3 Newborn Posing Setups Anyone Can Master

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newborn-posing-setup

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

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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.

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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.

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Setup #2: The Black Sheet

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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!

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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!

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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

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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!

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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.

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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.

Read more from our Tips & Tutorials category

Meredith Clark is a wife, mother, native Oregonian, complete bookworm, Top Chef lover, and new quilting addict. She can also be found blogging at La Buena Vida and at Meredith Clark Photography.

  • Thanks for the great article! I am photographing a newborn in a couple of weeks and these will be really helpful! Quick question; If I have a standard but oversized beanbag, will I need to get more beans for it? Is there a way to test how firm a beanbag for a newborn?

    Thanks!
    NVeal
    http://www.solihullphotography.com

  • Abhishek Dey

    hi… i have done some assignments on this…

  • Anna Lewandowska

    I tend to use flash with my little models, as unfortunately I struggle with natural low light(being an amateur photographer). I still struggle with getting a nice and cool white balance shoot out of natural light. I hope you like these collages.
    http://www.facebook.com/MomentsByAnia

  • Lori Haynes

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  • fikri santoso

    Nice..one day it will be my inspiration for my baby ?

  • Meredith

    In my experience, unless you purchase a bean bag specifically designed for photography, you will want extra beans for it. In a pinch, sometimes I use a hairtie to help if the bag isn’t as firm as I’d like–take a standard hairtie or thick rubber band, gather up some of the fabric of the bean bag, and tie it off with the hairtie/ rubber band. So, you’re essentially forcing the beans that you have into a smaller area of the bag, making it more firm. Hope that helps!

  • Meredith

    I just love little newborn toes! Great shots 🙂

  • Meredith

    I’m so glad it was helpful!

  • Meredith

    Hey Anna,

    Getting the right color tones in natural light is always especially tricky with newborns! Shooting in RAW was the biggest difference-maker for me in that area!

  • Anna Lewandowska

    Thank you for advice. I have never shoot in RAW before. Maybe an article for novices in this feild? 😉

  • Abhishek Dey

    thanks a lot… 🙂

  • Meredith

    Noted! I’ll add it to my list of requested topics 🙂

    In the meantime, here’s an article by another DPS writer about RAW vs. JPEG to get you started: https://digital-photography-school.com/raw-versus-jpg-why-you-might-want-to-shoot-in-raw-format/

  • Loved these pictures and the tips you shared.. I get a bit mushy when I see infants and … spend more time playing with them than clicking…

  • Nice tips! I find that the age of a newborn is important, too. After a few months, they become more likely to fidget, stretching out their arms and such. That requires a different set of poses in your repertoire!

  • fikri santoso

    ?? have u account in instagram??? So i can see your photo meredith ?

  • Siva

    Hey Meredith, Nice article, Will try and use your suggestions for my friend’s new born expected to arrive in e few months. I have done portraits of toddlers & big kids this would be my first time of a new born. I’ll gather as much knowledge before baby arrives and be ready ?.

    Regards
    Siva
    http://www.prasidphotography.com

  • Adam Czapla

    Thank you for an article. Here is one of mine pictures. Just started taking photos of my daughter without any tricks as below but I will definitely use some of your techniques. Great ideas, still so much to discover.

  • Amanda Clark

    I always try to use natural light definitely the bean bag and use the parents in poses as well I also try and make the parents feel as comfortable as I can letting them know that the safety of their baby is a priority . I try to shoot at my home I know the lighting and all my studio equipment and props are here and it’s way to much to carry around . I also try to make sure it’s warm because naked photos are popular and you want the baby to be warm and comfy. I also advise parents to try to hold off on feeding the baby until they arrive at my home so the tummy is full and the baby will usually sleep which makes posing easier

  • Meredith

    Thanks for asking Fikri–I just have a private account for friends and family. Really no photography posts, just photos of my kiddos and my food 😉

  • Meredith

    YES! That is absolutely right Angela. After about 16 days old, I really much prefer lifestyle sessions because they are much more wiggly!

  • Meredith

    Good luck Siva! Please just do keep in mind that many of the newborn poses that you may see (such as the baby’s head in his or her hands) are often composites of multiple shots. Safety in newborn sessions is *so* important!

  • Meredith

    Your daughter is beautiful, Adam!

  • Meredith

    All great tips Amanda! I go back and forth between preferring to shoot at my home versus the client’s home. On one hand, I know the lighting at my own home and don’t have to lug things around. On the other hand, I think mamas and babies are both able to relax more easily in their own environment! Both options have their advantages and disadvantages!

  • Adam Czapla

    Thank you Meredith.
    I hope that is due to my ability as photographer as well 🙂 What do you think about the settings / colours. The depth of field is bit shallow and sharpness is on the right eye only but the light was quiet poor. I think using the flash may be bit cruel. Any tips on how to use or direct external light? Thank you.

  • jakecoded

    Great article, thank you!

  • fikri santoso

    Its ok.. ? thx for share this ?

  • Siva

    Thanks Meredith. Yes, baby’s safety would be important!

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