Whether you are new parents welcoming your little one into the world, or seasoned veterans growing your family, your newborn session is such an exciting time! Getting those adorable images of your squishy baby when they are still tiny and new is so special and newborn photographers like me are so lucky to be able to work with such adorable subjects!!
If you are expecting and have a newborn session planned with your photographer, there are a few things you can do to ensure you have the best session possible. So, with that in mind, here are a few tips and tricks to preparing for your studio newborn session.
- Try Not to Worry
First things first, if your photographer is anything like me, then they understand that newborns can’t be rushed and sometimes a break is needed to get them fed, burped or settled. If your little one becomes unsettled during their session, don’t worry about it and definitely don’t feel bad if a break feels a little on the long side. There is a reason newborn sessions are scheduled for so long, and it really comes down to the breaks and feedings that most newborns need. Your photographer will be able to adjust to whatever your baby needs, whether it is a change of position or pose, a break to nurse, a swaddle, or anything else.
2. How to Prep Your Baby
I always recommend a big feeding right before you leave your home, this combined with a cozy car ride should send your baby off to Sleepytown meaning they can get right into photos as soon as you arrive at your photographer’s studio.
If possible, try to dress them in something that is super easy to remove without going over their head as a lot of babies wake up or get startled when shirts and onesies are pulled over their heads. And if you have a session with naked poses, consider putting their diaper on a little looser than usual to reduce diaper marks on their skin.
A lot of photographers request that you keep your baby awake for the hour leading up to their session. This may seem weird, but more often than not, keeping your baby awake will allow for a super deep sleep during the actual session, which will result in more adorable photos for you. Try giving them a bath, letting them kick with only a diaper on, tickling their toes, and even letting them fuss. Even if they are usually a good sleeper, babies sleep differently when they are being moved and posed like they will be during their newborn session.
3. What to Bring
For our newborn sessions, I provide all of the props, backgrounds, etc. so you don’t need to bring any of those things. But do remember to pack lots of diapers as well as a pacifier (if you have decided to use one). If you are bottle feeding, please remember to bring along some extras. Babies burn a bunch of extra calories during their session because they fall in and out of sleep a number of times and wriggle around throughout the entire shoot, so your little one will likely want some extra food.
4. What to Wear
For parents, light coloured neutrals, like white, cream, and light gray photograph best against newborn skin and the light in my studio. But other photographers may have a different preference. Some photographers love black shirts to be able to let the baby really pop. But in general, avoiding bright colours is best and results in nice even skin tones for you and baby. Like with most photo sessions, wearing something you feel comfortable in really is the most important factor, as that comfort will come across in the photos.
Being a big sister or brother can be very exciting or throw their world off balance. It is so important to make sure you talk to your kiddos about their job in the photos in the days leading up to your session. Tell them about how they get to be a special helper, consider practicing your photo session at home, or tell them how exciting it will be to meet their photographer! If you have worked with your photographer before, you can even share some of the previous photos with them.
Once they are here, we will work with whatever they need to get them involved in their part of the session. Sometimes they need a minute to warm up to the photographer and the studio in general, and sometimes they are eager to get started! Every child is different, especially when there is a new baby involved, and it is important to not rush them.
Keeping toddlers and kids entertained while their new sibling finishes their session can sometimes be tricky. Having colouring books and toys available will help for sure. I have an iPad with streaming services available, but if your photographer doesn’t have one (or if you don’t know if they do), it may be a good idea to allow siblings a little extra screen time during the session. Or you can consider having one parent take the older kids to a nearby park to play while baby finishes the session.
6. It’s All Normal
Working with brand new little ones is all about patience, and each photo can sometimes take a little bit to get set up just right. So, if things seem to be taking longer than usual, or if your little one stretches themselves out of a pose and needs to be repositioned, or if they seem extra fussy and need a big mid-session, rest assured it’s all normal. Newborns can’t be rushed nor can they be told what to do, so us newborn photographers really just do things on the baby’s schedule. We’re also all pretty used to being peed on, so don’t worry if there is an unplanned potty incident, haha!!
Sometimes all the preparation in the world still doesn’t settle a little one, and if that happens please know that you did nothing wrong. Every baby has their own schedule, and that schedule can sometimes change from day-to-day. If your baby falls asleep before your session, is restless during it, needs lots of breaks, or just wants to be swaddled the entire time, they and you have done nothing wrong! A good photographer will still be able to get you beautiful images you will absolutely love!
About the Author:
Stephanie Koning is a Newborn + Family Photographer in Ottawa offering both Studio + Lifestyle Sessions through her company Stephanie Beach Photography. When she’s not hanging out with families or cuddling newborns, you can find her at home playing with her puppy, working on the latest reno or craft project, or just chilling on the couch with her hubby.