have you ever tried to photograph a baby? No easy task! The first challenge is getting him or her to smile, a job at which this photographer is currently failing, despite his best efforts:
The second challenge is simply this: young babies cannot sit up on their own. Hence the need for a photographer to get creative in order to “get the shot”. Take a closer look at the photo above. The cropped version at right gives away this photographer’s trick: someone is hiding behind the column and grabbing onto the baby’s clothes to keep him upright.
Snapping a portrait of a baby on his or her own, rather than safely perched on a parent’s lap, means the photographer needs a helping hand – sometimes quite literally!
An adult provides an assist to the baby pictured below. Maybe the photographer later edited out the adult to give the illusion the child is sitting unsupported. This photograph dates from around the turn of the 20th century. While photographic technology has changed since then, babies have not, so I’m sure many parents reading this have also ducked behind their kids to secretly hold them up through a photo shoot.
While the helper providing support in the ambrotype portrait below is mostly hidden under a cloth, I don’t think there’s any denying the presence of a little extra help for baby girl Marrie. (I think I detect a bit of sleeve at far left!)
- Enjoy an array of baby portraits from many different time periods and countries in the Prints and Photographs Online Catalog.
- Explore the Library of Congress online exhibition: When They Were Young: A Photographic Retrospective of Childhood.
- Photographer Lewis Hine faced a host of different challenges while attempting to document child workers for the National Child Labor Committee. View the National Child Labor Committee Collection photographs and information about that photography effort.