5 tips to help you prepare for your lifestyle newborn photography session
melbourne newborn photographer
1. What to wear
This is hands down the most commonly asked question I get asked. I really and truly believe that the main thing here is that you need to feel like yourself and you need to feel comfortable … and no, I’m not suggesting we do a session in your PJ’s (although, that actually could be kind of cool ...) but I definitely don’t want you getting dressed up to the nines in clothes that make you feel stiff and uncomfortable – keep in mind that for the majority of your session you’re going to be in your home, up on your bed/couch, cuddling your newborn baby and perhaps playing with your older children.
I have created a Pinterest board which has lots of outfit inspiration, here –
Jess Worrall Photography - Pinterest Board
Also, a few other important things to keep in mind are -
• MUMS, the single most important thing is that YOU feel ah-mazing and comfortable – so take this opportunity to buy yourself something that you feel a million dollars in. Tell your partner I OK’d it 😉 Once you have found something amazing for yourself, you can pick the other outfits to compliment yours (keyword here is “compliment” not “matching”! It’s not necessary for you all to dress in jeans and the same coloured white/black tops ... in fact, please don’t do that!)
• Neutrals are timeless (but pops of colour are beautiful too and can really inject your own unique personality into your images)
• Long flowy skirts/dresses or simple basics matched with textures (scarfs/kimonos/cardigans) photograph really well
• I beg of you, please avoid wearing shirts with graphics, logos or lettering, or mixing too many different patterns. These all detract from what the real focus of the image should be (you) and often, date really quickly
• My all time favourite newborn outfit? A plain white singlet or short sleeved onesie. So simple and it allows for alllll the focus to be on your gorgeous newborn and their cute little teeny tiny arms, legs, feet, cheeks ... you get the drift here, right? Plus, you can add colour and texture and extra prettiness with gorgeous muslins and blankets.
2. Preparing your home
We will not be shooting in every room in your home, so do not feel like you have to spend days tidying and cleaning your entire house. Generally we will stick to 2-3 rooms and this is largely determined by which rooms have the best natural light (these tend to be your main bedroom, living room and maybe a nursery/kids room). Although I do recommend a little bit of tidying and general decluttering, please don’t feel like you need to present a show home fit for the covers of an interiors magazine – your home still needs to tell your story and show that you live there!
I almost ALWAYS will shoot in your main bedroom, piling you all up on your bed together. With this in mind, make sure you have your favourite doona cover ready to go, or if you’ve been eyeing off the new Kip & Co range or latest Adairs catalogue, now’s the time to make that purchase!!
The last thing to consider is the room temperature. Newborn babies tend to be a lot more settled when they are warm and they generally prefer it a lot warmer than us adults ... so on the morning of your session, if it’s winter, pump up the heating a few extra degrees for an hour or so beforehand or if it’s summer, turn off the air con! If we’re feeling uncomfortably warm, that generally means it’s the perfect temperature for bub which will hopefully result in a sleepier/more content baby (fingers crossed!).
3. When to schedule your session
One of the things I love about lifestyle newborn photography is that there is not a strict timeframe to schedule in your session. For posed newborn sessions, it’s really important that the baby is settled and sleepy, so they can be easily moved into different poses, which is why it’s recommended that sessions take place within the first 6-14 or so days. For lifestyle newborn photography sessions however, this is not necessary and it’s not as important that your little one sleeps the entire time. I shoot newborn photography sessions with babies anywhere from 1 week to 3 months old and each age/stage has its own advantages.
In saying all of that, I know that many parents are super keen to have their baby photographed in those first few weeks of life when they are at their tiniest, and so if that is the case for you, it’s really important that you book your newborn photography session in during your pregnancy and also that you contact me as soon as you can once bubs is born so we can schedule the date of your session.
I generally find that if you and your partner are still on maternity/paternity leave, midweek usually works best for a newborn session as you are often inundated with visitors on weekends and it’s all a bit hectic. Currently I offer newborn photography sessions in your home in and around Melbourne, Tues - Thurs at either 10am or 2pm.
4. During your session
The chances are high that your bub is going to experience periods of unsettledness during your newborn photography session. As the mother of two babies who could barely be put down for 30 seconds during their first few months of life, believe me when I tell you that I GET IT! Newborns are wildly unpredictable and very rarely listen to reason (we all know that whoever invented the term "sleeping like a baby" was a cruel and misleading individual). But please let me reassure you that this is totally to be expected and not going to ruin your session!!
A few things I would suggest to help try to minimise your bub being really unsettled during your session are -
1) Be prepared to do some extra feeds/top ups during the session. Even if it’s not generally at a time when you would plan to feed bub, if he/she is unsettled, sometimes just a little top up is enough to make them nice and content (it certainly works for me 😉)
2) If you are putting your baby down for a nap before I arrive, consider dressing them and wrapping them in what you would like them photographed in. That way, if they are still sleeping when I arrive, we don’t need to disrupt them and risk upsetting them by getting them undressed straight away.
3) As mentioned above, try and keep the rooms we are shooting in really warm: uncomfortable for adults = perfect for newborns!!
5. Older siblings
Awww, my favourites! No, honestly!! I love working with toddlers, they add such a fun and unpredictable element to sessions that I have learnt to wholeheartedly embrace! My number one rule for working with older toddler siblings is not to force them into anything, particularly early on in the session. For some toddlers, they really just don’t want a bar of their newborn baby brother or sister, and so getting them just to sit NEAR the baby, is a win! For others, it’s about protecting the newborn baby from the toddlers overwhelming love and adoration they feel, which often results in body slamming cuddles! It’s a fine line to walk and although that can be stressful at times as the parent, my number one piece of advice for you during your session is to just roll with whatever the toddler is doing on the day. If your toddler is not interested in photos, initially I’ll focus on other photos first and then come back to the shots with the toddler in them. Only as a last resort and after I’ve exhausted all of my other tricks would we resort to bribery. It's important not to bring out the big guns too early (ie. if they have a comfort toy/dummy or favourite food that you think will get them onside, let's save that for when we REALLY need it and preferably leave it as long as possible before even mentioning it!).
Another benefit of lifestyle photography is that you don’t need to worry about trying to get them to sit still and look at my camera. Instead, you can just focus on cuddling/playing with them and doing whatever YOU guys do together that makes them happy. Again, I have a 4 year old and 2 year old at home, so I know they can be extremely temperamental and that they generally have ridiculously short attention spans!! Bless their young hearts ;)
Having a bit of an idea about what to expect in the lead up to your newborn photography session can help things go a little bit more smoothly - if you have any other questions about what to expect, or if you live in or around Melbourne and would like to book your own newborn lifestyle photography session, please get in touch here
For now though, feel free to peruse through some more photos from this gorgeous session!
Jess Worrall is a lifestyle newborn and family photographer based in Melbourne. Jess specialises in natural, relaxed and unposed newborn and family photography. Jess sometimes likes to speak in the 3rd person, but generally just for blogging purposes, so please don't be too put off by that (I tend to not do it in real life).