What is usually the first contact between you and a contest judge?

Isn’t it your child’s photo? Overlooking the importance of submitting a high quality photo and simply sending something you have hanging around, is one of the most common mistakes parents make.

When entering baby photo contests like the Cute Kid Contest or Great American Photo Contest, every effort should be made to present the best photo you can.

Creating the best photo possible is an essential first step to increasing your chances of winning any baby photo contest online.  After all, you’re entering a baby “photo” contest and so the photo should be the first thing you focus on improving to increase your chances of winning.

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baby photo onlineSome parents look at their adorable child and think that any and every picture of them is fabulous. It may come as a shock to you, that others may not share your opinion. We are talking about the “picture” not your child. Being impartial or objective about the quality of the photo is almost impossible for loving parents who can only see the child they love.
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Clouded by all those wonderful emotions, that at any other time would be commendable, when taking great photos that will help you win a baby “photo” contest, only serve to get in the way.

So what good advice should we take to help us present the best photo possible and dramatically increase our chances of winning any baby photo contest?

This article is designed to give parents a step by step check list of actions and methods that will dramatically increase their chances of winning any photo contest that involves your cute kid.

1. First Things First – The Camera!

camera baby photoIf you don’t own a good quality digital camera, this would be a good time to borrow one. The camera on your phone is great for every day snap-shots you email to friends or upload to facebook and twitter. When it comes to submitting a quality picture that will WOW the judges, they just don’t make the grade. So spend the money to get a good quality digital camera or borrow one from a friend. This is an essential step that cannot be taken lightly.

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Now that you have a good digital camera in hand you will have to familiarize yourself with all the intricate features it offers. Experimentation, and lots of it, will help know how your new camera handles all of the different lighting conditions. You will have to commit a certain amount of time learning about proper lighting and how it affects each scene. This extra effort will pay off later.

2. Lighting – An Essential Tool in Good Photography

gerber baby contestLets talk more about how important lighting really is to your picture.

You may have framed the picture in the best way, you may also have the sharpest focus, but if your subject is in the dark or we can see them clearly, it has all been for nothing. There are few things more frustrating in photography than a picture that is too dark. The moment has passed and you will never get that sparkle in your child’s eye quite like you did at that moment and the lighting was all wrong.

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Take the time to get your lighting right before you get started. The flash settings on your camera can be adjusted but we suggest using soft lighting that is separate from your camera. You may want to invest in external lighting fixtures that will throw some soft, controlled lighting on your subject. In this way you will be able to through light in any spot you desire so that all of the essential features are lit to the correct degree. Setting up a makeshift photo studio is a good idea. You will be able to control the lighting and the photographic environment over many pictures and produce a series of constantly high quality results, with good lighting.

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3. Setting & Background – Keep it Simple. Clutter is Distracting

Try and set up a clean and simple background. Make sure that the background you choose will not take focus away from your adorable child. Cluttered living rooms or busy play rooms do not make good background for these type of pictures. One or two colored backgrounds are ideal. Make sure their are no busy patterns or distracting subject matter looming somewhere behind your child. Neutral colors and muted tones will enhance the image of your child. They will add a little interest without taking anything away from the star of the show. You want the whole frame of the shot to look like it belongs on canvas

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4. Is it Tense in Here? – Create the Right Mood

gerber baby contest winnerCreating the right mood for your child is another crucial step in getting a great shot. If your child is uncomfortable or feels forced into sitting for shot after shot, you will have a grumpy tired kid on your hands and we all know what the pictures will look like. Creating a relaxing environment for your child that is inviting and fun will bring out the best in them. Make sure they have plenty to eat and drink and divide the photo taking into smaller bite sized sessions that should last for only a few minutes at a time. Then they will feel like this is all a fun game that they can’t wait to play again. Don’t be too ambitious. You have a goal to create a great shot but your child may not really understand what is going on to the level that you do. Relax, take it easy and keep it lite . You may have to do more than one of these multi-sessions before you get the ideal shot, and Oh how worth it, it will be.

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5. Clothing – What to Wear? What to Wear?

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You might be thinking how cool it would be for your kids to be wearing the latest kids fashion trends when you take their pictures. It isn’t necessary to buy up what’s hot at GAP KIDS and deck them out in the latest styles. It will not sway the judges. Keep it simple, just like the advice we gave in regard to the background. Neutral colors with one color that pops is a good thing. Dress them in what they usually wear. This will make them feel comfortable and relaxed. Again we mention to keep away from busy designs that will only serve to compete for the judges attention. Keep focused on who the star of the show really is. The eyes of a child and the skin tones are some of the things that make children so beautiful and fun to look at. Make sure your choices in clothing highlight those features not detract.

6. Props & Costumes – Should I Use Them?

cute kid contestThinking of dressing your baby in a tutu? Maybe a cowboy outfit – “He sure likes putting on the hat and ridding his horses head on a stick around the room”. You may want to re-think the outfit choices you had in mind. They may look cute as a button and totally adorable in those outfits but the costumes will only serve to distract and possibly annoy the judges. You may like the tutu, but one of the judges may have hated wearing them as a child and every time she sees a tutu, it brings back the wrong kind of memories. You want to give the judges the least amount of reasons to reject your child’s photo and every reason to choose your child’s Photo. Props and costumes are a not advisable. Trust in the natural beauty of a child’s face and focus on that

7. Wide or Close? – Should I Go in for the Close Up?

When it comes to kids, the closer the better. Having a shot that is too wide does not do your child’s cute face any justice. You want to zoom in (not too close) and capture that cute smile or funny little grin. These are subtleties that can only be captured close up. Remember, the less distraction a judge has, the more they will see what you see in your child. When in doubt….keep it close.

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8. Focus – Not Another Blurry Picture!

 Who likes looking at a blurry picture. Even a slightly blurry picture is annoying and disheartening when you know that the picture without the blur is a beauty! So pay attention to your focus. If you are having problems keeping your camera still, then putting it on a tri-pod is the way to go. You may not be able to follow your kid around, but at least your pictures will be in focus. Also the shutter speed may be the problem here. If your lighting is good then maybe you can increase your shutter speed. This may be the best and quickest way to cure the blur problem.

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9. Perspective – It’s All About Seeing the World the Way They Do

baby food kindleTaking the pictures from a standing position will mean that the child will have to look up to see the camera. You don’t want every picture of your child to be looking up. Get down on your knees and see the world as your child sees it. You will get a different perspective….the child’s. You will have a kid who’s expressions are more relaxed, forming a pose that is more natural as well. Kids when they are relaxed become less conscious of being observed and will take the best pictures.

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10. More is Better – How Many Pictures do I Take?

You can try and try and sometimes that perfect picture eludes you. I cannot count the amount of times I have looked through the many pictures I have taken and been surprised at which where the good ones. You may put your hopes on a shot you just know is the one, and when you seen them on a bigger screen, they disappoint. But if you take lots and lots of pictures, you may be pleasantly surprised at a few of them, ones you didn’t even remember taking. It has happened so many times to me, it is worth mentioning here. Take as many pictures as physically possible. These days it’s all digital and it cost you nothing but a little extra time, so why not snap away. A contest winning picture may be hiding in amongst the many.

In Conclusion – Follow the Advice and Increase Your Chances

Follow the good advice in this article and you will definitely increase your chances of selection in a baby photo contest.  Sometimes the judges (especially in the preliminary stages) go through the applications very quickly. It only takes one small anomaly to get your picture tossed to the rejection pile. Just think of how many cute kids missed out because of a bad entry photo. So take the time and make the effort to do it right. Doing so may make you a winner.

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