Newborn Shoot: Posing on a Bean Bag Part 1
So it's now about 77 degrees Fahrenheit in here which is really nice and warm, and little Hunter is sound asleep over here so we're just getting ready. But before I actually take Hunter from her mum, I'm going to set my bag up. And I'm going to explain why I do that the way I do it, to get a really nice smooth background on my beanbag. I'm not going to clamp it up to the backdrop to start with because I'm going to get a beautiful shot of Hunter on her back with a wrap around her. But I'm going to layer it the way I do in my studio at home, so I have lots of spare blankets here. I would probably use four to five blankets to layer my bag with, and it's just so I'll show you in a minute. Let me quickly throw these on. We have such amazing natural light here with all of these windows to work with today, and tomorrow, and the next day. These are just my old blankets. So I used to actually use these as backdrops in my studio. And I also, I just saw a question on Facebook. I had a quick look.
And I'm so amazed at the amount of questions that are coming in, they're awesome. But someone asked about the size of my throws and my blankets that I use, and they're pretty much just the size that you would use in a shop. So they're not large, but I'm going to show you how I put them width ways to clamp onto my backdrop to make it nice and smooth and firm for when the baby's on there. This is my waterproof one, and then I'm just going to put another one over the top. And then we'll choose our backdrop from over here that we're going to use during this little session with Hunter. So obviously we have limited time. I've pushed down in the middle to make a well so that when I put her on her back in the middle, in that well, she's actually going to have a little bit of support on her. If I was to lay her onto a flat hard surface, she's going to startle and her arms and legs are going to go flying out, and she's going to become unsettled, or awake, or something like that. So what we want to do is create a nice, round, little well in the middle for her to go into. And it's going to support her arms and legs and keep them in nice and tight. I've already spoken to Hunter's mum and she likes all the browns and the neutral colors, so we're going to go with something really, really simple with this. I'm not going to clamp it up now, but because I want to clamp it up when I'm finished with this setup, I'm just going to see. You can see how I go width ways, it actually fits across the width of my stand so I'll just lay it down on the backdrop so that it's easy to clamp up when she's on there and I don't have to lift her off. I'll pull that nice and smooth. I am a bit fanatical about smooth blankets so you'll see me smoothing it a lot. I'm sorry. But there, that's a nice smooth background for her to go on to. And the reason I put so many blankets on when I'm layering my beanbag is that when I put my cloth nappies under to support the baby and to prop the baby up. if I put it under the first layer, you can see it, and then you have to do a lot of work in Photoshop to fix that, to hide it. So what I do is I put it all the way under the bottom layer of my blankets and it creates a lift, but you can't see it because it's smoothed over by the amount of blankets that are on top of it. So that's why I put quite a few blankets under there. But we will come back to that. So now we're ready for our baby. I'm going to use a wrap. So here's my basket that I talked about before with all my different pieces of fabric and knitted squares that I use when I'm wrapping them. I have so many favorite suppliers for wraps and things like that in Australia and here in the States, but obviously in Australia 'cause it's quicker to get them to me postage. This one here is from a company called Brand New Babe and she has the most amazing delicate knit wraps. So when I do wrap a baby and I place it down, I'm not going to wrap it around and around and around, I'm going to put the baby on top of the wrap and just gently fold it in around the baby so that when I'm finished with the wrap, I can just peel it off and I'm not having to disturb the baby too much. So you'll see how I do that. Aw, she's so cute. OK, I'm going to keep this blanket just for a minute until I put her down. So just laying back into my hand. I'm going to take her and I'm going to put my hand in under her bottom. She's got her nappy on nice and loosely. Hi. She smells so good. So you can see, the light is on my left hand side here. I'm going to turn my white noise and everything on in a minute when I put her down. I probably should have done that before, but she's so cute. And we're going to pop her down and let her settle into a nice position with a blanket on top of her, and then we'll start to position her. So I'm just going to peel it back. So she's on her back, but I'm just going to gently turn her to her side. And I'm keeping my hand on top of her arm and her leg. There you go. So that her arms and legs don't come flying out. So I'm just going to carefully pull back the nappy. These little sticky sides are the worst. She's just pushing my hand now with her legs. So this is my mobile phone that I'm just going to pop some white noise on with. (white noise) And this is my little heartbeat monitor that comes out of the back of a teddy bear. (heart beating) (white noise) And just turning that away so it's not directly blowing on her. (baby babbling) Oh, it's always nice to