Updated: May 17
Edinburgh & The Lothians
How to prepare for a Newborn Photoshoot at home
Best locations in your home for a Lifestyle Newborn Photoshoot
What style of shot can we expect during a Lifestyle Newborn Photoshoot?
Fingers and toes - How I capture your newborn's tiny features during the Photo Session
I'm worried my baby won't settle during the Newborn Photo Session
Will you photograph me breastfeeding during a Lifestyle Newborn Photoshoot?
And relax.... how I want you to feel during a lifestyle at-home newborn photo session
So you're thinking about a photoshoot with your newborn at home... well, I have it covered! Get yourself a cup of something hot and read on -
This is all about how I handle and approach an at-home Lifestyle Newborn Photo Session for all you scottish parents-to-be in Edinburgh & The Lothians.
Firstly, mums. Can I just say, WELL DONE YOU! 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.
This is real life. It's your life at a very special time and I'm here to capture a darn good slice of it right from the comfort of your own home. Time to get the kettle on!
WAIT UP. JUST WHAT IS LIFESTYLE NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY?
It's a phrase that's been thrown around the last decade, commonly referred to as candid and documentary styled photography. 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, recording those real, every day moments that will 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. I capture the feeds, the endless rocking, dad with the muslin over his shoulder. Door peeking moments like I'm not even there. There is no specific plan, I work around you and how your brand new little person is feeling. Like it or not, they are 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. The big advantage of having your newborn photos at home is that you don't need to set foot outside your door. No worrying about whether you've packed all the things your baby may need, then arriving at the studio all flustered and stressed. It took me around 2 months to get properly out and about with my daughter and to look like I vaguely knew what I was doing. So how amazing is it to have your photographer (that's me), come straight to you 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. If baby allows. 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.
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
I like keeping things simple as you have enough to keep you busy. There are just a few little tasks to do before I arrive.
Number one, don't panic.
If all you manage to do is make your bed in the main bedroom then that helps a lot. It may well be the first time you've actually made the bed in the last few days. I get that. Get your partner to help. Why make the bed? A lot of the photos I take will be with baby on the bed with you and your partner. Draw back curtains and blinds to make the most of the light entering the room. Have the house at a warm termperature which is comfortable for you and your newborn. If you want your baby in a certain outfit then dress them in this just before I arrive - before it's covered in milk throw up. Lay out any other outfits you may want to change them into so they are just to hand along with a couple of blankets. These are for laying them down, wrapping them up or using as a cover. And that's really it.
WHAT DO I WEAR FOR THE NEWBORN PHOTOSHOOT, AND WHAT ABOUT THE BABY?
This is discussed prior to the session. 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 a new baby but please don't! Comfortabe and loose clothing is key and if you feel more confident with a little bit of make up on then fabulous. You will probably have to accept that you won't fit into that favourite pair of jeans or the top you bought last year pre pregnancy. The most important thing is that you feel good and that will give you confidence which in turn will pave the way for a more relaxed session. 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.
"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
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. All focus should be on expressions and their little features after all. You may want to have a few outfits to hand during your session if your baby isn't too easily upset to get naked (some are) and have a wardrobe change! 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.
ON THE DAY OF YOUR PHOTOSHOOT AT HOME
To kick things off, we have an informal chat about for eg how you are getting on with the new addition in your life and of course there is alot of ooooooing over the baby. A cup of tea will always go down well ;-) I've met so many newborns now but still have an uncontrollable urge to go ga ga over them! It's the little squeaky noises they make and those facial expressions... I can't get enough. It reminds me of the early days with my two. (no more, this shop is closed now.. hee hee)
WHERE IS THE BEST SPOT IN MY HOME FOR THE PHOTOS - I'M WORRIED IT WILL BE A TIP
This is a huge concern for new parents and yes, your house will most likely be messy and disorganised but I am totally fine with this. Shortly after I arrive at your home what I do is establish where the key areas of opportunity are, that offer the best light potential for the photographs. With your permission, I'll ask for a little tour of your home to seek out the best spots. In my eyes, natural light is the most magical type of light, therefore a room that benefits most from that is best. So a wee nosey about your house is necessary but please, please don't have any sort of tidy up before I arrive. I've seen it all and very often houses are tidier than my own midden of a home. You've just had a baby! They are way more important than worrying about the pair of underpants on the floor in the bedroom or the over flowing laundry basket - I won't be photographing any of that! 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. Every consideration is taken into account about what is in the background before pressing the shutter release... trust me, I don't want to be photoshopping out the nappy waste bin in an otherwise great shot. I can muck in too and will happily move items out the way as we go along.
WHAT SORT OF SHOTS WILL WE EXPECT?
If you're choosing me as your photographer, expect a range of images in those areas that offer most potential. Baby on their own, with each parent and everyone together. Siblings also get included. More on them later. The main bedroom is where I usually head for first. What if I have small windows?, I hear you ask. This was the case with one session recently. The room was painted in a dark colour and the windows weren't that big. This wasn't a problem. I took the first few shots with the baby lying over her mums shoulder while she was standing with her back to the window. As long as her face was in the light and not in shadow, I was happy. I am always guided by the light.
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...
IT'S ALL IN THE DETAIL
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.