Newborn sessions are not as easy as you might think! The more prepared you are, the smoother things will go and the better the images will be. I generally shoot in a lifestyle manner, using your home and your belongings as the context. Ideally, we do the session before the baby is 10 days old. Babies past 10 days are less likely to cooperate for the session, and around 10 days, they start getting milia and other skin issues. Here are some tips for preparing your home, your baby, and yourself:
Preparing Your Home
The first thing I like to do when I arrive is walk through your home, looking for the room with the best light, and for any props we might want to use during the session. A general decluttering helps dramatically. If the light is good, I *love* using the parents’ bed as a place to shoot, so pay particular attention to the bedroom and any area near large windows. I may ask you to help me move furniture if that’s what it takes to get to the good light!
Crank up the thermostat! Babies are easier to photograph when they are warm and sleepy. In the winter, crank the thermostat up to about 90 at least an hour before the session. In the summer, you can probably just turn off any AC an hour before. Babies really do so much better when the adults are sweating like crazy!
I bring a few blankets with me, but if you have some solid color blankets that are pastel or earth tones, have them handy. I’m not a huge user of props, but if you have one or two things you’d like to use, have those ready as well. If they are safe to use, we will give them a try.
Preparing Your Baby
I like to shoot babies wearing very little – or nothing at all! I will bring some diaper covers and fabrics we can wrap a newborn in. If you really, really want to have your baby wearing clothing, keep it VERY simple. Avoid patterns, busy prints, stripes, and clothing with words or logos.
If you want to have naked photos of your baby, loosen the tabs on the diaper about an hour before the session to avoid leaving marks and imprints on the sensitive newborn skin. Socks are also common culprits for leaving imprints.
Feed your baby as close to my arrival as possible. In fact, if you’re still nursing while I am setting up, I am happy! Babies with a nice full tummy tend to be pretty content.
I love to get images of the parents with the baby. Capturing the connections within the family are one of my favorite things.
Parents should wear solid colors that are somewhat neutral. You can see some examples of what I like on my Pinterest Board for What to Wear for Newborn Sessions. Definitely avoid overly bright colors, large patterns or prints, sleeveless tops, or clothing with words or logos on them. Dads should not wear caps. (Well, no one should, but I have yet to have a mom wear one…)
Be prepared for this to take a while. 1-2 hours is really common. We work on baby time and take breaks for feeding and changing as needed. I’d rather take it slow and have it be a calm experience for all involved.
If you’re wanting naked photos of the baby, be prepared to need to change your clothes. Accidents happen. I am used to it. Have a mental “back up plan” for what to wear if that happens.
Try not to go crazy on Pinterest! With limited session time, we simply cannot do it all. I recommend you choose maybe one or two images you’d like to take inspiration from and we will go with those. For safety reasons, I don’t so some poses that are not healthy or safe for the baby. These include poses where the baby’s chin is propped high up on her hands, where the baby is folded awkwardly in half (sometimes called the “froggy pose”) or where baby is bundled tightly and propped up like a sack of potatoes. While they are cute, they are problematic from a safety and health perspective. I also don’t pose babies in anything glass or hang them from anything. I don’t believe in sacrificing safety for a cute image.
While the session focuses primarily on the newborn and parents, if older siblings are around and want to be in an image or two, I am open to that. The same rules apply for what kids should wear. While this is not a family portrait session, if everyone is available and willing, we might have everyone pile onto the bed for an informal group shot.