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While weddings get all of the attention, baptisms are wonderful opportunities to capture family photos. In its own way, baptism can be seen as an extension of the marriage celebration. Families come together to celebrate their newest addition and support the new parents. Personally, I think shooting a baptism is much more fun than shooting a wedding. There’s plenty of excitement and pride with much less pressure to get the ultimate shot.

Churches are usually not lit very well, so its best to come armed with an off camera flash and a wide aperture lens. A tripod is nice, but its too restrictive to use during a ceremony. A telephoto lens might also seem like a good idea, but not entirely useful as the aperture range will be higher (many affordable telephoto lenses have a minimum aperture of F/5.6 which may not let enough light in). Even if the light is sufficient, there’s a high probability that someone will step in front of your shot. Worse you might be in a position later when you miss a shot because the frame will be too tight due to the high minimum focal length (the widest most telephotos lenses go is usually 70mm which may be too tight when you have the chance to come in close). I think the best solution is to arrive early and get positioned in front, or even better discretely loiter at the sides of the church and then come forward at the appropriate moment. The best way to zoom in on a shot is to use your feet and get closer to your subjects.

The shot list for baptisms is also much more manageable than weddings (endless permutations of bride with mother/father/sibling/maid1 etc.). Excluding the obvious, here are a few shot list recommendations to help you capture the spirit of the day:

- Grandmothers with their grandchild

- Priests, deacons and pastors

- Family gowns, stoles and vestments

- Fountains and founts

- Stain glass windows and church details

- Decorative candles

- Church exteriors and gardens

Bonus recommendations:

- Always be respectful of the churches policy on photography and flash use - ask in advance

- Show up early and get some test shots before the ceremony

- Get some pictures early – best to capture the baby when content

- Sit on the opposite side of the church as the family so you can get photos of their reactions

- Keep babies and parents low and to the center on group shots

- Focus on the parents faces – it is as much of a moment for them as the baby

- Bring grandparents to the front and seat them if necessary

- Don’t over zoom – you may miss out on content you wish you had and you’ll lose light

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