How to Prepare Your Newborn for their First Photography Session
Your newborn baby’s first photography session will hold a special place in your family’s hearts for a long long time to come. Preparing your baby properly before the session WILL tremendously improve your experience and photographs.
Happy babies lead to relaxed and happy mommies and daddies during the session.
After photographing over 400 adorable little ones, we have learned a lot! We’ve taken what we’ve learned and created this in-depth guide on how to prepare for your newborn photo session to help you get the most out of the experience. Read on for some tips on a smooth session.
Choosing a Photographer
There are a few things to keep in mind when choosing a newborn photographer. Experience tops the list because we are talking about working with babies that are just days old.
You should absolutely expect your photographer to know newborn safety in detail. In fact, your photographer should have handled WAY more babies than you have by now. There are certain ways to move and position babies little arms, legs and neck. You also have to know when a baby is not going to get into a certain pose.
Style is certainly another important factor you will want to consider. Each photographer has their own style that they gravitate towards. You’ll have much more success going with someone whose style of photos you already love than to show a photographer someone else’s photographs you’d like to mimic.
If you’re considering me as your photographer, please view my portfolio to be sure our styles align. I have a large studio with many backdrops, setups and props. I’m happy to include any keepsakes or heirlooms in a session. You may also bring in an outfit if you choose, but I will have plenty of great items to work with.
You also need someone who has the right tools. Proper lighting, backdrops and cute little props can make for adorable photos. Home lighting, a cell phone and a cutesy costume from a department store don’t always do the trick.
So, please, please, please, when choosing a photographer to capture images of your brand new baby, go with a pro. If not for the image quality, do it for the safety of your new little one.
When Should You Plan Your Session?
You’ll want to schedule your newborn session between the baby’s 4th and 14th day. I think the absolute best time is between the 4th and 8th days.
With that in mind the best time to schedule is during your pregnancy so that you don’t miss out. To guarantee your session, hold a spot with your due date. Once you are home with your baby we can coordinate the exact time and date.
It is best to allow plenty of time for feeding and cuddling during the session so plan on being at the studio for between 2 to 3 hours. I offer plenty of space in my studio for you to relax in while the session takes place.
After Your Delivery
Big moment! There will certainly be a lot going on at this time. Call or text as soon as you reasonably can. Having a newborn places many new demands on your schedule, and your baby will change daily during the first few weeks of life. This is why it is so important to schedule your appointment as soon as possible.
Photographing newborns within the first eight days offers the ability to take advantage of your baby’s natural sleep patterns. During the first week of life, babies sleep more and are therefore more cooperative for a photography session. They are more easily posed and enjoy curling up.
After 14 days, it can be difficult to get babies into the deep sleep necessary to get some of the more signature poses and this is the time when colic can set in, making for a very fussy baby.
This is why it is important to have your baby photographed as soon a possible. Not only will the session be easier, you will be able to select from many more beautiful poses.
Ideally, the baby should be sleeping while being photographed in order to allow me the opportunity to create beautiful poses. Having a sleeping baby also means that he or she won’t be crying during the session. Try to keep track of your new baby’s sleep/wake schedule and try to schedule your session for a sleep cycle.
The Day of Your Session
In the hours leading up to the session, it is very helpful to feed your baby as frequently as possible to ensure his or her tummy is full. This will not only keep your baby from being fussy due to being hungry, but will also allow him or her to enjoy a long, peaceful slumber, which is perfect for picture taking. I’m not condoning sleep deprivation, but it is VERY helpful to keep your baby awake for two hours before the session. You will thank me. I promise.
What to Wear?
Moms: Keep it simple. Choose earth tones and solid colors. A simple white or black tank top works in a pinch, but choose what feels good to you.
Dads: Stick with a plain black shirt, like a t-shirt, with no collar. Steer clear of button downs or anything with a logo on it as they will detract from the photo. If Mom is wearing a color other than black, then coordinate with her attire.
Siblings: Muted tones work best. Just make sure their outfit coordinates with everyone else in the photo.
Baby: Your baby should arrive to the session in loose fitting pajamas that button or zip all the way down. The photography session can begin immediately this way, taking advantage of a sleeping baby. Undressing him or her always wakes them up and loses valuable time.
Have a pacifier on hand, regardless of whether you plan to use one with your baby or not. Having a pacifier will help soothe your baby during the shoot and will help move the session along with minimal discomfort for the baby.
Have plenty of diapers and formula on hand for mid-session feedings and diaper changes. I can supply everything else you may need.
The room will be kept warm since many of the photographs will be taken with your baby completely undressed. This means that the room may be too warm for comfort for you, so dress in light clothing.
In order to more closely replicate the environment your baby enjoyed while in your belly, the room will have background noise playing at all times. White noise such as rain will be playing in order to keep your baby calm and relaxed. It is important during these sessions to keep talking and noise to a minimum. If you have additional children you want to have photographed with the new baby, group photos taken at the beginning of the session.
Babies Run the Show
Your baby will ultimately dictate how a session will proceed. If he or she is fussy, they will simply need a little more attention and time.
It is important for you to know that there is the utmost importance placed on the safety of your baby. Poses will never be forced nor will any unsafe poses be used in any manner during your shoot. The studio items are completely sanitized after every session and all linens used will be washed in free and clear detergent. I will not photograph your baby if I am sick or otherwise not able to photograph your child in a safe manner and will reschedule with you as soon as practical. Parents can expect to assist with each shot and to focus on the baby and their safety through the shoot. One parent will always be a couple of feet away just out of the shot.
What to Expect After Your Session
When the session is complete, I will need time to process the photographs and make the necessary edits in order to present you with the best images possible. It generally takes two weeks from the date of your session for images and additional time will be needed for prints and keepsakes. An online gallery will be available to you to download your images for 90 days after the shoot. You are more than welcome to purchase additional prints and products through that portal. I look forward to working with you!