Newborn photography can sometimes be challenging however it's by far the most amazing photo session and true honor to be a part of a baby's life when they are just days old. Don't be shocked when I tell you, there's a lot and I mean lot of prepping that goes into a newborns portrait session in order for it to be 100% successful.
I wanted to compile just a few tips and tricks to help you, your precious newborn and myself have the very best newborn session! .
Book Your Newborns Photo Session ...
I highly recommend that you schedule your newborns portrait session PRIOR to your baby’s birth to ensure a spot on my calendar. Contact me during your second trimester and I will happily get you penciled you in. Be sure to keep in contact and shoot me an email or text as soon as you can after you deliver so that I can arrange a time with you for your newborns portrait session. Feel free to leave someone in charge of the above informing task, it can be difficult to remember the details right after you have a baby!
Your New Bundle of Joy Is Here ...
Newborn Portrait Sessions should be scheduled within the first 14 days of life. However, the BEST time is between 7-14 days after their arrival. After about 20 days, it’s almost impossible to get baby into that deep sleep that came so easily in their first 2 weeks plus it's almost impossible to get them into those cute little poses because they have learned the art of stretching! Please keep in mind that newborn acne and sometimes colic is likely to flare up after day 14. While we can easily edit problem areas, we prefer to do as little retouching as possible to baby’s skin.
Where Will Your Newborns Portrait Sessions Be ...
We ask that newborn sessions take place in your home. If the weather is warm enough and you’re comfortable with the idea, we can take the session outdoors.
Please don't stress if you think your house is a mess! You just has a baby and I've been there ... Enough said! Clutter is definitely expected along with dirty dishes in the sink, clothes flung everywhere and half eaten breakfast sitting on the table. I've shot in homes that were in the middle of renovations! I really don’t need much space and can shoot around any "problem areas".
Is It Necessary To Have Natural Light ...
Yes, it's extremely important to have natural light when possible. Please be sure to open all of the blinds and curtains in your home prior to my arrival. This helps ensure that we find the best source of natural light in your home, so that I can set up my “mini studio” in the best possible location. Nothing flatters like natural light, so I prefer to use it whenever possible. Plus little ones don't typically enjoy strong heavy modeling lights and flashes.
Keep in mind when booking your newborns portrait session that mid-morning to late-afternoon window lighting is best.
When I arrive, I will survey your home and look for the best light and that is where we’ll do a majority of the shoot. Sometimes the best location ends up being a foyer, by the backdoor or kitchen…usually wherever there is a large window. I’ll also bring additional lighting equipment to help out if/when needed.
It's Getting Hot In Here ...
It is highly recommend that you keep your home a little warmer than normal during your newborns portrait session. (Like a toasty 75 degrees or so.) Newborns are used to being all bundled up. Keeping the house warm and cozy will help when we get them ready to remove clothes for those totally wanted and adorable naked baby shots. Cranking up the thermostat is a sure way to make the session flow more smoothly and help them sleep better. I don't mind sweating as long as my little clients are nice and warm, that's all that matters to me! Be sure to turn up the heat about 30 minutes prior to your session to ensure that it’s warm enough, I'll bring along a space heater to help keep baby in a steady warmth as well. Bonus points if you’re willing to make a few back and forth trips to the dryer to keep baby’s blankets warm! They love that!
Loosen Up and Be Free ...
Please loosen your baby’s diaper and clothing at least 30 minutes before the session. This gives those little imprint marks time to disappear. Your baby will most likely be naked in most of the shots, don't worry, I pose them so that all the “important bits” are not on display.
Sleepy Little Angels ...
Most of the images we’ll be shooting work best if the baby is in a deep sleep. To encourage this, we recommend that you do whatever it takes to make sure baby is nice and exhausted. Keeping your little one awake on top of your own sleep deprivation might feel like torture, but we think it will be worth it in the end!
Who's Ready To Eat ...
A well fed baby is a happy baby! Please feed and burp baby right before our session to ensure a happy, sleepy baby. I am more more than happy to take as many breaks as needed to help him/her re-fuel and be changed.
We Might Be Cranking Up the Heat, But Please Watch The Volume ...
Please do whatever you can to keep the noise level to a minimum during our session. If you have other children that might create noise, try to find a sitter or family member to take them away from the home for a few hours. If you have a noisy pet, you may want to do the same. We’ll bring a white noise machine, but it doesn't always block out tantrums and playtime.
* If you have children and would like them to be included in some photos, we recommend bringing them in at the beginning or end of a session and then having someone take them. Only those being photographed should be present to help maintain a calm environment.
Take A Deep Breath and Remember Patience Is Key ...
Newborn sessions can last anywhere from 2-4 hours. It all depends on baby’s mood and willingness to sleep. Please keep in mind, this isn't something I can predict! I ask that everyone remain calm, should he/she not want to sleep, since your baby will pick up on any frustration in the room. If sleep doesn’t happen, that’s okay! Wide-eyed newborn photos are beautiful too.
PS - Stay Calm ...
Let me say it again… STAY CALM!!! I'm extremely comfortable holding and posing newborns. Your baby is in safe hands, I promise! Feel free to kick up your heels, rest and/or leave the room for a bit if you’d like. I've had parents who've used this time to take a nap, and even shower! If I have a question or need you for feeding, I’ll come find you, promise!
