How to Achieve the Perfect Newborn Lifestyle Session
Those first few weeks with baby fly by in a hurried, sleepless haze. The brand-new, itty bitty baby stage comes and goes in the blink of an eye. One day you are wondering if you will ever shower or eat a proper meal again, and then the next (seemingly) you are sending your baby off to kindergarten — fighting big, fat, ugly mama tears the whole way. Why not take an intentional moment to freeze time, and savor every beautiful little detail, before it passes you by forever?
One of the best ways to do this, is to schedule a newborn lifestyle session with one of your favorite family photographers. After our brand-new, itty bitty baby was born (Miss Brooklyn Olivia), we did exactly that. I had the opportunity to sit down with Brandie, our uber talented photographer, and ask her a few questions about achieving the perfect newborn session. Here is what she had to say!
What is a newborn lifestyle session?
“A newborn lifestyle session is a great way to capture a small glimpse into those early days with your new little one in your home. It focuses on the family, and the family’s connections with it’s newest addition in a comfortable setting. This type of session is considered a story-telling session, and usually includes semi-posed shots in the nursery, and other key places in the home. It can also include siblings, and sometimes even pets,” says Brandie Payne, owner of Brandie Payne Photography, located in Houston, Texas.
This session varies drastically from the traditional newborn studio session, which focuses on posed shots of baby. A lifestyle newborn session allows you to re-visit and remember those earliest emotions for years to come, Brandie says.
How do you know if a newborn lifestyle session is right for you?
Brandie says if you have spent long hours preparing a special place for you and baby to enjoy together — and you want to document your family’s interactions and connections in that special place — then a lifestyle session may be right for you. During those first few weeks with baby, everything is a new adventure. “What a special time to look back on, to remember how you held her tiny hand — or how big sister doted on her every move,” Brandie says.
So when should this session (generally) take place?
Lifestyle newborn sessions are typically scheduled between four and 14 days. But there is some flexibility, Brandie assures us. She says a newborn session is just that: “new.” The earlier the session, the greater the chance of capturing a few sleepy shots of baby. However, the main objective of a newborn lifestyle session is not the sleepy, posed shots; it’s to capture a glimpse into your new life with your new bundle of joy, she says. Thus, the increased flexibility in timing.
What should everybody wear for the session?
Neutral and pastel colors tend to provide a clean, timeless look and feel to your portraits. “You don’t want to overshadow your newborn, which is the main focus of the session,” Brandie says. Try to pick outfits that compliment each other but do not match, she suggests. Also, remember to be comfortable! If you are uncomfortable, this will translate in your photos…
How should you prepare yourself, baby, and any other family members for the newborn lifestyle session?
Brandie suggests including family members in wardrobe selection. She says you should also explain to them that the photographer wants to capture your genuine love for one another, so no one has to excessively practice saying “cheese.” Everyone just needs to focus on loving and cuddling the baby!
When it comes to a newborn session, the baby is in charge. If she needs to eat, you feed her. If she needs a clean diaper, you change her. These types of sessions can take one to two hours plus, depending on baby’s mood, Brandie says. “You may want to use the session as an excuse to pamper yourself. I mean, you just spent somewhere around 40 weeks making a beautiful baby; you deserve a little pampering! Get a manicure, and schedule an early morning hair and makeup appointment as a treat. Don’t stress about mess. Hire someone to come in and tidy up, or leave it messy! Only a small portion of your home will be in the photographs,” she says.
Will my session look exactly like my favorite Pinterest board?
Pinterest is good for inspiration, and gives your photographer an idea of your style. But remember, it is just inspiration, Brandie warns. The people in the Pinterest photos may be taller or shorter than you, or they may have different furniture than you have; the list goes on and on. Before choosing a photographer, check out his or her portfolio. You can compare this to your pinspiration, so that you know you’ve made the right decision.
Do I have to hire a professional photographer to take photos of my newborn? What are the pros and cons?
Of course not! You never have to do anything. But, if you do choose to hire a professional photographer, you will have beautifully curated images for years to come. You will be able to enjoy your time with baby, and won’t have to stress about whether or not you got “that picture.” You won’t have to purchase thousands of dollars of professional camera equipment. Your photographer will do that for you, Brandie says. “The cons? You are going to have a hard time deciding which images you want to display in your home.” 😉
What are some qualities you should look for when selecting a photographer?
Always reference the photographer’s website, portfolio, Instagram, Facebook, and any other platforms available. This will help you determine if the photographer matches your style. Things to look for include good reviews, referrals, quick response time, and a professional website.
What are some tips for (best) communicating with your photographer, so that you end up with a finished product you love?
“Be very clear about your expectations,” Brandie advises. Provide samples of what you like and are looking for via a Pinterest board, and ask the photographer to provide you with samples as well. If your photographer is not communicating well with you prior to your session, then that may not bode well for the session itself, she says. There are many photographers to choose from, so if you take the time to look hard enough, you will find one that will be a good fit for you. Often, photographers will even refer you to a colleague if they think the colleague can better serve you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions!
Thanks for helping us out with this blog post, Brandie! My family will treasure these photos forever. And hopefully we’ve given all of you, our fantastic Baby Chick readers, a little something to think about when it comes time to plan and schedule your own new baby photos!