19 Baptism Photoshoot Tips to Capture Candid Moments

To take great photos of the baptism or christening ceremony, you need to take into account several things. Firstly, the shooting might take place in a dimly-lit church. Besides, you will need to consider the ceremonial moments. It also might be a daunting task to capture moving people and snap pics of water. However, using these simple baptism photoshoot tips, you can organize your photo session and learn how to take candid or staged pics for a family album.

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1. Find a Camera for Baptism Photoshoot

baptism photoshoot tip with good camera

When selecting a camera for baptism photography, pick a model that allows you to take pictures at high ISO without degrading quality. For instance, the Canon EOS 5D Mark IV allows you to take pics at 4000 ISO without any sign of grain. Using this camera, I get perfectly sharp pics provided I use the right exposure settings.

Here are several more examples of good cameras with decent high ISO performance:

  • Nikon D500. It stands out for its fast, accurate AF and impressive battery life.
  • Canon EOS M6 Mk II. With this 32.5Mp camera, you can take high-resolution photos.
  • Canon EOS RP. This ILC full-frame camera has a compact size and is extremely lightweight. Besides, it’s fully weather-sealed, which allows you to use it outside.

2. Choose a Camera Lens Depending on a Situation

baptism photoshoot tip to check proper lens

Make sure to use more than one camera lens. You need to select a lens depending on the shooting conditions:

  • Telephoto: It will come in handy for taking photos from afar. However, telephoto lenses are hardly suitable for poorly-lit rooms so it’s better to use them with a flash.
  • 50mm: Most such lenses are perfect for taking photos in different lighting situations. If you can come close to your subject, you can take beautiful portrait photos indoors. They make it easy to adjust the depth of field and blur the background to focus on your subject.
  • Wide angle: You can use it to take photos of the interior decorations and capture the church from the outside. Using wide angle lenses, you can also take creative portrait photos. However, be ready that some objects in the foreground might look distorted.
  • Macro: These lenses are suitable for capturing small details, including the elements of the interior decor and outfits.
proper lens baptism photoshoot tip

Pro tip: I prefer using a 35mm f/1.4 lens, since it allows me to capture everything I want. If you need to zoom in on something, you can opt for a 24-70mm f/2.8 lens instead. However, if there is not enough light, use a fast 35mm prime lens, as it will let you capture clear shots without any grain.

3. Take a Backup Battery for Christening Pictures

One of the most useful baptism photoshoot tips is to charge your battery before going to the church. Thanks to it, you will be able to use your camera during the reception as well. I always take with me 6 backup batteries to avoid possible problems during a photoshoot. Besides, you can take a charger with you. To keep your batteries at hand, you can use a convenient DSLR battery case holder.

Pro tip: I usually take several memory cards with me. Before the day of the shooting, I format them to prevent any issues during the photo session. I bought 2 memory cards for each of my cameras to back up my photos.

4. Check Church Rules

baptism photoshoot tip to check church rules

In some churches, you might be not allowed to take photos during the ceremony, which is why you will need to snap pictures before or after the christening. Besides, different clergy members have different views when it comes to photographing religious ceremonies. This is why it’s better to clarify everything right from the start and ask the priest for permission.

If the church allows snapping pics, ask whether you need to follow any particular rules. In some churches, it’s prohibited to take photos of religious artifacts.

Here are some other things you might need to ask about:

  • Where you are expected to stand to avoid getting into the way
  • What you aren’t allowed to photograph
  • Whether you may take photos of the priest
  • If it’s allowed to use flash and in which situations

Besides, you may ask about the schedule of the ceremony. It will help you select a suitable angle for each part of the christening and adjust the camera’s settings.

Pro tip: Select the best entrance and find a suitable place near the baptismal font. It will allow you to snap pictures without distracting the guests. From there, you can move to the side when it’s necessary to change your position. If you select the best place beforehand, you will feel more relaxed during an actual photoshoot.

5. Set a Color Scheme for Baptism Photo

set a color scheme for baby baptism photography

When doing newborn photography, you can create a consistent color scheme using clothing and the elements of decor. For instance, you may emphasize pastel colors or focus on 2-3 colors to create a well-balanced composition in the frame.

