Chicago Two Day Workshop


Three days and FIVE newborns, whew! All ranging from four to ten days and so darn sweet.

Agata Brannon was our host, and her studio in the quaint Chicago suburb of Long Grove was a newborn photographer’s DREAM! I have some plans to head back to do a studio tour for The Collective (that may or may not be an excuse to visit Chatterbox again…more on that later)


I mean…do you SEE that wall behind us?! It actually inspired my assistant Jen to do a complete gutting/clean out of my own studio as soon as she got back, so I just might have to blog my own studio before I destroy it again!

My two day workshop schedules are pretty much always the same…

Meet at 9:30 and collectively chug coffee together and go over session set up while we wait for the first model to arrive and the studio to heat up!


Our first workshop model, we focus on bean bag posing and prop shots, pausing between every pose for each workshop attendee to take their own shot. There’s never a rush, and the photographers get to keep snapping until they are nailing their angles. While I’m posing, I encourage them to ask questions, move around, get in my personal space and take full advantage of attending a live workshop!


Our first model was such an amazing sleeper that we got through five different bean bag shots, two props AND parent posing! I absolutely love teaching not only how much my posing flow helps photographers get the most images for their clients, but teaching how comfortable it is for the new little humans that we’re working with!


Our second little one arrived in a little bit feistier of a mood, and was a great model to teach how to work with a baby who was ready to rock and roll! Our goal for the second baby was to go over wrapping, macro shots and sibling posing, which was perfect for her!



This was my new assistant Jenna’s FIRST workshop ever, and she did so good keeping the babies safe and making my job ten times easier! I’m a huge advocate that all newborn photographers should be using a trained assistant for any posed newborn sessions, and she did a beautiful job of demonstrating that.


After five hours of newborn posing, our day wasn’t QUITE over yet, we still had to sit down and go over my editing flow. This is one of my favorite parts of workshops because I get to show photographers how to get their lives back! My typical turn around time for newborn galleries are under a week, sometimes even the next day! I don’t skimp on galleries either, with my newborn galleries ranging from 50-150+ images.


We finished up the day with heads full of new knowledge, and the homework for each of them to pick one pose to work on the next day in the “hands on portion” of the workshop. Day two is the most advanced day with two more babies and two new ways to really drive home all of the information that they’ve already learned.

So once each photographer has their pose picked out, they scoot close to me and watch while I go through that positioning first, and they act as my assistant. This is a great way to see what I’m doing up close and ask questions, but I also think it’s SO important for photographers to know how to assist, so they can train their own assistants in the best way possible!



After everyone got through their poses, I snuck in some parent/family shots and was able to get a pretty sweet gallery for this sleepy guy! 


For two day workshops, our fourth baby is always a “Fly on the Wall” session, which is where the attendees put their cameras away, sit back, relax and watch me do a normal session start to finish. Our final little one, though, was having an allergic reaction to her newborn wash and posed a challenging puzzle for me to figure out. She was EXHAUSTED, but hated being touched. So I thought back to when I had a reaction after a surgery (I’m allergic to chloraprep!) and how heat/moisture made it worse, so we turned the room temperature down to 75ยบ and I kept a layer of cloth between my hands and her body and BOOM. After two hours I finally figured out how to keep her comfy while getting as many images as possible for her mama.


And for anyone curious to what her angry skin looked like…


That poor little lamby!!

(Huge shout out to Totally Rad‘s Pro Retouch 2.0 actions Red Remover/Deblotch for the skin fix!)

It turned out to be the perfect combination of sleepy/awake/conked out/fussy babies that created the perfect learning environment for the five photographers to how I work with different newborn personalities.

Big, giant thanks to Jenna for all of the BTS shots, leaving a few more favorites for you guys!






(anyone who has been to a hands on posing workshop better know what song to sing for that last image!!)

  1. Emily Bernard says:

    Everything about this post is GORGEOUS! That studio looks insane (I can’t wait to see a blog post of your inspired, reorganized studio, Rachel!) The behind the scene shots are beautiful, the final images are beautiful! I DREAM of attending an in-person workshop with you one day! I’m so happy that you’re blogging again and get to see more of your beautiful face!

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