I have regularly had clients and even other photographers ask me how I get the babies to keep their heads up for the chin pose.
The long and the short of it is, they can’t!
Babies’ necks are not strong enough to hold their heads up, especially where they’re on their bellies, with their heads propped up by their hands. No one should ever attempt to get the baby told hold this pose on their own.
Instead, it takes some teamwork, and a composite image created in Photoshop. There are a few different ways to achieve this image. The most common way, for me, has been to have my assistant (or baby’s mom or dad) prop the head up with one finger. Sometimes the baby is leaning slightly to one side, so a finger on that side is enough to support baby, and other times, two fingers are needed, one on each side.
Some people insist that babies hands need to be palm up, but in some cases, depending on the positioning of the hands, I think palm down/hands clasping, can be quite cute!
The secret to editing out the hands in Photoshop is to zoom in to about 400%, change the hardness of the brush to about 30% and to clone very carefully around the outside of the baby’s head, using the area around the baby to match the colors. It takes a lot of patience!
Or, you could send it to a service like Retouchup.com where they will do it for you for about $5.
When the baby just doesn’t want to do chin pose (or any other pose!) you can get close. For example, you can still pose the baby so the head is on the arms, and get a super cute pose.
In the end, posing a baby is a delicate thing, and 10 times out of 10 you have to consider the baby’s safety.
Is the baby in a bucket?
• Is the bucket weighted at the bottom so it cannot tip over?
• Is there a spotter right next to the baby? (Baby CAN startle and push herself right out of the bucket!)
• Are there any hard edges making baby uncomfortable?
Are you using a nest?
• Are there twigs poking the baby (especially the baby’s head)?
• Is the baby’s neck at an awkward angle?
Are you outside?
• Is there any direct sunlight on the baby?
• Are there any bugs on the baby?
• Is the baby safely positioned?
Always be ridiculously paranoid and overly cautious when it comes to safety during a Newborn Session. NO risk is worth taking.
Caryn Scanlan is a maternity, birth and newborn photographer located in Boston and the South Shore, MA area and has been specializing in Newborns at her studio in Bridgewater, MA since 2009.