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Hand Held Set-Up with Dad

Lesson 24 from: Baby Safety and Posing for Newborn Photographers

Kelly Brown

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Lesson Info

24. Hand Held Set-Up with Dad

Lesson Info

Hand Held Set-Up with Dad

This segment's all about creating images for an illusion. We've seen a lot of images where babies have been hand-held and put into sort of, you know, different fabrics for hanging shots and things like that. And it made me think a lot about the process that was involved in those shots and how can we get the most out of those images as safely as possible, keeping that baby supported throughout the whole time. We're gonna use dad's hands for the next shot, and we're gonna get him sitting comfortably in front of the posing bag, and what we're gonna do is give that illusion that the baby is upright in frame. The reason that I do like to incorporate hand images in my sessions is because sometimes, parents don't wanna be in photographs. I've had parents come along, and they're just really kinda shy, not really comfortable with getting in front of the camera. And as much as I try and convince them, I can't force them. So what I do do is suggest, can we get a hand shot. And in that way, you've...

got something to look back on in size and in terms of comparison to your hand size. And they actually love that and being a part of the process is really kind of cool for them in how we set them up. So I always use my posing pod with a piece of black fabric. And I have to make sure that the parents are nice and comfortable throughout this process because if they're not comfortable and they are supporting a baby, they're either gonna have strain, strain their back or be quite tense in that situation. And when they're tense, the baby's gonna feel that. So first thing's first, is getting the parent comfortable. And we have a beautiful baby boy, how old is he? Two weeks. Two-weeks old, and what's his name? Nicholas. Nicholas, beautiful. So, we'll get all ready. How flexible are you? (laughing) That's a strange question to ask a strange man, stranger that we've never met. (laughing) Yeah? Do you reckon that you might be able to sit on the ground, and I'll show you before you get up, in a position kinda like, Oh, see I'm not very flexible. Kinda like that around the back? Do you think that that would be okay? Perfect. I do ask because if he's not comfortable with getting down to the ground, we've got apple boxes and things. But when you are in an apple box and you're leaning forward, you can put a lot of strain on your lower back, and I want them to be comfortable. So I always ask. And when I get them down on the ground like this, the bags aren't heavy. You can bring that bag in nice and close. So they don't have to lean forward too much to give that support. And before I do get them to sit down, I'm gonna bring that back around the back here, because in terms of how I wanna position the baby for lighting, I'm gonna get the dad sort of, you know, side ways to the light and pose the baby accordingly. But before I do get them to sit down and put their elbows in the bag, I wanna create a bit of a dip here, so that they're actually a little bit more elevated in the hand area. So I'm gonna push the beans down in the posing bag. So you can see just here, this is where the elbows are gonna go, so we're gonna push those beans all the way forward. And then because the hands are gonna be slightly elevated, when I'm shooting from above, I don't have to get all the way over again. I can shoot down on an angle like that, and it's gonna make the image, like make the baby in the hand look like there's no distortion or issues with perspective. But we still wanna create that nice well where the baby's going to go as well so that they've got that beautiful support around them. So I'm gonna come and grab a little necklace. It's nice and warm over here. Oh and he's sound asleep. We hope so for now. Oh my goodness. You should see how beautiful this baby is. Like you seriously have to come in and do a close up of this. Look at his eyelashes. He is adorable. Thank you. Alright, come on over. Do you wanna leave your shoes on or off? Sweet. Okay, so if you get down there nice and comfortable, take your time, there's no rush, God, this baby's so cute. Oh, you good? Get comfy, maybe bring one leg, I do not want you to get uncomfortable. And can you pull your sleeves back up as far as you can? That's it, push 'em up. And how about bringing your elbows and your wrists together? Nice, that's why I always ask how flexible you are. (laughing) Do you wanna bring one leg across like this? Yeah. Yeah, that might be better, perfect. Now that's easy, that's better. I can see that he's a little more comfortable now. So try and bring your elbows a little bit closer together for me. That's it, and turn your wrists together, perfect, cause you're gonna be going like that. Turn your hands up, turn your hands up. Yup, 'cause I don't have a spare hand. It's a little hard to show, perfect. So just relax your hands on that bag now and make them really nice and soft, and we're gonna put your beautiful baby in here. Um, I'm not going to put Nicholas' head here. I'm going to put it at that end so he's coming away from that light and it's gonna fall beautifully down on him. All right, I'm gonna sit down to do this. Does he still have his nappy on under here? If you feel uncomfortable at any point, just tell me. Oh, good Lord, these eyelashes. Hi. Oh, he's perfect. So the first one we're gonna do is where he's on his back. Now the way that I like to do this is to make sure that the father's hands have contact with the head. If the head is too far up in the image, it's really not gonna give you that illusion that they, they are standing 'cause babies can't sit like that. We want them to look like they are being held like in a cup almost. I'm taking his nappy off for this one, sorry guys. But I'll try and, Yeah. Good luck. (laughing) It's you that's holding him. (laughing) Wouldn't be the first time. I'm just gonna keep my hand there though. Sh-sh-sh-sh-shhhhh. Alright. So I'm just folding that nappy down there. There is a little bit of stickiness going on, so we'll get rid of that before we put him down. (baby cooing) Ah, the noises. So I'm gonna use my body to keep his legs in place while I bring that