have that nappy off. So I'm just to fold her little legs up and she's kind of done that herself. We're going to bring this arm up. And with the wrap, I'm going to bring it in around her to keep her arms and her legs in place. And then I'm just going to tuck it in underneath her. (shushing) So that when we take this off, we can just peel it back and move on to the next position. It's holding her in place, but it's not wrapped around, and around, and around her. So when we take it off, I'm not going to unsettle her too much. (shushing) When I'm doing any setup on a bag and in a prop, I will take a safe shot so if the baby is slightly unsettled, or moving, or something like that, I will always get a shot of my setup even if I have to fine tune it. Because if I'm continually fiddling with a baby that's a little bit awake, if I continually move them, they're going to wake up and I'm not going to get anything. So I need to get a safe shot, and that way I can go back and fine tune it. And if they wake up, I've got a shot. So I call that my safe shot. So I'm just pushing underneath here. I'm not putting the, what do you call them? Cloth nappy? I'm not putting it under her, but I'm just putting it around her to support her arm and legs. OK. Now what we're going to do now is just turn her head upwards so her face is up towards the light. (shushing) I want this bottom hand to stay on the mat. So I've actually, if you can see, I have my little finger on her hand and I want to keep that hand there. But I'm using my other fingers on her head and I'm going to turn her head with those fingers but keep her hand in place with my little finger. It's a bit tricky, but I've found that by putting a little bit of pressure on something that you want to stay put. And she's having a stretch. (baby babbling) (shushing) And then just a gentle rock back into that position. And we've managed while she was moving to turn her face upwards so we can see it. So we can't really, she's got her hand above it. (laughing) We'll bring that down in a second. (baby babbling) (shushing) I think when a baby puts its hands into a place that it feels comfortable with, I think that's so sweet and so cute. It's so natural. (shushing) Can someone pass me my camera? (laughing) Thank you. So when I'm shooting above a baby, whether it's on the bag or in a prop, I always put my camera strap around my neck 'cause if I was to drop my camera on top of a baby, it's heavy so it's just not worth it. And with this particular lens, I can put it between my legs and go back to positioning the baby, and it's nice and secure. (shushing) (camera beeping) (camera shuttering) Did I get it? (camera beeping) (camera shuttering) so I've shot directly above. I've come in close for a nice close up which the parents love. And what I'm going to do is 'cause this light is hitting her beautifully, I'm going to come in from the side. (camera beeping) (camera shuttering) So I'm happy with that. I could go on and I could continually move hands and legs and things like that, but I think they're beautiful photos that their mum and dad are going to love. So from here, I'm going to, 'cause she's nice and sleepy and I want her to sink into that sleep, I'm going to pick my backdrop up to the bottom and then I'm going to come and move her into position. So these little clamps that I'm using, they're actually just from a hardware store and I bought a pack of 10 for $10. And they're so good to hold the blanket on and they came in different sizes. I'm not quite sure where you would get them here, but I'm sure they'd be available somewhere. So I pull it nice and tight across the back, but to get it nice and smooth across here, these legs are perfect for it. If you don't have a backdrop stand and you're in somebody's home, you can use their dining room chairs and then put other objects around the blanket to pull it nice and smooth. I've even noticed that there's a photographer that's designed a backdrop stand for a beanbag. And I mean, they're perfect. I'm not sure what they're called or who did it but someone might know. So by doing this and paying particular attention to my backdrop stand, I don't have to worry in post production about too much smoothing of my blankets. I do smooth them, but I don't have to worry too much about it because I've got no visible crinkles or anything in the background. OK. So every time I do a setup and I use props underneath the blankets like with my cloth nappies, I move them out. But I always put my hand in under first to support the baby. I don't just rank it out so the baby gets startled. And then we'll just sort of gradually lower that blanket back into position. So from here, I'm going to actually turn her and lay her on her side so her little face is facing up towards the light. (laughing) So I'm going to put my hand in underneath her shoulder and her legs, and just gradually turn her onto her side like this. So this wrap is still underneath her, but what we can do is just peel it out from underneath. You could use another wrap. I'm going to use the same wrap because I have it and we're going to try and cover as much as we can today. But to give the clients a variety in the images, I would recommend changing the color. OK. She looks so cute there. But what I'm going to do is lift her head up gently and I'm going to place her hands up underneath her head there. And that way, it will also bring her chin forward so we can see it a bit better for the photos. I don't want her legs to move so I'm just resting my wrist gently on her knees there. OK. (faint speaking) Her hands, she's got her fists, but that's OK 'cause we can come back and we can adjust her little fingers. And even if we don't get all of the fingers like that, we can at least get the ones that are visible out so it will look nice and comfortable to the eye. So what I'm going to do is 'cause she's on a bit of a slope, I'm actually going to lift her up a little from the end here. I'm going to slide my hand at the bottom layer in underneath her legs and lift them with my hand first before I put the prop in. 