In this article, Kelly Brown breaks down her top tips for choosing bowls and buckets for newborn photography props. And, she’s included a free video for you, below!

How do you know if a prop is suitable for your newborn photography studio? Let’s talk about best sizes for props, as well as safety, suitability and versatility.

I’ve found some of my favourite bowls and buckets in antique stores, charity stores and curb-side collections, to ensure I have something a little unique looking for my brand. But my primary concern when choosing newborn photography props is to be sure the item will keep a baby comfortable, secure and safe at all times.

Consider the material the items are made from. It should be sturdy, made from non-breakable material and stable.

bowls and buckets for newborn photography props by kelly brown

What size bowl or bucket do I need for newborn photography prop?

When choosing bowls or buckets as a newborn photography prop, take into account the size of the baby plus the supports which will be placed in the prop.

The supports are essential both for positioning the baby and for protecting them from any rough surfaces or hard surfaces on the prop itself. This is crucial when working with props such as wooden bowls and metal buckets.

Choosing a bucket or upright prop

I always create a firm, soft surface around the top edges of the bucket so that the baby does not come in contact with the hard edge. So I need to account for this when considering the depth of a suitable bucket.

For safety purposes, you will be placing some form of weights at the bottom of the bucket for stabilisation. This may be anything from a sandbag to a flat weight. Either way, you’ll need to account for the volume of space these weights will occupy alongside your supports, and of course, your newborn.

Choosing a bowl for newborn prop

What size should a bowl be for a newborn prop? A good indicator of a bowl which is large enough to curl a baby up inside is if you can fit your arm from elbow to wrist across the width of the bowl. For me, that’s approximately 30cm to 40 cm across.

You can allow a little more for supports and styling if you wish, but try to avoid anything too large which will leave the baby looking lost in the middle of a large prop, or compromise the effectiveness of the supports.

Your bowl also needs to be deep enough to suit the supports below baby which help them feel comfortable secure and safe.

Of course, check the surface of any wooden bowls for splinters and rough patches.

SAFE CHOICES FOR CHOOSING BOWLS AND BUCKETS FOR NEWBORN PROPS

  • Avoid breakable props.
  • Avoid glass or ceramic material. My advice is to not to attempt to place a baby in an object made from these.
  • Check props for splinters and other rough surfaces which may cause an injury.
  • Check props for cracks and structural problems before each session to avoid mishaps and potential injury once the weight of the baby and supports are placed in the prop.
  • Choose props which are strong, stable and sturdy.

NEWBORN COMPOSITES FOR SAFETY

Don’t attempt to photograph a baby in a prop or situation which is not safe. Instead, consider a composite digital image. You’ll achieve this by photographing the scene in one image, and the baby in a separate image, and editing these together in postproduction using Adobe Photoshop. See my Composites & Headswaps class for more information on this technique.

edit composites and head swaps in photoshop newborn posing

USE SPOTTERS

Always use an assistant or parent as a spotter when working with props. Babies can be unpredictable and can move at any point in time. So position a spotter nearby to be available if the baby makes any sudden movements in the prop.


Choosing Newborn Photography Props

Don’t forget, you don’t need to spend a lot of money on an infinite number of props. It’s important to invest wisely in just a couple of great props which offer versatility. See our article on Choosing Newborn Props for Versatility for ideas on how to create variety with props.

Ultimately it’s your responsibility to choose bowls and buckets for newborn photography props in which the baby will be comfortable, secure and safe at all times.

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