Tricks to Implement Bean Bag Posing During Newborn Photography

Tips & Tricks for Posing Newborn Babies During a Studio Session by Houston Newborn Photographer Sarah Borchgrevink

Howdy! Thanks for stopping by my blog to read some tips and tricks I have learned when it comes to posing sweet babies during a studio newborn session. Many parents adore these stunning, curly poses because they replicate how baby is during their time in the womb. Their brand new nature is truly divine and they are my favorite subjects to photograph. If this is your first time here, welcome! A few fun facts: my name is Sarah Borchgrevink and I'm a Houston TX Newborn & Baby Photographer who specializes in posed newborn photography through the use of sweet, cozy, unique wrapping and also darling naked bean bag posing. I am often influenced by texture, color, textiles, and light and my styling results in timeless, classic and pure newborn portraiture. I have been photographing babies, full time, for about 3 years, though have also been working with families and maternity portraiture for 5. My heart belongs to newborn photography and I'm really excited to see you're at my blog. Let's get started.

Schedule baby accordingly

The first trick I have for you is the foundation of your newborn session: for baby to be the appropriate age for studio portraits. While every newborn artist does have their own preferences on specific dates, I personally prefer the first 14 days of life, but my absolute favorite days to have your little one in studio is 5-8 days new and fresh. While this does sound really early to most parents, you must keep in mind that the longer baby is out of the womb, the less curly they are and bendy. They also don't sleep as well once they're over 10 days. Sometimes parents call me when baby is around 4 or 5 weeks new and unfortunately, I cannot guarantee they'll receive the poses they see in my portfolio. I can offer some really sweet wrapped shots, however, for those naked and squishy adorable poses, we really need baby to be as new as possible. Most mothers book in the second trimester and notify me immediately once baby is earthside. For example, the next newborn I'll be seeing was born 2 days ago. Mom called last night to arrange her appointment. I offered her 3-4 days that fell within this week so I'll be seeing baby at 7 days fresh. 

Houston Newborn Photographer

Keep It Simple

Secondly, when working with newborn babies, don't worry if the pose is simple. Simple is good. Simple is beautiful. Simple is timeless and classic. Sometimes photographers feel like they have to accomplish every single pose known to man in order to be creative, unique or offer a gorgeous gallery to parents. My rule is that I offer 3-5 poses with several different angles, hats, wraps, or headbands. This alone can yield 15-20 different images full of variety. Paired with macro photos, which are those upclose and sweet details of baby's characteristics, such as nose, profile, toes or lips, you'll have many beautiful options to show the parents. By keeping it simple, you learn the flow that works for your own studio, you focus on improving, and also learn your own tricks to nailing those adorable, naked bean bag poses time and time again. Keeping your posing simple also does not create too many expectations for the baby. Remember: the baby is a person, too, and sometimes it's just too much on them to try every single pose you can think of. Choosing your favorite 3-5 will yield better results. 

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Don't forget safety

Tip and trick nothing number three is to always keep baby safe. I cannot stress the importance of this enough! One way you can keep baby safe is making sure you use composites at the appropriate times. A composite image is when two or more photos are merged together in processing to create a new image. This is often done in Photoshop with the popular pose called "froggie" in which baby is sitting up with their hands holding up their head. When photographing this, you want to do several images and merge them together later on. This is a more advanced pose, but by being safe you will be able to feel more confident once you're no longer a beginner. I also think it's important to let clients and beginner newborn photographers know that these poses require skill and safety; professional newborn photographers, like myself, do not just stick baby on a backdrop and hope they can hold their heads up. In fact, we have newborn safety awareness month, every September,  for this very reason: because people try things they see online and think it's not difficult, when in fact, the could hurt a baby. See behind the scenes images of how the froggie pose is achieved.

To elaborate, in the images above, I keep my hands on baby at all times. I take images in which I am holding baby's head and she is never supporting herself. Then, I take more images in which I am holding her hands in place while keeping her neck stable. I keep my entire hand underneath her chin and upper arms. Then I merge the images together in processing, seen below, to create the final look.

Newborn Safety Composite images

The froggie pose is beautiful and sweet, but does require safety and skill. By seeing how it's done, I hope it inspires you to always use proper safety techniques. If you're a parent, I also hope it teaches you to ask photographers if they composite this image.