hand in underneath the shoulders so he's got that support. Alright, now that we've got rid of the blanket and relax your head, good boy. I'm gonna come around now that we've done that, and I'm gonna sit him down in your hands. Okay, shhhhhh. Shhhhhh. (baby crying) Shhhhhh. Now, what I want you to do is bring your hand back out so it's nice and flat and soft, and keep it really still for me. Now like hand out like that, flat, fingers together. You don't have to hold him either. So if you don't tell your parents what to do, they wouldn't know what to do. Okay, so I'm just gonna tuck that around that little area there while we position him a bit better. Okay. So what we've got here is his head, reaching the father's hands, but we wanna bring those hands around. So what I'm gonna do is just while I've got a free hand, and he's tucked up there nicely, so the illusion is to kinda get it out like that so he's cupped in your hands. So if you can keep your hands where they are, I'm gonna position his little legs and feet. So I want you to grab your hands, bring them out, that's it. His little poop, get rid of that. So what I wanna do is make sure all of his bits and pieces are covered. Alright. Just gonna tuck that up there so it's easy for me to bring my cloth nappies in in a moment because I do still have to support the head and the bottom there. Can I just get you to bring that finger out and just, yup, perfect. A little bit of white there. Alright, now this hand, beautiful. I'm gonna turn his little face up towards the ceiling and I'm using flat fingers on the sides of his head. There it is. Bring his little head all the way around so we can see his face when we take the shot. (laughing) Those legs have a mind of their own. Okay, if you just bring your fingers back just a bit, what I'm gonna do is slightly rotate his hips, which might, there we go, might actually help keep those legs in. So I'll bring the top leg over the top cause the bottom foot is what's gonna, when I'm shooting from here, the bottom foot is what's going to cover his little bottom area that we don't wanna see. And that finger should be able to support that there. Perfect. Okay. Now, with this cloth nappy, I'm gonna support his little head around here and keep it in place so his face is staying up towards the ceiling, towards the, where the camera's gonna be coming from. How's your legs? Okay for now. Good. Here we go. So he's nice and supported there. Alright, I'm gonna hold him in place, and your hand here, I want you to kind of bring them around just a little bit more towards his hand when I get my hands in place. I want you to bring your hands around, yep, a little bit further around, that's it, perfect. Just so we're up towards his head there. Okay, give me your fingers, hold your fingers together. That's it, perfect. Having his little legs dangle is actually really kinda cute. So another cloth nappy there, because what I wanna do is get a little bit of height going here, so it looks like that foot is coming down and sort of falling in terms of gravity. I'm gonna turn his face up again. So I'm just pulling that hand away from his face, turning his little head, beautiful. Good boy. Shhhhh, don't touch that. You can't see it, but he's tickling his ear. And it's so lovely because parents can't help but touch their babies, like they just really can't help it. I'm just holding my hand here because he's gonna squirm, and I wanna make sure that the hand stay in this place and doesn't come out of position. So just keeping him up nice and, while he's, yeah? Since we don't have the nappy on, can you talk a little bit about umbilical cord sensitivity? Oh the sensitivity? Yeah. You know it's like dead skin that's falling off, so what I worry about is if they have a clamp on, and that gets caught on fabrics and outfits and underneath him and things like that. And no baby ever wants to see their, no parents ever wants to see their baby bleeding. And sometimes, when that skin is falling off from the umbilical cord, there is a little bit of blood there. So, just waiting for him to rest into that. I am aware of it, but you can see it on the camera. When I take this shot here, his little knee is actually in place covering it, and that's what I'm always trying to do is cover that umbilical cord so you can't see it. Just wanna get that leg down, and we should be ready to go. Let's get those hands back where they were, come on. Sometimes, the most simplest setups can take a little longer when they're not in a deep sleep because we're trying to get the little hands and feet in place. Here they are. Can you see that, it's like two fingers. He's got a good grip. Perfect. Okay, now keeping your hands really, really still, can you just try and draw your elbows together for me? Perfect, and what I want you to do is lean your head towards the left, just a little bit, perfect. So I'm gonna get my safe shot. Perfect, I'm just gonna get one more. I'm gonna come over a little bit higher so I get that perspective right. And can I get you to do me one more favor? See how this hand's lower? Can I get you to just push up a little bit? Perfect, and curl those fingers up, love it. I can do with a leg in the air. He's so strong. The leg's stuck up up in the air. Okay, and push that hand up for me again, that's it, perfect It's like he's dancing. Beautiful, look at that foot. (laughing) But I got the foot up because I might not have gotten the foot down. How're you going there? Okay. Another variation of this one is instead of having the dad sitting on the ground like that, I would have him on a box and have the baby in his hands like this. So I'm gonna take over from you in a moment. Just stay there though 'cause I'm gonna set you up on an apple box, I'm just trying to think what's gonna be better for the cameras to be able to see here cause I'll get you to come and sit around here in a moment. So I'm gonna take the white of Nicholas without moving him just to show you another variation of this. So I'm gonna replace your hands with mine. Perfect. Okay, so if you can come around and sit up there, can you give that side of the bag a good push down for me? Perfect, that's it. I'm gonna turn it this way. Okay, now if you lean forward, bring your arms down around him, you're gonna be like cradling him here in your hands. That's it. Beautiful, just bring this elbow out a bit more. And that's like