Get closer. It's the most common mistake -- we stand back, our eye trained on our adorable baby, and accidentally let the background take over the photo. The single biggest (and simplest!) way to improve your pictures is to stand closer. Fill the entire frame with baby!
Stoop to their level. Similarly, photos are much more charming if you bend down to baby. It allows for better eye contact.
Use sunlight. Turn off your camera's flash -- the sun will always be the most beautiful source of light, says Nick Kelsh, author of How to Photograph Your Life (Steward, Tabori & Chang, 2003). The flash flattens the details of the picture. If you're inside, it's better to move your child near a window.
Keep it simple. For a holiday-card-worthy, keepsake photo, find an uncluttered background, dress baby in something simple, and again, use sunlight.
Try black and white. With digital photography and online photo services, it's easy to print the same photo in both color and black and white. In addition, Kodak sells disposable cameras that shoot in black and white, as well as regular black-and-white film. While you don't want every picture to have this artsy look, it's well worth doing a few times. Diaper-only shots come out great.
Get details. Newborns are precious -- capture the wonder now because they grow fast. Zoom in on baby's tiny hands and feet, the way his fingers wrap around yours, or his expression as he sleeps.
Find a moment. Don't always put baby in a pose. Try a photo session where you play "parent paparazzi," following baby and snapping as he does his thing. "Luck is a huge part of photography," says Kelsh. "The more pictures you take, the more luck will be with you."
Originally published in American Baby magazine, September 2004.