Firm Bean Bag that's tightly packed

The fourth tip I have for you is to make sure your bean bag is tightly packed and filled to the brim with packing peanuts. The more firm your bean bag is, the more supported baby is and this also helps to make sure baby does not sink into the bean bag. We want to see each adorable little toe, facial feature, and also make sure baby is curled up nicely. You can buy bean bag fill at many places like Amazon but I like to go to my local post office or UPS store and have it filled very tightly so it is super firm. 

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Warmer is better

Because your womb, or uterus, is in the core of your body, baby is used to a warm environment of 98.6 degrees. Baby has spent 9 months in a warm hot tub and enjoys being in a warmer environment. Remember: baby cannot regulate their body temperature always, even if full term, and a baby's body surface is about three times greater than an adults, compared to the weight of his/her body (source - Stanford Children's). Because of this, babies lose heat rapidly. In order to pose baby in these sweet, curly poses and help soothe baby, it is best to create an environment that mimics the womb. Often, parents worry the room is too warm, but by keeping all of these facts in mind, it'll help you understand that by keeping the studio at an optimal temperature, baby is neither too hot or too cold and they can maintain a comfortable temperature. 

I personally keep my studio at 77 - 80 degrees Fahrenheit through the use of air conditioning. I also have several small, mobile space heaters on hand that can be placed 3 feet or so from the baby so that they have warm air when needed. Baby's comfort is always on the forefront of my mind. While we may feel a little warm, no one is ever sweating buckets. 80 degrees is the warmest it'll ever be. Here in Houston, that's almost chilly compared to the type of weather we usually experience, ha!

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White noise

White noise is my fifth tip for you because like heat, this emulates the womb environment. When babies are growing, this is is what they hear. I use a white noise app on my smart phone, but you can buy many awesome options such as this one. I have white noise on after I greet the parents and help get them settled. Mom and Dad come in, get situated, undress baby, and we immediately start feeding baby. Once baby is being fed and is down to their diaper, I turn on the white noise and also make sure parents have the opportunity to ask any questions. 

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Posing pillow sets

Posing pillow sets are paramount to your newborn sessions because they help keep baby safe, secure, and move them from pose to pose. Without a posing pillow set, you cannot scoop baby's face up into the light or have them supported enough to hold a pose. The posing does take time and these pillow sets will help you tremendously. I personally use the photoblock set, but if you're on a budget there are many options out there such as this affordable set. There are also even some nifty DIY options you can do, too! For instance, when I first started working with newborn photography, I used bags of rice, lentils or beans because they're firm and sturdy. To this day, I still keep them in my studio to help weigh down floor props like bucket or put behind baby's back when doing froggie pose so that they don't move forward. 

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Keep your fabric taunt and tight

The final tip I have for you is to keep your fabric or backdrop taunt and tight when setting up. The more taunt and tight the fabric is, the less wrinkles you'll have to remove when editing the images during post processing and you'll also have a smoother, more seamless final look to your newborn images. Don't make things harder on yourself than they need to be! Take time to set up, use heavy duty clamps (I like these from home depot) and this will make sure the back drop stays in place. 

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Thanks for stopping by my blog to read some of my favorite tricks and tips on newborn bean bag posing during your session! I hope you enjoyed reading about safely posing babies and were able to find some new ways to work with babies! 

Sarah Borchgrevink Photography is a Houston Newborn Photographer specializing in gorgeous posed newborn sessions. Her studio is located in Northwest Houston. In addition to breathtaking baby portraiture, Sarah also offers stylish natural light family photography as well as dynamic outdoor maternity sessions for expecting mothers and couples. Sarah joyfully serves the entire Harris and Montgomery county areas including North Houston, Cypress, Tomball, Spring, Jersey Village, The Woodlands, Magnolia, Conroe, Willis, Montgomery, Humble, Kingwood, Porter, New Caney, Waller, Memorial & West Houston, Katy, Fulshear, Sugar Land, Pearland, Hempstead, Richmond, West University, Rice Village and Porter TX. Connect to chat with Sarah today! Please consider booking your session at your earliest convenience in order to secure your appointments on the calendar.