Newborn photography is a very cool art form, and very difficult to get right.
I’ll admit, I’m not the best at it. You have to be juggling a subject who can be very needy, following a carefully planned schedule (which never works the way you thought), finding just the right soft light and posing this days-old subject in cute, but not always comfortable, ways. I’ve learned that having a few go-to poses helps me to ensure success with a million other things to think about.
Here are my top newborn photo ideas:
1. Baby in box or basket
Everyone loves a baby in a box or a baby in a basket. You have to make sure the box or the basket is just the right size. Boxes and baskets previously used for picking fruit are popular options for their size and sturdiness. Fill the box or basket with blankets, or use a pillow underneath the blankets for additional volume. Place the baby curled up on his or her side facing the camera, or on his or her back and shoot from above. The box or basket helps us understand and emphasize the small scale of the newborn baby. The side edges also ensure that the baby doesn’t have anywhere to fall or way of hurting itself.
2. Baby snuggled in chair
Much like the baby in a basket, the baby in a chair offers a similar look. The chair is riskier because it is more open — a parent should make sure to stay close by in case the baby tries to roll. However, the openness allows you to move a bit and to get different angles. In this case you also want to use blankets and pillows to prop the baby up on his or her side or back. If the chair is large enough, you can also try to get the baby to rest with their head propped upright, while resting their belly on a pillow or rolled up blanket.
The detail shots are some of the coolest photos. I love capturing the hands, feet, fingernails, ears and eyelashes. They are just so mind-bogglingly small. It works even better if you can use something to help show the scale. This shot often requires a macro lens to get in really close and can be difficult if the child is moving. Be patient and wait until the baby is still and you can get in close for some of these details.
4. Held in parent’s arm
Like the details, any way of showing the scale of how small the baby is turns into a great shot. I like to have one or both of the parents hold the baby in one arm. It usually works best to have the father lay the baby stomach down on his outstretched arm, so the arms and legs are dangling and the head is turned toward the camera. You can see just how small and light the baby is compared to the father’s arm. The mother can also put her hands underneath the father’s arm to support the weight and keep the baby from wanting to roll to one side or another.
5. Eyes wide open
I love to get a shot with the newborn’s eyes wide open. At that age, they really can’t see too much detail, but to the camera, it appears as if they are looking right at you. In my experience, much of a newborn shoot is spent crying or sleeping. So if you can get that one shot where they look happy, content and have their eyes open, make sure to get it!
6. Hands and feet
I love getting a shot with the parents’ hands alongside the baby’s hands or the parents’ feet alongside the baby’s feet. An easy shot is to have the newborn grab one of the parent’s fingers and then have the other parent cup both of those hands. You can also have the parents lie down alongside the baby so all of their feet are in a line. Lastly, you can have the parents place their hands around the baby’s feet, which, besides showing the scale, is super cute!
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