When working with newborns, safety should always be your #1 concern. Many photographers new to the newborn scene don’t realize that some of the cute poses they see are actually composite shots, for safety reasons. In honor of Newborn Safety Week, I’ve decided to share a tutorial I wrote which will hopefully point you in the right direction as to how to safely do the froggie pose. If you have any questions, please post them in the comments.
So this particular pose is done with an assistant (I ask a parent to help me out). You will need to get the baby ready for them to hold by placing an open hand on each cheek and pinching the baby’s wrists together just under the chin. Bring baby’s elbows forward so the baby doesn’t want to tip forward (they need to be like a little tripod under the chin). Once you’ve got the baby in a good, solid position, have your assistant take over pinching the wrists together and then have them also hold the baby’s head with their other hand. If baby starts to fuss, have them (or you) jiggle the baby ever so slightly – this kind of eases them into the new position and seems to calm them quite easily most times. Once the assistant has the baby held, you’ll proceed to take a series of photos. Be *very* careful that YOU don’t move so that it will be easier to merge the photos together seamlessly. Have the assistant remove their supporting hand from baby’s head – take some photos – then have them replace their hand on the head and remove the hand that’s holding the wrists together. I find this to be the trickiest part because sometimes they don’t hold the head well and baby wants to just smoosh down. Warn them about this in advance so they have a good supportive hold on the baby. I find that by placing their thumb on the baby’s forehead, it helps keep the baby from sinking down. Once the assistant’s lower hand is removed, take more photos. Make sure you have 2 good sharp images – one from each hold – and you’re done until editing.
Open the two images that you’ve chosen to merge together. As I mentioned before, this will be a much easier process if you didn’t move while you shot them so they line up nicely.
Using your marquee tool, select the part of one of the images that you want to copy over the other. In this case, I selected the entire lower section of the image where the dad is supporting baby by the head only (having a thumb on the forehead like that really helps, btw).
Using your move tool (the arrow at the top of the tools), drag the marquee selection over on top of the other image.
Lower the opacity of the copied layer so that you can see through it enough to line up the two images really well. This step matters greatly so really zoom in here and there to make sure you’re lining things up properly. You may need to rotate the top layer a tiny bit, shrink or enlarge it a bit, etc. Sometimes I notice that because of my assistant potentially blocking some of the light I had in one of the files, I’ll need to create a curves layer and clip it to my slightly darker image and pull up on the midtones until the two match exactly (I had to do this for this particular image). Once you have the two images lined up, turn the opacity back to 100% and then carefully with a soft eraser, erase the areas where one image switches to the next so it looks soft and seamless. Sometimes you may need to fix a few spots with cloning, etc. When you’re totally happy with the merge, flatten the image to just one layer.
Edit your newly merged image as you normally would. Voila! You now have a beautiful SAFE image to show for your efforts!