THIS IS A GUEST POST COURTESY OF GENIANN ELLIOT PHOTOGRAPHY
Have you ever seen those posed newborn portraits where the little one is nestled sweetly into a bucket, modeling the squishiest roles you’ve ever seen on a brand new baby with their little tushie in the air and wanted to achieve all of this in one session but your workflow just doesn’t move well from one pose to the next and continues to wake the baby? Or you were spending 3-4 hours to give the parents a complete gallery which left you utterly exhausted and mentally drained by the time you finished?
Well I want to help you fine tune your workflow…you obviously already have a passion for posed newborn photography, now let’s learn to fit everything you want into your session in under 2 hours!
If you are the photographer who currently spends 4 hours in the studio during a newborn session you probably think I am completely crazy or that there is no way you can achieve a full gallery in that amount of time without making you or your clients feel rushed; But I promise you it will do the exact opposite! Instead of you, the photographer, beginning to feel anxious and exhausted because baby isn’t settling any longer and the parents are looking at their watches every five minutes, you will find that you feel more comfortable and the parents gain even more confidence in your ability as the baby whisperer.
My posed newborn session workflow begins before parents ever arrive to my studio with the baby. When they inquire about a session with me and we finalize all of the appointment details I send a very short questionnaire to find out what they hope to get out of their session; I want details that can help me to have the props, headbands, hats, outfits, blankets, etc. ready and in place when they arrive. I ask questions such as the baby’s gender if they know it, what colors they would love to see in their gallery, or if there are any I should avoid using. I also try to include one or two creative composites in clients’ galleries so I love to ask them if they have any special themes for the nursery, etc.
Here is a quick overview of my workflow that I will go more in depth with as we go along. That being said, there are many ways of having a seamless workflow, this just happens to be what works amazingly for me:
- Family Portraits with siblings, sibling portraits, parent portraits
- Potato sack pose
- Baby wrapped in a bowl
- Macro shots
- Tucked into a bed
- Baby sitting in posing pod
- Baby in a bucket
- Then I usually do one last prop that varies! (recently I’ve loved my miniature hammock)
- Baby Feeds
- Finish with bean bag poses (froggy, side laying, and tushie up)
The day of the baby’s newborn session has finally arrived, my studio is set up, and all my props are ready to go! My goal is that once the family enters my studio (or once I arrived at their house and set up) I take the baby and get them ready. I usually only return the baby for family portraits, feedings, and at the end of the session, dressed back into their normal clothing.
I let my parents know that I am a full-service photographer and they can use this time to finally take a couple of hours to relax. I will soothe the baby, change diapers, work out gas, bottle feed if they prefer, and clothe them. Anything and everything is taken care of and my clients love that!
As soon as I have the baby, I put a specially knit outfit on them that they will be wearing in a prop (unless parents want naked shots for family pictures). I usually leave the sleeves off until I need them, so they aren’t seen prior and then place 2 wraps on them. Family portraits, along with parent and sibling shots take on average 20 minutes to complete and I choose to do these first so that Mom’s make-up and hair still have her feeling beautiful and she doesn’t have to sweat in a hot studio for 2 hours prior to being in front of the camera. I also have quiet toys for siblings, and if they see the toys first they will not want to come and take pictures (if you’re a parent, can I get an AMEN?!?). Once these photos are done I let my parents have a seat and relax a bit while I finish up the baby’s portraits.
Since the baby is already double wrapped, depending on the wraps I used I may add a third and do a potato sack pose. These are quick and easy and sure to keep baby asleep or give them enough time to fall back to sleep while they feel secure and snuggly in their multiple wraps. Next, I slowly begin to unwrap to the next color wrap, or I will change the style of the wrap closest to the baby before placing the baby in a bowl. I also find after shooting this at a couple of angles, it is the best opportunity to grab my macro lens and photograph those sweet little baby details! From the bowl it’s an easy transition into a bed to be tucked in. I simply unwrap the baby’s shoulders to avoid aggravating their startle reflex and grab a few shots in this sweet prop! Thus far, thanks to some creative wrapping we’ve likely been able to keep the baby calm and sleeping and gotten half of our gallery portraits! Yay!
Now listen closely, because “this is what separates the men from the boys!”…okay I may be a bit dramatic, but in all seriousness things will get slightly trickier as we completely unwrap the baby. You have to remember that they startle easily and even if you think it’s warm in your studio their little bodies cannot regulate temperature. Being suddenly uncovered can make them feel cold and wake up, so I suggest having your small heater close by for these next poses!
After removing the last wrap and fixing the baby’s little outfit I place them in one of my most requested props, my posing pod. For this pose baby will likely need to touch their face which makes it a super easy transition into my bucket pose and then finally my last prop pose, which is usually done on the baby’s belly. And, as I mentioned, I am a bit in love with my new miniature hammock, so that has been my most recent go-to. My babies and parents love it too!
My studio is pretty small, (only 12 ft wide x 28 ft long) so this is the perfect time for baby to eat and fill that tummy back up while I clean up my props and set up my bean bag and blankets! The beanbag is not my preferred posing method, but there are a few poses that I absolutely love such as froggy, side laying, and tushie up. These poses also give me more options for my newborn creative composite images! And like clockwork between the 2 and 2 and a half hour mark, I have accomplished a full gallery with a happy little bub, still currently entertained siblings, and delighted parents!
Now I don’t want to say that I never have an awake baby that simply will not relax and startles at every movement, but I do promise if your little one becomes fussy and simply will not settle after they are unwrapped during your earlier set of poses, you will still have a great gallery to give to Mom and Dad that they will adore…
Alright. Now you know exactly how I get a full posed newborn gallery, leaving my clients loving their images, filling them with tons of variety in just under two and a half hours. It also leaves them time to head home and take a nap (Right?? Ha!).
Above everything else I hope you remember the key to success with posed newborn sessions is to be confident in your workflow and in yourself! Pre-Consult with your clients, plan and prepare your sets prior to your clients arriving, stick with a workflow that works best for you, take a deep breath, and continue to love what you do… then everything else will fall into place!
My name is Geniann Elliott , I am the Owner of Geniann Elliott Photography I have had the honor of being an award winning newborn photographer. I opened my doors to my tiniest clients 7 years ago, and found a new love for teaching and mentoring 2 years ago. And although I never knew I would end up in this career, it feels my heart with so much happiness, I seriously could not imagine doing anything else!
My love for newborn photography comes second only to my love for my two kids (soon to be 3 or 4 as we are in the process of adoption) and my husband! I love tacos, mountain dew, theatre, anything geeky or superheroes, and spending time with those I adore!
What a great read! I had my first newborn shoot (its a known fact that’s I’m a rookie still so the family wasn’t overly expectant), and boy was I exhausted! Reading this made me realize I definitely need a consistent routine to manage my time and maximize the time I DO have. Bravo!
Chrissy Im so glad you found this useful. Im sure you will soon find a routine that works for you <3