10 NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY POSES FOR BEGINNERS INCLUDING CHEAT SHEET
Today we will talk about newborn photography poses. These are especially useful for beginners and those who struggle to decide which newborn poses to begin with. Easy poses for you to start with and learn. Download the cheat sheet at the end and keep it nearby when you are stuck.
The poses I’m sharing with you are most popular in my newborn studio. I have been doing newborn photography for over 10 years and there are definitely set poses that parents prefer.
Let’s dive in. Hopefully you will learn something new!
FIRST THINGS FIRST! SAFETY.
I don’t think I need to remind you that whatever you are planning to do, newborn safety should be in the first place. Make sure you have a parent as a spotter at all times. I always choose dad for this task as mums can be a bit on the nervous side and also if breastfeeding, I probably don’t want the baby to get way too overexcited with mum near by.
When you can, use your hands to support so you are never too far away when taking photos. This would require to photograph on around 35mm lens. So you can always extend your hand next to the baby if needed.
When I started newborn photography, I wanted to try every newborn pose I could think of. Frog pose, potato sack, newborn in a sling etc. It was madness. Some of these poses can also be quite risky so I would definitely recommend avoiding them to begin with. Here we will focus on poses for beginners that parents will love.
The truth is that parents will love the more natural poses and, much as they might like the idea of frog pose, in 10 years it’s the more natural curled-up poses they will adore.
When I started out I thought the newborn had to be sleep in order to achieve any pose. Very soon I realised that parents actually prefer more awake poses as well as poses that are natural and, to me, super simple. Poses like those in the images below.
In 9 out of 10 cases parents choose a picture where the newborn is awake as a wall portrait. Big eyes, open shot.
Thought process for beginners and getting consistently good poses
I keep saying ‘parents choose’, ‘parents love’, etc. To simplify things, I should explain how I work. This is not for everyone, but it’s how I have worked since day one.
To keep my results consistent, I ask parents which poses they want to do. They get to choose from my portfolio. If they choose poses they have found online, I simply explain that I haven’t done this pose before and it might not work. I have done everything in the portfolio before and I know exactly how to replicate that pose. The copy and paste approach.
When I began I didn’t have many poses. I would strongly recommend that you set up roughly 10 tester newborn photoshoots. As a beginner, you need to practise to learn how to nail the simple poses first. Learn how to pay attention to small details and notice them.
Once you’ve done 10 shoots, you should have a set of roughly six to eight poses to work with. These are poses you have done again and again. You will be confident recreating these poses and able to experiment from there.
For me, recreating poses, or the ‘copy and paste’ approach, was key. The more I did a certain newborn pose, the quicker I could nail it and move onto the next pose. I know it sounds boring and, as a photographer, you want to experiment and try new things, but the goal is to fill the gallery with newborn poses parents love. I want to develop a nice variety and, if the newborn photoshoot goes well, I try perhaps one new pose or new prop set-up.
However, I normally use the tester/model call sessions as times for new ideas to be added to my portfolio.
Keep practising the same pose. The fewer pose options you give to parents, the more you get to practise the same poses. Once you feel you have nailed this set of poses, add new poses to the portfolio.
Which poses are the easiest ones that parents will love?
Over the years I have come up with a list of simple poses I can achieve in pretty much every session. No matter what, I can fall back on these and add them to the gallery. These are especially useful if you have a tricky baby or a day when you feel nothing is really working. Go back to basics, look at the cheat sheet and refocus the photoshoot.
Let’s dig into the poses. Here are my 10 best newborn photography poses for beginners.
1. Simple full body pose
When I start the session, the newborn baby is almost always awake. Instead of trying to get the baby to sleep, I get the newborn to play and do active things for me. There’s no point fighting it; just follow their lead. The newborn will get tired, feed and eventually fall asleep.
I have many different knitted outfits at the studio, but perhaps get a selection of four colours to begin with. Also get one neutral colour outfit in a slightly larger size for those 10-12 pound babies.
The image is very simple and you can try a variety of angles in this pose.
2. Natural expression newborn pose
Once I’m done with the full body shot, I remove the outfit and get a few more natural newborn poses. I use a wrap to cover the nappy. You can get different angles and beautiful natural expressions. Parents love these so much. Cute faces and perfect gallery fillers.
3. Parents holding the newborn baby pose
I know parents usually don’t want to be in photos, but I always say I’d rather get one and not use it than later regret not having one. Besides, if they’re really not sure, then I say I will use their hands only. This always works.
This newborn pose can be done with an awake or sleeping baby. Parents love it.
If you’re doing a family photo, check how the baby is doing at that moment. Ideally, you would like a nice calm baby. An ideal time is right after they feed. While the baby is just getting settled and possibly not far from a deep sleep.
A couple of newborn poses ideas involving the family.
4. Simple wrap around the newborn baby pose
I know for beginner newborn photographers wrapping is a real struggle. It was for me too. But this wrap technique is really simple. Get a nice simple stretchy wrap and, if you’re struggling to wrap a wriggly baby, ask the parents to help. Wrapping around the baby is simple and can be done with sleepy or awake babies. Make sure you wrap pretty tight as newborns can wriggle out of these wraps.
TIP: Place the beginning of the wrap under the baby so babies weight holding the wrap and anchors it. Star the wrapping baby around.
TIP: Take shots from the top and from the side.
More ideas for newborn poses using wraps
Here are more examples of different wrap styles. This all depends on how confident you feel wrapping. Generally speaking, if a newborn baby is getting unsettled, I would swaddle them and give them a feed; that is usually all they need to settle. Then, you could start with simple images by placing the baby in some sort of prop, like a basket or nest. You could also do some family photos. It is safer for the parents to hold the baby whilst they are being fully wrapped.
