Newborn Portraits: A Guide to Working with Cheesecloth

Written by Backdrop Express Photography Team on . Posted in Baby & Child Photography, Photography Props, Photography Tips

Newborn Portraits: Working with Cheesecloth
Cheesecloth wraps have become a very popular accessory in the world of newborn photography. Their soft, gauzy texture lend themselves to the light, ethereal and serene feel that many mothers are looking for in their baby’s first portraits. Dyed cheesecloth is very effective for swaddling or wrapping babies safely and snugly so that they can be set up in a variety of photogenic poses.

Creative Possibilities

Cheesecloth-wrapped babies can be tucked into ornate bowls, baskets, or an antique tub or wagon; they can even be hammocked in an additional piece of cheesecloth for a cocooned look. Use care and caution when posing newborns though; consider using compositing instead of any pose that could put the baby’s safety at risk.

See: Tips for Newborn Composite Photos

Working with cheesecloth can be challenging at first, especially with fussy babies. However, with patience and experience, you’ll be swaddling your tiny subjects in no time. Here are some tips for wrapping your newborns in cheesecloth like a pro:

Newborn Portraits: Working with Cheesecloth | Backdrop Express Photography Blog

Select Your Size

Be sure you have enough size and length for your cheesecloth newborn photography wraps. Three feet (36 inches) wide is standard, and the length should be 36 to 56 inches. If you would like to use the wrap as a sling or a hammock, at least 56 inches is recommended.

Dye Your Own?

Plain white bleached cheesecloth can be acquired easily and affordably, but most photographers want color options for their newborn shoots. You can find pre-dyed options online, or consider dyeing your own.

Newborn Girl Swaddled on Fur in Lilac Cheesecloth

Wrapping Tips

Wrapping newborns in cheesecloth takes some time and practice to master; here are a few basics to keep in mind:

1. Wrap on a Soft Surface

Wrap the baby on a soft surface such as a large soft cushion or a piece of fur so that they are as comfortable as possible. Lay the cheesecloth down then lay the baby on top of it on their back with a foot or two of the cheesecloth extending on one side.

2. Tuck Those Little Limbs

Before beginning to wrap, tuck the infant’s arms and especially their legs into their body; hold limbs in place gently as you begin to wrap. (Some photographers prefer to let the hands poke out the top of the wrap for an adorable look.) Newborn Portraits: Working with Cheesecloth | Backdrop Express Photography Blog

3. Wrapping

Bring the short end of the cheesecloth around the front of the baby just under their chin; next, fold the bottom portion up over their legs. Hold their legs and arms in place as you wrap. Bring the long end of the cheesecloth around the baby by lifting them up gently. Again, fold the extra cheesecloth below them up over their legs.

4. Smooth and Refine

After each layer of the wrap, smooth and straighten the cheesecloth to achieve the bundled look you’d like.

5. Finishing Touches

You may continue the wrapping process until a “cocooned” look is achieved; however, you may also add embellishments like a bow or artfully tied knot to finish the cheesecloth wrap. You might also outfit the infant with a floral headband, newborn beanie or other accessory that matches or accents the cheesecloth color. It may take some time and patience, but soon enough you’ll master the art of cheesecloth wraps in your newborn photography!

Do you wrap newborns in cheesecloth? What is your favorite style of wrapping the baby?

-Backdrop Express Photography Team

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