Preparing for Your Baby’s Newborn Photography Session

Newborns change so much and so fast in the first couple of weeks after birth. As parents we want to capture our babies’ delicate features as they unfold like flower petals in front of our eyes so that we can treasure this incredible time forever.
At the same time the first couple of weeks of life with a newborn can be a mixed bag of recovery, discovery, adaptation and wonder and braving a newborn shoot in this sensitive time can be daunting.
As birth photographer & storyteller I am a firm believer that capturing memories of this special time should not distract from the memories itself. I also understand that all mothers do not feel ‘photo-friendly’ in those first days which is why many opt for newborn photo’s only and even that can be challenge. I myself was one of those moms who opted for newborn images only and I regret not having had some of those precious, natural moments between my newborn and myself captured.
Here are some tips to make sure you end up with positive and timeless ties to this special time:

1. Know what kind of newborn session suits your particular needs:

The Fresh48 Session: This is a photo-documentary, natural-light session within the first 48 hours of your delivery and is usually done in your hospital room or bedroom if you’ve had a homebirth. As birth photographer I have redefined this session to be a Fresh2 Session, which forms part of my birth packages and allows me to capture the first real moments of interaction and bonding with your newborn.

The Styled Newborn Session: Normally done before baby is 10 days old in studio with controlled lighting, it focuses on the baby and the usage of props. It can include photos of other family members as well but needs to be arranged beforehand.

The Lifestyle Newborn Session: I call this the Welcome Home Session. This is my personal favourite when it comes to newborn photography as its beauty for me lies in the natural and honest portrayal of life with a newborn. Done in the comfort of your own home (usually) it puts little if any stress on mom and baby. It always involves other family members as well with the newborn being the main focus.

2. When does one do a newborn shoot?

The earlier the better, but definitely before your little one is 10 days old.  After that they become more alert and typical, sleeping newborn styling becomes virtually impossible. For a lifestyle newborn session you can wait a bit longer.

3. Managing your expectations

Newborn photography is not an exact science.  It’s not unusual for it to be a combination of feeding, calming, cleaning (yes naked babies poop!) and photographing in between.
It is therefore important to discuss your expectations and requirements beforehand with your photographer. This to consider include:
style & approach
quantity vs. quality
session focus (e.g. do you want photographs of siblings as well)
your photographer’s expectations / requirements from you

4. How do I prepare my baby for the newborn shoot?

As a mother of three I understand that a little preparation can go a long way and I always give my clients the following pointers:

Styled newborn shoots needs to be done before your baby is 10 days old.  After that they become too alert.  For lifestyle newborn shoots you can give yourself a little bit longer to settle in.  Week two is a good time.

Most studio / styled newborn photographers have their own props, but you can always bring some of your own. A trustworthy newborn photographer will make sure that her / his props are cleaned after every shoot. Safety of your baby should be the number one priority of your newborn photographer.

Make your expectations clear to the photographer e.g. if you want some family pictures as well it needs to be discussed beforehand.

Try to arrange your session so that it overlaps with naptime. It’s also a good idea to try and feed your baby just before the session starts.

Try and keep your baby awake for at least 1 – 2 hours before the session.

Avoid having to unnecessarily dress or undress baby once the session starts. Props and accessories should be easy to add / take away.

The room / studio where the session will take place needs to be warm enough for baby.

Make sure there is enough natural light in your selected room if the newborn shoot will take place at your home.

White noise or womb sounds can have a calming effect on the newborn during the session.

Have pacifier at hand if your baby uses one.

If you are going to be in the pictures as well, remember to follow the basic dressing style guide and tips as discussed in the maternity shoot feature with a focus on colour contrast, bright & neutrals, patterns, props, layers and textures.

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