There’s a reason babies are called “Bundles of Joy”, and this pose goes to prove that name. You wrap the baby snugly yet carefully in a wrap on a blanket or a flokati rug, or both. Each provides a different texture and feel to the photograph. Hands can be in or out, although the latter is a bit more tricky. You can go with what feels natural but more importantly, safer for the baby. Caution: this is very much like swaddling. So if you are a parent, it might bring back memories of that time in your baby’s life and the sleepless nights. Don’t say you weren’t warned!
But personally sending them details about the age range you prefer for the newborn, where the session will take place, the length of the session, environment temperature, and your hope for the parents during the session, starts your trek toward accomplishing the shared goal on the right foot.
As the name indicates, the baby is posed on the his/her side, most often the right side. The hands are under the chin, and may be joined together. The difference between the two being the depth of the pose; see newborn photograph examples below.
The goal of photographing a newborn should be to capture the innocence and beauty of the child. That means capturing those cute, pouty lips, or little hands under the chin, the flexibility (some call it squishiness to make it sound more cute) when wrapped, the wrinkles or baby fat that is normal and healthy for a baby, and finally extending the personality of the baby by incorporating props. In today’s post, we will focus exclusively on 8 key poses, keeping baby’s safety in mind.
But I’ve also found that warming the spot on the beanbag where they will be posed is incredibly helpful too, particularly on the first blanket I’m working with. A heating pad works great for this!
From the family of “chin on …” newborn photography poses, like the hands on cheeks in the “Side Poses” or the “Tushy Up”, this one has led to some of the cutest moments in my studio.
In regards to blankets, I have learned how much I benefit from layering many blankets on my beanbag, in the order I want to use them and clasping the entire stack to the backdrop stand. I benefit during the session from doing this because it makes the transition from one blanket to the next extremely quick and fluid, and during post-processing because the layering helps make the blankets a lot smoother.
However, it is not easy to photograph a newborn. After conducting more than 100+ newborn sessions, my personal perspective is that there are two primary reasons why this is the case.
There you have it. Eight poses that make up a big part of how we, as newborn photographers, capture memories for families for a lifetime. Now to prepare for the cake smash session!
And last, but certainly not the least, the “We are a Family” shot. To be 100% accurate, this really isn’t a pose but rather a setup. For mom and siblings, it’s either in the arms or lying down next to each other, with their heads touching. For dad, it is holding the baby in the arms, or if he has really good ink (which is awesome for a photographer), I like to incorporate that into the newborn photographs. After all, it’s all the unique things that make up a good memory.
I hope that some (or all!) of these tips will help you toward your goal of successful newborn sessions, as much as they’ve helped me!
By the way, this last line should explain my ‘shopaholic’ attitude to buying props, as I also have a large collection of hats, pants, caps, tutu skirts and headbands in my studio.
It may seem for a moment that compared to those above, this pose is relatively ‘boring’. Nothing could be further from the truth. The side poses offer considerable opportunities to customize, with the color of the blanket matched to baby’s skin tone, to dressing the baby in a wrap to contrast with the blanket, and caps/hats/crowns/pants/skirts to make the little one seem as special as he or she truly is.
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This pose is also known as the “Womb Pose”, that is comfortable for the baby. The Taco pose is one of the few poses that offers the benefit of showcasing the facial expressions as well as the cute little hands and feet.
I am so thankful to Courtney for letting me write for her on this fabulous site! Especially because she said I can write about newborn photography! This is certainly a passion of mine, and I love to chat about this genre of photography any chance I can get. Mostly because with each conversation, new tips and bits of knowledge can be gained … for the photographer just starting in this specialization to the seasoned professional.
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In addition, when stuffing rolled up cloth diapers under the blanket to properly pose the baby, it really helps to stuff them all the way under the bottom blanket for a very smooth, not lumpy, look. In between those blankets? Lay down a potty pad! And lastly regarding blankets … thick, textured blankets are just so much easier to work with in post-processing because they are not as prone to wrinkles.
I hadn’t yet grasped that the direction of the light, when hitting the subject is very important! Angling thing beanbag set-up and positioning the baby at an angle to the light source creates soft shadows which add critical depth to an attractive portrait. Also, I most often keep the baby’s head toward the light, to achieve shadowing I prefer.
Props are an excellent method to extend that personality into the physical realm, and to incorporate the parents’ desires into the newborn photography session. So, ignore those who act like purists, take names and do not ever apologize for using props. Who doesn’t love a cute newborn cowboy, a little princess in her carriage, or a newborn flying in the clouds?
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During this time I may be shushing into their ear, while still adjusting the pose slightly or smoothing a blanket with a free hand. But whether it is a finger that keeps wanting to curl under or a foot that wants to pop out, holding the newborn in place will comfort them a great deal and bring the pose into perfection.
Alternatively also called, “How-Kim-Kardashian-sleeps-comfortably” pose. It helps the photographer strike three birds with one stone: capturing the newborn’s facial features, the cuteness of wrinkles/baby fat, and the natural curvature of a baby’s bottom. However, you need to keep this in mind: even though this is a very cute and innocent pose, some parents might not be comfortable with it, especially for little girls. So suggest it gently and watch the reaction to move forward with posing the baby.
For best results, combine it with the “Prop” pose, like a baby in a wooden bucket. Now, I might sound like a broken horse but that won’t stop me from saying this again – when you pose the baby in a prop, make sure that there it is stable so it won’t tilt over, and always have an adult sitting very close by to quickly take action, in case it does.
