Updated: Nov 1, 2022
How to prepare for a Newborn Photoshoot at home
Best locations in your home for a Lifestyle Newborn Photoshoot
What kind of shots to expect during a Lifestyle Newborn Photoshoot
I'm worried my baby won't settle during the Newborn Photo Session
Will you photograph me breastfeeding during a Lifestyle Newborn Photoshoot?
Getting your partner involved
How siblings play a big part during a Lifestlye Newborn Photo Session
And relax.... how I want you to feel during a lifestyle at-home newborn photo session
So, you're thinking about a photoshoot for your newborn at home... well, I have it covered! If you are a parent-to-be, particularly if you are in the Edinburgh and the Lothians area, this is for you! I've got everything you could possibly need to know to find out if a newborn shoot at home is the right choice for your newborn photos. Get yourself a cup of something hot and read on -
WAIT UP. JUST WHAT IS LIFESTYLE NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY?
You may have heard the term 'Lifestlye Newborn Photography' and wondered what the 'Lifestlye' part means. Simply put, it's a far more 'fly on the wall' approach using natural light. Instead of a studio shoot where shots are very much posed and more planned out, this is the opposite. It's your time at home with your newborn, where those real, every day moments are captured that will soon be gone and forgotton in a few months: your baby stretching out, exploring their facial expressions, gripping your finger, you sitting feeding in your favourite spot by the window. The endless rocking, dad with the muslin over his shoulder. Your baby crying.
It's a lot less stressful than a studio shoot
It's a BIG deal being in front of a camera when you've just had a baby a matter of days ago and you've struggled to find the time to have a shower or get out of your pyjamas. These early days in that newborn bubble can be a daunting and surreal experience. It's a whirlwind of emotion and physical angst. You've loads on your mind including how your lower regions will ever feel normal again, you're sleep deprived, wobbly, a bit frazzled and learning on the go every single day. It's exhausting. Being at home helps alleviate these feelings and newborn photographers will completely get that you may have a certain level of anxiety. Quite often with lifestly shoots, there is no regimental plan. They will work around you and how your newborn is feeling. Like it or not, that tiny new person will be boss for the next couple of hours. (in fact I'd have them down as boss for the next few years) Sorry to break that news.
There's no need to travel
It can be overwhelming going out for the first time with your new baby, so how amazing is it to have your photographer come straight to your door? A huge advantage. No worrying about whether you've packed all the things your baby may need, then arriving at an unfamiliar studio all flustered and stressed. Instead, you'll have everything to hand, you don't get blinded by studio lights or feel intimidated in any way and you can fall asleep in your favourite armchair straight afterwards.
There's no unnatural posing
I don't touch your baby at all. I simply provide gentle direction on where to stand and how to hold and position their newborn then take it from there. I feel that it also helps to keep babies calmer as they are always in the familiar hands of mum or dad. There is no posing, no babies in heart shaped baskets and no elaborate head gear. That's just not me. If it's not you either this is definitely for you. I'm not aiming for that perfectly styled image, but capturing your story just as you are in these early days as a new parent.
Getting to grips with motherhood is no piece of cake
HOW TO PREPARE FOR YOUR NEWBORN LIFESTYLE PHOTOSHOOT AT HOME
It can be overwhelming thinking about all the things you need to do to get ready for a photographer coming into your own home to photograph your newborn baby. Don't panic. These are all very simple things to do and will make you feel more relaxed and ready to enjoy your newborn photo session. Get your partner to help!
Turn up the heating
You don't want your baby getting cold especially if you want them photographed in their birthday suit so ensure that at least one room is at a nice warm temperature. Warm babies are happy babies.
Make the bed
Make the bed in the main bedroom. A lot of the photos I take will be with baby on the bed on their own or with you and your partner. It's comfy and raises them up towards the natural light.
Draw back curtains and blinds
Because lifestlye newborn photographers use natural light, pull back curtains and raise blinds fully to make the most of the light entering your home.
