Newborn Portrait Session Prep Guide
Family portrait sessions require a little prep work - fixing hair, putting on a tad more make-up than usual, choosing outfits. But, newborn sessions are in a whole other ballpark. You take a new baby, (often) brand new, exhausted, parents, and hormones and emotions that are usually still a bit out of control - and then you add another new person (me) who shows up with 4 bags of "stuff". It's a stressful situation. To help alleviate some of the stress, I've developed (and tweaked) my Newborn Portrait Session Prep Guide. Each Pensacola, FL area parent who books with me is sent a link to to the prep guide. Knowledge is power! And knowing what to expect from your session and what I need from you before the session will help insure that everything goes wonderfully!
First things First -
Let’s get you on the books!
Your first few days & weeks as new parents are incredible, and exhausting, and fleeting! The last thing you need on your plate is the added stress of researching and booking the perfect newborn photographer! This is one of the reasons I strongly recommend you schedule your newborn session BEFORE your baby is born. This ensures you a spot on my calendar and takes the stress of finding the right photographer off your plate as new parents.
Contact me as early as you’d like (I’ve had moms contact me as early as 10 weeks along).
As soon as your retainer is paid and contract is signed, your due date gets penciled in on my calendar. Then, once baby arrives, you can shoot me an email, text or phone call to arrange your session date and time.
So, what if you waited and baby is already here; should you still call? Will I still take your session? Of course you should still call! I will always do my best to work in last minute newborn portrait sessions in the Gulf Coast. I've photographed newborns as old as 24 days. Older newborns usually aren't able to be posed as tightly and curled as younger, but that's ok!
I am proud to provide your newborn portrait session in the comfort of your own home! I bring the entire setup to you – lighting included. You have enough going on without having to worry about getting your brand new baby out of the house! This also works well because baby remains in a familiar environment – everything smells like home because it is home. This also gives you the opportunity to comfort baby how and where you always comfort baby.
Also, if the weather permits and you’re comfortable with the idea, I LOVE to take a few newborn pictures outdoors – especially family pictures! Babies love warmth and most of the year, the Florida panhandle provides us with an abundance of that.
So, don’t worry about cleaning up because I’m coming over. I need less space than you think and I’m more than happy shifting furniture around if I need to (and I promise to move it back when I’m done).
When will I schedule baby’s session?
Traditionally, newborn sessions are done before baby reaches 2 weeks old (between 5 & 9 days old is best). Newborns grow and change FAST and we want to try to capture them during the super sleepy, curly stage. After 2 weeks, babies are more easily disturbed while sleeping as well as learning how nice it feels to stretch out.
So, yes, under 2 weeks is preferred, but this isn’t to say that newborn portraits can’t be done on slightly older newborns! I’ve photographed newborns from day 5 – day 26 and always managed to get the sleepy, curly poses the parents wanted. Just remember that older newborns require more patience and usually more preparation.
Day of preparation
Full babies are happy babies. And happy babies are sleepy babies. And sleepy babies is what we want!
So, how do you get there?
Please don’t be offended if I ask you to turn off the ceiling fan(s) in the area I’m photographing baby in. Newborns are used to being all bundled up and warm, so whatever we can do to help with that is good. I’ll also have a heating pad that I sometimes use to warm the blankets before I put baby on them.
Please do whatever you can to help keep noise to a minimum during the portrait session. I’ll have a white noise machine with me, but it can only block out so much.
*If older siblings are being photographed along with baby, I recommend we plan on taking their portraits at the beginning or end of the session so they aren’t stuck waiting around. After their part of the session is over is a great time for a family member or sitter to take them to the park.
A Little Patience & Relax
Many parents are very surprised (and a bit daunted) when they see that my newborn portrait sessions include up to 3 hours of my time. That’s a lot of time. BUT, it’s pretty much guaranteed I won’t be shooting the entire 3 hours (this isn’t a wedding, lol). I allocate 3 hours because it often takes a bit of time to get baby to sleep, plus we’ll have potty breaks (or potty clean up breaks), feeding breaks, and just snuggle breaks. So relax, put your feet up, take a shower, take a nap, update your Facebook, whatever. Many parents take turns hanging out with and spotting for me so they each get a little break.
*Oh, and a recent client suggested I make sure to mention - baby will most likely cry. He/she is perfectly ok! Think about it - you and I can discuss when things are new or different, but baby's only way to communicate is to cry. Oftentimes, I'll continue to wrap baby while they cry and you'll see that as soon as they're snug and secure, all crying will stop.*
Newsflash, babies poop. And pee. A lot! They even spit up. And baby’s going to be naked a lot. No worries; I’m prepared. It’s part of the gig! I bring extra tri-fold diapers (old-school cloth diapers) to help with clean up. This is also why I was ALL baby props and blankets between each session. If you had some rags, or paper towels, or wipes available nearby that’d be awesome too. Who knows, maybe we won’t need them.
*If you want shots with baby in his/her diaper, then I strongly suggest getting a cloth diaper or diaper cover in a solid color. Editing Elmo and Big Bird off newborn Pampers is time consuming and not always easy to do. J
Don’t worry, this is not a PSA about why you should or should not circumcise your little man. This is a plea to please let me know if you are planning to (this can be something we discuss before baby even arrives)! Circumcision often leaves the area raw and a bit painful for a few days after the procedure which can make posing and keeping baby content during their session difficult or impossible. Because of this, baby’s newborn session needs to take place BEFORE the procedure or at least 5 days after. (Before is definitely my preferred option.)
If I should arrive at your home and find baby freshly circumcised, I’ll be forced to reschedule your session. Baby’s comfort and safety is my highest priority!
Sibling & Parent Portraits
If baby has older siblings that you’d like photographed with the newborn, we’ll do these at the beginning or very end of the session (preferably first). I recommend having children in coordinating outfits with no logos. Little boys looks adorable shirtless for pictures with the new baby and little girls looks so pretty in simple cream or white (I can even use one of my newborn wraps as a simple top for big sister).
*Please make sure to let me know on your Newborn Client Questionnaire or via email, text, or phone call if you’d like siblings included in the session.
I strongly encourage parents allow me to capture their portraits with the new baby. Trust me, someday that selfie isn’t going to cut it when you’re looking for a picture of you with the baby! No need to get all dressed up: brush your hair and put on a tad of makeup and a clean top and you’ll be all set! Maybe check that your nails are clean. This is a great “excuse” for why you need some extra alone time and a long shower that morning! Feel free to blame me!
I promise you won’t regret it.
One final note…
Props & Requests
My newborn photography consists of posing on white or light colored backgrounds with very simple props – hats, wraps, or little pants – or au natural. And my posing style is simple – keeping baby in a more comfortable/organic pose. I want the main emphasis of the portrait to be baby itself. To this end, yes, I’ll definitely try to incorporate your requests into the session as long as baby’s safety is guaranteed.
If you see a specific item in my albums that you’d like me to be sure to bring, just let me know!
Amanda is the prop buying, location scouting, ponytail sporting, flip flop wearing, owner/ operator/ and woman behind the camera for Finding Beauty in the Ordinary Photography.