As a mother of three young children myself, I know exactly how quickly those newborn days fly by – and how important it is to document them. We just had our own newborn session for Henry a few weeks ago, so it’s the perfect time to share all of my best tips for planning for your own newborn portraits! I’ve photographed well over 100 babies in my career as a Washington DC newborn photographer, so this is truly expert guidance to help make your session a success.
Selecting outfits for your newborn portraits may seem daunting, but it’s actually pretty simple! I can’t emphasize enough how important it is to wear neutrals. For dreamy, ethereal portraits, choose light tones such as white, cream, ivory, and/or light grey. Neutrals flatter skin tones best, reflecting soft light back onto your faces and filling in any shadows.
I recommend outfits that complement each other as opposed to dressing everyone exactly the same. One of my favorite ways to add visual interest is to incorporate a variety of flowy fabrics and textures. I always recommend a long, flowing dress for mom. This is the most flattering silhouette for postpartum.
As for baby, simple is best. A classic white onesie and a white muslin blanket for wrapping is ideal, both of which I have on hand at every newborn portrait session. Avoid anything with words, costumes, and anything that’s too big. These items will overwhelm their tiny frame and pull focus away from their features.
Opt for something simple and neutral for men, such as neutral sweaters and a pair of chinos or well-fitted denim. This will give us the relaxed, cozy feel we’re going for. Older siblings can follow the same guidelines as parents, just be sure to clip long hair away from their faces with a simple headband or bow.
Everyone will be barefoot during the session, so no need to worry about shoes.
Prepping Your Home
The goal of lifestyle newborn portraits is to document baby in their natural environment, so think of your home as another member of the family. Depending on the light and your unique session goals, we’ll likely work in 1-2 areas of your home. The most common choices are the owner’s suite and the baby’s nursery.
There’s no need to do a deep clean, but removing clutter from countertops and nightstands will make a world of difference. Turn off any artificial light sources.
Similarly to clothing choices, rooms with neutral walls and big windows that let in tons of natural light will be our best locations to shoot in. I’m happy to take a “virtual” walkthrough of your home during your planning consultation, if you need help selecting the best rooms to work in!
Plan to keep the home a little warmer than usual the morning of your session. The adults might get hot, but this will ensure baby stays comfortable and sleepy.
Newborn portrait sessions are typically scheduled for weekday mornings between 9-10AM. After having three newborns of my own and photographing over 100 others, I’ve found this is the best time of day to ensure a cooperative baby.
If you have older children, I highly recommend having grandma or another person the kids know at the session. This person can help occupy the older kids when they’re not in the shot, allowing you to be fully present with your newborn during the session.
Try to feed baby right before I arrive. This will ensure that they are nice and sleepy for the session. Give yourself plenty of time to get ready the morning of, so that you’re not stressed!
Speaking of stress, creating a calm and peaceful environment is the best way to ensure a successful newborn portrait session. Babies can sense when their caretakers are tense and will respond to those emotions accordingly. Light your favorite candle, play calming music or white noise, and keep the morning relaxed.
Your session will last anywhere from 45-90 minutes, depending on whether baby needs to stop for a feed. We’ll begin with the whole family and baby with siblings, so that older children can be released as quickly as possible. Then it’s time for portraits with parents and close-up portraits of baby solo!
I hope this helps you feel prepared for your lifestyle newborn portraits! If you have any questions for me, don’t hesitate to reach out. Still need to book your session? Click HERE to inquire!