How to Get The Most Out of a Professional Photoshoot With Your Newborn
After nine months of waiting, your baby has finally arrived. The next few weeks will be a blur of sleepless nights as you learn how to care for your little one while recovering from labor. From experience, it’s easy to put off newborn photos when you’re mostly just trying to keep things together. But, those first few weeks, while exhausting, are also magical.
To help make the photography experience as easy as possible, I’ll talk you through newborn photography ideas and other considerations so you can document how tiny your baby is before time slips by too quickly.
First things first: what exactly is newborn photography?
The answer depends a bit on your photographer, but they are generally pictures taken within the first month of your baby’s birth. There are different styles of newborn photos, which I’ll talk about more below, but the goal is generally the same: capture the tiny new life and all its sweet attributes.
There are a few essential things to consider when booking your newborn photoshoot. If you’re an expectant parent, I recommend contacting your photographer a few months before birth to plan for your session. I often pencil in a date with parents based on their due date, understanding that we will adjust if the baby decides to come early or wants to stay put for longer.
After delivery, parents then call or email to confirm the appointment. If you want a date in ink for peace of mind beforehand, first-time moms, as a general rule, deliver close to or just past their due date. Subsequent babies often follow suit as the first. Booking for two weeks after your due date will likely be the safest bet. But remember that there are no guarantees when the baby arrives unless you’re scheduled to be induced (and even then, there can be surprises).
Why take newborn photos within two weeks to six weeks of delivery?
Parents, especially moms, adjust to many changes in the first 5-7 days after birth. Most need that time for many reasons, such as getting the hang of nursing (if that’s your plan), stabilizing your hormones, and recovering from birth. Additionally, delivery can also be difficult for babies. Waiting for at least ten days, post-birth makes for a smoother photoshoot. If you’ve had a more difficult birth, I recommend extending that timeframe to at least 14 days. Allowing time for both you and your baby to recover is the most important thing at that stage in your life.
Advantages of waiting longer after birth
You might be wondering, with all those considerations, should you wait even longer? You certainly can, and many do. There are a few advantages to waiting beyond the first two weeks. One, it allows your newborn to fill out a bit, especially if they are smaller at birth. At ten pounds, babies have that undeniably adorable “baby” look we all cherish.
Additionally, during the first two weeks of life, your baby will rarely open its eyes. This is ideal if you’re drawn to those sweet sleeping-baby pictures. It’s much easier for photographers to pose babies during this stage gently. But you’ll have better luck waiting a few weeks. Some parents even opt for the six-week mark when you start seeing smiles. Of course, your little one will still look like a newborn baby, but you’ll see a bit more of their spirit shine through at this point.
What are the benefits of professional newborn photography?
Now that we’ve talked through time let’s consider the differences between DIY and professional newborn photography. With cell phone technology, amateurs can capture lovely pictures. If you’re like me, it’ll be impossible not to take at least a dozen pictures a day of your baby. Chances are, at least a few will be lovely in their way. As a parent, you always have access to your baby, which can make for some extra special moments. When you opt for a professional, you benefit from their skill, experience, equipment, props, and studio space. This all adds to a sense of peace knowing you’re in good hands, that your baby is in good hands, and that you’ll come away with quality images, you’ll cherish forever.
Should the whole family be part of the session?
Should the whole family be part of the session? I love photographing parents with their newborns, especially when siblings are included. If this is your first child, I encourage you to be in at least a few pictures. It’s normal not to feel “camera-ready” at this stage, but a professional photographer should be considerate of this. A great newborn photographer always strives to create artistic, flattering images highlighting the connection between you and your baby.
How to make things easier on yourself
Book your newborn session ahead of time. Those last few months of pregnancy are like the calm before the storm. Capitalize on this time by booking your session in advance. You can go through all the steps of connecting with your photographer, discussing what to expect and how to prepare, paying a little or all of the session in advance, and even penciling a date on the calendar. That way, once your baby does arrive, you at least know what’s coming for one area of your life.
