Congratulations! You’re about to be parents, and there’s no time like the present to think about your newborn photo album. For moms in the first trimester, you have plenty of time to research local photographers. If you’re in the third trimester, you have a better idea of when you’ll give birth which eliminates some of the guesswork when scheduling a session. Babies rarely arrive on their due date so your photographer will discuss backup plans with you in advance. Now that you have the when, let’s look at the where. There are more than two ways to photograph the littlest member of your family, but for this discussion we’re focusing on lifestyle sessions at home and posed sessions in a studio.
- Lifestyle Newborn Sessions -
Age Range: Most photographers classify newborns as 1-14 days old because babies are flexible when they’re first born, and therefore easier to pose. Lifestyle sessions require little to no newborn posing so you have more than two weeks to work with. This is especially helpful if you want more time to schedule a session.
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Convenient Location - After going home post-birth, the idea of another car trip with a newborn is not at the top of the list. Exhaustion alone is a deterrance, but the amount of baby supplies to pack, even for a short trip, is daunting. The more convenient option is having the photographer come to you, no family travel required. That way you’re in the comfort of your own home & have access to whatever baby might need (i.e. blankets, bottles, changing table + diapers, etc.).
Cleaning the House - Your home will be the backdrop for a lifestyle session. Ten out of ten clients would prefer no clutter in the background which would require tidying up, an exhausting task for already exhausted new parents. A studio set-up takes the cleaning out of your hands, but if you’d still prefer to be at home, here are some things to consider. Not all rooms will be of use so you don’t have to clean the entire house from top to bottom. The most important will be the nursery and at least one other room for variety, determining factors being windows for lighting and space for family interaction. If the weather is pleasant, you can take a few photos outside & eliminate some of the cleaning indoors. You might have loved ones around celebrating baby’s arrival which means helping hands free of charge. If that’s not an option, reach out to a cleaning service.
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Equipment On The Go - Without the set-up of studio lights, the photographer will be limited to portable lights they bring and sunlight. Some windows around the area they will shoot would be ideal, little to no windows isn’t a dealbreaker. Weather is uncontrollable, but the solution is the same: supplemental lighting. The photographer will be prepared to bring the equipment, but that will require some space with room leftover for moving around.
Interior Design - For moms and dads with interior design skills, this is a great opportunity to show off that nursery you worked so hard on. All those Etsy finds and Pinterest DIYs will make the perfect backdrop for your precious little one. It doesn’t have to stop there! Depending on the flow of the session, you can move around the house and use your master bedroom & living room as additional backdrops. The details won’t go unnoticed because there are creative ways to frame photos with decor. Although lifestyle sessions do not place an emphasis on props, you can use an heirloom or two to make the final album more unique.
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Lights Camera Action - If you google lifestyle newborn sessions, you’ll immediately notice that the babies are not alone in the photos. Family participation and interaction are key elements. For some parents this is a great excuse to get pampered and dress up. For others, the thought of stepping in front of the camera is intimidating, especially mamas who feel camera shy so soon after labor. If you don’t feel ready for group photos and want to focus on the new baby, a studio is better suited to newborn portraits.
Going With the Flow - By the time the day of the photo shoot arrives, there’s a good chance you’ll have a routine going. Good news! You don’t have to change a thing. The photographer will be capturing your home life in motion along with some posed family portraits, and it won’t matter whether baby is awake and alert or comfy and asleep. If you have other little feet running around, get them involved in the process; siblings and pets will make the session even more personal. Whether you’re new parents or welcoming your 2nd or 3rd or 4th addition, those family interactions will be some of the most precious moments to look back on.
Home Life - I’ve already addressed that a lifestyle session goes with the flow, but there’s still distractions that come with being at home. You can involve kids & pets to keep them occupied, but there’s still clothes being washed, devices going off, messes being made, etc. Some might be able to tune out the chaos out for a few hours and focus on the photo shoot. For others it might be too much going on all at once. Know your limits before you welcome a photographer into your home.
