What Are Composites In Newborn Photography, And How Are They Created Safely?

composite safety newborn photography

As you’re researching newborn photography you’ll see a variety of different styles, and may come across very creative images where the baby is hanging from a branch, placed on or inside an unusual object, or appears to be wrapped up in a cocoon or to be propping their own head up on their hands.

What’s important to know when you’re choosing a newborn photographer is that these photographs are not all that they seem. When created safely, a photographer takes two separate photographs and merges them together in Photoshop. The resulting final image is called a composite.

I don’t create composite images because my style leans towards natural images. But if you would like to include these kinds of photographs in your shoot, how can you be sure that your photographer is creating them safely, and not putting your baby in danger?

In this article I’ll explain which poses should be created as composites, how they are created safely, and the steps you can take to make sure your precious new baby is in safe hands.

Which poses should be created as composites in newborn photography?

There isn’t a definitive list of photographs that should be created as composites, but there are some poses that must always be created this way:

  • Froggy pose (where the baby’s head appears to rest on their hands)
  • Potato sack pose (where the baby appears to be sitting upright in a coccoon of blankets)
  • Photographs where your baby appears to be suspended in a hammock, wrap or swing
  • Photographs where your baby is resting on top of an unusual object – for example a pile of books, a jar of sweets, on top of a basket.

Here are some examples of the types of photographs that should be created as composites:

composite safety newborn photography

How do photographers create these composite images safely?

All of these photographs are created as composites because it would not be safe to leave your baby in these positions, alone whilst the photographer takes the photograph.

Instead the photographer will take a series of images and ‘stitch’ them together in Photoshop afterwards.

For example in the ‘Froggy Pose’ shown below, a newborn baby is not strong enough to support their head with their hands. Instead the photograph should be created by taking two photographs where the baby’s head is supported in different places by an adult. Afterwards the two photographs are stitched together, and the adult’s hands removed from the image.

newborn photography composite safety

How do I know that a photographer is creating these poses safely?

The only way to create these poses safely is to create them as composites – where several photographs are taken together. It also takes experience and practice to create these poses correctly.

If you would like a photographer to create these kinds of photographs of your baby I recommend that you talk to them about it before you book your session. In particular you should look for how experienced they are at creating these poses – do they have examples of these photographs in their portfolio, and do they have experience of regularly creating this style of image?It’s also essential to make sure that they create the photographs as a composite, and not from a single shot.

In Summary

In summary, there are certain photographs that are often seen in newborn photography that should never be created as a single photograph. To ensure your baby is always safe, and supported they should be created as a ‘composite’ of multiple photographs stitched together in Photoshop.

If you would like these kinds of photographs in your shoot it’s wise to talk to your photographer before you book your session to make sure that they are suitably experienced in creating these images, and that they will do it safely.

Further reading

If you are looking for a photographer who can create these kind of composite images you may find these articles helpful as further reading:

How do they do that? – Baby and Newborn Photographer’s Association

Newborn Safety Week – National Association of Professional Child Photographers

Do you want To Hire A Newborn Photographer But Don’t Know Where To Start?

Download the FREE Newborn Photography Buyer’s Guide and learn how to choose the best photographer for your family.

Picture of Clare Murthy

Clare Murthy

I’m a newborn, baby and family photographer working with families from South West London and Surrey. I specialise in timeless, natural photography with no props or unnatural posing. I photograph babies at my studio, and families in beautiful outdoor locations. I'm based on the Surrey / London border, close to Hampton Court.
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