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How to get that perfect baby photo

If you've got a newborn in your house this holiday season, chances are you're planning to take a few photos. Or a few thousand.

Photographer Me Ra Koh, who has created Refuse to Say Cheese: Capture the Story, a DVD of photography techniques, offers a few tips for getting great pictures of the infant in your life.

1. Timing is the first step. If you want to get shots of your newborn in which his head is folded over his legs and feet, you've got to act fast.

These shots need to be taken before the baby is 7 days old. After seven days, the baby starts gaining head control and staying awake for longer periods, so he won't appreciate you bending him in different directions.

2. Look for the light. To find the best place for taking newborn photos, find the biggest and brightest window in your house. This can even be French doors or sliding glass doors. To keep from using your flash, you want to use as much natural light.

3. Don't forget to eat! I always have my clients show up 15 minutes early before we begin our session so they can nurse or bottle-feed. Even if the newborn isn't hungry, it's important for her to reconnect with her mom and have a full, warm tummy of milk before getting started with photos.

4. Turn up the heat. If you want to get photos of your naked baby, turn on the heat in the room you've chosen for the shoot, or buy a portable heater. When the room is extra toasty, slowly undress your sleepy newborn.

5. Velvet is magic. Before the shoot, stop at a fabric store and buy a big piece of black velvet fabric. Use this fabric for your baby's backdrop. Why velvet? The velvet material does the best job of soaking up the light and not reflecting any back so you get that seamless black background that feels endless behind the baby.

6. Use pillows and your black velvet on top of your bed or dining table so you can photograph your baby straight on. Have another adult hold the baby and bend the head over the legs and feet. Then fill the frame with just the adult's hands and the baby's body. Experiment with tight close-ups. Take photos of just the feet and hands or the tiny swirl of hair on the back of the head.

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