Have I Mentioned Yet ... It's Ok To Relax ...
Moms tend to stress out because this is a new experience and they aren’t used to the waiting game that is newborn photography. They see their baby being fussy or having a difficult time getting settled and panic.
“This is a disaster! They aren't going to get ANY good photos!”
It isn't, and I will!
I take the baby’s lead; getting them to sleep before posing takes time and they may need to be fed or cuddled a few times first. In fact, I’d say that a good 50% of your session will involve feeding, diaper changes, and cuddling to get baby comfortable. If that doesn't work, I’ll take a break or I’ll work with what baby is giving us. Sometimes that best photos happen when baby doesn't do "what" we "want".
Just remember: Babies can sense stress and anxiety (especially from their mommy’s!) It’s super important that EVERYONE remain calm and relaxed during this session. Keeping the environment as mellow as possible is pretty much the only way we’re going to get the shots we’re looking for.
It's Going To Happen ...
Please don’t panic if your baby decides to use the blankets (or me) as his/her own personal potty. This is natural and I totally expect it! Please don’t feel embarrassed or worry when this happens, because they all do it.
I wash all of my baby props and blankets between each session with non-scented baby detergent. This is yet another reason why I only schedule one newborn session per day!
It would definitely be helpful if you had a stack of old towels, extra wipes and blankets available for when things get messy though.
If you would like shots in a diaper, it’s a good idea to have a cloth diaper, diaper cover in a solid color, bloomers, or something to put over the diaper. Diapers on their own tend to look a little messy and distracting in photos, but throwing a cover over it cleans things up.
Let's Get Our Props On ...
I do have a collection of bowls, baskets, blankets, knitted hats/bonnets as well as headbands that can be brought to your session. You are also welcome to use any of your own props. Be sure to look for items with texture and color to help make your images unique.
If you have any family heirlooms, toys, hats, props, etc. that you would like me to use in your session, please gather them before I arrive. I may not get the chance to use ALL of the items I bring, but I will look through them with you to determine what will work best.
I STRONGLY recommend that you discuss any ideas, props or poses you have in mind at least a week prior to your session with me.
I start planning out your session weeks in advance, so dropping a huge idea on me mid-session (that requires an unavailable prop) can cause stress on everyone! So talk to me early on and let me know what you have in mind!
A Mother Knows ...
As a mother, your smell is so recognizable to your baby, that it may be necessary for mom to step out of the room for a portion of the session. This is not meant to hurt your feelings, only to allow us to help the get baby thinking sweet, sleepy thoughts…instead of “where is my milk?!
Please Speak Up ...
Your baby’s safety comes first! If there is ever a point where you become uncomfortable, just let me know! I
take every measure to ensure that your baby is never in any danger. For that reason, I will always make sure that a parent or assistant is nearby to lend support if needed.
For the Woman ...
You just had a baby and aren't feeling your best, trust me I'm a mom, I totally understand! But I think this is the perfect time to pamper yourself!
Go have your hair + makeup done (or better yet, have someone come to you!), schedule a massage or have your nails done. Looking super relaxed and at your best will make you feel more comfortable during the session. This is an exciting time in your life and we want to capture all of that…so take care of yourself first! And feel free to tell your partner that I'm making you if he/she needs a little convincing!
As far as clothing? Keep it simple. Throw in a little color if you’d like, but skip the busy patterns. (And please don’t feel the need to match everyone in white shirts and jeans – there’s simple…and then there’s boring!)
For moms, we suggest cotton knit camis and knit tops.
I'm a big fans of skin-on-skin portraits with you holding your baby against you. They’re so simple + timeless!
So if you want some portraits like this with your newborn, consider a strapless top or tank as an alternative.
For the Men ...
Your hands, and possibly even your feet, will play a major role in this session, so it’s important that you tend to them too!
Even if you aren't planning on participating much in the session, you’ll still be handling your baby a bit, so it’s a good idea to touch up on your grooming.
Trim and tidy your nails and apply lotion to any dry skin. (It also never hurts to dab a little moisturizer on your face to help you look more refreshed. Those late nights can take a toll on your skin!
A little clothing advice? Long or short sleeved knits are best. (Make sure there isn’t too much bagginess in the sleeve.) Undershirts also work well.
I suggest you NOT wear button down shorts, and make sure your t-shirts are free of logos or too much writing.
Wrinkles do show up in photos, so please make sure all clothing is ironed or steamed. The retouching involved is extensive and will incur an extra fee.
Lets Make Up That Bed ...
Is there anything more simple and totally gorgeous than a new family cuddled up in bed together?
The answer is no!
So we might suggest that we move the session to your bedroom at some point. If that’s something that appeals to you, a few tips:
1. Make the bed, just this once.
2. A solid blanket/comforter (or something that isn’t TOO busy is best.)
3.We highly recommend white to light cream bedding to keep things light and airy. (And are more than happy to bring some along if needed!
NEED MORE INFO TO HELP YOU PLAN YOUR SESSION? MAKE SURE TO VISIT OUR WHAT TO WEAR BLOG.
Did I miss anything? Have a more specific question?
I'm more than happy to help in any way we can so just shoot us an email: Heather@HJPPhotography.com
or give me a call: 760-828-5437
Heather J. Potter