When I began photographing newborns I was honestly all over the place! I hadn’t really found my style, and was trying to create images like the posed photos I had seen, with babies perfectly arranged among adorable props. The longer I’ve photographed newborns, the more I’ve moved toward the lifestyle approach. Capturing babies in their home, with his/her family, in the most honest way possible, is just so special. (Posed newborn photos are beautiful as well, but just not my area of expertise!) The first days at home with a new baby are so sweet, and documenting that sweetness is not something I take lightly. I get a lot of questions about how newborn sessions work, and how to best prepare for them. I thought a blog post might be most helpful. And this also gives me a chance to share some of the beautiful families I’ve photographed over the last year!
Throughout my experience photographing newborns, I’ve come up with 8 tips that make these sessions successful. For those of you preparing for your own session, or preparing to photograph a newborn yourself, I hope these will be helpful!
Once you know your due date, it’s important to get on your photographer’s calendar right away! If you schedule with me, I will put your due date on my calendar and plan to keep some free days for the next two weeks. Once baby arrives, you can let me know and we’ll plan a session sometime in the first 10 days. This is when newborns still look like newborns, and babies are much sleepier! If you plan a session after 2 weeks, just understand that these will look less like the newborn photos you typically see, as babies change and grow tremendously during those first 14 days!
Keep Your Home Warmer than Normal
Newborns love to be warm and snuggly! Because often babies have exposed feet, and simple (or no) clothing, it is important that the temp in the home be slightly warmer than normal. This will not only keep baby happy, but will also encourage sleep! If your home is especially cool, a space heater is a great option!
Find the Natural Light in Your Home
Because I am a natural light photographer, I don’t use flash of any kind, and try not even use overhead lights in the home. If you schedule a newborn session with me, I will ask you to find a room (or two or three) with beautiful window light. This will be the room(s) we will use for your session. Keep in mind, that this will change in your home, depending on the time of day. If you know that you get the most natural light in your home during the afternoon hours, that’s when we’ll schedule! (Otherwise, most newborn sessions are scheduled in the morning.) This may require a little homework on your part–observing the light in your home during the day, and reporting back to me. Please feel no pressure to clean your whole house–you’ve just had a baby! In the areas with natural light, just clear away any clutter or distractions.
Include the Whole Family
The first days at home with a new baby can be exhausting, and you may think the last thing you want is a photo that includes you! But I don’t think I’ve ever heard a mom (or dad) regret having a photo with their tiny newborn baby! I also love including siblings, and even furry family members!
When planning outfits, comfortable is best. Babies can wear simple onesies, or even a diaper only. Avoid anything stiff, or outfits with collars. Babies really don’t have much of a neck yet, so a collar tends to end up covering that sweet face! Materials that are soft and cozy will keep baby happier as well. And this goes for the whole family! Wear simple clothes that aren’t distracting, and that are comfy. Simplicity is key with these kinds of sessions!
Highlight the Nursery
If you have natural light in the nursery, this is a great time to get photographs of the hard work you put into designing it! I’m happy to capture the details that make this space unique to your baby. And when possible, it’s wonderful to get photos of your family in this space as well.
Allow Plenty of Time
It’s a good idea to block off a minimum of 2 hours for these sessions, so that we can take our time, and work patiently with your newborn. It is inevitable that baby will need to eat, be changed or just be fussy! (Sometimes all three!) Newborn sessions run on a newborn timeline, so there is no expectation that we need to rush through anything. It is a good idea to have baby freshly fed and changed before I arrive, but even then, there may be times we need to stop to tend to needs. When you see a photo of a peaceful, smiling baby, realize it may have taken 30 minutes of patience to get that one photo!
Relax and Embrace Real Life
This is probably the most important of all the tips. I strongly believe babies can sense tension. If we are stressed, baby will be stressed, which is the last thing we want! It’s always best when everyone can take a deep breath and relax! I also find that sometimes it’s best for mom and dad to step back a bit, when I’m working to get photos of baby. I have techniques for getting a newborn to relax, and if there isn’t a lot of noise, or a lot of extra hands, this can be easier. I know it can be hard (especially for first time parents) but I promise you can trust me with your child! I adore newborns, I am very gentle, and have three children of my own. When mom and dad are in the photos, or when including siblings, everyone should be natural. I will give some posing guidance, but overall the sweetest photos are those of natural moments with your new baby.
I hope these tips will be helpful for those preparing for newborn photos! If you have suggestions for things that helped you during your newborn session, feel free to leave a comment below. And if you would like to see more of my newborn photos, feel free to look at my gallery page on my website, and of course, follow me on social media!