How to Prepare for your Newborn Photo Session
Tip #1 — Book Your Newborn Photographer In Advance
I recommend booking your newborn photos during the second trimester for two reasons.
First of all, after the baby arrives you will undoubtedly be busy and the days will slip by quickly. Second of all, if you wait until the last minute, your dream photographer might not be available for you.
Depending on what style of newborn photography you want, there are different recommendations for when to schedule your session. If you want a posed newborn session the photographer will likely ask you to come to the studio within the first two weeks while your baby is still very sleepy.
If you prefer a lifestyle newborn photography session — like my style — you have a bit more flexibility. Since we focus more on photographing your everyday life in a documentary way, there is no need for your baby to be sleeping perfectly the entire time. I tell my clients that anytime during the first month or so is a great time for newborn photography. My clients love this because it gives them a few weeks to settle into their new life with a baby.
Newborn Photography Tip #2 — Location Prep
My second newborn photography tip is to select one or two spaces in your home that have great natural light and that you can easily declutter.
The first thing your photographer will probably do is turn off any artificial light. So pick one or two spaces in your home with windows that let in lots of light.
These do not have to be large, perfectly styled spaces. A cozy corner, a favourite spot on the couch, or a little bedroom nook will be perfect. You can always ask your photographer to help you look around your home and to make location suggestions.
Most of my newborn photography sessions happen in the living room, on the front porch, in the primary bedroom, or the nursery.
Lightly decluttering the area removes distracting items and helps to keep your photos looking clean and simple. The focus should be on you and your newborn, after all!
#3 — Turn Up The Heat
This is an easy newborn photography tip. Babies love to be warm and cozy, so prepare for your newborn photography session by turning up the house heat.
This is especially true during colder months and if you want to do any naked or diaper photo sets. We can also hide a heated blanket under our setup or bring a space heater into the room. Keeping the atmosphere warm and cozy is a great way to add ease and comfort to your newborn photography session.
#4 — The Baby Is In Charge
All babies go through their cry, eat, sleep, and change routine. I love to work with this natural cycle, rather than against it.
You might assume that your baby needs to be sleeping soundly throughout our entire photography session. For lifestyle newborn sessions this is not true! By following your baby’s cues, we can keep them happy while also allowing authentic moments to arise naturally. This is the best way to create those perfectly candid and beautiful lifestyle newborn photos.
On the day of your newborn session, I purposely schedule extra time so that we can follow the baby’s routine. I hope that parents can relax knowing that we have plenty of time. I will guide you through my gentle routine and photograph until I feel that we have a complete, beautiful gallery.
#5 — Be open to your photographer’s vision and suggestions
Speaking of following your baby’s natural routine, a diaper change is a perfect opportunity for naked baby photos. These are some of my favourite sets to offer during a newborn session. They also always seem to end up being some of the best photos.
By being open to your photographer’s visions and suggestions, you are allowing their professional and creative input. Assuming you hired a photographer that you love, following their direction and process is only going to benefit you… probably in the way of amazing photographs!
Tip #6 — DO a full feed beforehand
Even though you have lots to do to prepare for your newborn photo session, try to prioritize doing a full feed. Sometimes a feed gets cut short before photos and this leaves us with a hungry baby, which is not ideal. It’s common to have to pause for a feed during your session too, so I always let parents know it’s ok to take the time to let them eat until they are full. After that, we will have a very happy baby to work with.
#7 — Re: Outfits
Shit happens, literally. Best to be prepared and have one or two outfits ready for your newborn photography session. In case of a blowout, have a backup outfit in mind for the baby, maybe even for yourself.
Secondly, consider getting dressed after your photographer arrives to avoid spills and stains. If you are travelling to your photographer, pack all photo outfits in a bag and change there. Trust me on this one, or that perfect outfit you are dying to use will have spit up on it before we even get started.
#8 — Include Sentimental Items in Your Newborn Photography Session
To add another layer of meaning to your newborn photos, consider incorporating any sentimental items you may have.
Some great options include a special blanket, a favourite stuffed toy, your ultrasound photos, something from your childhood, or an item to compare your baby’s size against. One thing I have noticed after photographing families over the years is that the items in our homes change along with us. As your baby grows through the stages, their little shoes get bigger, their toy preferences will change… it will be nice to look back on some of these things!
#9 (Most important) — Release Your Expectations and Go With The Flow
My favourite newborn photography tip — the very best way you can prepare for your newborn photography session is to let go of expectations. As a photographer, I will search for the beautiful moments that naturally happen. I get to see the way you smile at your spouse, the specific ways your hands cradle your baby and the little moments of love that happen. These all happen without your knowledge because you are just being yourself, and that’s what makes a beautiful photograph.