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 Guaranteed To Delight New Parents (Pt. 2)
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 make sure to 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 love how babies appear upright in the “chin on hands” pose, even though they are actually comfortably laying on their bellies!
Also, I enjoy showing the baby’s parents the back of the camera. Parents relax when they see that I am getting beautiful newborn 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 make sure to 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.
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 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 poses. Occasionally, however, I photograph a very active newborn 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 newborn 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 and the ShootProof Team
Missed Part 1 of this newborn series? Read it HERE!
Bonus Poses from Newborn Photography Pros
ShootProof photographers shared even more terrific poses, props, and tips! Read on…
“Chin On Hands” Pose
A go-to pose for newborn photography pros like Chaya, the “chin on hands” pose is a cute way to showcase their tiny features. For this pose, you’ll need an assistant who will support the baby’s head. Remember: babies still have soft arms, so it’s not safe to try to support the weight of their heads using their own limited strength. Simply edit the photo after the session and remove your assistant’s supporting hand using Photoshop.
“Little Frog” Pose
As Chaya describes, “little frog” is a classic newborn photography pose that accentuates the baby’s delicate facial features and precious flexibility. The posing is easy; simply position the baby’s legs by their side and place their hands under their face to cup their chin.
“Tushy Up” Pose
The “tushy up” is a super-cute yet very natural pose that mirrors the way many infants love to sleep. In this position, you’ll be able to capture the baby’s perfect facial features and commemorate their adorable little wrinkles and baby fat.
The best way to get a newborn all snuggly is to swaddle them! To start, set up a comfortable environment and wrap up the little bundle of joy snugly yet carefully. (Use a blanket, Flokati rug, or any lightweight cotton material.) The idea is to truly swaddle the baby, which will confine the newborn calmly in a secure, womb-like wrap. This pose is especially soothing to little ones who might otherwise be prone to waking up.
The Cradle Hold
Newborn photography can also include parents and siblings! The baby should still get the spotlight, of course, but images of them with their loving family are a must-have.
Invite the parents to cradle their baby close, then make photos of them looking at the camera, followed by images of them looking at their newborn. Parents can also try holding the baby’s tiny finger, kissing their forehead, or touching their hair.
Moments with Elder Brothers and Sisters
Sweet moments with siblings are a perfect addition to your collection of photos! If the sibling is around 10 years old or above, you’ll find it easy to guide them through poses with the baby. For toddler-age siblings, however, you’ll want to be much more careful and hands-on to prevent injury.
Bonus Props for Safe Newborn Poses
Newborn photography is a great opportunity to get creative with props and sets! Studio sessions are especially conducive to themed newborn shoots. Here’s how to incorporate props into your next session:
Families often shower their newborns with soft, cuddly toys – which also happen to make great photo props! Encourage the parents to bring one or two special “stuffies” to include in their session!
Newborn Photography Prop Basket
Use baskets in your poses and compositions! Baskets are a great foundation for posing newborns who are lying on their backs or resting their chins on their little hands.
If the baby was born during the Christmas holiday, the family may want to plan a Christmas-themed photo session, or a simple snow theme for winter births. Valentine’s Day, Easter, Halloween: all of these celebratory times make for great photography themes!
Props from Popular Movies
Do the parents have a favorite movie or TV show? Sessions inspire by Harry Potter, Star Wars, Game of Thrones, or other Disney characters are always a hit when the parents are fans!
Tips and Reminders for Newborn Photography
- Set the right room temperature, which is usually around 75 to 85 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Clean, sanitize, and disinfect your studio before a shoot.
- Avoid strong fragrances.
- Be very attentive with shooting angles and lighting.
- Talk to the parents about the props, clothing, light, and poses.