Have some essential items close to hand
When things get fussy or your baby is restless, have some prepared milk, clean nappies and a dummy on standby. A blanket will also help if your baby finds comfort by being swaddled. These can also be used for laying them down on, or using as a cover when being photographed.
Lay out the outfits for your baby
Do this the night before to save yourself some time the next day. One or two outfits is all that you will probably need but have a couple more out just in case.
Keep your baby awake
If you would prefer your baby to be in a deep milk induced sleep for the session then if you can, try and keep them awake for a while before your photographer arrives then give them a feed. If your photos are being taken when they are under 14 days old this is the perfect time to get that adorabel, curled up look!
WHAT DO I WEAR FOR A LIFESTLYE NEWBORN PHOTOSHOOT, AND WHAT ABOUT THE BABY?
For many new mums, this could be the first time you get dressed in clothes that are not pyjamas since before your baby made it's debut. You may feel pressure to look like the perfect new mum who is enjoying every second of life with their newborn but please don't! Comfortabe and loose clothing is a good choice. You may be recovering from a c section or otherwise. If you're breast feeding make sure you wear a top that has easy access! Plain, non patterned, neutral clothes definitely work best. One thing I would say is avoid clothes with graphics / logos / slogans on and clothes in very vivid colours. They act as more of a distraction when all focus should be on you and your new baby.
The most important thing is that you feel good and that will give you body confidence which you may have lost prior to pregnancy. In turn this will pave the way for a more relaxed session. A simple jersey cotton wrap dress is very flattering and comfy too. If you are breastfeeding then wear something that has easy access. A loose fitting shirt or dress will be fine.
You may want to co-ordinate your outfits so for example, both wearing the same colour palette. One thing I would avoid is one person in white and one in black as this can be too much of a contrast. You may be a couple who like to style things up a bit, or quite happy in your every day clothes. It really is up to you.
For your baby
You can't go wrong with white sleepsuits. I'd encourage you to keep them in a footless one though, so it's quick enough to get a shot of their feet when I feel the moment is right. Stripes and plain colours (not too bright) also work well and again, no logos or clothing with slogans on. After all, the focus should be on expressions and their little features. Perhaps you want to include the hat and booties that granny knitted and that is most certainly ok. Booties are great as they can be whipped on or off quickly.
"Kirsty captured our newborn moments for us, and as first time parents we couldn’t have been more at ease with the whole process. The fact that Kirsty comes to your house (and insists that she doesn’t need you to clean anything before her arrival as she knows what life with a newborn is like - thank you!) meant myself and my partner were so much more relaxed and the photos are amazing!" LAUREN & CHRIS
See Lauren & Chris's Session here
on the day of your lifestyle newborn photoshoot
WHERE THE BEST SPOTS ARE IN YOUR HOME FOR A LIFESTYLE NEWBORN SHOOT
Having your newborn session at home gives your photographer a huge variety of location opportunities. Every home is different after all. With your permission, they will most likely ask for a little tour of your home to seek out the best spots. In my eyes, natural light is the most magical and natural type of light, therefore a room that benefits most from that is best. So a wee nosey about your house is necessary.
What if my home is dark?
Don't worry if you have small windows or the rooms are painted in darker tones. Newborn photographers working in your home will have the right kit to cope with low light conditions. This was the case with one of my sessions recently. The room was painted in a dark colour and the windows weren't that big. This wasn't a problem and we ended up with some beautifully lit shots. In addition, by using window light it all adds to the feeling of the photographer not being there. A reflector may be used to counce light towards your baby and this can be very effective. Flash is seldomly used
A massive tidy up is not necessary
A messy home is a huge concern for new parents and yes, your house will most likely be in a state of chaos and you may feel very disorganised but - your life has changed in a major way so this is something most photographers will be expecting and be completely comfortable with. Please, please don't have any sort of tidy up before the photographer is due to arrive. Most likely they have seen it all before. There are way more important things than worrying about the pair of underpants on the floor in the bedroom or the over flowing laundry basket - Rest assured they won't be photographing any of this. Every consideration is taken into account about what is in the background before pressing the shutter release... trust me, your photographer does not want to be photoshopping out the nappy waste bin in an otherwise great shot. They should be happy to move items out of shot along the way. It is nice nevertheless to have some elements of your home in the background. For example, picture frames, cots, a muslin over the back of the chair. These things set the scene and add to the story.
