The Head in Hands pose is one of my most popular and adorable newborn poses in my repertoire. While it may look a little tricky to achieve, it can easily be accomplished with a helper and some post-processing magic. Because newborns cannot naturally support their own heads, in this special pose, two shots need to be merged using advanced photo editing software. In this tutorial I will walk you through step by step how to achieve this pose using Photoshop.
In no time at all, you will have a photo of a beautiful squishy newborn face to make Mommy swoon.
Step 1: Click away
The ideal time for a newborn photography session is between 4 and 14 days after birth. During this time, the newborn will still be in a sleepy state and won’t mind being molded into different poses.
The key to taking photos is to have a variety to choose from. When prepping the baby for the photo I will first hold the baby around her wrists and upper arms, demonstrating for my helper how to steady her arms securely. After I’ve explained and handed the task over the helper, I will start clicking away.
Once you have plenty of shots with the baby held around the arms, you will need the helper to hold the baby around the head. Again, I like to first put the camera down and explain to the helper where and how to hold the baby’s head before I start taking pictures.
Step 2: The Golden Lasso
After you’ve captured both poses, it’s time to merge them together. Choose the best one of both poses and open both in Photoshop so that they are side-by-side. Select one of the photos.
Make a copy of the background layer by scrolling over Layers and choose Duplicate Layer. You can choose to rename the layer or just push “OK”. The next step is to select the Lasso tool from the toolbar and change the feather to 10. Hold the mouse down and draw a large circle around the baby’s forehead, including some of the background.
Next, click on the Move tool from the toolbar. Click and drag your new layer to the other photo. It does not need to be perfect. You can now close the photo that you used the lasso tool on. It is no longer needed.
Step 3: Match the Layers and Brush away the Hands
Decrease the opacity of the new layer so that it is easier to see the photo underneath. Move the new layer so that the baby’s head matches the position of his head on the photo underneath. You can change the angle of the new photo by scrolling to Edit, choosing Transform, and then Rotate. Click, hold the mouse down and rotate the new layer so it’s at the perfect angle. Don’t worry if the skin tones don’t match. You can edit that later.
Next, add a layer mask. Scroll to Layer. Choose Layer Mask. Then, click Reveal All.
Choose the Brush tool from the toolbar making sure the black box is in the foreground. Start brushing away the new layer around his face and forehead, including the hand that is holding the baby’s head. Some parts of the helper’s arm are still visible at the top of the photo, but that will be fixed in the next step.
Flatten the image by choosing the Layer tab and selecting Flatten Image.
Step 4: Perfect the Background
You can cover the arm at the top of the photo by making a copy of the background layer. Choose the Lasso tool again from the toolbar and draw around a clean part of the blanket. Choose the Move tool from the toolbar, then click and drag over the helper’s visible arm. Next, add a layer mask and choose Reveal All.
To remove the blinking lines, scroll to Select, and choose Deselect.
Once again, select the Brush tool from the toolbar. Make sure the black box is in the foreground. If not, click on the double-headed arrow to switch the two. You can use this tool to brush away any part of the blanket that’s covering the baby.
Flatten the image
Next, cover the helper’s arm at the top of the photo, using the Clone Stamp tool.
Choose an area on your photo that looks like it would not only cover the helper’s hand and arm, but will also blend into the background as well. When you’ve found the perfect spot, hold down the Opt (or Alt) key and click your mouse. This will set your starting point. Set your opacity at 70% and start painting over the hand and arm you want covered.
Step 5: Enhance the photo
At this point your photo will look almost perfect, but you will want to enhance the photo just a little to give it that final touch of perfection. You can add some softness by adding a fill layer, or add a touch of light to the newborn’s face to brighten her up. When you’re satisfied the picture is perfect, flatten the image.
Click through the gallery below to view a few adorable head in hands portraits.
Hillarry is a professional photographer in Austin, Texas specializing in newborn photography. Find out more about Hillarry on her About Me page here. To book a newborn photography session, call her at 512-522-5031.
Silver Bee Photography also offers a newborn photography workshop for those who have some knowledge of photographing newborns but need more detail on transitioning, posing and working through the session from start to finish. For more information about our newborn photography workshop click here.