When photographing newborns my goal is to get a nice variety of poses and angles with the least amount of disruption for the baby. These disruptions are what I call ‘transitions’ - changing baby’s clothes, moving from one prop or position to another, being passed from one person to another, etc. Over the years I’ve worked on my ‘flow’ for the session to limit these transitions and get a nice variety for your gallery.
**Now is a great time to add my endorsement for using a pacifier/binky/soother/nooky/whatever-you-call-it during these poses. Using the pacifier for the few seconds or minute between poses really helps some babies handle transitioning better than without one. They aren’t using it long enough to acquire a dependency on it or to cause any type of nipple confusion. However, I’m totally down if the parents don’t want to use one.**
In addition to many prop poses, wrapped poses, and parent/sibling poses, part of the photography session includes poses on a big beanbag. Here are some examples of the standard poses with some safety tips and in the order I do them to limit the transitions.
Bum Up/Tushy Up
I almost always start with Bum Up pose. The babies usually love this position so they settle quickly and fall into the deep sleep we need them to be in. They don’t experience the Moro (startle) reflex when in this position so that also helps them to stay asleep. I have the baby in this position for multiple shots including different angles and some closeups.
When in this position I want the baby’s hand under their cheek and their fingers to be flat and relaxed. I tuck the back foot up under their bum so we can see the cute little toes. And I want them squished up with their elbow touching their knee so we get all of those adorable little back rolls. The proper positioning is achieved using posing pillows placed under the blankets. Be aware that the baby’s hands and feet aren’t turning purple due to improper placement and lack of circulation.
Next I do just a slight little turn so that the baby is lying on his/her side. The back hand gets swooped up so it’s flat with the other hand and under the cheek, knees together and feet either together or crossed at the ankles. With this pose I get a forward shot, a top down shot, and a close-up of the face. Again, watch for circulation to the hands.
I don’t like the word ‘womb’ and I love tacos so this will always be the Taco pose for me. However, the Taco pose doesn’t love me that much. It is my nemesis. I’ve attended workshops with some of the top newborn photographers and studied every tutorial I could get my hands on but still struggle getting this pose perfect. I’ve been told I’m a little too critical of myself but it is what it is. I’ve also only seen a handful of Taco poses, (even from the big named photographers) that I thought looked cute. It’s a tricky pose. Granted, it’s the position most babies have been in for the last 9 months, but sometimes it just looks too weird to me. But I keep trying. So if you don’t get a Taco pose in your gallery, now you know why.
To get into this pose I swoop the baby’s legs up under them, crossing the feet at the ankles so all 10 little toes poke out. Their head will be positioned on the posing pillow so that their weight is evenly distributed and they aren’t putting any pressure on their chest or belly.
Why is this called Huck Finn you ask? I don’t know. I imagine Huck Finn lying on his back in the sun after painting the fence with a piece of straw in his mouth, but I Googled Huck Finn images and can’t find anything like that. So I have no idea where the name came from. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
So from Taco pose, I roll the baby onto his back, keeping his legs tucked in but bending at the knees comfortably. I like to place the front hand (to the camera) down by his side and the back hand holding his foot or placed on his chest so that it’s visible to the camera. This is also a cute pose for holding a little stuffed animal. Babies will easily startle in this position so I need to keep my hands firmly on him, holding his arms and legs in position until I feel him relax. Then s-l-o-w-l-y raise my hands just a bit to ensure he doesn’t startle. Then keep my fingers crossed he doesn’t startle while I move to get the shot (it happens OFTEN). For this pose I put a posing pillow under the baby’s tush which utilizes gravity to help keep his legs curled up. Then a slight angle to the camera makes it look like he’s lying flat. I like this shot from the side and from top down.
Head/Chin on Hands
Next I place the baby’s hands under her chin as I roll her back onto her belly for one of my favorite poses, Chin on Hands. Baby’s hands should be relaxed and comfortably placed under the baby’s chin (not neck) with a posing pillow used to prop her up. An assistant should be used to hold the baby’s head steady (they can raise their hand briefly while I take the shot or I can Photoshop their hand out of the picture).
And last, but certainly not least, we transition to the Froggy pose. This is a very popular pose but one of the most challenging. At this point in the workflow I can tell if a baby is going to tolerate attempting this pose or not. He needs to be deep asleep. So I always ask my parents if they want this position because there’s no use in even trying if the parents don’t really want it. An assistant or a parent needs to help with this pose. I will place the babies hands on his cheeks and hold his elbows together with one hand while I reposition his legs and feet. Then my assistant/parent will hold the baby’s head with one hand and their wrists with the other hand. They take one hand away and I take a shot. Then they put that hand back and take the other away and I take another shot. Then I photoshop the 2 together for the Froggy position. NEVER try to balance the baby without someone’s hands on them!! For one, their head is too heavy for them to be supporting on their own and two, we don’t want them to topple over, even if it is a soft beanbag, possibly causing injury to their neck or spine.
And because I don’t think I have enough photos in this blog post (#sarcasm) I’m going to show some random, baby-led poses that I’ve captured over the years. One is a semi-popular pose some call ‘Timber’ because it looks like the baby fell over from the Froggy pose. I like to call it the ‘Home Alone’. See if you can guess which one I’m talking about. Another that I’ve done on occasion I like to call ‘The Dude’ pose. The others are just cute poses the baby ended up in that I thought were worth capturing.
These poses are staples in the newborn portrait session and take a lot of practice to perfect. I may not always get them perfect but I always get them done safely and comfortably, and luckily the babies are always super cute so I can’t really go wrong. 😜 If the baby isn’t comfortable or doesn’t want to move into a certain position, we skip it and try something new.
So what’s your favorite pose? Let me know in the comments below!