If tiny babies in cutsie-poo poses make your heart go pitter-patter, these newborn photography props, techniques, and tips, will melt your sappy soul! (Photos and quotes contributed by: MEGGAN WHITSITT, TRULY YOU PHOTOS)
Photographer Meggan Whittsit doesn’t have children of her own (“Yet!” she’s quick to clarify), but she snuggles a new precious baby almost every day. Her nearly-10-year-old photography business, Truly You Photos, works with humans of all ages, but newborns are by far her favorite subjects!
“Everyone asks me how many kids I have, and it’s such a compliment. It means my clients think I look comfortable with their babies – and I am!” – Meggan Whitsitt, Truly You Photos
Newborn Photography For Newbies
Eager to learn, Meggan made workshops a priority as she built her newborn photography business. As she refined her foundational techniques, her newborn photography business grew, and she found herself incorporating fresh methods, guidelines, and photography props.
Natural Light Vs. Studio Light
Before gathering up her camera, photography props, and an adorable newborn to photograph, Meggan took stock of her lighting situation. Meggan understood that her lighting style would be as much a part of her brand as her logo. She was determined to develop a consistent lighting “voice” that would enable her to deliver brand-recognizable images and develop steady word-of-mouth marketing.
“Through my early-learning workshops, I explored different newborn photography approaches. Some photographers photographed in their clients’ homes; others had studios – either using strobes and artificial light, or relying only on natural light. I decided I needed to learn to use artificial light, because I couldn’t always rely on big windows and beautiful daylight for all my photographs.” – Meggan Whitsitt, Truly You Photos
Find Your Go-To Newborn Photography Poses
Now, after years of on-the-job learning and real-world experience, Meggan sees the mistakes newer photographers tend to make most:
“1.) If the angle of your photograph is bad, the baby can get lost in the picture.
2.) If the baby isn’t positioned correctly, they’ll look uncomfortable and awkward in the photo.”
– Meggan Whitsitt, Truly You Photos
Meggan’s advice for consistently creating adorable baby photos? Practice, practice, practice! The more comfortable you are with your tiny clients, the more quickly you’ll be able to create (and recreate) the poses you’ll become known for. She also suggests these methods…
Baby First, Prop Last
“Your focus should always be on the baby, first and foremost. The photography prop is secondary. Instead of photographing straight at the baby, photograph from above, angling down toward the newborn. It can make a huge difference!” – Meggan Whitsitt, Truly You Photos
Use your props to enhance the photograph, not dominate it! Make sure the newborn is comfortable and well-lit before you worry about the props.
Use Clothing as Your Prop
Remember that the clothes babies wear can also be considered props – you don’t always need to go all out with baskets and flowers. Sometimes, keeping it simple is the best way to go to keep the focus on the newborn. Here are some suggestions we have for clothing that can be incorporated into the shoot.
Hats and Headbands
What’s more adorable than seeing newborns in a chic hat or headband? The good thing about using these props is that you can switch up the color and combine them with other props like cozy blankets. Additionally, it’s easy to buy little different-colored headbands in bulk. Doing this allows you to grow your collection of newborn accessories so you aren’t photographing the same one over and over.
Tutus and Bowties
Looking for some stylish pieces of attire? Tutus and bowties are the way to go! These pieces not only look adorable on babies, but it’s also a fun way and simple way to dress newborns up.
3 Newborn Photography Props Every Pro Needs!
Over time, you’ll certainly discover your own favorite props. But some props are too obvious not to own! These tried-and-true props have served Meggan well for years, along with many other newborn photography pros!
A Wooden Crate
“Purchase a sturdy, wooden crate! I see them in antique stores all the time. Mine was the first newborn photography prop I purchased, and I use it ALL the time. It’s so versatile! You can fluff fabric or fur inside, lay the baby in it, and photograph the crate from above the scene…
…You can also turn the crate on its side and position the baby inside or on top of the crate in the ‘butt-up’ position. Finally, you can have the baby resting their head on their hands, extending out of the crate. The crate is also a great prop for photographing a baby with siblings!” – Meggan Whitsitt, Truly You Photos
A Vinyl-Covered Bean Bag
“If you’re posing newborns, you need a bean bag! The bean bag I have is flat on the bottom and top. Search online: ‘newborn posing bean bags.’ It’s important that the bean bag is really full, and flat on top. The bean bag should support the baby without engulfing them.” – Meggan Whitsitt
Meggan recommends a vinyl-covered bean bag because babies may spit up (or let loose other bodily fluids!) on your bean bag. Vinyl covers are easy to wipe down and sanitize. Overlay the vinyl with a soft, washable blanket so the bean bag is cozy against the baby’s skin.
A Background Stand
Maybe a background stand doesn’t seem like a newborn photography prop; but it supports one of your most important props – your backdrop! With newborns, the backdrop is often a blanket or a fur, and a background stand or frame is the perfect solution for preventing wrinkles and providing a clean swoop from floor to wall.
