Milk Bath Photos

I think I speak for everyone when I say I have a love-hate relationship with Pinterest. It’s the inspiration and source for all of our ideas—am I right? From decorating for every season and knocking out a gourmet meal to 10 ways to get your finances right—it’s like Google but with better pictures. You can literally find the answer to any DIY topic. But with answers comes not always easy execution of said answers.

One of my friends has a sweet baby girl who turned six months old, and she wanted me to shoot photos of her. Of course, I took to Pinterest for some ideas and kept coming across babies in washtubs. What’s cuter than that? What’s more, I kept coming across photos of babies in washtubs filled with some sort of liquid other than water. My friend loved the idea, and I remember asking the question, “What’s in the water to make it look milky?”

I’m going to be real with all of you right now when I tell you that I Googled it. Turns out, it’s milk in the water….to make it look milky. All official credibility out the window right now. I get it. I’m not even mad.

So, I did a little research into milk bath photography, and here are a few tips I found and learned on my own.

The Setup
I ended up using a brand new washtub I got at Tractor Supply. Weathered versions you find at an antique store are lovely, but they most likely leak and can also have substances on them that I wouldn’t want to put my baby in. I put a small towel at the bottom of the tub, so the baby wouldn’t be sitting directly on the metal tub. Next, I filled the tub about an inch in depth with really warm water. Once I poured a gallon of cold whole milk in the tub, it would even out the temperature and not be too hot or too cold for the baby. Now I’ve also read that powdered milk also works, too. In that case, you’d want your initial water to be just the right temp for baby.

Next thing to talk about is flowers. I went around my garden that afternoon and snipped a few flowers. I left some of the blooms intact, and others I pulled the petals apart. You can do the same with a bouquet from the store. I also read to not use silk or artificial flowers, because they’ll sink right to the bottom of the tub.

Important note: wait to put the flowers in after the baby is in the tub to keep the flowers from being pushed to the bottom. Doing this after the baby is in the tub can help you place the flowers more precisely.

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What We Didn’t Expect
Lesson number one. Be set up and ready to shoot immediately. You only have a limited amount of time before the baby decides that trying to eat the flowers and splashing in the milk is much more fun than looking up and smiling. With that much excitement in the washtub, it’s hard to break their focus.

Lesson two. A tub full of milk will draw a crowd. We had so many laughs with this shoot. And one was our cat Pauline who found her way across the pasture and popped up in the middle of taking pictures. As you can imagine, it was tough to keep her away.

Lesson three. Mom or dad or whoever has to be on deck and ready, because baby is going to try and eat the flowers. Probably not the best idea to let them do that. Oh, they also need to be ready with a towel, because the baby is going to want to splash milk everywhere.

The Outcome
It wasn’t a Pinterest fail by a long shot, but it definitely was a Pinterest challenge. We ended up with some really beautiful photos of baby Greer. The washtub and milk made for a perfect light reflector, giving her glowing skin, too. Here are a few more shots from my first-ever milk bath photo shoot.

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For My Photography Friends
I was trying out the Sigma 85mm 1.4 lens for this shoot and absolutely love it. I may even love it more than (dare I say) the Canon 85mm 1.2. Depth of field, sharp images and it made the light around the subject so lovely. If you’ve never rented lenses, do it. Do it today. It gives you a chance to try out a potential equipment investment; something you just can’t get from reading the description on Amazon.