- Studio Newborn Sessions -
Age Range: Most photographers prefer that your baby's newborn photos are scheduled within 14 days of birth. Newborns are flexible during this time which makes posing easier, and they’re very sleepy which (hopefully) means time to work while they aren’t fussy. If you miss this small time window, some photographers will shoot newborn portraits as old as one month and work around poses that no longer work; all you have to do is ask.
Short To Do List - Because the studio is the photographer’s creative space, there’s fewer preparations the parents have to worry about. The layout and tidiness of your home doesn’t matter. If your other children are elsewhere for the day, you don’t have to worry about them for a few hours. In most cases studio newborn photographers have outfits/props etc. so all you have to do is get there and make sure baby has milk and diapers.
Read This ---> Studio Newborn Session FAQs
Solo Act or Group Activity - This is an opportunity to spend quality time with your newest family member. Schedule the session while your other children are in school or hire a sitter; make a day of it with just parents and baby. If this is not what you want to do, the studio can easily adapt for a group. Family photos are always welcome, but your pets might have to stay home depending on the rules which will vary from photographer to photographer. Keep in mind the session could last more than a few hours depending on how cooperative the little model is. Young children won’t like sitting for a long time unless provided with sufficient distractions to prevent boredom.
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Getting Out of the House - Going to a studio means getting out of the house, a mini vacation from your daily routine. The space will be peaceful and have a spot where parents can sit and relax. I know that most mamas will remain alert & watch over baby, but you’re more than welcome to close your eyes and sneak in a quick nap.
Baby on Board - Traveling with a child is never as simple as one neatly packed bag. You’ll need baby supplies for changing, feeding, fussing, and any messes in between. At this point, a home session might seem more attractive because you’d have access to your nursery. Not so fast! Ask your photographer what their inventory looks like because they might have some basic necessities: blankets, a changing table, diapers, wipes, toys, etc. Circling back to travel, the car trip will be especially hard on moms still recovering from labor. Nothing about the studio process is physically strenuous, and you’ll have the option to sit the entire time. However, every situation is different, and only you know what’s best for you.
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Health & Safety - Many people believe the idea that newborns can't go outside. That is a myth; it’s actually a healthy activity as long as they’re dressed appropriately for the weather and avoid contact with sick people, crowds being the highest risk. After a short car trip to the studio, you’ll be indoors, and the photographer will have a clean, warm space that’s baby-friendly. No need to worry!
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Rockabye Baby - During a studio session, newborn babies don’t have to be asleep, but they are easier to work with when relaxed. If baby is not content enough to be posed and photographed, the process might last longer than a few hours, adding an extra layer of stress onto the shoulders of the parents. There’s no need to panic and feel like your child is abnormally fussy. The photographer will be gauging the situation and springing into action whenever baby settles down. The last resort is rescheduling; if it comes to this, there shouldn’t be too much hassle because most photographers are prepared to accommodate families when things don’t go as planned.
No Personality - You might be worried that posed photos won’t have any personality, and therefore be generic. It is true that a studio session is more controlled and not meant to capture natural reaction within a homey atmosphere. However, it’s just a different creative direction. Think of lifestyle sessions as photojournalism with a sprinkle of portraiture, and studio sessions as stylized portraits. Either way, your baby’s little face and adorable features are on full display.
Creativity - If you’ve ever oohed and aahed over an Anne Geddes calendar, the studio is where you need to be. The lights are ready to go and can be adjusted or moved around as needed. There’s plenty of space to work with as well as backdrops and props to choose from. You can bring clothes from home, but make sure you discuss this with the photographer because they might already have what you want in a closet of outfits and swaddles. Now your precious newborn is ready to become the cutest can of farm fresh peaches or the tiny Belle of the ball or the youngest citizen of Planet Krypton. Whether you go creative or simple, you won’t be able to resist hanging these pictures front & center in your home.
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Now you should have a pretty good idea of what you want and be able to make a decision without misconceptions about what you’re getting. A lifestyle newborn session is an intimate setting focused on family interaction. A studio is a creative space for posed and propped portraits. No matter what you choose, the important thing is that you make a choice. This is a fleeting moment in your child’s life that you will want to remember.