If weddings are the bread of my business, newborn sessions are the butter. I absolutely love getting to capture babies’ first days at home! The type of sessions I shoot are what’s referred to as “lifestyle newborn photography.” No props, no studio backdrops, no frog-like poses. Just laid-back photos of mamas and daddies (and big siblings!) with their new addition, at home, in the nursery, hanging out and soaking up family time. We’ll get close up shots of baby’s features - lips, hands, ears, toes, of course - but mostly, these photos capture the love a family has for this brand new little one.
That said, clients are sometimes intimidated thinking about having pictures taken in their own home. But that doesn’t have to be the case! These tips can help you prep your home for a newborn photo session in a way that will help get the most beautiful results in your photos.
It’s all about the light
I try to schedule newborn sessions based on when the light is best in the client’s home. It varies for everyone, depending on which direction your house faces and how much window light you have, but most homes are brightest from about 10am to 1pm. To make sure I get the best skin tones and fewer harsh shadows in my photos, I like to turn off all lamps and overhead lights and open the blinds all the way, only using natural light from the windows.
The nursery is obviously the go-to room for at-home newborn sessions, but what if baby’s room doesn’t get very much natural light? Most advanced DSLR cameras can handle low light pretty well, but if you’re unsure, text a picture of the room at mid-day to your photographer and see what they think. If the nursery is a darker room - maybe it only has one window - picking another room may be better. The master, a guest room (bonus points for a white or light-colored bedspread to help brighten things up), or even the living room! You’ll want to do these photos in whichever room is the brightest. No matter which room is used, we want the backdrop to be as simple as possible to keep the focus on baby.
Less is more
Babies require a lot of stuff! But in photos taken in close quarters, that stuff can be really distracting. The key for in-home photo sessions is to de-clutter (temporarily) as much as possible. I’m happy to help my clients with this when I arrive, if they don’t mind! I typically move things out of the nursery like diaper genies, mesh crib bumpers, bouncy seats, monitors/noise machines, and changing table clutter. If your baby’s room has a distinct theme or color scheme and something really doesn’t go, it’s best to move it for the time being so it’s not distracting in photos. Obviously we don’t want to get rid of anything really sentimental, but it helps to clear out as much as possible from tabletops, shelves, and corners. If we’re taking photos anywhere else in the home, the same de-cluttering tips apply. Pay close attention to nightstands, coffee tables, and such. Move as many little things out of the room as you can without it looking awkward. Stick with just the bare necessities!
Turning the temperature up for a newborn session
This is a common tip photographers give, and it makes sense! Since we’ll be changing baby’s outfits quite a bit, it helps to keep them calm and comfortable if they’re not startled or freezing during changes. That said, you don’t want to be sweating, either. No need to make your house a sauna, but do turn up the thermostat a notch or two.
What to Wear for a Newborn Session
Styles come and go, but certain types of clothes just look timeless, photograph better and enhance the overall look of your photos. If you're having trouble deciding what to wear, ask your photographer! They’ll be happy to send suggestions and give honest feedback on outfit ideas.
I love a relaxed look for in-home newborn sessions. Since we’re just hanging out and soaking up sweet moments at home, you don’t need a super structured style. I usually recommend dads opt for an untucked button-down, a soft sweater in a pale color, or a nicer light-colored solid t-shirt with jeans or chinos. Mamas, texture is key. Soft sweaters, flowy solid-colored tunics, adding layers with a long, soft cardigan over stretchy skinny jeans … comfy casual. For baby, simple muslin swaddling blankets and basic onesies are your best bet!
The Takeaways: Use the brightest room possible. De-clutter as much as you can. Wear soft, light colors. Take a deep breath and soak it all in!