How do they get that “babies resting their heads on their arms” shot?


Ever wonder how they do those baby “resting their heads on their arms” photos? Maybe you think you know how…

I’m here to tell you that unless you have actually done it …you don’t know how to do it! It’s hard!!!!

I’m a portrait photographer; I don’t claim to be a newborn/baby photographer because great newborn portraits take some really mad skills!

In theory it looks easy, two photos that composite together to make one cool finished product. What they forget to tell you is that babies are finicky, their squishy, they wiggle and make really funny (not attractive) faces.

Careful your sleeping baby doesn't look like a little passed out drunk!

Careful your sleeping baby doesn’t look like a little passed out drunk!

Last week my niece had a brand new baby boy (my brother now has someone other than me to look forward to have as a hunting partner one day), and I got the privilege of taking little Trent’s first portrait. I’ll be the first to say it, I have crazy respect for good baby photographers, it is its own art form, truly.

I’ve seen the tutorials online and tried this before with little success, the experts make it look so easy. Let me try and break it down and fill you in on a few things that will make it easy for you to replicate.

  1. The baby (when I say baby, I mean less than two weeks old) must be sleeping; even when the mother tells you “all he does is sleep” he will be wide awake every time your camera is present. This is always followed by “this is weird; he is never awake this much at home”. Make sure you have lots of time scheduled out, babies do what babies what to do!
Babies done their own thing!

Babies do their own thing!

  1. The babies not going to break! This one is hard, it’s almost impossible if it’s the mother’s first child. You have to push and hold their hands where you want them, you have to grasp the head and hold it into place. I’m not saying hurt the baby, but be prepared to see some funny expressions. Their skin is to stretchy that they remind me of one of the first scenes in Men In Black where the alien pulls back his skin to make it fit better.


  1. Make sure you take lots of photos, when you composite the two halves together you need to have lots of options so that things like hair and ears line up.
Take lots of pics!

Take lots of pics!

  1. Fail! Yes be ready to fail! I always tell my students that they have to fail to learn these lessons, the hard ones, they stick with you and you never forget, you never make those mistakes again.
Finally, two halves that make up one good portrait...

Finally, two halves that make up one good portrait…

So, get out there, find a newborn and give it a try! It’s a challenge, but when it works is a rewarding one…

Looking for more baby tips? Ana Brandt is one of my favorites; she has some great video tutorials on YouTube and a portfolio to back it up:


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