another set up that you can do instead of doing that one, and you can get beautiful details. So keep your hands where they are just for a second. Okay, now bring them down and behind him, that's it. And I'm gonna push the bag back towards you a bit more. So if we weren't filming, I wouldn't have had to have moved the bag or repositioned dad. So it's nice to be able to turn around. But in the studio, you would just have him sit very, very comfortably. So I'm just gonna turn his hips up a little bit there. Here we go. He keeps tensing up, doesn't he? He's like, "What are you doing to me?" Okay now, bring your, yeah, and then bring this hand down a little bit further, perfect. So you can get great shots like that of them inside dad's arms. Another one we can do is have the baby facing down in the bum up pose, like that. So we won't do that with this little guy though. Just gonna move him around a little bit more, there we go. So he fits into that space a bit better. He just wants to curl up in a ball. But it's always turning the face up towards the head I'm sorry, up towards the ceiling, so we can see all of their head. And when you get the dads comfortable, you know, I'm sorry, you're stretching there. But when you get the dads comfortable, their hands are gonna and arms are gonna relax, are gonna be nice and supportive. So from this shot, I'm gonna look at my different angles from here and I'm gonna come in and we've got a little bit of the shirt there, so I'm gonna go for a bit of a close up so I don't get the shirt in, but can I get you just to push that elbow just out just a bit? Perfect. Oh, that hand. He's just got one arm just kinda stickin' up there. Thank you. Take two. Shhhhh. Shhhhh. Shhhhh. Shhhhh. Shhhhh. Now I haven't got that belly button covered at the moment but I wanna get a safe shot because the last time I moved him I went to shoot, he had a startle. Okay, bring your arm up a little bit higher, perfect. Bring your arm up there higher, perfect. Really? I'm touching your hands. (baby crying) Shhhhhh, aw sweet baby. Shhhhhh. Shhhhhh. Shhhhhh. Shhhhhh. Shhhhhh. His hands have a mind of their own. Yeah? Yeah. He totally does. Yeah, he totally does, now the hand's in the mouth. Oh, dad. Okay, that yeah, oh it's going everywhere. Hang on. Thanks, bud. Let's replace your arm with a towel. Yeah. You can put it on there, put it on there, put it on there. Here, let me replace your arm, now you can take this towel and clean yourself up. (laughing) That was the issue. Alright, good job, Nicholas. He is actually, now, wide awake. He's staring at me, but we got the shot. We got a shot, which is why I always get my safe shot. You could tell he was, something was bothering him. And he had something comin' Can I get, actually these can stay underneath him while we take him over to the change table. Are you ready to get your bum cleaned? Do you have any questions about those particular setups, while I get cleaned up? (laughing) We did have, just in terms of photographing this. Do you extend your F-stops so that the dad's hands will be in focus as well? That was from CB. I always actually shoot at 2.8 unless I'm incorporating you know, like family members for a family shot. I don't really want the dad's hand in focus. They're not the main part of the image. They're the support, they're the prop. And sometimes, dads have quite rough hands like, he didn't, that's fine, but sometimes, you get the fathers that have got like the worker's hands that, you know, they're hardworking men, and I don't want their hands to look abrasive or rough-textured towards the soft baby skin, so I'm not gonna put them in focus. I love how he's got his finger in his mouth, so cute. But little photos like that and angles are just simple setups that parents love because they're in them. When they see those shots, they're like, "Oh, look how small he was in my arms, look how small he used to be." They're a part of that photo, they're gonna love it. So that's why I love doing setups like this that are relatively simple. He had an agenda obviously, that included some, some stomach pains that he needed to fix there. But you know, when you've got them in the studio, and you've got a beautiful sleeping baby and the parents, you know, they're just, their first child, they're so incredibly in love right now, you wanna incorporate them in that process and get them involved in the photos and keep it simple because there's gonna be so much more meaning in those photos. This was from Lovely Leed who said, when something like this happens, do you change the blanket and go back to that pose or do you forget about trying to get the baby in dad's arms and move on? Yeah, so we actually got the shot. So it was my safe shot, which is why I always get a safe shot. And when you've got a baby that's kind of like a little tense, a little bit moving, and they do have that little cry, that little movement, you know that you need to get that safe shot because if you keep fiddling with them to get it all perfect, it might not eventually go your way and you might not get a shot. So I get my safe shot, I've got two beautiful photos for the parents that they're gonna love, and then he pooped. So once the background is kind of a little bit messy, we wanna get them away from that area. And you could see dad's reaction, it's always priceless, cause it's like, poop, he's like, "Thanks, buddy." And he didn't jump away although I have had some dads do that. It's scary when they're like, "Uh!" And that's the initial reaction, is to kind of like yeah, jolt almost. And then some are like, "Oh, don't worry about it." So yeah, letting my clients know at the beginning of a shoot that they actually need to be aware that these things happen because the minute that we have a baby poo away in the studio, the first thing they do is come running with wet wipes and towels, and they're like, "Oh my god, I'm so sorry." But just let them know at the beginning of a shoot, "It happens, don't worry." In my what-to-expect guide, it actually says bring a change of clothing because we do have accidents. So letting them, you know, there's a little thing there in the back of their mind, that there might be an accident. And at the beginning of the shoot, I always say, "Don't worry," and say, "If they may have a mess, it's part of the hazards at our job." And it's completely natural, it's not a problem at all.

