Are you interested in trying newborn photography, but just aren’t sure where to start in terms of posing? Have you ever looked at a newborn photo and been totally unsure how the photographer set it up?
In this article, I’ll walk you through three easy newborn posing setups. We’ll start with pull-backs (behind the scenes shots) of each posing setup, along with brief instructions as to how you can recreate it at home. Then I’ll show you what the final images might look like from that setup. All three setups are simple, versatile, and I promise that absolutely anyone can master them. All three also have the benefit of being setups that you can typically use even in small spaces, which is a huge benefit if you ever shoot in clients’ homes, and don’t know what you’re walking into until you get there.
Setup #1: The Crib Mattress
This setup really could not be any easier. Simply take a crib mattress, find a fun fitted sheet for it, and put it on the floor near a window, or sliding glass door. My preference is always to set up the crib mattress at about a 60 degree angle to the window. Sometimes the space may easily allow you to set up exactly as you would prefer, and sometimes like in the case of my very small kitchen above, it may require thinking outside the box.
For this particular session, I kept the mattress at a 90 degree angle to the window, as mom walked over and placed the sleeping baby on the mattress. Once baby was warm and settled, I sat on the floor and pivoted the mattress just enough so that I’d be able to achieve some shadows and depth in the photo.
This is also the setup that I typically use whenever I am incorporating flowers, greenery, or sports equipment into the photo because it gives me a nice flat surface to work with, and it’s also low to the ground, so it’s easier to shoot from above.
Setup #2: The Black Sheet
Next, try taking a twin or full sized black sheet and clamping it to the back of some chairs. I prefer to use bar stools whenever possible, but a regular high backed chair will also work. If you can’t track down a chair, simply have mom and dad hold the sheet up in the air, and let it pillow at the ground. Again, place yourself near a large window. Then you can place the baby in a basket on top of the sheet on the floor, or even have mom or dad stand in front of the sheet and hold the baby in his or her arms.
Bonus Tip: Use a lint roller on your black sheet before you start taking photos – it will save you a ton of time in post-processing!
I find this particular setup to be really versatile, and it’s an easy way to create a high-contrast photo that has a more formal look, compared to the first setup which usually tends more towards lifestyle images. This setup does require a bit more time in post-processing to get that nice uniform black background, but it is absolutely worth the investment!
From a safety perspective, this is a great setup to use any time you want a shot where it appears that the baby is hanging in the air. In the above photo, the scale that the baby is on was actually sitting directly on the black sheet on the floor. I had grandma hold the hook of the scale taught as I took the photo.
Even as newborns, babies are wiggly and will sometimes try to shoot themselves off a prop, so I just don’t think it’s worth the risk to actually allow a newborn to hang from something in the air during a session. This particular setup is a nice alternative for parents who would like to achieve that look, while also greatly minimizing the risk involved.
Setup #3: The Beanbag
The beanbag is by far the most common approach for newborn photography. You’ll want either a beanbag specifically designed for photography, or extra “beans” to over stuff a standard beanbag. Trust me on this one! Place the beanbag on the floor and drape a large blanket over it, once again clamping to some tall-backed chairs near a light source. If you think that you’ll primarily be using this setup for a session, you can also layer multiple blankets over the beanbag before clamping.
Bonus Tip: If you layer blankets on the beanbag, I highly recommend putting diaper changing pads (or piddle pads for pets) in between each blanket on the bean bag just to be safe!
This setup is a great option if you have a baby that’s having a difficult time settling, and can be very versatile in terms of the number of photos you can achieve from just one pose. You could easily swing a portrait, closeup of fingers and/or toes, and a full-body pullback without moving the baby at all using this set.
The world of newborn photography is so nuanced, and there are so many tips, tricks, and safety precautions to know, and be aware of. This particular post is really just the tip of the iceberg, but will hopefully give you a good starting point in terms of understanding how to execute three newborn posing setups, as well as what types of images you may be able to achieve with each one.
Have you tried any of these newborn setups before? Which is your favorite? Share your images and any other posing setups you’ve used in the comments below.
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