There is a certain joy in newborn photography that is unlike any other. It's the baby's first professional photograph, the expressions are uncontrolled, and the bliss of the photograph comes purely from capturing the innocence and cuteness of a baby. And they are really cute, aren't they?
However, it is not easy to photograph a newborn. After conducting more than 100+ newborn sessions, my personal perspective is that there are two primary reasons why this is the case.
First - You Need to Know How to Pose the Newborn.
The goal of photographing a newborn should be to capture the innocence and beauty of the child. That means capturing those cute, pouty lips, or little hands under the chin, the flexibility (some call it squishiness to make it sound more cute) when wrapped, the wrinkles or baby fat that is normal and healthy for a baby, and finally extending the personality of the baby by incorporating props. In today's post, we will focus exclusively on 8 key poses, keeping baby's safety in mind.
Second (and Equally Important) - Ensure the Newborn's Comfort.
This means, having the right room temperature. Not a temperature that feels good to you and the parent(s) but one that helps the little one feel the most comfortable. Remember, s/he is in her/his birthday suit; we aren't (and thank goodness for that). We will cover this in our next post.
Newborn Photography Poses
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1. Newborn Frog Pose
The classic, the evergreen, THE newborn pose. They should probably name the frog pose "The You-Have-To-Do-It-Newborn" pose. It highlights the baby's facial features and flexibility. Legs by the side, and hands placed under and cupping the chin. But definitely not for an untrained photographer. Safety of a baby is always paramount, and most photographers (I hope) do this as a composite like shown below. Get this pose right and be on your way to impress your clients.
2. Tushy Up Pose
Alternatively also called, "How-Kim-Kardashian-sleeps-comfortably" pose. It helps the photographer strike three birds with one stone: capturing the newborn's facial features, the cuteness of wrinkles/baby fat, and the natural curvature of a baby's bottom. However, you need to keep this in mind: even though this is a very cute and innocent pose, some parents might not be comfortable with it, especially for little girls. So suggest it gently and watch the reaction to move forward with posing the baby.
3. Wrapped Pose
There's a reason babies are called "Bundles of Joy", and this pose goes to prove that name. You wrap the baby snugly yet carefully in a wrap on a blanket or a flokati rug, or both. Each provides a different texture and feel to the photograph. Hands can be in or out, although the latter is a bit more tricky. You can go with what feels natural but more importantly, safer for the baby. Caution: this is very much like swaddling. So if you are a parent, it might bring back memories of that time in your baby's life and the sleepless nights. Don't say you weren't warned!
4. Newborn Props
I am a sucker for newborn props. A quick glance at the photos of my studio, my blog posts, or my shopping bill will easily prove this. My personal belief is that each newborn has a different personality - yes, even at that age - and that each parent has different desires and dreams for their newborn.
Props are an excellent method to extend that personality into the physical realm, and to incorporate the parents' desires into the newborn photography session. So, ignore those who act like purists, take names and do not ever apologize for using props. Who doesn't love a cute newborn cowboy, a little princess in her carriage, or a newborn flying in the clouds?
5. Taco Pose
This pose is also known as the "Womb Pose", that is comfortable for the baby. The Taco pose is one of the few poses that offers the benefit of showcasing the facial expressions as well as the cute little hands and feet.
You could say that Froggie and Tushy Up also give this combination of three (face, hands and feet) but as I said earlier, the former requires significant expertise to perform safely, and the latter might not be preferred by all parents. As such, the Taco pose which is relatively safer - you still need to be careful as with all poses - should definitely make it into the portfolio for every parent.
6. Side Pose (Laying & Curl)
As the name indicates, the baby is posed on the his/her side, most often the right side. The hands are under the chin, and may be joined together. The difference between the two being the depth of the pose; see newborn photograph examples below.
It may seem for a moment that compared to those above, this pose is relatively 'boring'. Nothing could be further from the truth. The side poses offer considerable opportunities to customize, with the color of the blanket matched to baby's skin tone, to dressing the baby in a wrap to contrast with the blanket, and caps/hats/crowns/pants/skirts to make the little one seem as special as he or she truly is.
By the way, this last line should explain my 'shopaholic' attitude to buying props, as I also have a large collection of hats, pants, caps, tutu skirts and headbands in my studio.
7. Chin on Hands Pose
From the family of “chin on …” newborn photography poses, like the hands on cheeks in the “Side Poses” or the “Tushy Up”, this one has led to some of the cutest moments in my studio.
For best results, combine it with the “Prop” pose, like a baby in a wooden bucket. Now, I might sound like a broken horse but that won’t stop me from saying this again - when you pose the baby in a prop, make sure that there it is stable so it won’t tilt over, and always have an adult sitting very close by to quickly take action, in case it does.
8. Parents & Siblings
And last, but certainly not the least, the "We are a Family" shot. To be 100% accurate, this really isn't a pose but rather a setup. For mom and siblings, it's either in the arms or lying down next to each other, with their heads touching. For dad, it is holding the baby in the arms, or if he has really good ink (which is awesome for a photographer), I like to incorporate that into the newborn photographs. After all, it's all the unique things that make up a good memory.
And if you're feeling frustrated when it comes to newborn editing or you feel like you just haven't found something that matches your style or if you just want to save more time when editing newborns in Photoshop -- you must try the LUXE Newborn Complete Workflow Photoshop Action Collection, you'll be so happy you did!
P.S. - If you prefer to edit in Lightroom, Pretty Presets for Lightroom just released their fabulous Baby Bella Newborn Workflow which includes tons of presets and brushes - everything you need to edit newborns in Lightroom!
I would love for you to share this post using the social share buttons and please comment. I'd love to hear what you think and also if there is any category of newborn poses you know that is drastically different from those mentioned here.
About the Author: Hi, I am Harshita of Avnida Photography. After earning two Masters of Science in Computer Science and spending 5 years writing code, I gave in to my real passion; photography, especially of newborn and kids. Trained by the top 10 photographers in the country, I love capturing the experiences of life, and the love in everyday moments through my lens. Join me on Facebook or Google+ in this journey to encourage me, share ideas and teach me new things.