I don’t do stork sling photos very often, or as I call them “sling shots”but for one of my last sessions my clients brought one that they asked me to use. I made sure to explain ahead of time that we wouldn’t attempt this pose unless baby was a very good sleeper and poser, luckily he was.
The first step was getting Kai into the sling. With Kai on my Shoot Baby posing bean bag, I crossed his legs and easily slid him inside, then pulled his hands up to the top for his chin/neck to rest on. My assistant used one had to grip the top of the sling and put her other hand underneath him (having baby’s body supported is just as important as supporting the head, I would never suggest attempting a pose like this without at least 2 other people helping). Slowly we moved him into a sitting position. I then had Dad come in and instructed him on how he would be supporting his head. At this point I stepped back and made sure I had all my camera settings correct and ready to go- make sure you check everything before you start shooting! (once baby is in the air you won’t have time to make in camera adjustments, and if you adjust in-between shots it can be difficult to composite them together seamlessly later).
At this point I was ready to go and had my assistant and Kai’s Dad lift him up. You only need to lift baby up about 6-12 inches off the beanbag, any more is unnecessary and dangerous.
For the first photo I had Dad holding baby’s head.
For the second photo I had Dad quickly transition to support his head from under his jaw. As soon as I got this shot I had them slowly lay Kai back down on the beanbag.
While most would stop here, I take a third photo for my sling shots. This photo will save you from spending ridiculous amounts of time cloning assistants/parents out of the background. Immediately after taking the previous photo I switched my lens from Auto Focus to Manual, and took a photo of just the background. By switching to Manual, I was able to take the third photo without auto-focusing, and keep the same DOF that was in the previous photos.
Now it’s time to move the images into Photoshop. I merged the first two photos into one (this is a composite), just by dragging and dropping one photo onto the other. I lowered the opacity of the photo I layered to 50%, lined up everything and carefully erase dad’s hands. I then took this image and merged it onto the third image of just my background, then erased everything besides baby and the sling.
After doing some final retouching to Kai, I have the completed image!
Getting images like these require extra work and careful preparation! Always remember that the little clients your bending, folding, and propping up are the tiniest and most delicate of clients. Make newborn safety a priority at every session, not an afterthought.
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