Class Materials

Bonus Materials with Purchase

Baby Safety and Posing for Newborn Photographers Bonus Packet
Baby Safety and Posing Slides
Potato Sack and Frog Pose Editing Videos - Large 1.1 GB download

Ratings and Reviews

Lindsey Wall

Kelly Brown is one of my favorite teachers not just in newborn photography but photography and learning in general. Her patience is inspiring and she makes this job seem so much more enjoyable and installs passion in you to improve and be the best you can be! Kelly is an expert at what she does and is great at communicating how she does it. I have taken the Creative live baby bootcamp class which is actually what got me to want to go into newborn photography! Ive also purchased a few of her newborn posing courses and I love them all. I literally own my new blossoming little career to Kelly! I love creative live, I have just learned so much from these courses. They are constantly giving out new classes that are so affordable and such amazing resources for any photographer or professional. I am so lucky to have discovered them and Kelly Brown. Thank you Kelly and creative live!

Alice T.

This is an amazing class! Kelly Brown offers a wealth of information that is comprehensive and straightforward. She has such a soothing voice and such great patience that it translates into becoming a great presenter and instructor. Her methodology both in business and her art are sensible and desirable which has taken me up significantly. She has helped me in understanding this business and how to become successful while doing what I love in a profitable and safe manner for both my clients and myself!


Kelly is such a fantastic instructor! This class is wonderful for both beginners & intermediate newborn photographers to improve their posing and keep safety number one. Not only does Kelly teach you step by step how to safely pose, she also explains why she poses the way she does - which is so important. This class is a great resource to watch over and over again until we are all masters!

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