In-Home Lifestyle Newborn Sessions
Our Top 10 Tips
1. Choose your photographer carefully.
Photographers are SO UNIQUE. Photography genres (from studio posed newborn, to outdoor lifestyle portrait, to in-home lifestyle newborn sessions) are so creatively different. Photography is an art, and each photographer’s art work shines a little bit differently. When you’re choosing a photographer you need to do a couple of things:
First – make sure that their work matches your vision. It’s important that the idea of YOUR in-home lifestyle newborn session matches what that photographer’s work looks like. Of course it’s ok to ask for things you haven’t seen on their website or social media pages, but you want to make sure that what you see – you LOVE and are excited about.
Secondly – make sure you trust your photographer. Especially with newborn photography. New moms are tired, busy, and maybe even a little stressed with newborn life, so it’s important that your photographer be professional and trustworthy. You want to feel like THEY’VE GOT THIS so that you can relax and enjoy the experience and focus on your baby.
2. Schedule well in advance.
Now – if you’re a pregnant mama OR already have a newborn and have saved this decision for the last second – IT’S STILL OK! You can, of course, still find the right photographer for you.
However, for the mama who is currently trying to get pregnant, or is relatively early in her pregnancy, scheduling early will prevent stress for you later on! If you find the photographer you love EARLY, you have a better chance of getting on their schedule! Photographers only take on a certain number of newborn clients per month to make sure they have plenty of time to devote to each of their clients, so you want to make sure you are able to reserve a spot on their calendar.
If you don’t HAVE to be worried about finding a photographer in the last days of your pregnancy or the first few days of your baby’s life – don’t be. Schedule early, and check that item off your to-do list.
3. Think about the spaces in your home.
In-home lifestyle newborn sessions are magical because they are so intimate and personal. They happen in your home where your life is. The backdrop to your session is the backdrop to your life. It’s beautiful.
Lots of mamas worry that their home isn’t “pinterest perfect” so they don’t think they can have their newborn session at home. This isn’t true! Your photographer should work with you, before your baby is born, to explore your home and choose spaces that will work wonderfully for your session.
For example, if your master bedroom and your nursery get the best light in your home, your photographer will help guide you in how to arrange those spaces to best suit your session. If your WHOLE HOUSE is pretty dark and has few windows – your photographer will know to choose one sweet little spot by an open door or window, and perhaps take the rest of the session onto your sunny back patio or beautiful front porch.
As you choose those spaces together – think about using a minimalist approach in those areas. Remove (or just tuck away) toys/books/decor with loud or uncomplimentary colors. Tuck away wires or messy baskets of play things. Keep only minimal, aesthetically pleasing, neutrally colored things in that space that make you happy and look put together and neat. If that sounds totally overwhelming – send a picture of that space to your photographer and have them tell you what to keep and what to move!
Talk with your photographer about your dreams for your in-home lifestyle newborn session. Then trust them to help you bring that vision to life.
4. Have your outfits picked out BEFORE baby arrives.
Raise your hand if shopping with a newborn sounds super fun. No hands up? I didn’t think so. Mamas – you’re going to have enough on your plate when baby arrives. Don’t leave clothes shopping for the last minute!
Go through your closet (with the guidance and support of your photographer) to see if anything you already own will be perfect for your session and your changing postpartum body.
If you choose to order new outfits for your session – choose YOUR outfit first. Order options that you choose with your photographer in a few sizes (since we never really know how our body will change postpartum). Order things that are flattering and forgiving to be more sure you’ll feel lovely in them. Once you settle on your outfit, work with your photographer to choose coordinating wardrobe pieces for anyone else taking part in your session (your significant other, older children, and your newborn). Be sure to think about shoes (if wearing them, I prefer barefoot!) and accessories (like bows for little girls hair and newborn bows, pretty lovies for older children to hold onto to feel secure during this newborn session, bonnets, etc).
Have these clothes washed, ironed or steamed, and hung up in your closet well before your baby is due! When it comes time for your session – you have everything you need and no stress.
5. Make sure your props are ready to go.
LOVE a certain swaddle? What about an important doll or lovey? Bonnet? Pretty pacifier? Think about these things and run these ideas by your photographer BEFORE your baby arrives. Set them aside in advance so that you’re not scrambling to look for them the night before your session or realizing they have spit up on them when it comes time to wrap your baby up for a sweet family photograph.