'Cause if I just go pushing the prop in, I'm going to push her backwards which is not what we want. OK. And we're going to give her little face a little bit of a lift there. But what I want to do first is just adjust some of those fingers. 'Cause if I lift her, I'm sort of pushing her into a position where I'm against her muscles and things like that so I want to fix her fingers before I lift her. (baby babbling) When they move, it's good to move with them. You can see I'm gently rocking her which is kind of distracting for what she's actually doing. And we have nice smooth fingers under there. So again, to lift her up, I'm sliding my hand in underneath her head. I'm going to lift her with my hand and then put the prop in underneath her head. Underneath my hand, sorry. OK, I'm just fine tuning all the little fingers and details. If I had a hand out here in front of her or a foot sticking out, because I'm shooting wide open, that hand or that food will become quite blurry when I'm focusing on the eyeline. So I want it in a nice smooth line. If you can feel them starting to push back against your hand when you're positioning them, just softly put your hand on that area of the baby and they will relax into that position. OK. So I'm coming in at an angle where the head is actually closest to my lens. And I'm focusing on the eyeline. (camera shuttering) If I come in from this angle, her feet are going to be closer to my lens. And even though I'm shooting at 50 mil, they will look bigger in the image than her head and they'll be blurry as well, so I want to soften those and come in from this angle. (camera beeping) (camera shuttering) And from here, I can shoot above as well. (camera beeping) (camera shuttering) (camera beeping) (camera shuttering) OK. So I'm going to move her now onto her tummy, and then we're going to bring our next baby in. So I'm going to pull these blankets back out and lower her gently down so I startle her. OK. So for this, I'm not going to use a wrap. It's just going to be all her. This particular pose I'm going to do is what some people call the bum up in the air pose. (laughing) She's just got straight legs here. When they're doing that, if you just grab hold of their big toe and bend it, you're going to break that pattern and they'll lose that. It's not hurting them or anything. It's just breaking the pattern. I learned that off a very good friend. So peeling the wrap off. So replace the wrap, I'm actually putting my fingers there so her arms and legs don't come flying out. So I'm going to turn the bottom half first. And she's done it again, so I'm just bending those toes to bend the legs. And I'm going to roll her gently onto her tummy and cross those feet over. So with this particular pose, she's got her hands pretty much up in here like this at the moment. I want to bring this bottom hand out to the back of her so that she's on her side and this hand here is at the back. That's to prevent her from rolling backwards. If it's under here, she could roll quite easily. But if it's here, it's actually going to support her. So I'm just going to pull this arm out. And keep her elbows in nice and close. With this pose, I like to keep the elbow and the knee as close together as possible depending on the flexibility of the baby. So I would get the baby into position first before I go lifting and propping the baby up from either end with my props from underneath. 'Cause if when you've got them propped and you try moving them, you're going to overextend them. So I'm just going to gradually. 'Cause our light source is over here, I'm actually going to move her bottom half this way so we're going more towards that 45 angle of light. So underneath her shin bones here at the back where I'm just gradually sliding my fingers in underneath. (laughing) Getting comfortable. I'm just going to turn her bottom half around. She's so cute, isn't she? Look at this. Is that not the cutest thing you've ever seen? And you can see her toes. You'll be able to see her face. You'll be able to see her hand. I love this image. I mean, I love all images, but this is pretty cute. So now to keep her in that, she's going to get herself comfortable which is fine. I'm going to come back around and I'm just going to pull that hand out, and I'm going to put a prop in here behind her so that she doesn't roll backwards. So again, my hand is underneath first and it's more going in behind to stop her from moving backwards. And we'll adjust that again in a minute, but that's just so while I'm positioning her fingers. I'm going to push the front of the beanbag down. This is why beanbags are so awesome, because you can sort of push and mold with pressure. So I'm going to slide my hand in underneath her head and just pull her hand out gently because its gone in underneath her. (baby babbling) And by also having that hand underneath. Once it's in her, the head goes