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You’ll likely end up in all sorts of strange positions getting just the right angle for a tiny newborn, so wear clothing that you’ll feel comfortable moving around in and stretching.
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.
I ask parents to take their watches off beforehand, as it’s so distracting having a big watch in the shot if you go for a close-up of a newborn lying in the parents’ arms. You don’t want to do this in the moment as a watch will usually leave a mark for a good few minutes till the skin settles.
Are you planning to photograph the parents as well as the newborn, and any siblings? Will there be any other family members present – grandparents are often in the wings, for example.
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.
[Editor: affordable 35mm lens options for full frame cameras include the excellent Canon 35mm f/2 IS or the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G ED, reviewed by me here. If you shoot Fuji, check out these Fuji lenses to find the equivalent one for you.
] Baby Photography Tips | Final Words
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?
Guest post by family photographer Louise Downham | www.louiserosephotography.com
Spend a few minutes chatting with the parents before you get started on the day, to help them relax and feel comfortable around you – calming any of their nerves will really help you take the best photographs.
Over the years, I’ve developed a set of tricks that help me get the most out of a newborn portrait session, and here they are.
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.
A cheaper option for close-up shots is using an extension tube like this one with a 50mm lens – the results aren’t as gorgeous, but it does the job pretty well.
[Editor: whilst Nikon doesn’t have an equivalent 100mm macro lens, the Tamron 90mm f/2.8 DI SP does a fine job – they also do a version for Canon here too.] Tip #20
If you’re leaning towards more lifestyle photography, a wider lens like a 35mm is great as you’ll get more of the interior in without too much distortion – just don’t photograph people at the edges of the shot or they’ll look enormous.
[Related posts: Tips on photographing children and the best cameras for kids] Newborn Photography Tips for a Baby Photoshoot
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.
Home / Photoshop Tutorials / Newborn Photography Posing Guide
[Editor: Whilst newer dSLRs like the Canon 6d mark ii offer a silent shutter mode, using one of these mirrorless cameras with a completely inaudible electronic shutter is a much better option.] Tip #19
I hope you find these newborn photography tips helpful – see what works for you and don’t be afraid to experiment.
Certain shots are easiest when the baby is asleep: close-ups of their tiny toes, for example, are much easier when a baby is sound asleep than when their little legs are wriggling around.
For group shots with a newborn, a 50mm lens such as the affordable Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM (or Nikon 50mm f/1.8G) is a good choice, as even if the family’s home is small you’ll usually manage to fit the whole family in.
Parents vary wildly as to whether they’d like more photographs of them all together as a new family, or mostly photographs of their newborn – some parents don’t even want to be photographed at all.
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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.
A more economical option for a portrait lens is the Canon 85mm f/1.8, or if you’re a Nikon shooter, the Nikon 85mm f/1.8.
I’d recommend that you get as much experience with newborns as you can to increase your understanding of how a newborn might react to certain situations. There’s also reams of information on newborn development available online – spending time absorbing these articles is time very well spent.
Photographing newborns has to be one of my all time favourites. I absolutely love seeing a family in its first weeks, the complete adoration the parents feel and their amazement that they’ve created a tiny little human.
Newborns are also sensitive to touch, and temperature – make sure your hands are warm before you touch a newborn, or you’ll startle them and quite likely make them cry.
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.
Try to keep speaking around the newborn, so they get used to your voice and it doesn’t startle them to hear a stranger so close to them. Keep your voice low and calm, newborns are very sensitive to noise.
Get some experience with newborns first before photographing one – they’re quite different to young babies, and need a lot more attention!
If you’ve spent time around a new baby, the constant nappy changes and feeds won’t come as a surprise – and you won’t be panicking that all the time is being used up with bodily needs, you’ll have seen how there’s a window of calm after all the excitement – that’s the moment you’re waiting for to really start photographing in.
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.
Responding to the newborn during the portrait session Tip #9
When selecting a camera for newborn photography, choose as quiet a shutter as you can – a noisy shutter close to a newborn’s face is likely to wake and startle them.
