Baby parts shots are clearly not traditional photography. In order to be successful as art, they must be composed in an artful manner. Simply shooting a picture of your baby’s hand, without much thought as to the art in the photo will result in a photo that looks like a paw. You have to carefully select what will appear in the photo and what will not, the scale of the part in the photo and the angle at which you approach the part. There should be a lot of interesting shapes and geometry in the photo.
I like to zoom in tight on each part, but not so tight as to cause the viewer of the photo to have a hard time identifying what the part is. For instance, zooming in tight on a belly button, without providing the viewer the benefit of seeing the side of the baby’s tummy will likely be unrecognizable as a belly button and certainly won’t have the requisite art qualities to make a great photo. You might love the little birthmark on your child’s lower back, but shooting that without any visual reference as to where that is on the child, will not make a nice picture. By choosing a good angle, and some other feature like the derriere, you may just provide the point of reference the photo needs.
You need to look at each part in relation to what is around it and make your composition decision. Photographing a baby’s ear might be greatly enhanced approaching the ear more from the back of the child where you might also be able to include the nape of the child’s neck and the curve of their cheek, not to mention some awesome shadow areas.
I like to have parts like the feet and hands and bum coming out from the corners of the photograph as opposed to the sides. I think this enhances the art in the final piece. Also, a looking up shot of just the baby’s face, peering out from the corner of the photograph lends some really nice geometry to the piece.
Capturing tummies without privates on a baby that is sitting up can be a challenge. For this, you must get down as low to the ground as you can and shoot from a very low angle, straight on. If your baby is young enough, you can get the tummy more easily on the baby lying down. Older babies generally will not lay there long enough to get this shot. If the baby is lying down, be sure to use some sort of reflector to help light the tummy relatively evenly.