What parent can resist the stunning beauty of the images created during a newborn posing photo session? Learn the basics of newborn photography here, because we all know end result is worth the work!
Those chubby cheeks, and the pure serenity of a sleeping baby is irresistible. Parents go through this tricky process days after their baby is born because they know the art you can create as a photographer is priceless. Newborn days are such fleeting times and every parent wants to remember how tiny their little bundle of joy was. If you’re new to the baby scene, it can feel like there is so much to learn about newborn posing and newborn photography. We’re here to help you with the basics!
What props can you use for newborn photography
These first six items are considered less to be “props” and more to be “essential items for newborn photo shoots”. Not all of these items show in your photos, but they make your image better! They will also help make your newborn posing easier
For those classic photos of newborns, most photographers will do a majority of their newborn posing on a beanbag. If you’re missing a beanbag then a chair, a bed, or an ottoman will make do. The beanbag will allow you to adjust the firmness of it by adding or removing the bean filling. And it is lighter to move around if you go to your client’s houses for the session.
Backdrop / Backdrop Stand
This item is great if you change out the background of your shots between poses. This is an easier item to use if you stay in one studio. Portable newborn photographers often create or purchase a lightweight stand and clip the blankets to the stand when in a client’s home. The blanket acts as the backdrop in this instance. One crafty photographer even uses the backs of chairs in her client’s home to act as the backdrop stand and uses clothespins to pull back the blankets so there are no wrinkles in her photos.
Newborns are bound to have an accident during your hours long photo session. Save yourself a little laundry by placing a puppy pad underneath the blanket you’re using for newborn posing. This way when the baby does have an accident, you don’t have to wash everything.
The best newborn photos happen when baby is asleep. A space heater keeps the room nice and comfortable so that baby is more likely to stay asleep during the session. A sleeping baby is much easier to pose than an awake one! Don’t overheat the baby. If the baby appears to be breathing quickly or panting, please cool the baby down immediately.
White Noise Machine
The noise created by these machines mimics the sound of the womb, which comforts the baby and helps it sleep better. Newborn posing is a thousand times simpler when the baby isn’t awake and wiggling around.
*Optional* Lights / Flash
If you work in your own studio for newborn photo sessions, you will have a good sense of what your light will be every day. However you never know when you walk into a client’s home how much light they will have available. Some newborn photographers try to work only with natural light. If you plan on being a natural light photographer, having a flash on hand for worse case scenarios is the smart way to go.
Newborn studio props
This is where you get to have fun and get creative! Your imagination is the limit when it comes to props. You can go classic simplicity with props and only use pretty scarves and blankets, with headbands for the girls. Use your style sense to combine different types of materials for the scarves and blankets and find colors that blend well together. Or you can go the unusual route by finding a theme to your images. Use a parent’s career or beloved hobby as inspiration. Firefighter helmets, military jackets, favourite hockey jersey, guitar, dance shoes etc. Or you can use a favourite fairy tale or comic book story line as the theme. The sky is truly the limit for themes, and each one creates unique and exciting opportunities! The one important note is when posing a baby with these more unconventional props, please put the baby’s safety first and foremost. Don’t put the baby on or in an item that could harm the baby.
Places to buy newborn posing props
The places you go for newborn posing props differ depending on what sort of items you need and what sort of theme you’re using in your shoot. Basic items like blankets, scarves, and headbands can be purchased at baby stores, box stores like target and Walmart, or thrift stores (wash these thoroughly before use). What’s even more special is if one of these items is handmade by a friend or relative of the parents. The more unconventional items come from anywhere: music stores, dad’s tool box, books from mom’s favourite author, handmade by the parents or even commissioned by the parents to be made by a member of the community.
What are the main newborn poses
There are a number of stunning newborn poses every newborn photographer is itching to try. The most popular poses newborn photographers feature in their work are: the ‘froggy’, ‘cocoon’, ‘taco’, ‘Huck Finn’, ‘head on hands’, ‘potato sack’, and laying on their side pose with hands by the cheek. There might be slight variations on the name between photographers but these are generally pretty well known names. Of course these are just the posed shots. As a newborn photographer your shots should go beyond the newborn posing. Aim to get some photos of the baby’s eyes, lips, ears, fingers and toes. All the little things that make babies so precious.
How to pose newborns safely
Newborn safety should be your number one priority during a photo shoot. All the posed newborn images you see online were created as composites, meaning multiple images were combined into one. Sometimes knowing ‘why’ you should or shouldn’t do something makes it easier for us to remember to be safe with the little ones. Some of the classic newborn shots bend and curl the baby up in ways that the baby cannot support itself. This could lead to the baby dislocating their hips or shoulders, or getting pulled elbow injuries. Other poses with scarves could lead to overheating or asphyxiation if you’re not careful.
These are the newborn posing safety rules you must follow:
- Never leave a baby unattended anywhere or on any prop
- Always have parent or assistant close to baby to ensure they don’t fall over
- Many poses require multiple shots where each shot has hands holding the baby up in some manner. These shots must not be attempted without supporting hands (that can be removed in editing)
- Don’t force the baby to do any pose if the baby is not letting you position them into it
- Always secure your camera strap around your neck when photographing a baby from above
- Don’t stand on items that could collapse if you’re taking photos above the baby
- Don’t place baby in unsecured item or prop, especially not one high above the ground
Another aspect of newborn safety you might not have thought of is vaccinations. Some might disagree with us but a newborn photographer should be up-to-date on all their vaccinations. Science has proven again and again that child vaccinations are safe. You don’t want to be responsible for passing on a disease to a newborn leading to serious illness or even death. You also want to have strict sanitation and infection control procedures in place. Make sure to disinfect all your items after each newborn session.
Working with newborns will be a slow process, so don’t try to rush the baby into anything. Let baby eat when they’re hungry, snuggle with mom when they’re upset, and sleep when they’re tired. Babies follow no one’s schedule so try not to stress out if your session isn’t going according to plan. Take whatever photos you’re able to get of the baby. Trust us, mom and dad are going to love all the photos you send them, regardless if you got all the shots YOU wanted!