Chin On Hands Pose – A Guide for Newborn Photographers 


Since I started newborn photography almost 8 years ago the chin on hands pose has been one of my favourites. It is such a beautiful way to highlight the baby’s little face and all the chubbiness of their big round cheeks. There are so many different variations of this pose that you can never get tired of it. You can go for a beautiful natural newborn pose with chin on hands on the bean bag. Add a lovely soft fabric to complete this simple look and you’re set to create an image that parents will love and cherish forever.


Chin on hands in a bucket is a little more complex to create and would require more experience from the photographer but it is also another favourite set up with my clients. Newborn babies are only this small for a very short time and they will never fit in a prop like this again.

For me, the best part of it is when these little ones get older and realise that one day they were so small that they could fit in a bucket.

With all of that said, chin on hands is not an easy pose to achieve it perfectly. It can be easier done on the bean bag but it demands a lot of practice, some experience and proper training to do it safely.  

Here, I used my Cotton Posing Doll to demonstrate the 4 most common mistakes photographers make when trying to recreate this pose.

1. Safety – Chin on hands pose without a spotter?  Don’t do it!!!

There is nothing more important in newborn photography than safety. While trying to create those beautiful memories for our clients, this is the one thing that HAS TO BE priority over it all, the baby’s safety.

To make sure your little clients are safe during the chin on hands pose or any other pose, you need to practice. You need to study and make sure you have practiced enough and that you are ready and confident to achieve that pose when you get to the shoot.

It can take time, training and a lot of trying it out with a doll before you get to the point where you are ready for it, but it WILL be worth it.

Being confident and keeping the little ones safe is very rewarding.

For the chin on hands pose, especially in a prop, you will need a spotter. A spotter is someone who can sit beside the baby and keep them safe while you take the shot.

You can ask one of the parents to assist you. They love being involved in the session so don’t worry, they won’t mind giving you a helping hand.

In this clip I demonstrate what the Spotter should do. Make sure they sit across the way from the light source to avoid shadows and keep their legs and feet away from the shot. They will need to keep their hand on the baby until you are ready to photograph.

Lift up their hand for 2-3 seconds while you press the shutter and bring their hand down on the baby’s back.

The most important part of it all is that your spotter doesn’t take their eyes off the baby and they are ready to react if needed by bringing their hand back down to give baby support.


2. Can you see the baby’s chin?

When you are trying the chin on hands pose for the first time you might look at your images and think “That’s great but there is something missing”. Most times you won’t be able to point it out. I can tell you now, it is probably the baby’s chin.

What I love most about this pose is how it brings attention to the baby’s face and helps emphasises their little features. If we can’t see their chin it just feels like there is something missing.

When getting the prop or a bean bag ready for the chin on hands pose, make sure there is a well to place the baby’s legs. This way their bottom will be lower than the top half of their body. By doing this you are creating the right place for the baby to settle into the position comfortably and it is easier for you to make sure their little chin is also part of the image. 

Putting too much stuffing and/or posing pillows in your prop can elevate the baby’s bottom more than what you need and, consequently, cause the baby to bring their chin down.

In this clip you can see how by just removing one of my little posing beans that I had previously placed in the bucket helped me bring the posing doll down and get her chin back on her hands.

3. Position of baby’s hands

Another very common mistake I see is the placement of the baby’s hands and I’m not ashamed to say I’ve been there, I’ve done that. Little did I know that I was complicating my life by placing the baby’s hands on their forearms instead of on top of one another.

Basically ‘chin on hands’ means ‘chin on hands’, not ‘chin on forearms’. If you try to cross your arms with your hands almost touching your elbows and then place your chin on your forearms you’ll notice how hard that is. Just try it yourself! The same goes for a newborn baby.

So instead of doing that, try and place one hand above the other and then the baby’s chin can rest nicely and comfortably on them.

4. Head position

With newborn photography, as well as many other types of portraits, we try to recreate the direction of the sunlight as if we were standing upright outdoors. That’s the most natural and flattering light. 

The problem is when you pose your little baby in a prop or on the bean bag and you turn the baby’s head towards the shadow side of the image. When you do that you create what we call ‘ghoul lighting’ or ‘up lighting’ which is usually used to create spooky images. 

To avoid ending up with an image that’s unflattering, just turn the baby’s head towards your light source to have a lovely and natural light coming across from the top of the baby’s head down towards the chin.

Now that you have seen the most common mistakes with the Chin on Hands pose, get your doll out and start practicing. I can guarantee it will be easier this time. Just remember: 

Yes, to a spotter! 

Yes, to the chin!

Yes, to hand on hand! 

No, to up lighting! 


mentoring sessions and workshops

I offer training to suit all levels of experience. I focus heavily on newborn safety, posing, lighting and styling. After that I will teach you post production tips and tricks. I’ll then spend time on business, marketing and sales.

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