TIPS AND TRICKS ON HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR NEWBORN IN-HOME SESSION | Kanata & Ottawa Maternity, Newborn & Family Photographer
Lifestyle Newborn sessions at the comfort of my clients’ homes are so dear to my heart. They inspire me greatly, and I feel honoured to be chosen to document such sweet and intimate time with a newborn baby.
I recommend scheduling your newborn session before or around 2 weeks mark after the baby is born because they change so quickly. There’s a massive difference from a newborn who’s 7 days old compared to a month old. Their facial features change significantly and the way they respond to the world (a.k.a. how much they sleep). So to truly capture that newborn stage, I recommend the earlier days.
Nonetheless, I offer newborn sessions until the little bundle of joy is 4 (four) weeks old. I do this because I want to give the opportunity to families to have an in-home newborn session experience as well when life happens, and there’s no way to schedule a session with the first days after the baby is born. My ultimate goal is to capture the baby in their most honest state in that given moment. And whether he/she is a 5-day old or a 4-week-old, I know that moments captured will be as cherished and as important to remember for the rest of your lives.
Besides taking photos of those first snuggles, itty bitty baby bits, and all the emotion and love I see in parents’ eyes, my goal is also to make everyone feel at ease about the upcoming photo session and during it. This guide is here to help you prepare for those few hours that we are going to be hanging out and creating beautiful photographs together. I want to help you feel comfortable and confident, so you feel thrilled with your images and the overall experience.
WHAT TO WEAR: PARENTS AND SIBLINGS
Clothing is an integral part of how your images will turn out. I won’t tell you what you should wear exactly but providing direction might put your mind at ease and give ideas choosing clothing that will allow your newborn baby to stand out and create photographs you envision.
Neutrals photograph beautifully. I recommend that you base your wardrobe around soft whites, creams, grays, or colors that are more on the pale side of the color spectrum. During my in-home lifestyle newborn sessions, I mainly aim for light and airy photos, and wardrobe will help us to achieve that.
When it comes to colors to avoid during wardrobe selection, I recommend that you avoid bright (neon-like) colors and black. Since you will be holding your baby for most of the session, bright colors (i.e., pink, red, blue, green) pose the risk of color casting. This means when close to a bright colour, the baby’s skin will reflect and take on that colour. This creates unpleasant and inaccurate skin tones, which we want to avoid!
Think about pieces that will reflect a soft and fresh feel and won’t draw attention away from the baby. Once again, choose a neutral colour palette to keep your images looking clean and timeless, but if you prefer darker colours, consider mustard, burgundy or olive green. Limit patterns and textures and avoid wearing all white or all black. Additionally, avoid shirts with logos, numbers or other motifs/characters as much as possible.
When it comes to footwear, consider taking those socks and shoes off. Let’s go barefoot! It will also help create a more natural look.
Most importantly, don’t forget to keep it casual and wear something that is comfortable and YOU (that include all family members). If you don’t like what you see in the mirror, then you are not going to love it on camera.
WHAT TO WEAR: THE BABY
When it comes to dressing your newborn for the session - the simpler, the better. I believe, keeping newborn wardrobe simple is the key to a successful newborn session. While newborn clothing is so cute and fun, not all outfits photograph well and can actually interfere with the purpose of the newborn session: photographing the newness and tininess of the baby.
That said, a plain white onesie that fits really well is not only comfortable and low maintenance, but it helps to showcase the small body of a newborn. The whole idea of getting newborn portraits taken is to document the small size of a newborn, and the onesie is absolutely ideal for this. When it comes to dresses, jeans, and sweaters, babies tend to look like they are lost in fabric. You will be absolutely amazed at how well a baby photograph in a basic onesie and how it’s simplicity helps to keep the focus on the baby, not their clothing. Additionally, the basic white onesie is an outfit that is classic and timeless.
For clients that like a print, recommend that they incorporate them in other ways, such as through a swaddle. Swaddles can quickly be taken in and out of images to include a print, without upsetting the baby. They can also be used sparingly, instead of in every image.
For clients of girls, simple bows or headbands are a fun way to dress their baby up. I love how a bow can be a subtle and classic way to dress up a newborn if done right. By keeping it simple with a basic onesie, the bow can be the statement. I recommend that the client’s only use bows that fit well and aren’t too big or, again, we will waste time fussing over bow placement.