THE KIND OF SHOTS TO EXPECT DURING A LIFESTYLE NEWBORN PHOTO SESSION
What if I have small windows?, I hear you ask.
I encourage lots of cuddles from both mum and dad during shoots. Over the shoulder shots not just like below but with me actually looking down from over their shoulders so the camera is seeing what they see each day. Most of my shots will be lit with natural light and give you the most candid results. There is no other light that is as soft and flattering. I will only use flash if the room is particularly dark but besides that I only come equipped with a straight forward light reflector which bounces window light onto your baby's face, filling in any areas of shadow. Simple but very effective. It's also a chance for your partner to feel useful and hold it for me when required!
Window light is used wherever possible and occasionally a reflector to fill in shadow (above right)
Being near the window like this is also a great opportunity to capture wee feet dangling down against mum's tummy. More on those 10 fingers and toes later.
To give you a rest I may ask you to lie next to your newborn on the bed to get some lovely interactions. It's a good way to get mum and baby at the same level. I know it will also be tempting to drift off as you are, afterall a person who feels a little zombie like at this time of your life, but no harm in closing your eyes as this also makes a wonderful photo!
Nice eh? It makes me all warm inside creating images like this for new mamas (more from this session here)
Here's some other on the bed shots. As mentioned above, I recommend making your bed before the session so that it's all ready for you and baby. If you're fretting about the duvet cover, don't. I'm not expecting you to have perfectly ironed egyptian cotton sheets. Just get a nice baby blanket and guaranteed you will have a few (I seemed to accumulate so many I could stock a shop) and lie baby down on that. Even if you aren't sure about any of the blankets, a plain throw will be fine too. Not a crumpled duvet in sight.
There's a huge variety of shots that can be achieved by laying your newborn on a bed
Feeds are part of the session and I allow time for this. When they're topped up, what better place to snooze than in mummy's arms. Here's a great opportunity and quite often at this stage I'm anticipating a yawn. Always very pleased when I get the perfect yawn. Having done oodles of newborn shoots I have noticed that some dads are somewhat reluctant to get in shot. It's a must for me to include a variety of shots with both mum and dad. After all, you made this gorgeous being! It's an incredibly special thing to see and my heart melts every time. To witness this early bonding in your own home is truly wonderful and I treasure this every session.
I like to get shots from above which is best done with both parents sitting on the floor near a window so I can be positioned higher without having to balance over them on a bed. I do a fair bit of balancing on beds in my job! Rest assured babies are always 100% safe. If it's a really soft mattress I rather place your baby on a thick blanket on the floor. Capturing them from above is a must because they can only lie down after all. Placing a blanket or a toy next to them all adds to the shot and looks oh so adorable. Whether it's on a bed or the floor rest assured your baby will be comfortable.
Taken facing a window from above
Don't get yourself in a frazzle when it's time for a change of nappy. It gives me the chance to think about the next few shots while you are busy wrestling with a wriggling little person. Before you know it you'll be a master in this and it will be like a pit stop change.
On one occasion I ended up doing a few photos in the room where there was a nappy aftermath. As I said, you don't need to worry about stuff like this. You wouldn't know by looking at this picture below, would you? Because I visit your home I expect to see signs of newborn chaos in the house so relax, it's no biggie...
Their tiny features captured
There is nothing like a baby's brand new, flakey newborn skin. I don't photoshop their skin to disguise blemishes as what is the point of that? They are captured just as they are in the purest form. When your baby is napping I use this great opportunity to photograph their tiny features as they are lying still. You will find me wrapping their feet in a blanket so that they are poking out in the cutest way, focusing in on their fingernails and the one that's just broken off, the nape of their neck, (my aboslute favourite part of a baby) that swirl of hair at the back of their head, those tiny eyelashes coming through and elfin ears. Need I go on? You get the picture. Recording all these precious details is a must beause although you think: how could I forget these things?? you do.
