And, use common sense. If the baby isn’t easily going into a certain position or is showing signs of discomfort do NOT force them.
The ‘froggy’ pose puts the hips into a bent up and spread wide position (flexion and abduction). This causes their muscles up the back of the legs and bottom to stretch. When in utero most babies hips and knees are bent up like this, which is why after birth their legs will remain up and bent when they’re on their backs. So in theory there should be little risk of dislocating hips in this position as dislocation usually happens when the legs are bent up and bought in together. My main worry with this pose is the placement of the hands – getting them into position requires a very sleepy, relaxed baby. If they’re wriggling around in this upright position they will be very unstable because a newborns neck is not strong enough to support their head – Most babies are top heavy as their head accounts to roughly 25% of their body weight. And if the hands and head are not properly supported the weight of the head can put a lot of strain on their little wrists.
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And remember that every baby is different. They will all have ‘their’ comfy spot so they need to be worked with and photographed individually.
We must remember that it is a privilege to be asked to photograph these little bundles and I believe that too often then not we get caught up in getting ‘the’ shot that we forget the real reason we are hired – which is to document every little detail of these babies and this incredible time in our clients lives so that it can be remembered forever.
If a baby has unstable hips with a tendency to dislocate this should have been picked up during their screening after birth at the hospital. I would check with the parents about screening before attempting either of these poses.
The safety of the baby is the most important aspect of your session. And, parents will also feel more comfortable throughout the session knowing that their baby is in safe hands.
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I wanted to write this book to further share what I have learned about photographing newborns and how to work with all their diverse quirks and personalities. When photographing a baby my main focus is that the parents have a wonderful experience from beginning to end, and that the baby is safe and comfortable at all times. It is these principals that I want to impart to the rest of the newborn photography community to ensure our genre continues its growth and success well into the future.
Above left the ‘froggy’ pose on the left and above right a safe simple hand held set up using the posing bag.
Never leave a baby unattended in a prop, on your posing bag or with a young sibling. Always have a spotter or parent next to your baby when using props Use a support hand or finger when posing the baby and clone it out later in Photoshop.
Don’t force a baby into any pose. Instead, adjust them to where they are comfortable. Have your camera strap around your neck when shooting above the baby. Never stand on anything above the baby in case you fall or it breaks.
Never put a baby inside or on an object / prop that could potentially break or fall. Glass props should never be used.
Lately I’ve had a few messages from new photographers to our industry regarding the safety of certain newborn poses so I thought I would share some of my thoughts regarding safety, some tips and a couple of images.
I established Little Pieces Photography in 2004 when I had my first child. From taking happy snaps of my family, I studied photography to sharpen my skills and am now a portrait photographer who specialises in maternity, newborn, and baby photography.
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There are some poses that you may be asked to create by your client. I can’t stress enough how important it is to know how they are created safely. Some being composite images that will require Photoshop to put multiple images together. Composite images are the only way to really ensure the safety of the baby when doing poses like the ‘froggy’ or ‘cocoon’. You need to be able to explain to your clients what’s involved with creating these set ups as they will be required to assist you if you don’t work with an assistant.
If the baby isn’t going into a position easily or is showing signs of discomfort by waking or wriggling it’s time to move on or finish the session if you are at the end.
Australian Family Photographer of the Year 2014, QLD Professional Photographer of the Year 2013 & 2014. Brisbane Newborn Baby Photography
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I would explain to the parents that if the baby becomes uncomfortable at any stage, you would move onto the next pose. I personally would leave images like these if they are requested till the end of the session and I would not attempt poses like these on your own if doing them for the first time.
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I am lucky enough to know a lovely photographer by the name of Fiona McGuire who before having her own children worked in neonatal and paediatric intensive care and special care wards as a physiotherapist. A while back we had a discussion about poses like the ‘froggy’ and the ‘taco’ regarding the dangers. I believe it’s very important to understand babies and what they’re capable of when handling them. No shot is worth the risk if something was to go wrong.
The more comfortable you make the baby during your sessions the more content they will be. If they are continually moved and disturbed during the shoot they will become over stimulated and unsettled. Gentle, small movements that transition babies into different poses will keep your babies nice and calm and ensure a smoother session.
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The hip positioning in the ‘froggy’ pose is basically the same as in the ‘taco’. But in the ‘taco’ pose the weight of the upper body is on their lower half, which can be very uncomfortable to the baby if they are not supported and positioned properly. I tend to only attempt this pose on newborns that naturally draw their legs up into this position.
I hope you enjoy this book, and that it can serve as a guide for you to hone your own craft of newborn photography. It has been a labour of love, and all my greatest wishes stem from a desire to strengthen and unite the photography community.
These days I also spend a great deal of my time teaching fellow professional and aspiring photographers all over the world.
Above the ‘taco’ pose. This image has been rotated counter clockwise to make the baby look like they were lying flat.
And I’m a big believer in “prevention is ALWAYS better then cure”.
When photographing newborns, it doesn’t have to be complicated. The simplest of images are often the most beautiful and treasured.