How to Prepare for a Newborn Photography Session


So you’ve made the great decision to invest in images of your family’s newest addition. That’s amazing. It can be difficult to find someone you trust someone enough to handle and photograph your child, especially when they are so very little still. So congratulations on all of it!!

Newborn photos are a freeze frame of this beautiful transitional period in your life. Every childbirth is a once-in-a-lifetime moment, whether it is your first or your last or somewhere in between. These images capture your baby as they are right now — not years from now, not with iPhone photos. Right. Now. They are displayable, stylish pieces of art that you can cherish for years to come.

Newborn sessions are some of my favorite sessions to shoot; they are usually very quiet, warm, and relaxing for everyone. But that type of environment is cultivated — starting with you!

Here are some ways you and your Little One can prepare for a newborn session:

Scheduling Your Session

Start the Booking Process While You Are Still Expecting

The best time to get in touch with a potential newborn photographer is actually before you have the baby. The window to get all those sweet, smushy newborn poses is narrow — from birth to about 2 weeks on average — so the sooner you start having the conversation with a photographer, the better.

If the baby comes early or late…

…don’t panic about your session date. But do let your photographer know about the change of plans. Newborn photographers are used to being flexible in order to accommodate for early or late arrivals. Don’t feel like you are putting the photographer out by keeping them on call; it’s part of the job description.

Most babies are sleepiest in the morning…

…but that doesn’t mean that you have to schedule your session early. We recommend scheduling your session around your baby’s natural sleep patterns. If your little one is very new and you haven’t fallen into a rhythm just yet, that’s okay! Newborn photographers have tricks up their sleeves to get babies to rest — heating pads, blankets, white noise, and a calm environment are a few.

Schedule Your Session Within the First 7 to 14 Days of Life

It may seem really soon, but I have photographed children as young as four days old! The sooner you can schedule a newborn shoot the better. There are several reasons this time frame is the magic window for newborn sessions.

Babies are snooziest during the early days of life…

…and your little one will be more likely have their eyes closed in most of the images. While older babies I have photographed have been sleepy (and, not to brag, but I can put a baby to sleep like a champ), the younger the little one is, the easier the process is of getting them cozy and sleeping.

Newborns lose a ton of flexibility after the first fourteen days…

…so you know those sweet folded up images of babies looking like tiny tacos and frogs and just generally the smallest things you’ve ever put your eyes on? Those babies are super flexible because they just spent nine whole months all curled up just like that in your belly. After fourteen days or so, their joints aren’t as full of cartilage and the bendy poses aren’t as easy.

Newborns get acne…

and guess when the prime time for skin problems is? You guessed it — after two weeks. Like all acne, newborn acne can be edited out, but if possible, it’s best to get ahead of any skin issues.

Preparing Your Home

Some newborn sessions will take place in a studio, but some photographers will eliminate the hassle of getting out the door with a fresh baby by offering in-home sessions. Don’t let the idea of a photographer coming into your home scare you. Equipment can be set up in such a way that we need very little space.

Don’t clean up

…for an in-home session. You just had a baby for goodness sake. And trust me — we aren’t judging anyone for prioritizing family over dishes in the sink or clothes on the floor. You can only do so much, momma!

Do turn the thermostat up…

…just a little, then maybe a teeny bit more. Ooh, we know. Touchy subject. But baby will sleep better. We will bring a space heater to help, but it is good to warm the house a little, too, if possible.

Do make plans with a sitter…

…for any siblings not being photographed or excitable animals who won’t be participating in the session. The session will go much smoother if there are minimal sounds and distractions. While we welcome one or two additional onlookers (like grandma or grandpa), we ask they be courteous and respectful of the calm environment.

Do gather any important items…

…such as heirloom toys, outfits, or props. Be sure to let your photographer know which items are most important in case there is only time to include a few. It will make the photographer’s job easier to have all of this ready and waiting at the start of the session.

Preparing Your Little One

Do wait to feed them until the photographer arrives…

… since, like us, when babies are full all they want to do is sleep. It might disrupt your feeding rhythm for a day, but the little one will rest easier if they are milk-drunk. It can take a few minutes to set up and pick out swaddles and blankets so it’s okay to wait until the photographer arrives to give the baby a meal.

Do keep them awake for a couple hours before…

… so they are nice and ready for a nap. A great way to do this is by giving them a bath. It will exercise their lungs, tire them out a little, and also make them squeaky clean for their close up.

Preparing Yourself

Do make time to pamper yourself…

… because, hello, you just had a whole baby. You deserve the rest. Go out and get your nails done. Get your hair trimmed. Have a Starbucks, mama. You don’t need an excuse to look good, but we are pretty sure childbirth gives you a free pass.

Do keep clothing simple…

… and don’t get too matchy. Newborn sessions work best with simple colors and textures. Knit tops and plain dresses, solids or small patterns. Remember the key is to be complementary (and complimentary!) of one another and not matchy-match.

As a side note, I get asked a ton what you should wear as a mama. My answer is always — whatever makes you feel the most beautiful.

Do clean up your hands and feet…

because you never know when they will be featured in a photograph. Trim your nails and cuticles. Apply lotion to any dry areas.

Do iron your clothes…

because wrinkles do show up in photos, and no, there’s no filter for that. Run your dress through the dryer before we arrive or steam that top real quick. We will both thank me later.

There you have it!

My quick and nitty-gritty guide to your upcoming newborn session.

Wait, have you booked yet?

If you are still in process of looking for a newborn photographer, we would LOVE to have the opportunity to work with you. We offer in-home sessions from me, Tessa. I’m properly trained in safe posing and have over two years of experience working with newborns just like yours.

You can visit our portfolio to see more examples of our work. Or you can ask us more questions via our contact page.


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