The pros and cons of in-home vs. in-studio newborn photos.
Studio newborn session:
- Less to prepare on your end. After delivery, the last thing many parents want to worry about is picking up and prepping their home for newborn pictures. It can be overwhelming to think about, but so many families welcome the studio setting where they don’t have to worry about cleaning up. Some people also welcome the change of pace.
- A change of scenery. During a time when days can blend, it can be nice to get out of the house. For others, going anywhere with a newborn is way too stressful. I understand both views! Do whatever makes you feel more comfortable.
In-home Newborn Session:
- More intimate. Besides the sense of peace staying put can bring to some, there are a few other reasons people opt for this setting. An in-home session can feel more natural and intimate for your family. The backgrounds can be the nursery you’ve spent so much time putting together, the bed your whole family piles into, or the couch you’ll spend hours together on.
- Lighting and Backgrounds can be tricky. If you opt for an in-home newborn photoshoot, you’ll want to talk with the photographer beforehand about lighting. Many homes, especially traditional Chicago brick homes, have less natural light than a conventional studio space.
How to decide on the right setting for your newborn photoshoot
I always ask families to send a few phone pics with natural light only of the rooms they’d like me to use when they plan to have me there. This lets me understand what I’ll be working with so I know in advance if I need to supplement the scene with extra lighting. Most people prefer natural light photos – for a good reason – so if your space doesn’t have much window light or there are tall buildings next door, it’s a great idea to consider going into the studio.
Wherever and whenever you choose to do your newborn photos, reaching out to your photographer in advance to talk through everything will help to ensure the photography process goes smoothly the day of. During a time when things can feel a bit overwhelming, a smooth and easy process will make your day!
What to expect during an in-studio session:
On the day of your session, you’ll come up to the lofted area of the studio, where I have various setting options for backgrounds, including a clean white bed and a couch/living room scenario. We’ll review any items you’ve brought and ensure no diaper changes or feedings are necessary before we start. I typically like starting with the baby first, swaddling them at the start, which often helps keep newborns cozy and comfortable. I’ll gently move the baby through a series of posed but natural postures, capturing all those sweet details you don’t want to forget, like their tiny toes and itty-bitty ears.
Then, once done with the baby alone, I’ll have you and your partner join if you’d like. Many parents want to have a few photos with their newborn, but some don’t feel ready. That’s normal and ok! Please let me know if you are nervous about postpartum concerns. I’ll always do my best to photograph you and the family in the most positive manner possible while helping you feel comfortable and taken care of.
Sessions are 45 minutes to one hour unless feedings or diaper changes are necessary. I try to pad timing for newborn sessions to account for these things.
What to expect for an in-home session:
For newborn pictures taken at home, I bring a travel newborn kit, which includes a posing pillow, a variety of swaddles, and a few simple props. Beforehand, I recommend removing anything that might be too distracting in the background (i.e., monitors, cords, etc.). I’m always happy to help you remove things if you need a hand. When I arrive, I can do a quick walk-through to see your space and quickly decide on a flow for the session. If any siblings are involved, I typically like to have them join at the start to ensure we don’t miss our window when they’re feeling game and happy for the pictures. I’ll give you cues to help guide you through a flow as a family while still keeping things natural. I always photograph pictures of you together, each parent with the newborn, and any siblings with the newborn. As with in-studio sessions, your little one will also get their chance to shine with a window of pictures of just them at the end. These will be simple and natural, timeless images you’ll love having for years to come.
Wherever and whenever you choose to do your newborn photos, reaching out to your photographer in advance to talk through everything will help to ensure the photography process goes smoothly the day of. During a time when things can feel overwhelming, a smooth and easy process will make your day! I’d love to hear from you if you’re still looking for a photographer. Contact me here or call 402-304-4057.
I look forward to hearing from you!