Posing a subject is a skill that many photographers find challenging in itself, but posing a newborn baby can be downright terrifying for some. When it comes to newborn photography, safety always comes first. This delicate mini human is fragile and doesn’t adhere to any posing cues, so as a newborn photographer, you must become an expert at how to properly and safely pose babies.
Here are 3 easy newborn poses to try at your next photo session. Each basic pose has simple variations you can try to get different angles and compositions. These tips are an excerpt from our Newborn Photography Workshop. Check it out here or access it as a Premium Member here.
1. Back Pose
This pose is a simple and natural pose for newborns. Simply lay the newborn on his/her back and place their hands on their tummy. A Westcott 5-1 reflector can be used to add light, but make sure not to reflect the light directly into a newborn’s sensitive eyes.
Back Pose Details
When shooting newborn portraits, be sure to get in close to get details. They grow so fast that it’s soon difficult to remember what their little fingers and toes looked like after just being born. The little details will be cherished and remembered by mom and dad for years to come. Additionally, capturing both the wide full body shots along with the tighter detail shots add a storytelling element to your shoot.
Basic Back Pose Candids
For a newborn session, always be prepared for anything. Newborns can be unpredictable. One minute you have a calm, serene and sleeping baby, the next minute she’s red-faced and screaming her head off.
Have your camera ready to go for these moments. During this shoot, Baby Ellie woke up mid-shoot and blinked her sleepy eyes up at Pye. Remember to adjust your settings, speeding up the shutter and compensating for the baby’s movements so that your images will still be sharp.
Babies don’t generally move too fast, but we recommend staying above 1/100 of a second and ideally around the 1/200 to 1/250 of a second range.
Full Length Back Pose
This shot seems simple, but can be a bit tricky because it requires a bit of time and patience. You want to make sure that the newborn is in deep sleep first so posing them will not wake them up. Hold the baby’s legs in the same position for about 30-60 seconds, and generally the legs will stay long enough for you to get a full-length shot.
2. Simple Side Lying Pose
For this pose, start with the newborn on their tummy and then gently ease them onto their side, allowing the baby to rest on their side arm while crossing their legs. Use the silver side of the reflector to catch and fill light into the shadows on the newborn’s face. Shoot the image directly facing the baby to get an intimate perspective of the sleeping baby.
3. Tummy Pose
The tummy pose is a versatile pose that provides many different angles and cute variations. Start by moving the baby to lie on his/her tummy. Remember that babies are resilient and sturdy, but you always want to be cautious and overly safe, especially when dealing with their fragile head and neck. If there is any tension or flexing of the head or neck, wait for the baby to relax and then turn the head into position.
For the first variation of this pose, you can adjust their hands underneath their chin and shoot from the top down, getting the side angle, looking at the newborn’s face.
Front Side Portrait Tummy Pose
This is a slight variation of the above pose. Simply adjust the camera angle to shoot a top down shot directly onto the baby’s body. It does a great job of showing a newborn’s body shape. You don’t need a reflector because you’ll be standing where the reflector was.
Now that you know the three basic posing positions, you can start getting creative with props, backgrounds and angles. To get more tips on photographing newborns, check out our Newborn Photography Workshop here.
I didn’t know posing a baby requires too many details, thanks for sharing this! By the way, I’ve just scheduled a session with this baby photography Wokingham professional. I’ll definitely request these poses for the photo shoot, especially the tummy pose. Anyway, I’ve noticed that the baby must be asleep to do the poses you’ve mentioned above. Can you suggest other poses that can be done while my baby is awake? I actually prefer to see my baby’s beautiful brown eyes in the pictures. Thanks in advance!
[Julie Montgomery has deleted this comment]
When we become parents, we usually spend all day in hand to capture the best moments of our little angel.
We have already given some tips to photograph babies that you can find in the links below, but in Xataka Foto they give us some very convenient tips to take into account to portray newborns .
They are aimed especially at photography professionals, but in any case they are very useful also for parents who are fans of photography.
To begin with, they recommend planning the session and having an approximate idea of the style of the images that we want to achieve. Another interesting point since it is about babies so small is to find the most suitable moment, to be rested and to feel at ease.
For the shot of the feet, how different would it look if it were taken with the 50mm? Would you lose some of the sharpness?
Can you tell me where you bought that round basket from? I really like how it has a nice wide rim. Most baskets have a very narrow top rim.
Do you guys ever use a flash when shooting babies, or will that just wake them up and make them cranky?
I almost always use my signature flash when I shoot baby and kid assignments. You get a cooler look. Its less expected to use hard light well.
These are great suggestions! I see that most of your photos are shot on either the 100mm macro or a 50mm 1.2. Do you feel one is better than the other when working with newborns?
Thanks for the article. Newborn photography is not something I have ever tried, but now I can see that with a few simple poses its possible to create some great looking images..
I think newborn photography is some of the mots challenging work I’ve done. But it’s very rewarding when you do get it right!
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If I could shoot babies every day I would. And always on a fuzzy. I bought a new one from a farm recently just for baby shoots. Did you know the reason a sheep fuzzy is so good for a baby? Because there is a high amount of lanolin in the hair, and it doesn’t shed. They even use fuzzies in burn units for people with severe skin trauma because of all of the lanolin. Its the perfect backdrop for so many reasons.