There is nothing like tiny baby toes to document the small size of newborns and toes are one of my favorite details to photograph. Knowing this, I tell my clients to ditch the baby shoes. Again, since the main focus of a newborn session is the documentation of a baby’s brand newness and their youth, there is nothing more innocent and purer that bare baby feet.
I also highly encourage no outfit changes during the session. Changing baby’s clothes usually makes them upset, which might result in a fussy baby for the remainder of the session. Once a baby is cozy and settled, most parents don’t take the risk of waking their little one just for the sake of a different outfit. However, if you request a different outfit, I will definitely allow it, and we’ll just adjust to the little one’s mood if it changes.
I can understand that all of these little details can seem like a lot of focus on, prior to session day. But I promise you, taking the time to focus on the details will make you feel ease during the session day knowing your photos will turn just as you imagined.
All of this being said, it is up to you to take my suggestions or not. In the end, it is your session and your images.
PREPARING YOUR HOME – SIMPLIFYING THE SPACE
The last thing I want you to worry about is feeling like you have to clean your home top to bottom before the session. That is not the case at all. During your newborn session, we will likely take photographs in the nursery, master bedroom and the living room. Sometimes, depending on your space and preference, the whole session may take place in one room. Also, it all depends on the light, and you may be surprised the little nooks I might pick!
Don’t think that an in-home session means redecorating your home. The goal here is to photograph your real life and allow yourself to remember life as you know it many years from now when you look back at these images. So, the only thing I recommend doing is looking around and removing distractions and items you don’t want to be in the photos in those spaces only.
For master bedrooms, this can mean clearing off nightstands, removing phone chargers, taking laundry hampers out of the room, removing tissue boxes, etc. For nurseries, this can mean putting baby wipes in a drawer, taking down baby monitor cameras and simplifying newborn accessories that may be laying around. In other words, preparing your home simply means tidying up a little or pushing that load of laundry under the bed! That said, don’t forget to make the beds and consider using white bedding for the session. Lastly, please open up all blinds and curtains, as this will allow me to quickly find the most beautiful natural light at your home once I arrive.
FEED & INTERACT WITH THE BABY BEFORE THE SESSION
I recommend that about an hour or two before the session you interact and play with the baby as much as the baby allows. This way they tend to be sleepier and calmer during the session. Also, make sure to keep baby’s belly full for the same reason, so we have a snuggly and a happy baby. However, if the little one decides it’s time for milk or maybe more serious business that involves a diaper change, that is absolutely fine. We will just take our time until the little bundle of joy is happy and ready to continue taking amazing photos!
KEEP YOUR HOME WARM
Speaking of happy, newborns are susceptible when it comes to temperature changes, so I recommend warming up your home a little bit more than usual for our session. This way we can avoid multiple layers and document tiniest details of the baby while he/she is warm enough in just a onesie.
IF YOU HAVE PETS, INTRODUCE THEM TO THE BABY BEFORE THE SESSION
I welcome pets all the time and encourage them to join the session because they are a part of the family too! However, for safety reasons, I suggest that your pet or pets have the opportunity to get to know the baby way before the session and are comfortable as well as calm around the newborn because baby’s safety comes first!
MUST HAVE SHOTS
Let me know (preferably before the session) of the must shots you want to receive from your newborn session. If you have images saved on Pinterest that inspire and speak to you, send them my way! Also, let me know which photographs you’d like to see in your gallery as well that you might have seen in my previous work. This way I will be able to prepare to the best of my abilities and deliver images that you dream of.
WHAT TIME OF THE DAY WILL THE SESSION TAKE PLACE?
Your session most likely will take place late morning. However, we will also consider when your home has the most natural light.
FAMILY HEIRLOOMS AND PROPS
Collect any items you want to be used in the session beforehand such as family heirlooms, blankets, stuffed animals, etc. We’ll go through these together to determine what and how we can use the items in your session. I don’t encourage or bring props with me as my photography style tends to be minimalistic, sweet and simple capturing the life as we know it, but I will gladly try my best to incorporate meaningful items to you and your family throughout the session.
WILL I POSE YOU?
Yes and no. To me, lifestyle photography means telling a story in the most beautiful way possible, both through the use of my camera and through the use of posing. Lifestyle photography means putting an artistic spin to capture both, authentic and staged, moments.
