Chaya Braun has photographed 500+ babies with her super-simple newborn poses. Learn her approach and give your clients a lifetime of memories! (Written and photographed by CHAYA BRAUN | Part 2 of 3)
Newborn poses are vastly different from all other poses – if only because, for the first few weeks of life, newborns cannot hold their heads upright. This necessitates a specialized approach to making portraits of new babies.
Perhaps unexpectedly, the true magic of these beautiful newborn portraits happens behind the scenes.
Small Tools for Small People
Hidden from the camera by baby blankets and tiny torsos, you will find an array of posing beans and washcloths. These small tools effectively create a curved surface where the baby can comfortably relax.
As I take my little client out of their carrier seat, I ascertain whether the baby will be comfortable posing naked, or prefer to be swaddled. Depending upon whether the newborn is awake or asleep, I arrange the blankets and surface area to accommodate the first pose.
Every Baby Has A Personality
Newborns are individual little people with preferences – just like the rest of us! Occasionally, a baby refuses to lay on their stomach, or won’t curl up in a basket no matter how patiently I try. I have never, however, met a baby who “hates being swaddled.”
Some of my new moms insist that their bundles of joy detest being swaddled. I’ve found, however, that all babies enjoy a professional swaddle. Most likely, being wrapped in soft fabric reminds the little ones of their cozy experience in the womb only one week prior.
Start Your Session with These Newborn Poses
I usually start my sessions with the “chin on hands” pose. The baby is wearing their diaper covered with a flowing piece of fabric. (Starting with a diapered baby reduces the risk of pee or poo ruining a setup. It’s all part and parcel of being a newborn photographer!)
I enjoy showing the baby’s parents the back of the camera. Parents relax when they see that I am getting beautiful photos only minutes after they arrived at the studio. Once parents have seen their beautiful baby in an artful photograph, I move on to diaper-free setups (that may or may not be interrupted by bodily fluids!)
Safe, Sound, & Photoshopped
When a sleeping newborn is posed in a bucket, I always have a parent or assistant within arm’s reach, just in case the baby decides to wake up and move out of their safe, comfortable pose.
The popular “froggy” newborn poses are always completed through Photoshop composites. This ensures that infants never have to support the weight of their head in their tiny arms.
One of my favorite poses is called the “chin on hands” pose. I love how babies appear upright in this setup, even though they are actually comfortably laying on their bellies!
Snuggly Newborn Poses
The “womb pose” is also known as the “taco pose,” since the baby is folded in half like a taco! Generally, I only use this pose with infants who are calmly sleeping. For newborn poses like this one, the baby’s hands and feet must be in exactly the right place. If a baby wakes up easily, I don’t attempt this setup.
Once a newborn’s ten tiny toes are tucked under their chest in true “taco” fashion, this portrait is a real heart-warmer. There’s nothing quite like seeing a brand new baby all curled up, just like they were in their womb environment!
Newborn Poses for Sleepyheads & Wide Eyes
The “Huck Finn” pose is another one of my favorite newborn poses. It works well for both awake and sleeping newborns, so you’ll find a “Huck Finn” portrait in most of my galleries.
For this simple, elegant portrait, I swaddle newborns in a strip of fabric that matches the blanket beneath them. When the blanket and swaddle match, the eye goes directly to the baby. This classic portrait showcases the newborn without any competing props.
I leave sleeping babies’ hands uncovered so you can admire their tiny fingers. When babies are awake, however, they tend to suck on their hands. In that case, I swaddle their hands and leave their tiny toes out instead. For more variety, I will often add a teddy bear or little knitted animal for the baby to hold.
Newborn Poses with the Parents
While an infant is gently resting in a nearby carrier, I demonstrate how the parents should position their hands to hold their baby.
In photos of parents with their baby, there should always be three points of contact.
For optimal safety, the baby is supported by two adult hands and cuddled against a parent’s chest. Sometimes, I use a newborn-sized teddy bear to demonstrate exactly where I will place the baby in the parents’ arms.
Clever Angles Create Great Photos
Much of the art of newborn posing is an optical illusion. Oftentimes, I will cross a baby’s legs across his or her stomach, giving the impression that the baby is more curled-up than they actually are. In many basket poses, I support the baby’s head higher than the rest of their body. Their little legs obscure their torso, presenting the illusion of a cozy, snuggly baby.
Even Babies Are Sassy & Strong-Willed
Most of my infant clients happily settle into my newborn poses. Occasionally, however, I photograph a very active baby, or an “older newborn” who refuses to cooperate. No worries! Though I can never guarantee specific newborn poses, I do guarantee my clients a gorgeous gallery.
Recently, I photographed a three-month-old who had been hospitalized for the first 10 weeks of her life. I kept her swaddled for the entire session, with only her cute little fingers or toes occasionally peeking out of her wrap. This resulted in a magnificent gallery for her grateful mom!
Whenever I’m working on a pose and the baby is clearly refusing to cooperate, I tell my clients, “Your baby’s comfort is more important than any specific pose or photo” – and they always heartily agree.
To date, I’ve photographed more than 500 babies. I can confidently say that I have delivered just as many gorgeous galleries – even when I had to skip a pose or two to satisfy a strong-willed, seven pound client!
Written and photographed by: CHAYA BRAUN