Preparing for a Newborn Photo Session
One little secret that most people don’t know about me… I was a photographer for about eight years. I still enjoy taking photos but I no longer do it as a job. Newborn photography was one of my favorite parts of photography yet it was also one of my least favorites at the same time. Hold tight and let me explain. I am about to give you the scoop on some tips you need to know before you even have your baby. You can thank me later when you are holding priceless photos of your newborn! 🙂
The reason I said it was my favorite yet my least favorite is that it all depended on the parents. Some came very… ummmm… not prepared, others came extremely nervous, and some came calm, cool, and collect.
Your newborn may not be able to walk and talk yet but they can sense when mom and dad are stressed. That’s a fact. If you don’t believe me, ask any newborn photographer. If you come to the session stressed out, it is SURE to be a disaster. So, take a few minutes, read through this article and get yourself set up for an excellent shoot with excellent photos to chorish for years to come.
Choosing a Photographer
First off, pick a photographer with a good reputation. Choosing a photographer just because they are cheaper is not always the best option. There are many “photographers” out there who put the title “Photographer” before their name simply because they own a DSLR camera. Now that prices have come down on DSLR cameras, many people (who are NOT photographers) own one. Sure, they take great pictures on auto mode but a real photographer can shoot on straight manual mode to achieve the perfect shot regardless of the lighting! So, your first job is to research. Ask for suggestions from friends and then check out the suggested websites to see if their website photos look similar to what you are looking for. This should be done while you are pregnant if you are wanting the super cute, sleeping baby photos. The best photographers are typically booked pretty far in advance. Some photographers will offer maternity and newborn photo sessions as a package deal.
Choose Some Sample Ideas
Next, you should plan out what clothing, what props, and what poses you wish to have. You can look around on Pinterest for ideas. Pinterest may give you too many ideas. I would suggest that you look around and create a board specifically for “Newborn Photoshoot Ideas”. Add what you like to the board and then you can go back through and unpin the ones you like least. Narrow your ideas down to just a handful. You can ask your photographer to send ideas and you can also share your Pinterest board with him or her. This will allow them to have an idea of what kind of set up you may like.
Your photographer can also tell you what they will need from you in order to achieve what you have in mind. Do not expect your photographer to have everything if you have specific ideas of props. Also, just because a photographer has an adorable set up on their website does not mean they have all the props necessary to recreate the same photo. Photographers often switch out their props to keep their work original. Plus, it could have been something the parent of that newborn brought in for the photo session. Always ask, don’t assume.
Who Do You Want Included in the Newborn Photo Shoot
Make sure you discuss what your goal is for the photoshoot. Are these of the baby only? Baby, mom, and dad only? Baby with mom, the baby with dad, the baby with siblings? Whole family photos? Make sure you decide all of that in advance and talk to your photographer. There may be seperate charges for additional people.
I would suggest that you do a few shots with wraps or even naked baby photos. The photographer should be able to position your baby to prevent any private areas from showing in the photos. It IS against the law to take newborn photos that show private parts.
When choosing the clothing for some of the photos, I would also suggest choosing an heirloom style outfit that can be passed down for your grandchild to wear one day. This is becoming more and more of a thing. Choosing a timeless piece is important. You do not want to clothe your baby with character-themed clothing, clothing with wording, or clothing that would overpower your newborn.
When my son was a newborn, I made the mistake of trying to take pictures of him with a collared shirt and dress pants. The problem is, the clothing looked like it was swallowing him. One-piece clothing at this age is extremely beneficial. That is why I love Feltman Brothers clothing. Their clothing can be passed down from generation to generation and the clothing is simple yet elegant.
Feltman Brothers offers timeless pieces that can be continued to use from one generation to the next. Aside from the vintage smocked gowns, smocked dresses, and smocked creepers, Feltman Brothers also has knit, vintage style clothing available for both baby boys and baby girls. Their knit sweaters make adorable photos, especially when your baby begins sitting up on their own!
Pencil In The Date
Next, be sure to talk to the photographer about when your due date is. They may allow you to tentatively pencil in a date. Hardly anyone gives birth ON their due date. Just be sure to ask your photographer if they can be sure to work you in within the first 10 days after the baby is born. Make sure they are not planning to travel during that time frame. After your baby is born, you can set up a specific time for the photoshoot.