When it comes to posing, I will give you something to do, something that could happen organically even when I’m not around, so the moments captured remain real and authentic. I won’t have you sit still for 10 minutes in a certain way adjusting every single part of your body to get that “perfect” shot. I will definitely ask you to be as close as possible to one another and probably touching at all times! But that’s as strict as it gets. I find that various games and prompts bring out many smiles and those sweet candid moments in between. I embrace and love your natural reactions. That said, my camera does not leave my sight, and I photograph the situation before me as it unfolds, posed and organic. All in all, I am helping my clients look their very best through posing and always allowing them to adjust the pose, so it feels most comfortable and natural to them.
WILL I POSE THE BABY?
No. While I guide the parents and older siblings, I don’t pose the newborn. My goal is to capture the baby in his/her natural, honest state. I might help get the baby more comfortable or wrap him/her in a swaddle, but that’s about it. Everything else will depend on the little boss.
ENJOY YOUR FAMILY AND BE AFFECTIONATE
Like Emily Lapish (from Emily Lapish Photography) said: “Love is beautiful and so are you. Visual affection reads beautifully in photographs – hugs, kisses, and snuggles, they all speak volumes. Whether you’re holding your children or snuggling your sweetheart, relax and make it real. If you’re not sure what to do with your hands, make sure you’re touching one of your loved ones. That’s it. That’s all. Don’t worry about the shot – let me worry about it. All you have to do is relax and enjoy your family.”
OLDER SIBLINGS DURING THE SESSION
If there are older siblings in the family, we will most likely take images with them first, as they tend to be timid at the beginning, which works to my advantage. As the session continues, children tend to relax, become less patient and thus less cooperative. Therefore, we will take all family images with the older sibling(s) first. I recommend parents to keep some snacks around as they might come in handy too. Depending on the child’s personality, I will ask them to kiss their baby sibling’s forehead or cheek. It is important to note that I always ask the parents whether they are comfortable with this or not, as they know their older child best and will know whether they can handle it or not. While getting great pictures is my goal, it is important to remember not to push an older sibling to do anything they don’t want to. This transition of being a big sibling can be a delicate time for them, so I need to be respectful of their feelings and opinion.
Additionally, I suggest that parents allow older siblings just to be kids. Unless they are doing something dangerous or against your values, please intervene but otherwise just let them be! Kids typically don’t like to be told what to do. Instead, I will incorporate some games to facilitate the session, and we will just go with it!
EMBRACE THE UNPREDICTABILITY.
There are probably many reasons why you chose an in-home lifestyle newborn session. I think that not having to go anywhere and allowing yourself to relax more is undeniably one of them. Nonetheless, I still find that parents tend to overthink it and stress themselves out.
What if the baby is going to be fussy?
What if there isn’t enough light or space?
What if the older sibling does not cooperate?
While those are real concerns, I want to remind you that you chose lifestyle photography because it captures the truth and no matter what happens, I know there are going to be many moments photographed that you will fall in love with deeply. Every lifestyle newborn session is guaranteed to be different, and I want you to embrace the unpredictability. I want you to remember that your session is going to be unique and exceptional.
Before I go, I want to reassure you that my newborn sessions are pretty laid back. I come to your home to capture you, your family and your newborn just hanging in your element. There aren't any props or posing of the baby, and my focus is solely on your family and the connections you share.
Nonetheless, I shared these tips with you today to ensure that my time at your home goes smoothly and that your final images look amazing because a little preparation goes a long way! Oh, and just before the session, send your hubby out to get some fresh flowers! While they are not essential, they will pull in some colour, liven up the room and everyone else’s mood as well!
If you’re thinking of booking your in-home newborn session with me, you can contact me here or simply by emailing at firstname.lastname@example.org! I would love to chat about your vision and the possibility of being your photographer! I am based in Kanata but do serve families all over Ottawa and surrounding areas.
I am a Maternity, Lifestyle Newborn and Family photographer based in Kanata serving Ottawa and surrounding areas. My focus is documenting love and the journey of motherhood, including pregnancy through baby’s first year and beyond. I offer in-home and location photo sessions throughout the year creating timeless photographs based on your vision and my artistic style. I consider myself a lifestyle photographer, who tells a story in the most beautiful way possible, both through the use of my camera and through the use of posing, putting an artistic spin to capture both, authentic and staged, moments. If you love my work, let’s talk! Let’s be friends! I’d be honoured to be a part of your journey.