Since publishing the post on Newborn Photography tips I have been asked by several photographers and parents about Newborn Photo Props.
This post addresses that question covering the the props I believe should always be part of any Newborn photos studio.
Before I get into the props themselves I want to once again reiterate that the overriding consideration with Newborn photography (and any photography for that matter) is one of SAFETY and comfort.
Ensuring Baby's Safety and Comfort
Newborns are delicate and precious little things so some basic ground rules need going over.
I make no apology for repeating the importance of safety.
The essential photo props I recommend in this post will help ensure the safety and comfort of the baby throughout the session.
Mum will know best when her baby is comfortable and content so be directed by her whenever possible.
Start with a recently fed baby that has a clean diaper.
Ensure your room is warm without being overly hot and uncomfortable. A reliable thermostatically controlled heater is essential for the winter shoots.
If the baby is warm, well fed and comfortable he/she is less likely to kick and move around and possibly fall off a prop.
Work as close to ground level as possible. The reason for this is self explanatory.
Always have an assistant within arm’s length of the baby.
The baby’s mother is an excellent assistant and her participation will make her feel more comfortable.
A white noise machine is a useful accessory and a good investment for the newborn photography studio. It will save you a lot of time keeping the newborn sleeping while you pose and move them around.
Check with mum if she has one and if the baby is used to having one on when sleeping. The last thing you need is the white noise machine waking the baby up.
Before you start working with newborns ensure that you are absolutely competent to do so.
For this reason I encourage every Newborn photographer to either work alongside an experienced Newborn photographer or to purchase a StandInBaby with which to practice.
In fact I would suggest a StandInBaby should be your number 1 priority purchase.
You can read more about the StandInBaby, and how it will benefit you, in this recently published post.
Get a US$25.00 discount when purchasing a StandInBaby by using Coupon Code “MPS25” at the the checkout.
The 5 Basic Props ... surprisingly little and all you will need
The following list of props is all you need to ensure the safety of your precious little subject and to enable you to capture a range of stunning images that the family will cherish for years to come.
You’ll be happy to know that this list will not break the bank.
Essential Prop Number 1 - Bean Bag
Virtually all of your posing will be done on a bean bag so get a good one- one that is firm in support but yielding for comfort and shaping to accomodate the various newborn poses.
How big a bean bag do you need? – Great question.
Newborns are small – very small, measuring around 50cm (20 inches) in length. And for photos they are even shorter as they tend to default to the foetal position.
As small as they are you still need extra space to ensure their safety and to accommodate any additional props you may want to use – such as a basket.
Occasionally you will get twins or even triplets coming in for a session. It’s best to be prepared for any eventually – as infrequent as they may be.
A 100 cm (40inch) diameter – see image right – is a perfect size for studio work and is available from Amazon for $79.99.
Essential Prop Number 2 - Newborn Photography Backdrop Stand
Some will argue that this is not an essential prop because a bed can be used or you can even take photos off the carpet.
Sure you can – if you want to work at ground level. The choice is yours and working off a bed (or the carpet) will produce perfectly good results but …
A backdrop stand not only looks professional but will also save you hours in post processing, not to mention continuous bending and the accompanying backache!
A Newborn Photography Backdrop Stand (preferably an adjustable one) acts as a frame for the backdrop blanket.
The backdrop blanket is stretched over, and secured to, the frame to form a supporting backdrop for the baby to lie on.
Be sure to keep your backdrop tightly stretched and smooth with no creases in it – this will save you having to remove those unwanted creases in post processing.
There are times when you will want to use a backdrop with texture or fur in which case creases are obviously not an issue.
The beanbag fits directly under the blanket – see image on right..
Different coloured backdrops are quick to change – also useful if the baby has a little accident during nude shoots! Shit happens right? 😂
Where to get your newborn backdrop stand?
They’re easy enough to make as can be seen from the video above.
However if you aren’t a Do-it-Yourself type, don’t have the tools or couldn’t be bothered you can buy a perfectly good, safe and adjustable one for around $100.00.
Amazon has a really nice lightweight aluminium one with stainless steel connectors (elbows and screws) for about $120.00.
Its the same one pictured above right (although that image doesn’t do it justice) and you can buy it from Amazon.
Essential Prop Number 3- Backdrop Blankets and Clamps
Now that you have your beanbag and backdrop stand you need a couple of Backdrop blankets to attach to the frame.
Remember to secure them in such a way that there are no visible creases.
Cameras are highly sensitive and will pick up any and all creases.
You can use almost anything as a backdrop blanket – so long as it is big enough to stretch over the frame.
Pop into your nearest baby supply shop and get some standard baby blankets or (once again) Amazon has a selection. The Amazon ones have an option to buy matching pillows and hats – pretty cute and a great time-saver.
Get heavy duty Clamps to secure the blanket on to the frame – you don’t want the blankets to detach or for creases to appear.
You can probably find these in your local hardware store but if you are over at Amazon you may as well throw a six pack into your basket.
Essential Prop Number 4 - Posing Pillows
Posing pillows are used as supports for baby to keep them in the posing position.
Tuck them under and around the baby to keep baby comfortable and supported while in a pose.
Watch the wrapping video below and you will see Kelly uses rolled up towels for supporting her poses. That works perfectly fine.
I just happen to prefer a number of smaller pillows that are curved to a baby’s natural contours.
They’re very useful and make life so much easier – definitely an essential in my books.
Once again you can get a pack of 5 of these from Amazon for under $20.00.
Essential Prop Number 5 - A Selection of Wraps
And finally – a selection of Wraps (also called swaddles) the stretchy type for wrapping the newborn in.
Mum will probably have some but they may not be long enough.
I always keep a selection of long stretchy ones in my studio.
These longer wraps can be wrapped around the newborn several times and ends tucked away or left trailing for effect.
Wrapping the baby ensures that baby stays in the exact position you want to photograph them in with particular emphasis on restraining their arms and leg movements.
The video above shows how tricky wrapping can be and why I highly recommend regular practice with the StandInBaby.
No Limit to Newborn Photo Props
As can be seen from the above videos you can conduct a newborn photo session on almost any surface and no fancy gear is really needed.
If you have clients coming in it does create a more favourable impression if you look and behave like a professional.
Ensure you are working in a safe environment and know what you are doing.
I suggest you stick with a few basic poses, colours and simple props until you become more confident in your own ability.
You can add any number of props to your repertoire as you go along.
Baskets, barrels, boxes, hammocks etc. are all fabulous newborn props that you can use.
Practice with your new props using the StandInBaby until you are 100% competent before introducing a new prop or pose to your sessions.
Consistency will grow your brand and the business will follow.
Remember to use Coupon Code MPS25 for a US$25.00 discount when you purchase your StandInBaby.
While you are on their site watch a few of their videos and consider a posing book or two. You won’t be sorry.
And as always – I welcome your feedback and questions so please feel free to leave them in the comments below.