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Capturing Story in Portrait Photography

Lesson 6 of 49

Prepare & Pose Newborn for Portrait


Capturing Story in Portrait Photography

Lesson 6 of 49

Prepare & Pose Newborn for Portrait


Lesson Info

Prepare & Pose Newborn for Portrait

Getting ready for this I want to make sure that I've got everything around me so I'm not having to sort of move around and I do this in my studio. I've, like I mentioned, hot glued my little cranes down. And I'm going to use a wrap to put around the baby to help keep it in to place so that when I have the back come up against these, it's not going to bother the baby. Now it is paper, it's soft, but I do also wanna to make sure that it's not going to irritate the baby in any way and that's why I'm gonna wrap fabric around the baby to not only protect it from that surface which I'm always considering, but to also help keep it in place. And then I've got some spare little cranes down here that if I need to fill in any gaps, I can just place them on top. So yeah, and obviously a camera. But I'm gonna grab some hand sanitizer before I grab this little baby. Ah, thank you, can I keep this over here? Oop, that was a bit too much, it comes out fast. Yeah I am so excited to see this shoot come ...

together. It's gonna be really lovely. Garret, can you pass me one of those paper, not paper towels, one of those towels? Thank you, okay. So whenever I take a baby from a parent, I want to make sure that they feel confident in my abilities. So I never go up and ask them if I can have their baby, I simply gesture, I walk over, I tell them where I'm gonna place my hands and then I just bring the baby in nice and close to me. So I want to eliminate a lot of movement. Is she nice and sleepy? Okay keep her there. I'm gonna come up underneath her little head there, perfect. And did she have a good feed? Oh, good deal. So she's just over nine pound so she's a nice size for this because I've created a really big support there not knowing exactly how big she was so that's good. And you can see my movements are really quite slow whenever it comes to holding a baby. Alright, so when it comes to wrapping her, I'm gonna leave her nappy on. Can you bring this one closer to me? Actually I don't think it's on. There we go. So my knees are my friend in all of my newborn shoots but I've got long legs so if you find that you don't have long legs like me, sitting flat on the little floor with your legs out and with a couple of little towels underneath your legs to give you that support, is usually the best way I find to wrap babies. So I'm just gonna figure out which side, here we go. So I want her to stay nice and sleepy and then I'm gonna keep my hands on her arms because when babies are born, they have one natural fear and that is the fear of falling. So that's where they get that startle reflex from. So I want to make sure that she doesn't feel startled in any way. And like she's not supported. So I'm just trying to get that wrap out without moving her too much. Shh, shh, shh, shh, shh, shh, shh, shh, shh. When it comes to handling babies, your hands should become an extension of them. So my hands aren't stiff, they're just resting on her. So it's more about the weight of that hand and making sure that it's nice and warm. So what I'm wanna do is I wanna be able to see her arms and legs in this setup. So I want to bring the wrap across her belly and then I'm gonna bring it around her body. So just make sure she's nice and flat here. And then keeping in mind that her head's here and her bottom's here and she's gonna be facing up towards that ceiling so knowing where those little arms and legs are gonna be placed. So I've got my wrap shorter at one end so I'm gonna bring that across her belly. But I just need to bring it down behind her shoulders a bit more. And these are nice, stretchy long wraps so they've got lots of elasticity in them. And the trick to wrapping is making sure that you pull it nice and firm, nice and tight. But obviously not too tight that you're making them feel uncomfortable. Shh. Shh. Shh. Okay, so over that belly. This is gonna help anchor this end down so that as I start to bring it around the outside of her body, just make sure I don't get my shirt in it. It's gonna keep it in place. Okay, just bring that up a bit tighter. I love these little hands. Okay so because I'm gonna be shooting from here down, I wanna make sure that the way that I cross her feet over as well are going to be in the right direction. Because if I have this foot here coming straight up towards the camera, it's going to be a very large, flat surface that'll be distracting in my image. So I wanna make sure that the feet are crossed over in a way that that's not going to happen. So what my plan is, is to have this foot come over the top and what it's going to do is then kind of dangle down. So we'll see how that goes. So now I want to pull this up. Just got a hair. Towards the shoulder, here we go and now I'm gonna come around the body. So using that shoulder as that anchor point. I'll bring these feet up to start with. So down. And with any of these sort of more creative set ups I tend to be more particular about, you know, all the little finer details, making sure that everything is perfect. So I'm giving that a really good pull and you can see how I'm using my chest and my body to keep her little legs in place. And then coming up underneath her head so you can see my hand is supporting the back of her neck there. And bringing that around. Shh, shh, shh, shh, shh, shh, I know. It's a big story. So I just go around as many times as I can until I sort of start to run out of fabric. What a good baby. Pushing half of that wrap down so that the weight of her body is what's gonna anchor it. So this wrap is about a meter and a half long so it's nice and long which gives me lots of length. So there's white elements to this photograph which means that my exposure is going to have to expose for those highlights so that I don't lose any detail. 