When I first started my business 11 years ago there was no Facebook, no Instagram or Pinterest. Youtube was just getting started. There weren’t posing guides or professional photographers teaching in person or online workshops on the art of posing. To be honest, majority of what I learned came from trial and error. Parent posing was definitely one of those areas that scared me…..for a long time!
As simple as they seem, there are a number of variables that go through your head when you are preparing for parent poses. How big is the baby? Should I wrap the baby or keep him/her unwrapped? Does mom have long or short arms? How comfortable is a new dad holding his baby? All things that can drive you crazy thinking about and trying to figure out.
Of course it is important to take all of that into consideration like grains of salt but don’t forget to KISS. Keep it simple. It doesn’t have to be fancy! You don’t have to try to reinvent the wheel for every session! When it comes down to it, your clients want a beautiful, simple and timeless first image of them and their baby. Below are six outlined tips to help keep parent posing simple but achieve images your clients will love every single time.
To wrap or not to wrap? Well, let’s just say a wrap is going to make your job a lot easier (I would say that I wrap for parent photos 80% of the time). Get those arms and legs out of the way and into a wrap. This will eliminate a lot of trouble in keeping baby calm and asleep. If you do decide to go unwrapped, rompers or bloomers are your best friend. Avoid the chance of a baby potty accident during parent photos.
Timing…..sounds like a strange one but be aware of when you are doing parent photos. If you have a baby who is breastfeeding and you wait until an hour into the session to do parent photos you may have an issue. Hungry little baby bird is going to be placed with mom and want to eat! For moms that are breastfeeding, I generally try to do it shortly after a feeding when the urge to eat is gone. This will also most likely give you a content baby which is what you want so you can focus on the parents versus getting baby to cooperate.
Take your client’s parenting experience and comfort level into consideration. First time parents can be a little uneasy with awkward posing or holds that don’t feel natural. Keep it simple with a potato sack hold with a hand behind the baby or a crossover hold. It shows off baby and gives you the opportunity for variety. Use common sense when choosing a pose. If you have a mama that is 5’2 with short arms but has a 9 pound wrapped baby, certain poses are going to be easier for her.
Watch your angles! Don’t lie, we have all taken that bad selfie from too low of an angle! Shoot from slightly above your clients. Get up on a box or stool even if your clients aren’t super tall.
Give them direction…..exact directions! Place their hands exactly where you want them, tilt heads where they need to be, tell them to take a deep breath to relax those shoulders, turtle neck out so nobody has three chins and lean just a touch towards me! It may feel like you are barking orders but those tiny movements can make a huge difference. To be honest, they want the direction so they are comfortable knowing they are doing exactly what you want.
Create a flow just like you would on your beanbag posing, but now create a parent posing flow. I prefer to start with partner 1 (typically female) in a crossover hold. Give direction to look at camera with a small smile, then big smile, then look at baby and finally kiss the baby. Next, add a partner 2 and give the same commands. First look at me with soft/small smiles, then big smiles, then look at baby and finally a kiss. Next, move the baby to partner 2’s arms and follow your same flow. Add partner one back in for a final round. You just gave yourself 16 different options with only moving baby once!
Like anything in photography, the more you practice the easier it will become. Some parent posing sessions will be easier than others as some people are just more comfortable in front of a camera and taking directions. By following some simple steps and creating a flow for your parent posing, you will take a lot of the guess work out of it.
About the Arthour
Cortney Talbott is a studio newborn and child photographer based out of sunny Scottsdale, Arizona. She is a California girl at heart, growing up in the Los Angeles area. Since attending high school in Oregon, college in Montana and meeting her husband in 2004, she has found a love for the outdoors and the adventures they bring. Along with their 11-year-old son, Easton, and their fur baby, @bridger.the.bernedoodle, you can catch them camping and traveling around our beautiful country in their off time. A teacher by trade, her business was established in 2009 and took a very natural and organic growth into a full time studio in 2012.
I teamed up with Intuition Backgrounds to show you how to take gorgeous portraits in any space. In this video I will walk you through 7 different lighting setups so that you can hang a backdrop in any space and make your clients look and feel absolutely amazing.
When it comes to Holiday Sessions, I’m well aware that my simplicity isn’t for everyone. I’ve had clients choose not to book with me because they are specifically looking for a prop heavy session. To be honest, I’m perfectly ok with that. Maybe you’re reading this and discovering that you too would like to simplify your sessions. You’re ready to downsize the props and extra “stuff” and focus more on the subject. Perhaps the props serve as a crutch for you and the idea of doing a session with literally nothing but the subject terrifies you. Not too worry. Here are some examples of how I have taken 6 simple, elegant backdrops and created Holiday “art” that can be enjoyed all year round. Whether your clients celebrate Christmas, or Hanukah, or perhaps something else, offering a different type of Holiday Sessions is completely achievable, and gratifying.
I have been photographing babies for a little over 7 years now. I have a small studio in Central Florida, Iga Logan Photography. I have used different backdrops from different vendors, but I definitely have my favorite. Intuition Backgrounds is, hands down, my absolute favorite backdrop company ever. My clients almost always request the Intuition backdrops in my studio. The colors are perfect and the materials are amazing. I can also wash the mat floor material when needed. A quick spot clean or even a power wash works amazing. The mat floors also have a rubber backing that will keep them from slipping when moving around on them.