Ask the parents what time of day would suit their emerging routine best. Newborns tend to be happier in the morning, so that’s usually a good time for their portrait session. Avoid their witching hour at all costs, towards the late afternoon – it can take hours to settle even the calmest newborn at the end of the day.
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.
And of course, if you have an illness, postpone the session – the baby’s health is the top priority 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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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.
I follow the newborn’s lead – if they’re awake and settled, that’s when I suggest taking a family portrait. Different photographers approach this differently – many studio photographers, for example, request that the baby has an enormous feed beforehand to induce a big long sleep, for example.
[Editor: if you’re using a crop sensor camera, a 50mm lens will give you a similar focal length to an 85mm lens on full frame. Affordable options here include the Canon 50mm f/1.8 STM or Nikon 50mm f/1.8G.] Tip #22
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!
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?
If a baby is starting to fall asleep, wait a minute or two so they fall asleep properly – even on silent mode, a clicking shutter can be enough to disturb that snooze.
Second (and Equally Important) – Ensure the Newborn’s Comfort.
First things first – always, always, always wash your hands before handling a newborn – they’re so vulnerable to germs and illness, you want to be as clean as possible just in case.
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.
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.
My favourite lens for newborns is the Canon EF 100m f/2.8L – the close-up details from this lens are beautiful (and it’s also great as a portrait lens).
If a newborn is irritated by hunger, you’ll never get them settled – let the baby feed till they’ve had enough, and you’ll have a much easier job on your hands.
Capturing these moments is a great privilege, and if any kind of portrait session deserves to be nailed, it’s the newborn photography session!
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.
As with any portrait session, the most important element is preparation – feeling comfortable with your game plan and with your clients will go a long way to making sure you capture those precious moments beautifully.
Make some suggestions as to what the parents might wear. New mums might prefer a loose T-shirt as it’s more flattering for baby weight than tight breastfeeding tops – word this suggestion carefully though, as no one’s more sensitive than a new mum!
I use a Canon 5D mark iii which has an almost silent shutter – the difference between that and the noise of the Canon 5D markk ii‘s shutter is quite remarkable.
Bear in mind that some newborns have a natural tendency to turn their heads more to one side than the other – it’s easier to move the baby around if you find they keep ending up looking away from you.
New parents can be completely consumed with amazement at their newborn – you may not be offered a drink for hours! Take a bottle of water with you just in case as your concentration levels will start to dip if you get thirsty.
Consider how old the newborn will be at the time of the newborn portrait session. Studio photographers often want the baby in the first week, but for home sessions the first two weeks is generally fine.
I prefer to photograph newborns 7 to 10 days after they’re born, when parents have had a chance to settle into their new life but the baby is still definitely in the newborn stage.
This guest post on newborn photography tips is by award winning family portrait photographer Louise Downham.
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.
I encourage all parents to feature in one way or another, even if it’s just their arms being in shot holding their baby. When that little newborn is an adult, it’ll mean so much to them to have photographs which also show their parents.
[Editor: if you’re using a crop sensor camera, a 35mm lens will give you a similar focal length to a 50mm lens on full frame. Affordable options here include the Canon 35mm f/2 IS or the Nikon 35mm f/1.8G] Tip #23
Have in mind a loose shot list of the photographs you plan to take. Will you approach the newborn portrait session as a lifestyle session, or will you give the parents guidance and suggest certain poses or set-ups?
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I learnt many of these tips for photographing newborns the hard way – on the job! I’ve photographed over a thousand children now and am very in tune with babies’ moods and habits, which really helps keep a session calm.
Cover the essentials – is there anything the parents are particularly looking for from their newborn portraits? Have they seen any photographs that they particularly liked?
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!
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.
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.
Bear in mind the hormone crash that mums will go through on day 4 or 5 after the baby is born, and the fact that newborns will often suffer from baby acne and digestive issues from week 2 for a couple of weeks, and will often launch into cluster feeding from days 11 onward as they prepare for a growth spurt.
Don’t try to move the baby until they’re in a deep sleep – when their bodies have become very still and their breathing is deeper. If you move a newborn in a light sleep, they’ll wake up!
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.
The more you photograph newborns, the more you’ll get a sense of how you want to go about this.