5. Bum-up tummy pose
This is another simple go-to pose. I think this was the first newborn pose I learned. The beauty is you don’t need this to be perfect to look nice. You don’t need to really push the bum up unless the newborn is really sleepy and happy. I try to get a simple safety shot first and then to perfect it and move the bum up, or arch the back to get those baby fat rolls to show.
During this pose, you can get a few beautiful angles as well. From the side and from the top. Close ups look nice too.
Generally, this pose is done during the sleepy newborn stage, but it can be done with an awake newborn too. The key is to make sure the baby is still and content. If the newborn starts to look agitated and trying to crawl, move to the next pose. You can always come back to this later.
This pose is always on the demand list, but pretty much always as a sleeping pose. I love how this looks awake too though. Cuteness overload.
Another beautiful version of this bum-up pose is one with added angel wings.
This is more requested for girls, but I have done a few boy angels too.
This is simple; just place the wings on the back of the newborn baby and you’re ready to go. Nice new pose. Make sure your background is a bit darker and not pure white, otherwise the wings will blend into the background.
6. Natural pose with soft toys
Another very simple pose. The baby can be awake or asleep. It depends on how cuddly you want the photos to be. If you want the toy and baby to be closer, then probably when they’re sleepy will be better. If it’s just a fun photo of them next to each other, then awake. Personally, I like this pose better when the baby is sleeping.
This is very easy to do. Set it up on the beanbag or dog bed, whatever you’re using. Make a pocket in the blanket or use two different similar tone blankets if you’re not sure about the whole pocket idea. I always make a pocket.
After you’re done with this, take a few close-ups or simple baby alone photos. Again, this is a nice one to add to the gallery. It looks natural and simple.
7. Mum or dad holding the baby poses
I always take a few photos with dad or mum holding the baby, either looking at the baby or into the camera. For me, it is really important to get these photos. As much as parents may say they don’t look the best, somehow these photos often end up the ones on the walls. Do simple holding crossed-arms poses. No need to get creative and do challenging poses. Simple is key.
I always tell parents, think of 20 years from now. What do you think, which of these photos will be more personal to the baby? Of course these will be ones with the parents in.
Simple ideas for mum holding newborn poses.
Ideas for dad holding newborn.
Dad and newborn baby pose is probably one of my most requested. Especially holding the baby. Since I first shot this, it has always been on the request pose list.
This particular pose is not the easiest, but if you can do it then it will be treasured forever.
An alternative and easier pose would be to simply have the baby in dad’s arms or holding it more naturally. No matter which you choose, it will be adored.
More ideas for newborn baby and dad poses.
8. Newborn holding feet in hands pose
This newborn pose is not so much about the baby, but instead more of a detail shot. Every second session has this on the request list. There are two ways to approach this pose.
First is to wrap black cloth to around the baby’s legs to hide the nappy and the baby. This way, only the hands and feet are visible.
The second way is to leave the baby in the photo. The reason why I attempted a second way of doing this pose is that some parents said it could be anybody’s baby if you see feet only. So I started to include the baby in the picture as well. Make sure you hide the nappy with the palms of the hands. Essentially, the hands are in front of the baby’s nappy.
Here are more ideas how to use parents hands for some nice newborn poses.
These last two newborn poses require a lot of practise and trial and error. I would strongly recommend practising these poses as chin on the arms pose in particular is one of the most popular for wall portraits. The face is clearly visible and parents love it.
9. Chin on arms pose
Chin on the arms is definitely a challenging pose to learn. It took me a pretty long time to perfect this pose. Even now I sometimes have a baby who really doesn’t mould well with this pose.
The reason I love this pose is that you see the newborn’s face very well and this pose can also be applied to many other different poses, like bucket poses. You need to make sure that the baby’s face doesn’t wrinkle up, instead of sitting nicely above the hands. This pose allows for really nice close-ups and pictures from the top as well.
10. Newborn side pose
I used to always start newborn photoshoots with this pose. I would try to nail this one first and then do the rest of the poses. It’s not the easiest to do, especially if the baby is not yet in a deep sleep. This is definitely one for sleepy babies only. I have never managed to get this with an awake baby.
It’s also important to place the arms and hands in a position so they don’t crush the cheek and the face. Push the arms behind the jaw line and pull the head over the hands.
I usually do a safety shot in whatever position the baby falls into first, and then adjust the pose.
It’s not easy to do this one as you need to control both the head and the legs. It is especially difficult for boys as you need to hide everything. I would recommend starting by using some sort of cover. Use the wrap to cover the tummy and bum. It also makes it easier if you remove your hands from the baby. If you don’t your hands might stick to the newborn’s skin and startle the baby.
Newborn photography poses with the baby in a simple prop
I always do some sort of pose in a basket or wool nest. This is very easy and if you have learned the simple wrap-around technique, it’s easy to achieve this pose. This can be done with an awake or an asleep newborn baby.
This allows you to expand your gallery and achieve at least three new looks. Also, for newborn girls shots, parents love my floral nest. This is the same idea and angles as the basket or nest photos. Do over the top, side and profile close up angles. Three new photos for the gallery.
Practise practise practise. Set up model calls and get working. Step by step, you will get there.
Once you have achieved these, you can start moving to frog pose, potato sack and more elaborate sling shots. However, these poses are not requested that often. Frog pose is requested now and again, but I always tell parents that there’s a 50% chance it will happen. I’m always upfront about this.
Here, I have a little printable cheat sheet of these poses. Print it, laminate it and use it during your newborn photoshoots. Dropbox file so no need to sign up for anything.