down. Once you bring that hand up under the face, it actually lifts the face and we want to see the face. So now I'm going to start lifting her from both ends just gradually to where she's comfortable with. Some babies don't like to arch their backs at all. They're more rounded which would suit the taco pose which is up on the wall. I don't know how they got their names. So my hand is going in underneath her head and I'm just going to gently lift her up. So we already have one prop at the back there. I'll slide another one in here underneath her bottom. You could use a wrap here, a beanie, anything to give variety to your images. Just going to adjust her back legs again 'cause she's getting herself into position here. So this back knee has come in under. I'm just going to sort of guide it back out towards the back there. So if you can see a foot getting red or purple at all, you want to move that baby. Just adjust them slightly, get the circulation going back in that area. OK, we're pretty much ready to take the photo. Whoops. And I'm just going to lift her chin there just a little bit. So I'm just going to push my prop gently up underneath her face. Can you see that just lifting her face just a little bit? 'Cause that's what we want to see. (shushing) OK. She's gradually pulling that hand in back underneath her face there. (shushing) So just a gentle little rock to relax her back into that. I'm going to take the shot. Again, I'm coming in at this angle so it's nice and flat along here. (camera beeping) (camera shuttering) OK, there's my exposure. So now I'm just going to compose this image. I'm going to give her a little bit of background above. Focus on the eye, that's always closest to the camera. My hands are shaking. And nice and centered. You could continue to fine tune this and adjust her little legs again, but I'm going to move along 'cause we've got limited time. But I'm just going to get a couple more shots. (camera shuttering) A little side profile 'cause she's so beautiful. And I would come in because I notice that little Hunter has the most adorable eyelashes. So I'm going to come in really close and get an eyelash shot just here before I finish up. And I love it from this particular angle with the light hitting in because I'm going to get her cheek and her shoulder, and in the background a couple of those little rolls. (camera beeping) (laughing) (camera beeping) (camera shuttering) So when I crop that in nice and tight in Photoshop, that's going to give me a beautiful little eyelash shot. So we did three basic poses from her back, to her side, to her tummy. From here with the next baby, I'm actually going to come and bring, if I was still working with Hunter, I would bring her front around here and move her back towards the back and then bring her little hands up into a pose like this one here in the middle.
Alright, so let's take a first question.
We have one question. They are wondering about using a spotter or an assistant while you're shooting. You obviously take so much care with supporting the baby and making sure she's really stable. Do you ever have another person helping you?
Not in this situation. My spotters are actually my parents. So the parents are always nice and close to me. When I'm working on the bag, I'm there. If I need anything that's not close to my bag and I can't reach it, I will get one of the parents to pass it to me. But I'm sitting right there in front of that baby. If it moves, I put it in the middle of the bag. It can't roll off the bag. I use my props in underneath the baby to make sure that it can't roll anyway. You can see that I put the prop in behind to make sure she didn't role backwards. So I am going to precautions to make sure that that baby doesn't move, and I'm not going to get up and walk away and leave the baby laying there. So I'm always within arms reach to the child while it's on the actual beanbag. When I'm working with props though, I will always have a spotter next to the prop that the baby's in because that's a completely different situation, and we're going to cover that this afternoon.
Do we have any questions in the audience? Yes, we do. Can you grab a mic?
So the baby was turned and you were turned. You were shooting straight on the baby.
OK. And then when you push the padding underneath, a lot of times you said you pushed it against the baby, not underneath, or?
Oh, at the back. I was putting it against the baby so it wouldn't roll back. I wasn't trying to lift the baby. I was just trying to prevent the baby from sort of moving backwards and rolling out of position. So a lot of the times the cloth nappies that I use to keep the babies in position, not necessarily to lift the baby into position.
OK, so you're not usually lifting.
Yeah, but with that pose I was lifting. And a lot of the time, I will lift. But the majority of the time, I'm putting something there to keep the baby nice and secure. Especially when it's in behind so that they're not gonna feel like they're rolling. They need to feel secure the whole time. Go for it. No?
Another question just while you finish that up from Joseph Kilgas. Do you find working without a pacifier to be more difficult to keep a baby comfortable? Are there pacifier situations?
Yes, if there are babies in the studio that are constantly wanting to suck or feed. I can recognize that. I had a baby that was addicted to a pacifier of my own. (laughing) But I'll ask them if they use one. If they don't, it's not none of my business.