'Cause if I was to enter this in to say a competition, then if I overexposed the highlights there were no detail in it, then I would be judged quite poorly for that. So taking in to consideration all of those things as well. Alright, so we've got our will. The idea now is to place her down with her back here so she's basically going to be on her side. Isn't she gorgeous? So I'm making sure I support her little head the whole time. So making sure that none of those little cranes are touching her there. Okay so that looks like it's supposed to start to look which is really good. 'Cause I'm doing this live for the first time. The execution is always slightly different to the idea. And usually I have my fake baby to practice with and I didn't bring her this time thinking oh I'm only photographing one newborn, it'll be fine. But it is always great to test things out like this to see you know that placement and so on. Alright, so in terms of supports, I don't think I need anymore but what I do need to do is just kind of turn her down a little bit more and then I'm gonna bring her face up towards that ceiling. So I'm just gonna slide my hand down this way and then behind her little back. Shh, shh, shh. Little Lorelei is just over three weeks old so she's probably gonna be more aware, more alert of what I'm doing and a bit more sort of sensitive to my touch. I'm just gonna give her a little turn here. There it is. And I'll bring that foot out and I think I'm gonna leave it in. Okay so those little extra cranes, oh they're behind me. I'm just gonna place them sort of in around her back here to fill those sort of shadow places. Now like I said before, it's okay when your ideas don't work. But right now, that feeling of like excitement and giddiness that I'm getting because it's working, and she's sleeping, is quite hard to contain. Garrett knows all about that. Shh. Shh. Okay I'm gonna try not to be too much of a perfectionist here. Alright, so what I'm gonna do now is just bring her little face up and I'm pretty much ready to take this shot. So it's all about perfecting that pose. Shh, shh, shh, shh, shh. So I'm just bringing her little hands away from her face here. Shh, shh, shh, shh, shh. Shh. Shh. So using this hand, and it' just the weight of my hand on her there. Shh, shh, shh, shh. I'm gonna see if we can bring her little chin up here. Shh, shh, shh, shh, shh, shh, shh, shh, shh. And then I want to bring this hand here and behind her fact. Over here, oop. Jade, can I get you to come in? Can I get you to sit just here and keep you hand here for me, just while I position her little head? There we go, just nice and soft. Okay so that way it frees up my hands to be able to bring her little head in to position here. So whenever I'm doing something like this, I always make sure I get my safe shot. And what we might do Garrett is start to bring that light over and turn that on. Okay, coming forward just a bit more. So what I'm looking at here now is the placement of this light. And because we've got you know, like a 3D object there, it's gonna create some shadows. So I wanna use this like a sun where it's gonna come directly down and above to really limit some of those shadows but there's still beautiful shadows. So we're gonna come just in a little bit more there and then turn this light this way just a bit more. And I'm looking at where those shadows are falling now. And remembering that the intensity of the light comes from the center and because I want a lot of light in here to fill those shadows, because I want it to have that beautiful, kind of light, airy feel with still a few shadows to define features, that's probably the perfect place for it. And when you are placing your light, you're not looking at the light on the subject, you're looking at the shadows that show you the direction of that light.

Class Description


  • Brainstorm and develop concepts for creative portraiture
  • Turn a client's story into a unique portrait
  • Design and build your own props and sets
  • Take great portraits of subjects at any age
  • Shoot and edit portraits with confidence
  • Increase the odds of success in photography contests
  • Move beyond traditional portrait photography


Tired of the traditional, overdone portraits? Dive into creative portrait photography by turning a client's story into stunning portraits with substance. Learn how to brainstorm concepts for a unique image based on a client's story and personality. Explore options for building your own unique set and props. Working with techniques like Photoshop composting and in-camera double exposures, learn how to turn abstract ideas into portraits with meaning.