If you plan to do lifestyle shoots (no posing), you can wait a little longer. You may wish to take it easy the first couple weeks. Just make sure if you plan to get any posed photos of your newborn, you do the shoot within the first 10 days so the baby sleeps through the session.
Only choose props that would be safe for your baby. Anything that can harm them should not even be considered. Safety should be the most important thing when it comes to a photoshoot.That sounds like a no brainer but you would be surprised what people would lay their baby in just to get that “Pinterest perfect” pose.
There is no harm in asking your photographer if they sanitize their props. Babies poop, pee, and spit-up during photoshoots. Knowing that the props are sanitary is important. Bring plenty of baby wipes and burp cloths!
Keeping Baby Asleep
Most babies are asleep about 90% of the time in their first 10 days of life. If you notice a time that your baby seems to be alert, try to NOT plan the session for that time of day. Eyes wide open during pictures may sound cute but considering most babies go cross-eyed a whole lot during the first few months, sleeping baby pictures will look best at this age.
If possible, keep your baby awake for a while before the photoshoot to assure they will be good and tired before the first picture is ever taken. Don’t freeze your baby out.. but we all know that if you keep a baby warm and snuggly, they will snooze more. If you plan to keep them awake before the shoot, give them a little time without being all snuggly.
Feed Before Shoot
Plan to feed your baby about 30 minutes before the photo shoot so that they will be happy and sleep.This will give them some time to get all their burps out and lessen the chance of spitting up during the shoot. If you are paying by the hour for the photoshoot, you do not want to have to stop 30 minutes in and waste 30 minutes of paid time to feed your newborn. You can even ask your photographer if you could arrive a little early to have time to feed the baby if you live further away.
Soothing Your Baby During the Newborn Photo Session
Make sure you bring a pacifier with you if your baby uses one regularly. Sometimes just a temporary soothing is all that is needed. Having an extra bottle on hand is beneficial as well. Babies can get overstimulated from the change in their normal routine. Occasionally, a pacifier isn’t enough to soothe them. They may need an ounce or two of formula to calm back down.
Ask your photographer if they have a white noise machine. If not and you have one, bring it with you. White noise can be very calming for your little one. If you do not have one, you can find white noise on YouTube or Spotify.
Make sure props are going to be an easy transition. You don’t want to have a ton of prop changes and chaos going on during the shoot. The less movement, the better. Avoid too many changes of clothing. Focus in on one or two outfits at the most for your photoshoot. I would suggest doing pictures in the outfit they arrive in and then the photos with less or little clothing and then you can finish with another set of clothing.
Keeping You and the Baby Comfortable
Ask the photographer to make sure the photo room is warm enough to keep your baby warm and cozy during the “naked baby photos”. If the room is cooler, your baby will be too cold to sleep. Make sure you wear lightweight clothing. Photoshoots for parents can be a workout since it gets warm in the room!
When choosing an outfit for yourself, if you plan to be in the photos, keep in mind that you will want to focus on color contrast! Contrasting your colors helps baby to not blend in but also gives a dramatic effect with black and white photos (which look amazing for newborn photos).
Planning for Natural Lighting
Natural light is going to be best. If you are choosing to do photos in your own home, be sure to keep this in mind. Declutter the area to assure you don’t limit the photographer on his or her angle of photos. It can be difficult to work around keeping clutter out of the background. You want the photographer to be able to have complete access to take instant photos from any angle to capture just the right images.
Familiarity and Heirloom
Using a familiar blanket helps keep the baby comfortable but also gives the option of another heirloom. Feltman Brothers has a a variety of special occasion blankets. My favorite is the Diamond Pointelle Knit Blanket. The diamond design allows air to pass through just enough while still keeping the baby warm. The design is sophisticated enough for a photoshoot while practical enough for every day use. If you choose to go for something more elegant, the Pointelle Knit Ruffle Blanket, like in the photo below, is a great choice.
Take a deep breath and remember that babies are unpredictable. Be prepared but understand that it is completely normal for unexpected problems to arise. Just roll with it and trust your photographer. If you chose them because they get awesome shots, most likely, they know what they are doing! The newborn session will be a memory to cherish just as much as the photos… enjoy it!