If you can’t achieve a specific color scheme, you can try to take photos in the same style by selecting a specific angle and snapping pics from the same height.

6. Take Baptism Photos Using Natural Light

check your lighting before baby baptism photography

Make sure to visit the church and the venue before the ceremony to see whether there is enough light. If you are going to shoot outside and the weather is nice, you don’t need to worry about lighting. However, sometimes, it’s better not to rely on natural lighting too much. In this case, you can use extra light sources, such as strobe lights, fill-flash, and reflectors to capture the magical atmosphere of the event.

lighting for baby baptism photography

If the ceremony takes place in a poorly-lit church, it might be a good idea to use flash. However, it could distract the participants unless you use it discreetly. As a rule, it’s better to take photos using natural light. If the room is too dark, ask the clergy if it’s possible to open the curtains.

7. Use Flash with a Reflector If It is Allowed

baptism photography with speedlight

If you want to take photos with flash, make sure to ask the priest for permission in advance. The disadvantage of this type of shooting is that it doesn’t allow you to stay unnoticed and snap spontaneous pics. Besides, you might make babies afraid of your camera. If there is plenty of natural sunlight inside the church, it’s better to avoid using flash as it will allow you to get more realistic pictures even if you shoot at high ISO values.

However, if you got permission to shoot with a flash and see that the lighting inside the church is insufficient for taking photos without it, don’t forget to use a photography reflector to minimize the effect of flash on guests and get more natural photos.

8. Configure Your Camera Settings for Candid Baptism Pictures

camera settings for baby baptism photography

Candid photography is different from other genres as you need to capture people in the movement. This is why you need to configure your camera in a way that will enable you to take clear shots. Many cameras have a special mode for taking such pics. Usually, it’s indicated by the running figure. If you can’t choose this mode automatically, you can adjust the shutter speed manually.

Pro tip: When working inside and outside the church, it might be difficult to adjust the settings quickly. This is why it’s better to use Auto ISO to snap great pics without adjusting sensitivity.

9. Opt for Multiple Baptism Shots

opt for multiple baby baptism photography

If you want to take amazing candid photos, take as many of them as possible. One of the most useful baptism photoshoot tips is to take 2-3 shots of every important moment. While it might be challenging to take a low of photos, it will allow you to get the results that will satisfy your client. This piece of advice is especially important for situations when you need to use a camera’s flash.

10. Edit Photos Using Trustworthy Software

editing baby baptism photography tips

I usually edit my shoots a few days after the event, which allows me to look at them from a different angle and perform culling knowing what results I want to get. To save time, I edit them in Adobe Lightroom. It’s important to choose only the best images to provide your client with photos that capture the most memorable moments of the event.

Here are some handy editing tips:

  • Fix any issues with lighting and composition without making your photo look overly edited.
  • Select the best photos. I select only those images that add something to the story of the event. It helps my clients to remember the christening better.
  • Don’t forget about color and black-and-white tests.

Besides Lightroom, you can also use Photoshop for complex manipulations as well as Fotor or Canva if you need to quickly add frames or inscriptions. Adobe Photoshop Express is more suitable for editing your shots on mobile devices without wasting much time.

11. Look for Interesting Angles and Perspectives

interesting angles and perspectives for baptism photoshoot

I always take photos of the church itself and try to use unusual angles to make them more attention-grabbing. Then, I go inside to photograph the details of the interior. During an outdoor baptism photoshoot, I select the perspective that will emphasize the uniqueness of the venue. In the church, I shoot eye-catching details, such as flower arrangements, candles, and other items that are worth capturing.

12. Snap Candid Moments

candid baptism photoshoot tip

Start taking photos before the ceremony of christening. You can take pics of the guests when they are arriving at the church or watching the ceremony. I also like taking photos of kids talking and playing with each other. Besides, it’s always a good idea to capture other family members to preserve the memories of this event for all of them.

candid moment baptism photoshoot tip

When taking photos of the family before the christening, I often snap pictures of the parents and godparents dressing the child in beautiful christening garments. It’s always nice to pay attention to such details since it allows me to show the strong bond between the family members getting ready for the event.