Join Kelly Brown, a nationally recognized portrait photographer that's captured several awards for her storytelling abilities, and go behind the scenes for five live portrait shoots. Create portraits that span multiple age groups, with a behind-the-scenes look at portrait photography for newborns, children, teenagers, adults, and senior citizens. From brainstorming to editing, weave a meaningful story in front of the camera.

Following the live shoots and editing, Kelly shares insight into photography contests, from the submission process to tips for wowing the judges. Learn how to prepare an image for a print or digital competition.

This isn't the beginner's class on creating a good portrait with basics like depth of field and properly lighting the subject's face -- this is the portrait photography class for photographers ready to go beyond the basics to capture their best portraits yet using creative storytelling techniques. Stop regurgitating the same tired traditional portraits you've seen hundreds of time and capture creative portrait photography that inspires.


  • Intermediate photographers looking to break out of the norm
  • Professional photographers in a creative rut
  • Environmental portrait photographers


Adobe Photoshop CC, Adobe Camera RAW


As one of the most awarded portrait photographers, Kelly Brown is known for her knack for capturing creative portraiture. The owner of Little Pieces Photography in Brisbane, Australia, Kelly is most known for her work in the newborn genre, though her portraiture spans all ages. With a straight-forward, easy-to-follow teaching style, she's taught newborn photography and posing classes in more than 20 countries. As the judge for international print competitions and the winner of highly reputable contests such as the WPPI Photographer of the Year, Kelly also shares insight into photo contests with her students.


  1. Class Introduction

    Dive into storytelling portraiture with the why behind this type of photograph. Gain an overview of the course and see the story behind inspiring portraits.

  2. The Power of Portrait Photography

    Photography is powerful -- build the tools to unlock that power by using your own experience, challenges, and limitations to bring them to your portrait photography.

  3. Introduction to Newborn Portrait

    See the inspiration behind the newborn portrait and the props involved. Learn why Kelly designed the shoot the way that she did -- and how her creative storytelling grew her business. Touch on the elements that are different when photographing a newborn, including safety concerns.

  4. Find Inspiration for Newborn Portrait

    How do you find the inspiration for a storytelling portrait? In this lesson, Kelly discusses researching the subject -- the newborn -- digging into relevant topics, and finding inspiration for the shoot. See other samples of storytelling newborn photography and learn the story behind the images.

  5. Create The Scene for Newborn Portrait

    Take storytelling ideas for newborns and turn them into reality with handmade props. In this lesson, Kelly walks through different props she's created and how she went from the original inspiration to crafting a unique prop.

  6. Prepare & Pose Newborn for Portrait

    Kelly preps for the live shoot by checking the props and making sure everything is within easy reach. Gain tips for working with babies, including wrapping and posing.

  7. Shoot: Techniques for Photographing Newborn

    In the first live shoot, go behind the scenes as the story comes to life. Watch Kelly work with getting the baby settled and in position and gain shooting tips when working with newborns.

  8. Newborn Image Review

    While reviewing the images from the shoot, Kelly shares tips on composition, camera settings, and why she framed the image the way that she did. Gain additional insight into the shoot from student questions.

  9. Introduction & Find Inspiration For Child Portrait

    Dive into storytelling portraiture for children, starting with tips for finding inspiration. Build the ability to research and brainstorm ways to represent a child's story visually.

  10. Create The Scene for Child Portrait

    Building the setting for the story is an essential part of capturing a story online. Delve into creating a set -- or working with a composite -- for a portrait of a child. Learn tips on matching the lighting to the set during the photo shoot.

  11. Prepare Set for Child Portrait

    Build a set that creates an illusion while keeping the child safe. See the inspiration behind the set, then gain insight into tricks for creating special effects like fog and wind indoors.

  12. Shoot: Capture Child Portrait

    With behind the scenes access, see how Kelly created an imaginative shoot with minimal Photoshop work. Gain insight into posing and working with kids. When shooting portraits and a prop or element to the shoot doesn't work exactly as you thought, learn to tackle unexpected challenges.

