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Many people like myself are addicted to props. I get asked many times where I find my newborn photography props and how I choose them. I consider prop shopping a hobby. My favorite places to find unique props include TJ Maxx, Home Goods, Pier 1 Imports, Tuesday Morning, Hobby Lobby, JoAnn’s, and Thrift stores or antique markets.
Keep it simple! Remember you don’t want to compete with your subject. Newborns are tiny and delicate and they should be the focus of your image not the prop.
1. Wraps: I have several gauze wraps and use them at each newborn session. Wraps are great for starting out a session. In general most newborns love to be wrapped. Many babies don’t like to have their hands and feet free and the wrap gives them some comfort and security. If you have a newborn that is awake wrapped shots are also a great way to get them posed nicely with their eyes open. For those who are not comfortable with having their newborns posed in their birthday suits, wraps are a great alternative to clothing.
2. Blankets: I am addicted to blankets and fabrics! I love choosing blankets that have texture and that are soft to the touch. I never place a baby on a blanket or fabric that is rough. I also always choose blankets or fabrics that can be washed easily. I wash all of my blankets and fabrics after each use. I also try to choose textured blankets that will not compete with the baby. Some of my favorite blankets are very simple. My favorite place to shop for blankets is Home Goods, Tuesday Morning and TJ Maxx.
3. Faux Furs: I love faux fur in baskets and crates. Their soft texture can be very comfortable for a baby to sleep on. They can also be used as flooring and photograph beautifully. There many places online that offer faux fur for sale by the yard. I wash all of my furs after each use and hang them to dry.
4. Hats: I am a hat addict! During the beanbag portion of my session I will always photograph a newborn without a hat on first. Once I get the image I usually place a cute hat or a sweet little headband (if it’s a girl) on their head. I always show what I am about to use to the parents to get their opinion since it is their baby and they are the ones who are going to purchase the images. I use hats that are very soft and stretchy. When using hats I try to use a simple blanket so that the portrait is not too busy. My favorite hat maker is After the Bump.
5. Crates: Wooden crates are very versatile. They can be used with a piece of fabric or fur in them and the baby can be posed on their back, in a wrap on their back or on their tummy with their head on their arms. They are usually around $20 each and one of my favorite go to props.
Used in this project and related actions:
6. Baskets: There are so many different types of baskets and so many ways to use them. They can be used with fur or fabric and the babies can be placed in them in so many ways.
Same basket used two different ways.
7. Wooden boxes and buckets: These are another great way to pose babies with their head on their hands.
Important things to consider when shopping for props:
Make sure that there are no sharp edges or anything that could be dangerous to a newborn. NEVER place a newborn in anything made of glass. Make sure that the prop does not sit too high off the ground. Be cautious when buying antique items as many of these items may contain lead paint, which can be harmful to newborns.
Important things to remember when posing newborns with props:
NEVER leave a newborn unattended without someone spotting them within arms length. If you are placing a newborn in a bucket or in baskets always make sure that there is a weight in the bottom of it so that they don’t tip over. The weight should weigh more than what the baby weighs.
Always make sure that the prop is lined with something very soft and comfortable and that the newborn is NEVER resting on a hard or wooden surface and that their skin is never in direct contact with the prop. Newborn skin is very sensitive.
I always start with the beanbag poses first and then move to the prop shots. I usually only do 1-3 prop set ups per session. I tend to do them last since the newborns are sleeping more soundly at that point. I NEVER place an awake baby in a prop. I also always talk to the parents about which props are their favorites.
Be creative! You don’t have to spend a fortune on props. Some of my favorite props have been free. I have used things such as a real tree stump to a dresser drawer stuffed with faux fur.
Prop shots can be very fun just remember safety first!