- Tamara Duffy
The newborn posing system
Newborn photography has evolved in so many directions in the past 15 years. Thanks to the digital age in photography it's getting better.
But what is it about that sweet portrait that makes your baby look so angelic?
Photoshop aside, how do you even pose a baby to begin with?
This Blog article isn't about posing your baby on a couch cushion and adding enough filters to blur out your baby's facial features. Snap the shot with your phone and calling it a "professional photo".
(Best of luck to those who attempt that very scenario).
If you're looking for a giggle on those amateur attempts at newborn posing - please check out the following link:
Along with my own professional experience I did some digging into the more recent history of newborn photography products and how it has evolved into a more safer environment. Not just for the baby, but for the occupation at hand - the photographer.
First, we can thank Anne Geddes who brought newborn photography into a whole new perspective.
Soon enough, photographers of interest began trying their hand at creating these magical portraits that make the hearts of any baby loving individual swoon. All of a sudden, the newborn photography industry begins to grow... (more on that in another blog).
I found a Vogue article that dates back to 2015 that explains in short of how it all began.
Next thing you know, there's a demand for more backdrops and items that baby can be posed and decorated with. Props are handmade and designed by local artisans, From posing fabrics and posing buckets right down to the tiny headbands and hats. Now small businesses from all over are producing high quality (in most cases) products that photographers go nuts over... Oh that's another wormhole - let me tell you.
Let's get back to what my blog is really all about.
What is it underneath that supports the baby and gives that soft dreamy look in camera?
It's the posing system of course - but what exactly is it?
First, you have your tiny client - the baby. They need to be supported, comfortable and feel secure all while keeping your backdrops nice and smooth. So you create a "bed" that does all that.
When I first started - I took a "Cowboy" attempt at it and used a pile of pillows and a backdrop stand...
Did I succeed in the final portrait?
Nope! - in no way did that setup give me the effect I was looking for.
So I purchased the travel bean bag - it worked a little but it was so small and my backdrop wasn't smooth enough. Then I find myself purchasing a much larger beanbag (by this point they were $250US brand new and you still had to stuff them with styro-foam beans. Anyone who has had to fill a beanbag chair manually will know what I've been through.
Here are some examples similar to the setups I've had to use in previous years. If anyone out there has been with me from day one, the setup on the left and the middle one are very close proximity to what I had to use (brings back fond memories). Complete with PVC piping and clamps to hold the fabrics - they worked! However there are repercussions to continuing with these apparatuses.
Now what harm could these posing systems possibly cause? They support the baby in each pose while holding the fabric and much more. The problem: The photographer's back and knees (and the assistant's too!). When I began using these systems, my body would be in pain afterwards from the awkward angles I had to put myself into, just to get that perfect angle in camera.
Next up: "the Big Kahuna" The what? Actually it's called "the Stand".
A massive round metal frame with two very large beanbag filled posing bags.
Great! I can sit on a stool with castors and use this posing system with ease - but where do my knees go? They have to straddle this unit unfortunately.
Once again we are stuck filling those bags with styrofoam beads because as they age, the beans deflate over time and use. Here's the kicker - this unit went for $800US (which now sits at $700US regular price)and don't forget the shipping. Plus they take up an incredible amount of space in your studio. If you have limited space or if you travel to other client homes - this unit is not the most user friendly for photographers who travel - yikes!
So while I'm crouching on my knees and twisting my back to get that perfect shot- I'm praying for a system that can save me from this occupational hazard and agony of every session.
Of course I could not afford the $1,200 price tag for a posing table. If there's one thing I learned in my family is how to be savvy when finding and developing the things you need. So I found my own method that worked in my favour. I went to my local Canadian Tire (hardware store) and bought a folding card table and along with my PVC pipe stand (oh that thing was embarassing - but it worked!) I created my own similar system. Certainly it wasn't wide enough, and it didn't look as nice but it worked! I posed many newborns on it - more than my super large deflating bean bag.
Until last January, I was embarrassed by how my system looked and it didn't look professional at all. It was then I decided it was high time to look out for a new posing table and I found it! The best part - a pre-order discount price that was under $500US - Score!! After waiting 2.5 months - this table was worth the wait!!
It has wheels that lock into place, storage pockets and bars all around to hold my clamped backdrops (no more wrinkly backdrops!). In the middle of the table is a removable section for posing bowls. I have yet to use this feature and I will get there someday.
Here's a clip to how I unpacked and assembled my posing table:
Now my studio is complete, well maybe we can work on the client seating area...
Not yet Tam, there's still more wonderful things to uncover.