  13. Image Review for Child Portrait

    See the results from the live shoot, including the exposure settings like shutter speed and focal length. As she reviews the images, Kelly further explains elements of the shot that she didn't detail during the live shoot.

  14. Introduction & Inspiration For Teenager Portrait

    The teen years can be a tough age -- so where do you find inspiration to create a storytelling portrait for a teenager? Kelly shares tips on finding inspiration for these portraits, as well as portraits that she's created in the past and where the ideas stemmed from.

  15. Create The Scene for Teenager Portrait

    Go behind the scenes for Kelly's prop designs for teen portraits. Learn how to build a unique wardrobe piece and craft unique props with a built-in light source. See a behind-the-scenes glimpse at the lighting and studio set-up.

  16. Building Set for Teenager Portrait

    On a limited budget? Learn how to create a crown prop with about $15 in craft supplies. Then, see how easy it is to create a "dress" from backdrops that you already have on hand.

  17. Shoot: Portrait with Teenager

    Craft a story for a portrait featuring a teenager, a technique that's great for high school senior portraits as well as any youth portraits. In this live shoot, see the lighting settings, the pose, the camera settings and more involved in the teen portrait.

  18. Shoot: Pose Teenager for Multiple Looks

    Introduce variety into the stylized portrait session by building in a variety of poses. Using the same props and set, go behind the scenes as Kelly builds several different shots into the same session.

  19. Image Review for Teenage Portrait

    See the results of the live shoot, including the camera settings for each shot. In this lesson, Kelly shares the shots and how she plans to continue the vision during photo editing. Gain additional insight from student questions.

  20. Introduction & Inspiration For Adult Portrait

    The more years a portrait subject has, the more stories they have to tell. Learn how to find inspiration, develop the ideas, create a storyboard, and work to bring a story to life for adults.

  21. Creating The Scene for Adult Portrait

    Go behind the scenes for an elaborate prop set-up for an adult breastfeeding portrait. See how Kelly turned the idea into a custom prop set.

  22. Lighting for Adult Portrait

    Lighting evokes the emotion of the story. See how lighting is essential to creating the mood for the image. Walk through the lighting set-up, including the modifiers, used for the next live shoot.

  23. Tell Your Subject's Story

    Meet the subject for the live shoot and learn his story. In this lesson, Kelly discusses the inspiration for the shoot and where the idea for the double exposure came from.

  24. Shoot: Lighting for Double Exposure

    In the live shoot, learn how to capture a double exposure portrait in camera. From framing each shot to working with lighting, watch the concept of the double life come to life in a portrait.

  25. Introduction to Senior Portrait

    The older generation often has the most incredible stories. In this lesson, Kelly shares tips for creating portraits of senior citizens that tell a story. Develop the ability to find and build inspiration in this lesson.

  26. Create Storyboard & The Scene For Senior Portrait

    From the subject's story, build a storyboard and scene to capture a portrait. See how Kelly assembled the set for the live shoot, and why each element went into the set.

  27. Connect With Client to Create Portrait

    Building a connection with the client is essential to learn their story in order to capture a true representation of the client. Watch Kelly work to build that connection, live on set.

  28. Shoot: Lighting for Senior Portrait

    Behind-the-scenes in this live shoot, perfect the set, composition, and lighting before taking the shot. Work with the light source modified by a softbox. Put it all together with the final shot and the perfect expression.

  29. Shoot: Be Creative on Set

    Add variety and creativity to the senior portrait by building in different poses. Gain insight into working with the older generation, including posing with a subject that likely won't be able to sit in one position or stand for long periods of time. Work to imitate the look of natural light, window light and even a curtain using studio lights when a window isn't available.

  30. Image Review for Senior Portrait

    Take a look at the RAW, unedited results of the live portrait session. Work through Kelly's thought process to improve each shot, taking better portraits with just minor tweaks.

  31. Portrait Shoots Recap

    Review all the images from the live shoots during the culling process. Kelly explains why planning the shoot helps to prevent overshooting, and what she looks for when selecting images.

  32. Global Adjustments in Camera Raw®

    With the shooting finished, jump into editing inside Adobe Camera RAW. Work with color temperature, get started adjusting skin tones, and work to keep composite edits consistent.

