Fundamentals of a Newborn Session
Okay, momma, I get it. You’re probably about a month out until your little one will be in your arms, you’re exhausted, hangry all the time, and just so anxious for your sweet one to be here already. I hear you! The LAST thing that’s on your mind is how to prepare a newborn session, because, let’s be honest… taking another thing onto your plate does not sound great right now. That’s why I’m here to help you through every step of your pregnancy and make planning your upcoming newborn session stress-free. Planning a newborn session may seem like a big task, but I promise when broken down into simple steps, it will be much easier. So, let’s get into it!
Step 1: Communicate with your Photographer
First things first, to have a successful newborn session, you’re going to need a newborn photographer… duh ;) I recommend reaching out to your photographer a couple months before your due date to communicate with them that you are interested in booking a newborn session. This is the FIRST step you should always take in planning your newborn session. Tell them right up front when your due date is so that they can mark it on their calendar and save some availability around your due date for a newborn session.
Since it is impossible to know when your little one will arrive in the world, you’ll need to stay in constant communication with your photographer in the weeks leading up to your due date. Feel free to ask for their phone number and shoot them a text every week or so letting them know how you are feeling and if little one has arrived yet. Often times, it is a smart idea to give your husband or a trusted friend your photographer’s phone number as well, so that they can let them know that you are in labor. Once your precious babe arrives, the fun begins! You’ll want to reach out to your photographer ASAP to let them know when you will be home from the hospital and available to take newborn pictures.
Side note: As a newborn photographer myself, we are SO understanding of hospital recovery times and doctors appointments that may take place in the first few days after delivery. I am so flexible with scheduling as I want you to be as comfortable and prepared as possible! Please, just keep us in the loop and we will be so grateful to work with you through everything :)
Step 2: Develop a Plan
In the weeks leading up to your due date, I recommend sitting down and thinking about what you would like your newborn session to look like. Each couple is different and everyone has a different vision for their session- & that’s okay! Here are some questions to ask yourself:
- Do I (and my significant other) want to be in the pictures with my little one?
- Where do I want the pictures to take place in my home?
- What colors/themes would I like to incorporate into the session?
- Do I want a more posed or more lifestyle approach to the session?
All of these questions will allow you to begin forming an idea of what you would like your newborn session to look like. If you’re unsure about any of the questions, talk with your photographer about them! Your photographer has likely done so many newborn sessions and will have some wonderful tips and tricks to guide you along the planning process. Another good idea is to head over to Pinterest and make a specific board for newborn pictures. On Pinterest, you will be able to find thousands of pictures from other newborn sessions that might give you some inspiration or ideas on what you would like yourself! When you finally have an idea to the answers of these questions, COMMUNICATE them with your photographer! Let them know what you don’t or don’t want so that there are clear expectations on the day of the session.
Step 3: Plan Outfits Ahead of Time!
Before the little one even arrives, I suggest that you go shopping and find the outfits that you and your little one will wear for your session. By doing this ahead of time, it eliminates any stress or anxiety that you may be feeling when you come home, and allows you to be prepared before your session. Outfits are a vital part of planning a newborn session and can alter the way in which your pictures turn out. Each photographer has a different way of photographing newborns, but make sure that you know what to expect.
For my newborn sessions, I usually recommend a solid color or large pattern onesie that the baby feels comfortable in. Choose an outfit that isn’t overly baggy or extremely tight, as this may cause more discomfort during the session. You also will want to make sure that you have one (or even two) extra backup outfits in case something happens. Let’s be real, baby explosions happen & sometimes they are just not expected. Because of this, be prepared ahead of time by setting out an extra outfit or two just in case of an emergency.
While I like to take pictures of little ones with an outfit on, I will also save some time during the session to photograph them with nothing but a diaper on. This will allow me to swaddle the baby for some more posed images (if you like that) and it allows your little one to just relax for a minute. Plus… my favorite shot is to get those sweet baby feet & it is perfect with nothing else covering them!
If you are wanting to incorporate any accessories in your session, I recommend setting all of those out ahead of time as well. For girls, some common accessories are headbands, bows, or decorative clips. If your newborn is a boy, hats and ball caps are cute for some informal, more casual lifestyle images. If you have other significant things that you would like to incorporate in your newborn’s session, please don’t hesitate to reach out and let your photographer know :)
Step 4: Prep your Living Space
Once you have a clear vision for your session, begin to organize and prep your living space in the weeks leading up to your due date. Actually… made this is a good task for your husband ;) Either way, it is ALWAYS a good idea to prep your house/apartment/townhome ahead of time so that when your precious babe comes, you can direct all your time with them.
First, you will want to clear out any clutter or trash in the area or room that you are wanting to take pictures in. Often times, this is a master bedroom or your baby’s nursery. If you are doing a masters bedroom, I recommend making your bed ahead of time so that you can sit on a freshly made bed :) Try and remove any distracting objects from tables or nightstands near your bed. Common items that are good to remove are: alarm clocks, glasses, books, and any stray cups of water. If you don’t want to clear EVERYTHING off the table as it may look bare, just leave a few decorative items on the nightstand.
If you are focusing on your baby’s nursery, make sure that you have any new baby gifts/items put away in a dresser or closet before your session. Cozy blankets and rugs look beautiful in newborn pictures, but you will want to avoid long cords and wires from toys and machines.
Next, you will want to open up all windows and curtains/blinds. I am a huge lover of natural light and find that it can change newborn sessions drastically. By opening up all the windows in the room we are shooting in, it allows the pictures to be clearer, more natural, and true to color so that I can capture your precious little one exactly how they are. You may want to even move any furniture by the windows as I will often position your baby in front of a window for pictures.
Step 5: Day-Of Preparation
Once your babe arrives and you have planned what day you will do your newborn session, the REAL fun begins :) You are almost done planning your newborn session and ready for it to begin! Mark the session on your calendar and prepare to have an extra fun, yet relaxing day with your newborn. You will want you plan your newborn’s session around a time that is good for their schedule. Often times, a good time to try for is right after a feeding and or a nap time. This will leave them extra milk-drunk and ready to conk out for pictures! Here are some other things to do on the day of your session:
- Don’t place any super stressful demands on the baby such as being in the car a lot or taking an excursion outside. Instead, focus on relaxing as much as possible to ensure that they are happy and healthy.
- Feed them ahead of time AND have a bottle made for the session just in case. A hungry baby never leads to great pictures, and sometimes they may need some extra too!
- Make sure that YOU are well-fed and well-rested. Yep, you heard me. It’s your excuse to make your husband do all the baby work that day ;)
- Keep a pacifier handy to soothe the little one in the case that they are fairly awake or not too happy.
- Raise the temperature in your house or the specific room by about 5 degrees. The warmer the room, the happier the baby and more sleepy they will end up!
Ultimately, this is a season of life that you will look back on relish all the sweet joys of having a baby, so ENJOY it! Try not to stress about minute details, and communicate any questions or concerns with your photographer ahead of time. My job is to show up and do all of the work for you- you deserve to be spoiled after your delivery! Remind yourself to relax and let your photographer do what they were hired to. I am here for you in planning your newborn session, and praying for this special season with your new babe :)
Indy-based wedding photographer for the joyful, classic-living couple