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McNally's Lighting Tip of the Month
Remember, babies are soft and cuddly. Light accordingly.

Baby shoots are tough. Ya gotta have lots of the little tykes hanging around, 'cause most of 'em aren't going to cooperate. "Next baby!" you end up shouting and the next eager mother steps up with Junior in her arms.

To do a good baby shoot, it actually helps if you've had a couple of 'em yourself. I had young assistants on this shoot, pre-fatherhood, and there were a couple of moments.

Like when one of the assistants brought the tot here onto the set, plopped him on the seamless background, and walked away. Poor little guy teetered upright for a moment and then the baby went BOOM!

"My baby!" screamed the mom, anxiously fluttering around him, while he didn't have a clue about the fuss. We got him comfortable and he performed like a champ.

Off to the side, I pointed out to the assistant that the baby was not a beer keg. He was a baby, and babies like to get sort of settled in and comfy before you leave them off on their own.

It's tough, though. To get the reaction you want, you have to do ridiculous things, and sometimes even be kind of a schnook. Like dangling a Cheerio in front of the kid and then, just as he reaches for it, snatching it away. I mean, you get the picture, but man, you feel like dirt.

[HOW TO GET THIS TYPE OF SHOT:  Shot in a studio on a white seamless background. There's a big 30x40'' softbox about two to three feet directly over the baby's head, aiming straight down. To fill in from the front, I used a big soft umbrella positioned to the left of the camera, moved in close. Given a soft, rounded dumpling of a baby, the kind of light to use is soft and rounded itself, so the whole idea is to bathe the whole set in light--kind of pouring the light right on him. Remember, babies are soft and cuddly. Light accordingly.]