  33. Editing In Photoshop® CC: New Born Portrait

    Starting with the newborn portrait, develop a workflow for editing stunning portraits. Work with tools to correct perspective, apply a crop, fix the background, adjust props, perfect the skin tone and more.

  34. Editing In Photoshop® CC: Child Portrait

    When the expression on your favorite photo isn't quite perfect, learn how to swap faces inside Photoshop. Perfect the child portrait from the live shoot, including removing the safety clamps from the props and extending the background.

  35. Editing In Photoshop® CC: Adult Portrait

    Tweak the double exposure adult portrait from the live shoot. Learn how to remove a tattoo, fix highlights and shadows and more in this behind-the-scenes edit.

  36. Editing In Photoshop® CC: Teenager Portrait

    Work to perfect the teen portrait from the live shoot. Learn how to adjust the color of your props if you couldn't quite get it right when assembling them. Draw the eye to the portrait subject with a few editing tricks.

  37. Editing In Photoshop® CC: Senior Portrait

    Fine-tune the senior citizen portrait inside Photoshop. Work to draw the eye to the subject using a gradient tool and layer mask. Dodge and burn with a layer mask to continue to draw the eye when working with a busy environmental portrait.

  38. Introduction to Entering Print Competitions

    Photographs that tell a story are great for entering into competitions -- but how do you get an image noticed by the judges? In this lesson, Kelly discusses why you should enter photography competitions.

  39. Process of Print Competitions

    Photography contests follow a specific pattern. Pinpoint the difference between print and digital competitions, then walk through the process of preparing an image for a print competition.

  40. What to Consider For Print Competitions

    Sure, you probably considered factors like composition and sharpness as you shoot, but there's much more to consider when it comes to print competitions. Even the paper type that you choose for your photo plays a role in how that final image looks. In this lesson, Kelly walks through the different factors to consider for print.

  41. What Judges Look For Overview

    Understanding what the judges are looking for allows you to make the best choices when submitting to competitions. Dig into all the different elements that judges look for in a competition.

  42. Image Impact

    Creating an impact is essential to winning a photography competition and getting the judges attention. In this lesson, Kelly shares tips for making an impact on the judges.

  43. Creativity, Style & Composition in Images

    Composition meshes with creativity and style to tell a story. In this lesson, see a selection of images demonstrating how each element plays a role in the image as a whole -- and how that image performs in competitions.

  44. Entering Photography Competitions Q&A

    Gain additional insight into photography competitions with questions from students during the live class.

  45. Image Lighting

    Lighting helps create a mood in the image, from the source to the direction. In this lesson, Kelly expands on the portrait lighting tips from the live sessions with details on natural light, lighting direction, shadows, and more.

  46. Image Color Balance

    Color balance ties together creativity and style and keeps the image cohesive. Discuss using different colors to create emotions and tie together elements in a photograph.

  47. Technical Excellence in Images

    Technical excellence is essential to success in photography competitions. In this lesson, Kelly explains the technical details that the judges look for in a competition, and what photographers should consider before entering the image.

  48. Photographic Technique

    Gain insight into different tricks and techniques involved in creating an image. From building a connection with clients to demonstrate poses, pick up additional portrait photography tips using different techniques with a photography contest in mind.

  49. Storytelling & Subject Matter

    A story and subject that wows is key to getting a judge to look closer at a photograph. In the final lesson, gain final insight into capturing that story and choosing the subject.



Among a sea of wonderful teachers here at CL, Kelly is the cream of the crop. All of her classes are outstanding and this one is no exception. Amazing teacher. Amazing class. Amazing education. If you are hoping to stretch yourself to create deeper more meaningful stories in your images, or are feeling the pull of print competition but need some direction, this is definitely the class for you. Thank you Kelly!

Melissa Soto

Kelly Brown is a true inspiration. She has been my idol in this industry since I began. This class was amazing. I love how honest, authentic and genuine she was. But most importantly I loved her wise direction and teaching style. Kelly brown thank you for this gem. You helped light a fire in me. I’m so excited to start telling amazing stories with the skills I have learned from this class.

Marjorie Stevenson

Just loving this class! Kelly is one of my favorite instructors. She is very good at articulating her ideas and carrying them to an absolutely wonderful end product. Her images are always stunning. I love that she always puts safety first with her models. Thank you Kelly for sharing your creative visions with us.