"Thank you so so much for these photos, they are absolutely beautiful, we can’t stop looking through them! Really special." SALLY & FERGUS
Sally & Fergus with baby Dougal
I'M WORRIED MY BABY WON'T SETTLE WHAT CAN I DO TO GET THEM RELAXED
This is a main concern for many of the mums I talk to. It may seem obvious but feed your baby beforehand and if they are still hungry or needing some comfort then you can top them up as we go. The session time of up to 2 hours allows time for feeds, nappy changes etc. Plus it's another window of opportunity. There is something quite adorable about capturing a newborn's drunken milk look just after a feed.
I remember looking down at my firstborn Eva and thinking - that's her done now - finally an hour's rest and a Downton Abbey binge! Although I had to be soooo careful not to wake her when transferring from my lap to her moses basket... I'm sure you can all relate.
Don't forget, a crying baby is normal. They cry. Often. Trying to figure out what they want is particularly challenging. Getting to know this new being you've brought into the world takes time too. It's all part of the session however and I regularly include a crying/grumpy shot into the mix. You'll look back on this and remember how dependent they were on you for everything. You could also try massaging their back and legs very lightly to soothe or hold them close to you whilst rocking gently and singing. All of these things can be the ticket to some beautiful images. Wind. Quite often it comes down to wind!
WILL YOU PHOTOGRAPH ME BREAST FEEDING MY BABY?
Only if you are 100% comfortable with me homing in on your boob and of course I will always ask. It's one of the most wonderful and natural ways to connect with your baby, however I know and apprecicate that lots of first time mums have difficulties with breastfeeding so it's no catastrophe if you would rather I stop shooting during this time. The last thing I'd like you to feel is stressed and self conscious.
Some mums like me to take a shot from their viewpoint so that they have a record of what they see every time they breastfeed :-) Perhaps because they are scared that they will forget this intimate moment. This is EXACTLY what this mum wanted. She actually apologised for showing me too much boob and hoped I didn't mind. Well of course not. I just want to be there to give you the images that you want so very much.
WHAT ABOUT MY PARTNER, WILL THEY BE INVOLVED?
Partners are a key part of the experience
One word, yes! But really, partners get a lot of involvement in my shoots at home. Some like lurking in the background ("call if you need me!") but once in front of the lens I think they really enjoy getting stuck in. Of course things have changed immensely from decades ago when dads weren't even allowed in the delivery room! I don't think my dad ever changed a nappy in his life with two girls in the seventies. I guess one of the positives with the Covid Generation is that your other half has been on hand and at home more than ever. Pass the nappies love.
Remember those black and white Athena Posters we all wanted of the fit guy with a baby? Hee hee. I had one of those on my walls growing up. Er, don't expect that level of perfection during an at home shoot by the way as remember I'm capturing real life here. It's more about helping with the feeds, the kisses on the head and basically being the proudest daddy ever. That's the emotion I want to evoke in the pit of your stomach when you look back on these pictures. That pure love that nothing can beat. Athena guy was cool but this is way better.
Getting that shot of baby with a devoted daddy's full attention is one of my must have shots during a newborn session.
To see more, take a peek here.
DOES A NEWBORN PHOTOSHOOT AT HOME INCLUDE PHOTOS OF SIBLINGS?
It's a definite yes. Some of the most wonderful images are those with older siblings. This is a big part of an at home newborn session. There are lots of emotions running through the minds of first borns; jealousy, curiousity, protectiveness being just a few and I'm there to get those feelings and interactions on camera. It's a huge change for them too. By asking them to hold their little brother or sister (if they are able to give them that support) gets them involved and feeling needed is especially important at this time with a lot of parental attention being diverted to your newcomer. Bonding, bonding, bonding!
I just want you to feel relaxed and enjoy every minute, right in the place you call home.
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A super cute image to end