Techniques for posing babies – newborn photography

In today’s newborn photography tutorial, we are teaching you how to pose babies in a bucket for that gorgeous newborn photography that clients are seeking throughout the United States. Big time baby photographers are pushing the envelope of beautiful photography for new parents and helping the rest of us by producing awesome instructional videos for us to learn.  In the short video above, Ana is teaching us the methods she uses to get baby to pose in a bucket and to keep them safe while shooting.

Feed baby before photo session

Many photographers shy away from newborn photography because it can take 3-4 hours while mom tries to make baby content. Below we have a few baby-posing tips which will help you shorten the session time (time is money) and increase your profits while doing photography for newborns.

Have mom feed the baby prior to the session.  If you have a studio where you work and perhaps a lobby area, have mom feed the baby just prior to the session. Some moms have a schedule and they can tell you exactly when babies are going to be sleeping.  Feeding them makes them content and generally sleep.

Warm the room for photographing the newborn baby

While it isn’t mentioned in the video, you do see a glimpse of the space heater that Ana is using during the session (red tower in the background of one of the shots).  It is very important to keep baby warm during the photo shoot.  Babies typically cry for a few reasons and being cold is a big one.  Since we’re photographing the baby in the bucket with no clothes other than a diaper and diaper cover, it is very important to make sure the room is warm.

Shoot before 10 days old

One of the big things that isn’t mentioned in the baby posing video above, is that babies should be less than 10 days old and generally in the first week of life. You wouldn’t believe how much less a baby sleeps when they are 14 days old as opposed to 8 days old. It can be a dramatic difference. In babies first week of life, photography is much easier because most newborns will sleep 80-90% of the day.

Make sure your hands are clean

Because babies are developing their immune systems, it is imperative that you clean your hands PRIOR to photographing them and posing them. Wash your hands thoroughly and wipe down the equipment that you’ll be touching while you shoot with an alcohol pad to clean the buttons. This will help ensure baby is kept safe while photographing them in your studio.

Have a clean diaper

If baby is fed, often they will soil their diaper right afterwards.  It is nice to have mom go ahead and give them a clean diaper just prior to the shoot as well so that we won’t have to worry with a fussy baby during the photo session.

Photos are better while baby sleeps

Check to see if baby is asleep and will tolerate your posing them. While they are being held by mom, start moving their head, arms, etc to test if they are asleep.  A sleeping baby will make the photo session go much, much smoother.  Remember, if you have cold hands, try to warm them a bit before putting them on baby’s back.  It can wake up the baby and lengthen the photo session time.

While baby sleeps, put a diaper cover on them

Baby is being held by mom, so you want to get the diaper cover on them.  Diaper covers are MUCH cuter than diapers for photos, so get the cover on them prior to posing them for the first set of shots.

Plan the next photo while shooting the first

It is key when photographing babies that you keep the shoot moving.  The moment that baby wakes up wanting to eat or needing something, you’re out of business. This can make the session drag on and on because feeding time might be 20 minutes, settling baby another 20, etc. So, while baby sleeps and you are shooting, plan your next shot during the time you shoot the first shot.

Have a photo assistant “spot” the baby

An important aspect to newborn photography is the safety of baby. You will want a spotter there, positioned near the baby’s head to make sure that the baby doesn’t make a sudden movement that could throw them out of the bucket or prop and onto the floor.  Mom or dad can be the photo spotter, or an assistant.

What is in your photo prop?

Since we’re talking about a bucket today, I wanted to mention what to put in the prop to make sure baby is safe, comfortable and in a perfect position for the shoot.  Inside the bucket, which should be no more than about 8-9″ deep, you can place blankets to fill up the space. Be sure that you have extra blankets just in case baby pees and / or soils them from a diaper disaster.

Plan in advance what is in there so that you’re not trying to fill the bucket while your clients are there with you. You don’t want to take up any valuable shooting time with prop manipulation. Poor planning can kill you when it comes to newborn photography. Don’t let it.

Use your softest, most comfy blanket on the top where baby will be lying.  Make sure the blanket is nice looking for the photos too.  There are tons of places where you can purchase appropriate photography props.

Position baby first Before putting them in prop

When you start to take baby from mom to get them ready for the first set of photos, position baby PRIOR to putting them in the prop. Watching this part of the video will help, but you want baby close to the pose that you are thinking of while they are in your arms.  Set baby carefully into the prop, while they are in that pose.

Test shot – Have mom with hand on back.

For your first lighting and test shot, have mom place her WARM hand on baby’s back to make sure baby goes into that deep sleep that you want for the shoot. Get your test shot and then start shooting.

Photograph from several different angles, squatting, standing, horizontal vertical

Be sure to photography the posed baby from different angles, from sitting and squatting positions and from standing up.  You don’t need 20 images of the same pose and angle.  Get your shot and move on.  If you have the shot(s) that you want of a particular pose, change the pose. Work quickly and efficiently while photographing newborns to take advantage of the sleep-time.

Change lenses or have two camera bodies with different focal lengths

You don’t only need to shoot at 50mm.  If you like a different lens and focal length, use it to increase the variety of shots you can make for your clients. Most parents will choose one of a particular pose unless they’re making a book or album. But it is better to vary your shots to give them different shots to choose from during your ordering session.

I hope you’ve enjoyed this newborn photography tutorial.  Be sure to comment below if you want to ask questions or offer additional tips.

*The photo used for this tutorial is a screenshot from the above video produced by Ana Brandt at Baby Belly Love. The photo is her exclusive work and our use is strictly meant as a tutorial.