If you’ve just had a little one or are expecting one any day now, you’re probably looking for not only a newborn photographer but also newborn lifestyle sessions tips. After all, even chill and laidback lifestyle sessions do need a bit of prep and forethought if you really want to rock the session. When it comes to newborn lifestyle photography tips, you’ll notice that a lot of them have a common theme: prepping the parents. There aren’t really any tips for the baby – they’re only a few days old and are completely and totally in charge of the session and we have to all be prepared to go with their flow.
7 Newborn Lifestyle Session Tips
As a newborn photographer and a mama myself, these tips are include things I’ve learned not only as a photographer but as a mom whose been through the newborn stage before. I’m grateful that my life experience has given me the opportunity to experience what my clients experience and my experience has helped me understand what kind of prep is reasonable to expect from new parents. (If you search a lot of newborn photography session tips online you get all these articles about ‘feed the baby 1-2 hours before the session’…. like, Ok Karen, you know babies that young can cluster feed and want to eat every 30 minutes, right? That baby ain’t on a schedule at 7 days old! But I digress…..)
#1 – Acknowledge the chaos of post-partum life.
Everyone is going to be tired, bodies may still ache, and you may even still be rocking those super sexy adult diapers you get from the hospital. The days and weeks following the arrival of a little one can be quite chaotic and that’s all part of the beauty of being a parent, especially a first time parent. It’s okay to be tired, it’s okay if you didn’t put on makeup (or much makeup) for the session and it’s okay if you didn’t get your nails done. We will embrace the chaos of new-parent life and we’ll make some amazing memories for you. Don’t stress yourself our by worrying about making everything ‘perfect’, trust me – with you’re holding your little babe, you’ll be absolutely perfect as you are.
#2 – Know who’s boss (hint: it’s the baby)
The baby is the boss of the session. If they get fussy because they’re wet, we’ll take the time to stop and change them. If they’re hungry, we’ll stop and take the time to feed them (or we can work feeding into your photos if that’s something you want captured!) If baby is cold, we’ll crank the heat or turn off the air conditioning. If baby wants to be held while you walk around, we’ll work with that. We will take the babies cue’s and use those to help us lead the session. These sessions are chill, slow-paced and meant to be moment driven.
#3 – What to wear
Newborn lifestyle sessions tips for wardrobe are exactly the same as they are for any other session: Neutrals are always the way to go! We’ve covered what to wear during your session in a previous article; whether we’re taking family photos, newborn photos or maternity photos, the tips are the same.
For baby, neutral onesies are the best option, you can add neutral accessories like headbands if your little one will tolerate them. A plain diaper and swaddled in a blanket is another excellent option for baby; this allows us to get that skin to skin imagery as well as little details likes fingers and toes. It’s best for the clothing to be slightly snug for the little one, a tiny baby can easily look overwhelmed by bulky clothes.
#4 – Multiple changes
While we’re on the topic of outfits…. one of the things that separates newborn lifestyle photography wardrobe from other lifestyle photography is that it’s not uncommon to need to change outfits at least once. Babies spit up, drool and, uh, leak… that’s just part of being a baby! If you have the option of having backup shirts or wardrobe handy for yourself and especially for baby, that would be ideal!
#4 – Accessories and keepsakes
If you have any accessories you want to add into the session, especially blankets, try to choose ones that are neutral and will fit with the colours and esthetics of where we’re shooting. If there are special keepsakes that you want included in the photos, try to put them aside before the session so that they can be easily accessed and added into the session without interruption.
#5 – Embracing ‘un-posing’
Newborn lifestyle sessions are all about un-posing; this means that we’ll give you ideas of where to go, how to sit and what to do, but we aren’t forcing rigid poses and instead of focusing on the pose itself, we’re focused on the emotion. Once you’re in an ‘unpose’, we’ll give you certai prompts to help you evoke emotion like:
- What are your 3 most favourite things about your little family
- Describe your baby in 5 words
- Tell your partner something amazing you’ve noticed about them since baby’s arrival
- Tell your partner how great of a parent they are using only touch
- Sing the first nursery rhyme or lullaby that comes to mind
- Make 3 wishes for your baby, after each wish, give them a little kiss
- Tell your baby about some of your favourite family traditions and how you look forward to bringing them into your family
- Take turns sharing your earliest memories as a little one with each other
The best thing about prompts is that most couples will often just take over and let themselves enjoy the experience. If they go off-script, that’s totally okay and the point! Our sessions are about encouraging connection and making memories.
#6 – Exploring your Home
Most newborn lifestyle sessions take place in a couples home. Lifestyle sessions outdoors or in studio, while possible, lack the variety of locations and varying types of light that an indoor newborn lifestyle session can provide. When at all possible, we prefer primarily shooting in your home. Areas in a home that are often used for newborn sessions are:
- Living room or den
- Rocking chair (in baby’s room or elsewhere)
- Crib + baby’s room
- Parents bed
- Any locations with amazing lighting
- Bath time in the kitchen? Sure!
- Awesome mirrors and decor in a hallway? Sure!
- Chill front-porch hangouts? Absolutely!
The best newborn lifestyle sessions tips I can offer about locations is to simply remove any major clutter but if there’s small clutter around, we can deal with that. I think back to when I had my newborn son… my house wasn’t exactly Pinterest perfect. I know it’s not reasonable to expect new parents to have a floor-to-ceiling tidy house so as long as the major clutter is removed, we can work with whatever else is there. As an extra tip, if you know there may be some small clutter that needs to be moved for the session, have a laundry basket or two handy – that way all the clutter can go into the baskets and you can easily find it all again after the session.
#7 – Siblings, Pets + Other Family Members
Lifestyle sessions are meant to capture moments in time, meaningful interactions and genuine emotion. Part of these meaningful interactions could be moments with siblings as well as moments with family pets. We are always happy to include all the members of your immediate household in the session. We have special un-poses and prompts for siblings of all ages and ask for a handful of treats to help us get the fur babies in the family to happily join in too.
Having people from outside of your home join a lifestyle session is not encouraged; people coming in and out to ‘take a few photos with the baby’ turns the session into more of a portrait party than a lifestyle session. It’s difficult to evoke emotion and create meaningful moments when new people are coming in and out of the frames. If you’re looking to capture memories with extended family such as grandparents, cousins and special friends of the family, hosting a “meet the baby” party and hiring a lifestyle photographer for the event would be your best option. The flow and goals of an event is very different than of an intimate lifestyle session as semi-formal portraiture is more common in those scenarios. Want to book something like that? Amazing – shoot us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org
The most important thing about taking newborn lifestyle photos is that everyone get excited about the event. Prior to the session take a moment to reflect on the journey that got baby here and how quickly the time has already passed. Think about your relationship and all the moments that made you closer, stronger and love deeper. Channel the mindset of knowing that right now, this very minute, is beautiful and fleeting and that when you receive your gallery of images, your little baby will already be so much bigger than they were in the photos! Preparing physically and emotionally for a photo session is the icing on the cake for a perfect session.