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How to Take Great Photos

The light stuff The best lighting is soft side lighting, so avoid using a built-in flash (your image will be less flattering and lack dimension). But if you have to use a flash, don't fret. "The most important thing is to capture the love and spirit in your baby's eyes," says A. Perry Heller, a photographer in New York City. "If you need a flash in order to freeze her emotion on camera, then do it."

Dress for success Think cute but comfy. Stick to solid-colored clothes so your starlet stands out, and skip annoying hair accessories that tug and pull.

Practice your squats "For a more intimate portrait, squat low and be at the same eye level as your baby," says Kaysh Shinn, a magazine "baby wrangler.: "This way, you can interact and sing songs, and she won't feel like you've abandoned her." Shinn's other smile-getting strategies include playing peek-a-boo from behind the camera and using a small noisemaker.

Indulge your tiny diva "Don't force her to pose  -- let her wander if she wants," says Heller.

It's all in the timing Think about your own baby's happiest time of day: Is she jolliest first thing in the morning? Following a nap? After she eats?

Whip out the props "Organized clutter in the background is okay," says Heller. The right props can help create ambience.

Don't take the red-eye "When you snap with the red-eye reduction on, it will take a second or more before the picture actually happens," says Heller. "You'll miss your moment."

"Smile for the birdie!" Old habits are hard to break, but Heller says that eye contact isn't always necessary. In fact, your baby's personality may shine through when she's laughing at her silly daddy instead of the camera. Heller suggests having him crouch down behind you, off to your right or left, to cheer her on.

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