How To Use A Camera Bean Bag For Photography Update 10/2022

Photography Bean Bag

Have you ever seen a professional sports photographer shoot a basketball player? What he does is, he puts the player into a sort of “bean bag” and then takes a picture from a distance. The result is a much more sharply focused photo with crisp, clean edges. This technique is called “Focus Stacking” and can dramatically improve the quality of your photos. In this article, we will learn about the effects of bean bags.

What Is A Photography Bean Bag For?

Photography Bean Bag-2

A photography “bean bag” is a large, inflatable ball that is used by photographers as a makeshift tripod for low-angle shots. The idea is to put the camera on the bean bag and use it as a sort of stool to get a lower viewpoint than would otherwise be possible. 

It can also be used to steady the camera during long exposures.

You can also use it to soften the impact of a hard fall, such as that of a skier or snowboarder.

You can buy them at any toy or camping store for about $30.00 each.

Using A Bean Bag To Shooting The Technique “Focus Stacking”

This is one of those techniques that sounds like it would take a lot of work, and indeed it does – but the results are spectacular. It’s all about manipulating the image after the fact to bring out the subject you want to highlight. 

Basically, what you do is take a bunch of photos at different focus points using your camera’s manual focus, and then use Photoshop (or an equivalent photo editing program) to blend or “stack” the images together so they appear to be in focus. The effect is very dramatic and can add a surreal quality to your images.

The use of bean bag is essential when you are taking a series of photos for the “Focus Stacking” technique.

Reasons To Use A Camera Bean Bag For Wildlife Photography

Use A Camera Bean Bag For Wildlife Photography

When it comes to photographing wildlife, you can use just about anything as a prop. A rock, a branch, a twig, or even a camera bean bag – but why would you? 

Using a camera bean bag makes so much sense. It is both natural and easy for your subject to gravitate toward this harmless and nonthreatening prop. 

Taking photos of wildlife often involves using long lenses and of course, keeping them steady is critical. However, a tripod just isn’t handy or convenient when you are sitting in a car, an indispensible tool in your kit is a bean bag.

How To Choose A Bean Bag For Wildlife Photography?

+ Durability

If you decide to use bean bags, be sure they are made of heavy duty material. Cheap ones will tear and rip easily.

Also, make sure they are clean. A smudge or speck of dirt on the surface will show up in your photos and give your bag a muddy appearance.

Simply put one under each corner of your camera/lens support and you will be ready for any type of abuse nature can throw at you.

 + Waterproofing

Most people assume that if something is waterproof, it is also breathable. This is not true. Many materials used for waterproofing are not breathable. 

If you are going to use bean bags for any type of active shooting, I suggest you put them in a plastic baggie and then zip tie the baggie closed. This will keep them from drying out and will allow you to shoot them for an extended period without having to worry about them deteriorating.

+ Weight Balance

The secret to good bean bag photography is getting the weight of your camera and lens exactly right.

If your gear is too heavy, the bags will be unbalanced and will topple over.

If your gear is too light, the bags will be floating in mid-air and will not be anchored down securely.

Experiment with different settings until you find the perfect combination that gives you photos with just the right amount of “bounciness”.

+ Bean Bag With Mounting Plate or Gimbal

You can use bean bags to make some very effective point of view (POV) shots… and… you can use them with a simple mounting plate like the one shown here to elevate the bag above the action and give you a different perspective.

Bean Bag With Mounting Plate or Gimbal

+ Top Flat Surface Dimension

When working with bean bags, it is important to remember that the dimension of the top flat surface of the bag is very important. 

A bag with a 10″ top will look completely different when used as a prop for a portrait than it will when used as a prop for a close up. 

The reason is simple: When used as a prop for a close up, the bag will be used as a background and will not show up in the image. However, when used as a prop for a portrait, the bag will almost always be the main feature of the photograph. 

Therefore, it needs to be as big as possible. 

How To Use A Bean Bag To Photograph Nature

Use A Bean Bag To Photograph Nature

Bean bags are great for nature photography because they are light, easy to manipulate, and can be used almost anywhere. You can use them to photograph leaves floating in a pond, or flowers blooming in spring… Almost any type of natural scene will look good when shot with a bean bag.

You can also use a bean bag to photograph things that are far away. If you have a long lens, you can use a bean bag to catch the sun glinting off something shiny at the same time that you are taking a picture of what the sun is reflecting off. This technique is often used for macro photography.

Can You Use A Regular Bean Bag For Newborn Photography?

Bean Bag For Newborn Photography

+ The Typical Bean Bags Sizes For Newborn Photography

The size of the bean bag used for newborn photography is based on the weight and height of the baby. 

A great deal of information can be found on the internet about the proper size and type of bean bags to use for newborn photography. However, I have found this particular piece of advice to be the most useful:

“We usually use 18″x18″ beanbags for all of our newborns. We do this because it is large enough to hold the baby comfortably, yet still allows us to move the bag around to get the shot we need”.

 If you use smaller or larger bags, your photos will not come out as well. The lighting in the room should be soft and diffused. If it is not, the lighting in the photo will be harsh and unflattering. If you are using a large softbox or multiple lights, you may have to experiment a little to get the right balance between the two.

+ What Is The Best Fabric For A Bean Bag For Newborn Photography?

The Best Fabric For A Bean Bag For Newborn

  For many years I have photographed people using bean bags for props. Recently, I have started using them for newborns. I am always on the look out for the “best” bean bag for this purpose.

  Fabric is an important consideration when you are using a bean bag for posing your subject. Obviously, the material needs to be soft and pliable enough so it doesn’t cause discomfort to the baby, but it also needs to hold its shape well. 

  Most new parents are nervous about their new baby getting “couched” in any way, and understandably so. 

  Newborns are so fragile, even the gentlest contact with a hard surface can cause them pain and discomfort. That being said, I have found that the best fabrics for a bean bag for newborn photos are those made from a natural fiber like cotton or wool. These fabrics retain their shape better than polyester or nylon, and they are very comfortable to the baby.

  I have found a brand called “Kangaroo Bag” which is made in Australia out of 100% cotton which is the softest material you can buy. It comes in various sizes and I personally use the large one for all my newborn sessions. It is very comfortable for the mom and the baby and does not move around too much. It also does not shed any fibers which could be inhaled by the newborn.

+ Where Can I Buy A Bean Bag For Newborn Photography?

I’m sure you’ve seen those ads in the back of magazines and newspapers, “Bean Bag For Sale, Will Travel.” Well, if you need to purchase a bean bag for your newborn photography business, you are going to have to do a little research. 

There are plenty of vendors who will ship to you, but finding one with integrity and a good reputation may be a challenge. You should insist on a 50% deposit to hold the bag, and you should insist on having the product tested before you pay the balance. If the vendor balks at this, you should look for another vendor.


People are getting more and more interested in the world of photography. With the use of technology, people are able to capture amazing images with the help of their smart phones.

One of the most common types of photography is the one where the photographer uses something called “Bean Bags”. These Bean bags are filled with some type of soft material that makes a great photography prop. 

There are many ways that you can use bean bags in your photography. You should definitely give this a try. It is a great way to improve your photography skills!