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Newborn Photography: Posing

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Call me crazy, but I am really not a fan of those photos of newborns dressed up like a bumble bee and stuck in an altogether fake bee hive and hitched into a tree. I prefer natural photos. Photos of a baby being just that… a baby. Nothing too contrived, and no editing out of the arms and legs of a photographic assistant… underpaid for the privilege of ensuring baby doesn’t fall from aforementioned bee hive.

In this article, I’m going to give you a few tips on newborn posing. If you missed my first article on the basics of newborn photography, you can read it here. There is a lot more to photography than meets the eye. For truly amazing images of baby, spend a little extra and hire a professional. However, if the budget doesn’t allow, there are a few simple things that you can do to get better photos.

For the sake of this article my fictitious baby is a girl… so my references are to ‘her’. No offence to all the gorgeous baby boys I photograph.

Step 1: Preparing for Sleep

Keep in mind that newborns tend to be all arms and legs when they are awake and it can be difficult for you to move their limbs when they are asleep without annoying them (and rightly so!). So getting them in a nice position for sleep is important.  Newborns like to nuzzle their heads into something soft (like a blanket) and hide their faces from you (and your camera). Although you don’t ordinarily put babies to sleep on their tummies, they do seem very comfortable sleeping this way, and it does look great in photos (obviously stay close and don’t leave baby in this position unsupervised!).

When photographing newborns, like motherhood – patience is a virtue. Make sure baby is comfortable and warm, and rock her off to sleep.  Once asleep, gently unwrap her and place her on her tummy on the blanket you have set up for the shoot (see article 1 on set up tips).

Baby on cushion

Step 2: Getting Baby into Position

Keep your hand on her back or a blanket over her so she feels secure and comfortable. Once she is settled and asleep, remove anything covering her, cross her feet over each other and then push them so that her knees tuck up under her like the photo to the right.

Once the legs are all nicely curled up, slowly lift the head and turn it towards the light.  Position her hands and arms underneath so that they are not covering her face at all. Make sure all the fingers are out and that her fists are not clenched (much easier to do when they are asleep!!!).

Step 3: Getting Yourself into Position

Make sure you get down low to get your close up shots.  Keep the frame tight.  Avoid bad angles, like staring up babys’ nostrils, or anything else that distorts or spoils a photo.  You want to capture all the little details like lips, ears, fingers, toes and eyelashes, and it is the detail that makes a great shot!  Close ups of all these can make a great photographic series for you to hang on the wall.

Step 4: Getting Different Shots

A simple tilt of the head and a change of accessories (e.g. swapping a headband for a hat) can completely change your photo.  Baby might wake if you move her around, but gently “sshhh” her back to sleep while you shoot, so she feels calm.  You can even take a few shots while she goes back to sleep and if you are lucky you might even get a money shot – one with the eyes open or yawning!

If you like and you have time, you can roll baby onto her side to face the light – keep her legs tucked up and her hands off her face and then take some close upsfrom the side.

Dad shotStep 5: Grab an Assistant

Again, as mentioned in article 1, if you have a helper, you can still take great close ups of baby without having to set up a backdrop.  If Dad is a willing participant, have him hold her and then you could take a shot like this one.

If this still feels a little outside your comfort zone, then feel free to contact me and I can put together a package for you.  A typical newborn shoot with Dylan & Boo Photography will cost around $250 – $600 depending on how many images you purchase.

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