“You don’t want wrinkles in your background, so you’ll need a background stand or frame to clip your blankets to. I have a PVC pipe frame that’s approximately 4-feet square. You can buy them online, or make your own!” – Meggan Whitsitt, Truly You Photos
Additional Newborn Photography Prop Recommendations
In addition to the recommendations from Meggan, here are some other props we recommend having on hand when photographing babies.
If you’re just starting out with newborn photography and looking for props that can be used constantly, adding a rustic basket to your collection is a must. Along with being affordable, it’s very versatile.
You can place a thin, small piece of fabric inside the basket to have some of the texture of it show through, or you can completely cover the basket up with a large, cozy blanket. The most important thing to remember when picking out a basket is to ensure it’s sturdy and balanced. Since newborns will likely lay inside of it, you want to keep them safe and secure.
Blankets have multiple purposes and should definitely be in your arsenal of newborn props! You can use a cozy blanket as the main prop and position a baby on it, or you can drape the blanket on another prop, such as a basket or couch. When you use a blanket on top of another prop, it can also help to support the baby’s body a bit more because the blanket can mold to their body. This can be really useful when posing the baby in a position where their hands are supporting their head.
Nothing says simple and adorable like flower props. While you can splurge for real flowers, there are several types of fake flowers that actually look real! Plus, getting fake flowers allows you to use them for multiple shoots, rather than just a couple.
How Do You Achieve Those Crazy Poses?
Safety is the most important element of any newborn photography session. Babies are heartier than they appear, but they’re still delicate little folks, and photographers must be sensitive to their soft bones and fragile skin. Meggan employs an assistant to help ensure safety at all times – and even gets the parents involved when it feels right!
It’s Photoshop, yo!
While all-natural images are wonderful and admirable, there’s nothing wrong with choosing Photoshop over a floppy head if it means prioritizing the baby’s safety!
“A lot of my prop-based photographs are composites! Instead of letting the baby’s head tip over onto their shoulder, I’ll have my assistant hold their head up, and I’ll Photoshop her hands out later.” – Meggan Whitsitt, Truly You Photos
Incorporating the parents into the newborn photography experience is a wonderful way to build rapport and keep them connected to their baby throughout the session:
“If you don’t have an assistant, don’t hesitate to ask one of the parents to sit by the baby as a spotter. They will be happy to assist when it means safety for their little one.” – Meggan Whitsitt, Truly You Photos
Creative Props = Sentiment & Sales
Meggan’s focus on creative props has solidified her reputation and earned her a loyal client following! For families looking for this style of newborn photography, there’s truly no substitute. And they’ll happily invest if it means getting the photos they want of their little one! Here are a couple of creative newborn props you can try using:
There is something about miniature furniture that we just adore. From small wooden benches to mini rocking horses, using furniture is a great way to vary the props from your standard blankets and baskets.
If you are looking for a rustic and classic themed prop, try a cute suitcase prop! Suitcases are versatile props, as you have the option of using it open or closed. However, make sure it’s clean and sturdy before placing a baby inside one!
Items Brought From Home
“I love it when clients bring sentimental items from home that they want incorporated in to their baby’s session. I’ll pose the baby in a prop then placing the sentimental item(s) around the prop. This keeps the focus on the baby, while enabling me to include my client’s items.” – Meggan Whitsitt, Truly You Photos
PRO TIP: Clever Posing & Adding Dimension
“When you’re considering a prop, think about the different ways you can place your baby clients in or on the prop. Place textured fabric or faux fur underneath the prop to add color or dimension!” – Meggan Whitsitt, Truly You Photos
The Prop Stash
Meggan maintains her own thoughtfully-curated collection of props that her clients can use! With these props featured heavily in her portfolio, Meggan can invite clients to preview her prop selection before they arrive for their photographs.
“Props bring a fun and interesting look to your client galleries. I always encourage my clients to choose at least one or two props from my stash to accent their bean bag posing shots.” – Meggan Whitsitt, Truly You Photos
Prep Your Prop Ideas Ahead of Time
About a week before each session, reach out to your clients to address any last-minute questions. In particular, you’ll want to be sure their hearts aren’t set on a prop you don’t actually have in your studio stash!
“I recently posted a photo of a really pretty garland posed around a newborn. Because my client had purchased the garland from a florist, I didn’t have it in-studio, and I had to let my clients know it wasn’t an available prop!” – Meggan Whitsitt, Truly You Photos
The best newborn photo props will always be items loaded with sentiment, humor, and meaning – both to the family and to you, the photographer!
Don’t hesitate to infuse your own personality into your images, and invite your clients to do the same! As you express your own creative voice, your brand will form a life of its own, and your clients will connect with you more deeply than ever.