6. You need a postpartum support team.
Let’s say it again for the mama’s who think they should do this alone – YOU NEED A POSTPARTUM SUPPORT TEAM! It doesn’t matter if this is as grand as a night nurse (Oh how I wish I could have had that!) or as simple as a neighbor who brings you dinner every day. You. Need. Someone.
Whoever is helping you – make sure they know about your in-home lifestyle newborn session. Make sure they know what day it’s happening, what time you’ve scheduled it for, and what you need to make it feel stress free. Have your significant other make sure that you have a good breakfast that morning. Ask your neighbor help you tidy up the spaces you’d like to have your session in. Have your mom watch your babies while you get ready that morning.
Think about what support options you have available to you and use them.
New mamas are tired! Let the people around you love you through their support.
7. Don’t feel rushed to have your session in the first 10 days of newborn life.
It’s a common misconception that newborn photos have to be done in the first 10 days of a baby’s life.
While it’s true that posed, studio newborn photography works better earlier (because brand new newborns are extra bendy for those extra bendy studio poses), in-home lifestyle newborn sessions allow for MUCH more room in scheduling. In fact – it can be better to wait til that two week mark to make sure that mama’s milk is REALLY in (so baby is getting plenty to eat and feeling plenty sleepy) and baby AND mom have had a few days to adjust to this new life and new routine.
The fact is that you can get “newborn” pictures done (especially in-home lifestyle newborn pictures) at any phase in your baby’s life, from 5 days old up to 10 weeks old. Age may alter how we position the baby a bit, but that’s ok! So if you’re late to the game finding your photographer, please don’t stress.
Pro-Tip – When you hit 12 weeks (3 months old) most photographers will be calling it a milestone session since the milestones for portraits are typically newborn, three months, 6 months, 9 months, and 1 year.
8. Remember – All Newborns Cry.
Can I tell you a personal story?
The night before Eleanor’s newborn session she cried and screamed non-stop. We were JUST learning that extreme colic was going to become our life for a few months. Neither of us had slept and poor Eleanor was just distraught. I called my wedding photographer and said “I don’t think we can do this. I don’t think it’s going to work. She’s going to scream the entire time! We will have paid all this money and we won’t have any pictures of her.” I was in tears too.
My photographer told me to come anyway. She said that she knew some tricks to help calm Ellie. She also said that if we tried and it didn’t work out she would schedule for us to come back. So we trusted her.
As soon as we walked into that warm environment with the sound machine running – Eleanor slept for the first time in (what seemed like) days. Our photographer wrapped her up tightly in a sweet little swaddle and took the most precious photographs of her.
Mama if your new baby cries non-stop PLEASE don’t forget to trust your photographer. We’ve seen it all and we have tricks up our sleeves! Follow our advice for your session. Bump up your heat for a little while. Feed your baby right before the session. Make sure you have your sound machine loud and your pacifier close. I promise your session will be wonderful.
Babies cry. And they are perfect just the way they are.
9. Watch your diet for at least 24 hours before the session.
This one can be challenging – but for a newborn it makes SUCH A DIFFERENCE!
Some baby’s seem to not be affected by anything mom eats or drinks – but so. many. are.
24 hour hours before your session cut out the caffeine (I KNOW IT’S HARD), the spicy foods, and any alcohol. If you REALLY want to make sure you’re baby’s tummy feels great – cut out the dairy too.
I know it sounds too hard – but if you KNOW you’re going to do that – plan ahead! Before your baby even arrives, have your pre-photography breakfast, lunch, and dinner frozen and ready to go! Don’t leave the figuring out to the last minute – that makes everything feel harder.
Cutting some things out of your diet will help your baby feel calm and will encourage a less fussy session.
10. In-Home Lifestyle Newborn Sessions are most successful when you turn up the heat in your house.
I mentioned this above and it’s TRUE! Think about it – baby’s are housed inside our body where it is SO warm and cozy 24/7. It would be like getting out of a super warm bath and suddenly standing in chilly air without a robe or towel. I would cry too!
Newborns are so much calmer and sleepier when they are warm. 30 minutes before your session set your heat to anywhere between 75 and 80 degrees. 80 leads to the sleepiest babies – but if you run hot and you’re afraid you’ll be too sweaty for your session, keep it a few degrees lower and your baby should still be content.
Ashley Erin West – Currently Booking Summer + Fall 2020
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Family and Motherhood Photographer based in Nashville, TN and serving the Middle Tennessee area – offering:
Maternity Sessions, Fresh 48 Sessions, Newborn Sessions, Breastfeeding Sessions, Milestone Sessions, Family Sessions, & More.
Nashville Motherhood Photographer