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Newborn Photography: Props and Blankets

April 28, 2012

When planning a newborn photo shoot I suggest having a couple of blanket/ backdrop options.  I always use one light neutral coloured blanket as well as one coloured one.  It’s good to have an idea about what colour the baby’s room will be as well as what you plan to do with the photos.

There are several different options when it comes to blankets and backdrops.  One of my favourite blankets to use it a large off white blanket that I bought at Costco about a year and a half ago.   Another idea is purchasing single curtain panels from a discount store (Liquidation World, Giant Tiger, etc).  I was able to purchase several for $5 each.  The above purple backdrop is actually a curtain panel.  I’ve also picked up a couple great blankets for super cheap from local thrift shops.  I try to look for blankets with some texture or soft quality, easy to clean is also important.  Ikea is also a great source if you want a blanket with texture.

I always have some different coloured wraps on hand when photographing newborns.  Wraps are great for adding some colour and texture to photos as well as covering up baby’s unmentionables. Being the cheap/thrifty one that I am, I picked up a variety of different coloured jersey knit fabric (stretchy) from Fabricland during one of their sales.  You can get 2 wraps out of one meter of fabric, therefore each wrap cost me $2 each.  Another idea is using scarves or wraps that you already have in your own closet.  I have some pretty purple and aqua coloured pashminas that work great in baby photos.

In order to add a little variety to your newborn photos, it can be nice to add a prop or two.  A prop should never take away from your featured subject (baby), but rather just add interest to your photos.  When I wanted to add a few props to my photos, I put a wanted ad on Kijiji/ Craigslist with a few photos and descriptions of what I was looking for.  I had several people contact me, offering items for free or very cheap.  Yahoo!  If you (or someone you know) loves going to thrift stores and/ or garage sales, have a little list of things to look out for.  Great newborn props include things like baskets, crates, pails, vintage scales, large bowls, a doll bed, wash basin, etc.

In the above photo, I used an old egg basket.  You’ll want to lay your blanket out and fold it so that the width is just a little more than the height of the basket.  Then take the blanket and line the basket with it.  When placing a newborn in a basket, try curling their legs in naturally.  I let the baby fall asleep while I’m holding them and then slowly lower them into the basket.  This takes patience and practice.  Make sure that the baby’s face is always resting on a soft blanket.

In the above photo the baby was placed in an apple bushel basket.  I have a couple of squares of quality fake fur (doesn’t shed) that works great in baskets.  When using baskets that are a bit bigger, such as this one, make sure it’s lined and filled well with blankets to give the baby good support.

One of my favourite props to use is this old apple crate.  When putting a newborn on a crate, just remember to evenly fill it up with blankets first.  It should feel a little too full since baby needs to sit on top of the blankets and not sink in.  I think a crate is one of the most versatile props and can be used for newborns, babies, toddlers, etc.  Once baby gets bigger it makes a great seat!

Think about your own interests and what items are special to you.  What do you already have on hand that you could incorporate into your newborn’s photos?  This may be music, sports, job related, etc.  Personal photos tend to be that much more special.  Just remember to always keep baby safe and comfortable.

The last thing that I want to mention is that you don’t need a lot of space to take these types of photos.  Don’t be afraid to move furniture around to get some floor space.   The prop photos in this post were all taken with me standing on a chair shooting downward.  When you photograph from above you clear out the clutter in your photos, therefore making a more pleasing photo.  I love the natural warm tones of hardwood or quality laminate floor, so I often try to take my newborn prop photos in this way.  If you don’t have hardwood flooring but like the look, consider getting an end of vinyl laminate.  My husband picked up a piece that was thrown out from the flooring company situated next to his work place.  If that doesn’t work, ask a friend if you can take your photos in their home.  Be creative, try to think outside the box, and have fun.  You may surprise yourself.

The above photo was taken with the basket placed a fair distance away from the wall.  Be careful not to place your subject too close to the wall in order to avoid shadows.  Having some space in between your subject and the wall will also give you a greater ability to blur the background when having a more wide open aperture.  I shoot my newborn photos with an aperture of f/1.8-f/2.2

Have a question or want to share a thought?  Please don’t hesitate to leave a comment.

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14 Comments leave one →
  1. Angela permalink
    May 5, 2012 4:09 pm

    I’m so happy I found your page! I live in the Fraser Valley and love photography. I’m pregnant with my second, and am planning to take my own newborn photos — this is a great article. Thanks! Any chance you have any info on newborn composition shots?

  2. May 5, 2012 5:54 pm

    Hi Angela! I’m wondering, by “newborn composition” do you mean composite? Like when a photographer takes two photos and merges them in photoshop?

    • Angela permalink
      May 5, 2012 5:59 pm

      Yes!! I wasn’t sure what the correct ‘tense’ was on composite — but that us what I was meaning 🙂

  3. May 6, 2012 9:03 pm

    Glad you found our site! We will be posting about newborn posing but not composites. Since our site is aimed for beginner/ amateur photographers, we want to avoid photos that require extensive editing as well as shots that could be potentially unsafe for a baby (ex. baby holding head up with hands, baby hanging in a sling, etc). Our basic newborn posing post will be up sometime this week.

  4. May 7, 2012 4:30 pm

    Hi Angela, here’s a link to a great newborn compsite post http://www.mcpactions.com/blog/2012/05/04/how-to-composite-newborn-images-and-keep-babies-safe/

  5. Molly permalink
    May 10, 2012 6:50 am

    When shooting at such a low aperture setting, how far back are you from the baby? Thanks for your great site!

    • May 11, 2012 8:50 pm

      Hi Molly
      When photographing newborns, I generally have my aperture setting at around f/2-2.2. My distance from the baby depends on the kind of shot and feel that I’m trying to achieve. If the baby in posed on a blanket I am usually a couple of feet away. I try to get as close as possible while maintaining a sharp shot. A macro lens would allow you to get even closer, however I just have a 50mm. Hope that helps. ~Shari

  6. Belinda permalink
    July 18, 2012 6:16 pm

    Hi Shari
    I was wndering if you could tell me where you got the faux fur?

    • August 7, 2012 10:34 pm

      Hi Belinda

      Thanks for your message. I purchased the faux fur here, http://sewwhimsey.bigcartel.com/ Patricia is awesome! If she doesn’t have any listed feel free to send her an email to see if she can get some in stock. It’s so.. much better that anything that I’ve found at a fabric store, etc.

  7. Marta permalink
    July 21, 2012 1:43 pm

    Hello Shari. I’m Marta was just wondering what camera you used for these shoots? Also i can see that these were done with natural light. Where you using reflectors at all. May be a Fill in light? Thanks for sharing this.

  8. christine permalink
    September 25, 2012 6:56 pm

    Thanks so much for all your ideas and showing me how you put things together it was all very helpful

  9. November 26, 2012 3:55 am

    Wonderful backdrops… I love your concept… You did great!

  10. Cassandra white permalink
    April 4, 2013 10:49 am

    What size crates and baskets are best to use? Medium or large. Large in the UK being 18″ medium being 34cm… I need help!!!!

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