I am a sucker for newborn props. A quick glance at the photos of my studio, my blog posts, or my shopping bill will easily prove this. My personal belief is that each newborn has a different personality – yes, even at that age – and that each parent has different desires and dreams for their newborn.
If you like this post, I would really appreciate if you would share the link to it. Why? Because I’d love to hear comments from as many folks as possible. It benefits all of us to hear different perspectives and learn something new.
This means, having the right room temperature. Not a temperature that feels good to you and the parent(s) but one that helps the little one feel the most comfortable. Remember, s/he is in her/his birthday suit; we aren’t (and thank goodness for that). We will cover this in our next post.
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About the Author: Hi, I am Harshita of Avnida Photography. After earning two Masters of Science in Computer Science and spending 5 years writing code, I gave in to my real passion; photography, especially of newborn and kids. Trained by the top 10 photographers in the country, I love capturing the experiences of life, and the love in everyday moments through my lens. Join me on Facebook or Google+ in this journey to encourage me, share ideas and teach me new things.
Second (and Equally Important) – Ensure the Newborn’s Comfort.
And then again a day or so before the session, send reminders for what the parents can do to prepare for their experience and what they can to to ensure it is the best experience possible.
I remember when I first began photographing newborns one of the very first errors I made was how I used my light. I was prepped with the blankets and heat and lessons on posing, but … I faced the beanbag and baby right at the window! What resulted were flat-light, very one-dimensional looking images.
Also, explain why you suggest these things … why is a pacifier helpful at the session? Why should the baby be given a very full feeding right before, kept awake for a bit prior, and then photographed in an 85 degree room? A well informed client is a trusting, relaxed client and that goes a long way toward a successful session.
Having been a Newborn Photographer for 2.5 years now, I know that there is so much to know in order to have a successful session. And I should mention; a successful session, to me, isn’t just a beautiful gallery. It is a session in which the baby sleeps well, the parents are relaxed, and we all leave the session feeling excited about the entire process.
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There is a certain joy in newborn photography that is unlike any other. It’s the baby’s first professional photograph, the expressions are uncontrolled, and the bliss of the photograph comes purely from capturing the innocence and cuteness of a baby. And they are really cute, aren’t they?
More little details that make a huge differences in my sessions! We all know that heating the space you’re working in is crucial … I have my space heater going the whole time and if I’m not sweating, I know the baby isn’t warm enough.
I not only want this for each and every one of my own clients, but for every Newborn Photographers’. I’ve studied, practiced and learned a lot in the past several years and am excited to pass on to all of you, five tips that positively changed my newborn photography experience.
I can’t emphasis enough how important this is, even though it seems so obvious. Your goal for the session is the same as theirs, but they don’t often know what it takes to accomplish that goal. Right from the point of their first inquiry, inform them of your approach to your sessions. Likely, this information is readily available on your website or blog.
I would love for you to share this post using the social share buttons and please comment. I’d love to hear what you think and also if there is any category of newborn poses you know that is drastically different from those mentioned here.
You could say that Froggie and Tushy Up also give this combination of three (face, hands and feet) but as I said earlier, the former requires significant expertise to perform safely, and the latter might not be preferred by all parents. As such, the Taco pose which is relatively safer – you still need to be careful as with all poses – should definitely make it into the portfolio for every parent.
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Depending on the size of the window, intensity of light and distance of the window to floor, I generally keep my beanbag around 3 feet from the window and my set-up at about a 60 degree angle to the window.
I started out working with a teardrop shaped beanbag that I cinched on the bottom with a rubber band to make it more full and solid feeling. But ever since I purchased a puck-style beanbag and filled it with a couple extra bags of bean my posing has become so much easier. The wide, flat work area lends itself perfectly to posing in order to see the baby well and working more easily with their legs, arms and face, rather than battling with them sinking into a too-soft, too-small, beanbag.
Just seeing how she handled the baby opened my eyes to what was possible with posing a sound asleep newborn. I also observed a number of soothing techniques that have proved to be so helpful … so much so that I wish I knew of them with my own babies! True, there is nothing like true, hands on experience, but studying and watching other experienced photographers work can prove invaluable.
I know you’re thinking “but doesn’t that only come with experience??” To a point, yes … but so much can also be achieved through watching videos, studying poses, taking classes or mentorships, and asking tons of questions on your favorite photography forum. I gained so much confidence before my very first session by watching a video of a well-known photographer working with a newborn.
The classic, the evergreen, THE newborn pose. They should probably name the frog pose “The You-Have-To-Do-It-Newborn” pose. It highlights the baby’s facial features and flexibility. Legs by the side, and hands placed under and cupping the chin. But definitely not for an untrained photographer. Safety of a baby is always paramount, and most photographers (I hope) do this as a composite like shown below. Get this pose right and be on your way to impress your clients.
Home / Photoshop Tutorials / Newborn Photography Posing Guide
To sooth the baby while posing, I have found that a very loud ‘SHHHHHH’ goes a long way! I hold my warm hands firmly on their body, often one on their head and the other on their tush, and say ‘SHHHHH’ in their ear. Sometimes I have to raise my ‘SHHHH’ to an awkwardly loud volume, but it helps greatly in calming when they start to stir. And speaking of ‘holding’ … when I mold the baby into a pose I don’t just get them there and then snap the shot. I will keep my hands on them as I feel them relax into the position.