Anything to Get the Shot: Giving Baby a Hand

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:

Babies and child care - photographing the baby (Mr. Burr) on porch. Photo by Bain News Service. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b11583

Babies and child care – photographing the baby (Mr. Burr) on porch. Photo by Bain News Service. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b11583

Detail of Babies and child care - photographing the baby (Mr. Burr) on porch. Photo by Bain News Service. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b11583

Detail of Babies and child care – photographing the baby (Mr. Burr) on porch. Photo by Bain News Service. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/cph.3b11583

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.

Baby in christening gown. Photo, Detroit Publishing Company Collection, between 1890 and 1910. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/det.4a27811

Baby in christening gown. Photo, Detroit Publishing Company Collection, between 1890 and 1910. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/det.4a27811

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!)

Detail (Right half of cased ambrotype) of Private Hiram L. Barrett of Co. K, 7th Connecticut Infantry Regiment in uniform with bayoneted musket, and nine-month-old girl, Marrie. Ambrotype, 1862. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.37476

Detail (Right half of cased ambrotypes) of Private Hiram L. Barrett of Co. K, 7th Connecticut Infantry Regiment in uniform with bayoneted musket, and nine-month-old girl, Marrie. Ambrotype, 1862. //hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/ppmsca.37476

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One Comment

  1. Guy Claessens
    February 8, 2015 at 11:45 am

    …. having 5 grandchildren ….. I know the challenge …

    I enjoyed the galleries !

    Kind regards,
    Guy.

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