I was so excited to meet McKenna and photograph her lifestyle newborn session. In May, I met her wonderful parents at their Maternity Portrait Session. I often get questions about my newborn portrait sessions, so I thought I would take a minute to answer some of them now.
Q: What is lifestyle newborn?
Lifestyle photography can be described as being in between documentary photography and traditional portrait photography. In documentary photography, the photographer is a fly on the wall and only captures what happens naturally. For traditional portrait photography, the photographer controls everything, right down to very specific posing (“put your chin just so”). In lifestyle photography, the photographer tries to capture scenes that would unfold naturally in real life. But unlike a documentary photographer who just waits on the action, we guide clients so that we can get a variety of real moments in an hour or two. At a lifestyle family session, I might ask you to stand in the pretty light and have a tickle fight. This is something that may happen in your real life, but I’ve helped it along by putting you in a good spot and giving you an activity to do.
At a newborn session, this means that I will capture photos of the baby in her own environment, in ways that could have happened naturally. I love photos of the baby in her nursery, and in the arms of her parents. This means that I do not have a bean bag chair like a traditional portrait newborn photographer would have. There isn’t a lot of posing baskets, fancy wraps, or babies hanging from trees Anne Geddes style. Nothing against that style, it’s just not what I do.
Q: What should we wear?
For mom & dad, I recommend something you are comfortable in, that won’t distract too much from the baby. Neutrals are a great choice, but colors can work well too. I love the purple mom is wearing in the photos below. Just keep in mind the colors that will be in the background. For example, the yellow and blue mom and dad are wearing here work great in the colorful nursery. I like to remind moms to keep in mind that they would have just had a baby, so something loose-fitting and flowing is a good choice as they recover.
For the baby, this is largely a matter of personal preference, but I think simple is best. One thing to know about newborns is that they pretty much never fill out their clothes. So while a dress might be cute, it’s probably going to look too big and floppy and swallow her up. Words are also hard to read unless the baby is lying just so. My personal favorite for a newborn is a plain short sleeve onesie, with wraps and swaddle blankets. Little baby pants are cute too and come in some fun patterns.
I bring a few plain onesies and blankets with me in case you need them, as well as a few small bows and hats. The green and orange blankets below are mine, as is the colorful quilt with the orange in it and the small bow she’s wearing in that photo.
Q: Where do you take the photos?
This can vary by house. The first thing I do when I get to a newborn session is to take a look around at the options. One thing I am especially looking for is natural light, but I also carry a flash in cases there isn’t enough window light. Some of my favorite spots to shoot are in the nursery, in mom and dad’s room, and in the living room.
I stress to clients that they should not worry about cleaning the house before I come….they just had a baby after all. But what can help is if they have a few uncluttered spots in mind before I come. For example, have the nightstand clear of distractions if you think the master bedroom might be a good spot. Also, you never know what might strike me as a good spot so don’t spend too much time on this.
For example, one of my favorite photos below is towards the end where dad is holding his baby girl on his lap and she’s holding his pinky finger. That was just in the dining room. It had lovely window light so I had dad sit in a chair there and just shot down at him so you didn’t see the kitchen behind him. I point that out because sometimes the simplest spots are the best. But also, I was in love with this colorful nursery, so that is fun too.
One thing I love is to include anything that tells the story of the family and baby. For example, the quilt towards the end of this set, with the hankie, was made by McKenna’s Great Grandmother for her Grandmother. How cool is that?
Did I miss anything? What questions do you have about newborn photography?
Looking for a photographer in Spring Hill, Franklin, and Columbia in Middle Tennessee? I photograph families at all stages, from newborns to seniors. See my website for more information or to book a session from my online calendar. I would love it if you would consider following me on Facebook and/or Instagram.