WHEN Ideally, newborn sessions should be scheduled within the first 14 days of life; however, the best time is within the first 3-7 days after their arrival. Babies tend to sleep best during that first week, allowing us to move them around and position them without waking them. Often baby acne will set in right around day 10. One of the wonderful things about in home lifestyle sessions where we aren't focused on complicated posing is that we can still get phenomenal pictures well beyond that 14 day window. Let's work together to find the best time for your newborn session taking into account your baby's age and health, how you are recovering from birth, and of course everyone's schedules.
WHERE My favorite place to photograph newborns is in your home. You just had a baby and I do not expect your house to be clean! In the above picture, most of the house was dark and chaotic, but there was beautiful light shining from the one window in the master bedroom. We did the entire session in that room, moving any background distractions around as needed. When the weather is cooperating, I love to step outside for some pictures and have even held full newborn sessions outside with beautiful results.
LIGHTING For home lifestyle sessions, we'll want to take as many pictures using natural light as possible. Lamps and overhead lighting tend to cast unflattering shadows on people as well as impact skin tones and overall color. To get great light, in home sessions are normally done midmorning or late afternoon when window lighting is at its best. You'll want to turn off lights and open up all of the blinds and curtains to let that beautiful light fill your home. When I arrive, I will take a look at the areas you have chosen and possibly make suggestions that include a little rearranging of furniture to get you the best pictures possible.
Babies like it HOT! Your baby is used to being snuggled up all warm in cozy in utero and it is crucial that the thermostat be as close to 80F as possible to keep her asleep when we start removing clothes for those sweet skin pictures. Plan to crank up the heat at least 30 minutes before the start of your session. It is also a good idea to go ahead and loosen babies diaper/clothing around that same time to avoid imprints on his delicate skin.
Feed 'em, Burp 'em, KNOCK 'EM OUT! I recommend that you keep your little one awake leading up to your session (possibly for as long as 2-3 hours) and plan to feed her before I arrive. I do my best to capture those bright eyes if she is awake and many moms appreciate the opportunity to get nursing pictures, but we will have a lot more options once your little one is sleeping.
SIBLINGS Some of my favorite newborn pictures are the ones with siblings. We will want to get those early in the session before the older children have lost interest. When possible, it is great to have a friend or family member join us so that the siblings can be removed from the area and cared for after we've gotten the desired family and sibling pictures.
CLOTHING Some of my clients like to get some pictures of their baby in a cute outfit or two, but my favorite images feature those sweet baby wrinkles, fingers and toes. I have an assortment of diaper covers you are welcome to use. Most of the time, I recommend a simple diaper cover and/or a plain receiving blanket, but these are your pictures and I'm happy to include whatever outfits you'd like.
For parents and siblings, I suggest very simple outfits. Avoid busy patterns and bright colors. Avoid reds and oranges as they tend to discolor skin tones. Whites and soft pastels are desirable as they do not tend to pull attention away from the baby. Avoid shirts with pictures or logos and make sure to iron out wrinkly clothes as those wrinkles will show up in your pictures. Think dressy casual, ideally avoiding jeans and t-shirts. Whenever possible, I love to get some skin on skin with siblings and parents, so consider wearing short sleeves for the guys and even a cami for the ladies. A sweater or other knit top can be worn over a camisole to dress things up for your family pictures. While I prefer soft, light-colored outfits for the bulk of your session, I encourage you to dig out a simple, solid, black shirt (long-sleeves gives us more options, but a t-shirt is fine) for both parents to have on hand. We probably won't use those, but this will allow us to get some great baby-centric pictures against a black backdrop if your little one isn't wanting to be put down.
GROOMING Expect your hands (and potentially your feet) to be in close-up images with your baby. Trim your nails, put some lotion on your dry skin, and make sure that any nail polish is touched up or removed (this is a common detail forgotten for young girls and a very difficult and time-consuming flaw to correct later).
PROPS: I like to bring a basket, diaper covers, and a couple blankets to in home newborn sessions, but generally, I encourage you to use your own items. When you look back at these pictures, it's nice to see those still tangible personal items and I prefer the diversity from session to session. Please let me know in advance of any props you are interested in using so that we can make sure to plan time for them.
RELAX Babies can sense stress and anxiety. Don't be surprised when a good 50% of your session is spent feeding, changing, and cuddling your baby. It may seem like we're not getting great pictures, but just take a deep breath and let me work my magic. I am very comfortable around newborns, young children, disinterested daddies, and exhausted mommies. Patience is key.
SAFETY FIRST Regardless of where pictures are taken, my main concern is always safety and keeping your baby healthy and happy. I do not bring an assistant and request that either Mommy or Daddy are always on baby duty to prevent any accidents while my camera is glued to my face. Dads, Mommy is still in recovery and it can be difficult to move around the way she'd like to, so expect to be put to work. When possible, it helps if you bring a friend along to help out with the other kids so both parents can stay engaged with the photo session. I am also very aware of the comfort of my adult clients, especially Mama as she continues to heal from birth. Don't be surprised when I go into Mama Bear mode myself to make sure you are comfortable, fed, and hydrated. If ever I suggest a pose that feels uncomfortable to you, please let me know. I know how miserable even a stuffy nose can be for a baby, so you can expect I will always show up with a mask. While I tend to be relatively hands off with these lifestyle newborn sessions, the thought of having to call you up a few days later because a family member or myself fell ill is enough for me to play it safe and protect you and your itty bitty.
SPEAK UP I am always open to trying any special pose ideas you have as long as they are safe. If you ever feel uncomfortable with something I have suggested or something I am doing, please please please let me know. Do not bite your tongue if you think baby needs a break. While I am not bothered by noise and chaos, especially for you first time moms, those cries tend to have a big emotional and physical effect on you. We will take many breaks to feed your itty bitty and push his reset button. I expect your whole family will be ready for a nap when we are done, but I want you to come away from this experience feeling relaxed and full of warm fuzzies.
Newborn photography takes a special kind of patience, creativity, and skill. I ask that you block off a three hour window so that we can relax and fall into rhythm with your newest addition. You will want to book your session early enough in your pregnancy to guarantee my availability, but since we cannot know exactly when your little one will arrive and ready for pictures, your date will be penciled in and I will of course work to get you the most optimal session date and time possible for your family. Below you will find some tips and tricks to help us get the best possible images while also enjoying the overall experience.