13. Document the Most Important Moments of the Baptism Ceremony

document special moment of christening photography

When taking christening pictures, don’t forget about snapping wide shots to fit everyone in the frame and take close-up photos of the parents with their child. Make sure to capture their facial expressions during the ceremony. Besides, it would be a nice idea to take pics of siblings, grandparents, and other family members. During the ceremony, I usually take photos of the priest as well. In addition, I recommend you take pics of the parents holding their child and capture candid photos of the guests.

Pro tip: Be polite and try to make your presence unnoticeable during the ceremony. Don’t come too close to the guests as it might make them feel uncomfortable.

14. Create a List of Group Formal Baptism Photos

formal baptism photoshoot tip

Create a list of photos that you need to take and ask your clients whether they want to get formal photos as well. You can take pics of the clergy, family members, guests, and godparents.

You need to think about where you will take formal photos, in church or outside. When doing baby baptism photography, pay attention to several factors. There might be another baptism ceremony scheduled on the same day, so it’s better to take photos quickly and capture the interior and exterior before the ceremony.

staged baptism photoshoot tip

Besides, you need to pay attention to lighting. When taking photos of large groups of people, use narrow apertures to avoid blur. To take clear photos, use high f-stop values, such as f/7.2. It will allow you to achieve a better depth of field and focus on the group. However, because of this, you might have some issues with lighting. If it’s insufficient, it’s better to take photos outside the church and use it as a background.

After ensuring that everyone assumed the needed pose, make sure to take at least three photos in quick succession. It will allow you to take at least one photo where everyone is standing with their eyes open and looking directly at you.

Pro tip: In case your clients don’t want to pose for photos as they worry that such pics might look staged, you can use a range of baptism newborn photo ideas that will help you take candid pics. You can take lovely photos of the christening as well as capture children with their family members and godparents.

15. Invite the Clergy to Join in the Photos

christening photography with the clergy

During the ceremony and afterward, you can also take memorable pictures of the clergy. Ask them if they are willing to take part in the photoshoot. Chances are, they will be happy to pose for group photos as well.

baptism photoshoot tips image with the clergy

Besides the clergy, don’t forget about capturing pics of the church and the reception venue. Whether the ceremony takes place next to the river or baptismal font, they will look great in photos.

16. Get Solo Photos After the Baptism

solo christening photography after the baptism

While it’s important to take lovely pictures of friends and family members, you can also focus solely on the child and capture their feelings during the ceremony. During a christening, you can experiment with newborn photography poses to achieve the best result. When taking photos of the baptism of an older child or an adult, you can capture them standing next to the baptismal.

17. Take a Photo of a Walk After the Baptism Ceremony

christening photography after the baptism

If you want to tell the story of this event in every detail, snap a photo of the walk after the official ceremony. It will allow you to show what happened afterward and provide some context. You can take pictures of the church as well as capture guests when they are walking toward the reception venue.

18. Capture Details at the Reception Venue

christening photography at the reception venue

When taking pictures during the reception, make sure to snap pics of the exterior and interior. I usually try to find some details that are worth capturing. They will remind parents of this beautiful day. In most cases, a photographer needs to capture a flower arrangement, cake, a table with presents, and various elements of decor.

19. Look for Inspiration in Works by the Best Photographers

alexandra tandy baptism photoshoot tip

If you are interested in christening photography, you can find new ideas for your photoshoot when looking through the works of the best baptism photographers. For instance, Alexandra Tandy from Oxford captures the most important moments of the baptism to ensure that her clients will remember all the details.

Anne Geddes who was born in Australia and now lives in New York took a lot of widely-recognized photos that won numerous awards. She knows how to capture the most beautiful moments and emphasizes that children are pure and vulnerable, so we must protect them.

helen bartlett baptism photoshoot tip

London-based Helen Bartlett can take photos during a private family gathering or capture shots during a party with friends and relatives. She has been taking photos for more than 10 years. As she started her career as a wedding photographer, she has strong photography skills and knows how to take mesmerizing shots.

Tools for Baptism Photoshoot

tools for baptism photoshoot

You can enhance your baptism pics in a few clicks using these ready-made actions. This collection includes 40 actions and 60 Sepia LR presets. They will help you add brown tones to your shots and make them look more refined and vintage. These actions are compatible with all the versions of Adobe LR and will come in handy for Mac and Windows users. You can apply them to images in RAW and JPEG formats.

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