Newborn Photography: The Ultimate Guide for New Parents

May 27, 2020

Yes, this guide is about newborn photography…. but before we jump in, first, a quick congratulations on your little one! Preparing for motherhood is such an amazing season of life filled with an abundance of anticipation and excitement for what is to come. You are in for such an amazing adventure.

mages from a maternity and newborn photography session

So soon after bringing your little one home, you are realizing already how quickly babies change, even in those first few days, and decide to book a local photographer to document this time. After a quick Google search of “newborn photographers near me” produces enough results to cause any new parent anxiety with the overload of choices, you realize the considerations are endless: style, safety, location, products and price. How do you make the best choice?

If you are considering a newborn session, you are in the right place! Here, I’ll highlight different photography styles, the main difference between a studio session and at-home session (plus the benefits!) and more.

As you consider all of the options, it’s important to remember that you will be documenting a season that, once it’s gone, it’s gone. It is crucial that you work with someone who fully meets the vision and goals that you have for your session. You will have these photographs displayed in your home for many, many years… it is important they bring joy and fond memories everytime you reflect on them or walk past them on the walls.

Why am I writing this guide? I believe it is important for established professional photographers to help educate parents on how to choose the best photographer for their family, even if it means they may choose a different photographer.

With over 8 years of photographing newborns and assisting parents in navigating these choices, I decided to provide this informational guide to help other parents understand the basic requirements of safety, the types of styles, pricing considerations and more when choosing a newborn photographer.

When to Schedule a Newborn Photography Session

As a newborn photographer, one of the most asked questions I receive is when is the best time to schedule newborn photography pictures? This is such a great question and is really important especially when it comes to securing availability.

The best rule of thumb is to schedule as early as possible: as a mom-to-be you’re going to be caught up in planning details and preparations for baby’s arrival and before you know it, time has passed quickly and then you’re scrambling for a photographer.

If you schedule early, not only will you secure your preferred date but you’ll have one less thing to have to research and prepare for as your due date gets closer. Having all of the preparations taken care of early will allow you to enjoy the process of being photographed with your newborn and family with minimal stress.

Newborn Photography Styles

One of the first recommendations in knowing what style appeals to you as that will drive your search. If you’ve viewed newborn photographs on Pinterest or Instagram, you’ve probably been able to determine exactly what appeals to you and certainly what does not.

For simplicity sake, we are going to define newborn photography styles as either being posed (traditional) or unposed (lifestyle or baby-led). Although styles can be intertwined and share certain elements, essentially the style will lean more towards one category.

Posed Newborn Photography

Posed, or traditional, newborn photography is often defined by the use of extensive posing, use of props such as buckets or baskets, fabric backgrounds, hats or bonnets and numerous styled set-ups. This type of session highlights what your newborn looks like.

Posed photographers will typically schedule a posed session when the newborn is generally between 5-14 days old, although this can vary, as it is very important that the baby is deeply asleep during posing. Once a baby is older than approximately 14 days, they tend to not sleep as deeply or for as long and they begin to lose their “curl” and prefer to be stretched out. Sessions can last anywhere from 2-4 hours depending on feedings, diaper changes and getting baby back to sleep.

*It is very important that any photographer that is going to be handling your baby be properly trained in safety but especially in posed newborn photography. Improper or inexperienced posing can possibly result in injury to the neck or spine and there is always a risk of a baby falling from or out of a prop. Proper posing safety education and having a “spotter” beside baby is a must for this type of posing.

Lifestyle or Baby-Led Newborn Photography

Lifestyle, or baby-led, newborn photography is characterized as relaxed and focused on authentic interaction and connection without the unnatural or overly posed elements of traditional photography. Baby is often photographed in different areas of the home which provides a unique backdrop for every session and includes historical elements of the family home.

Pin for C. E. Grace & Co. Pinterest board

Moments are photographed as they organically unfold with minimal guidance or direction allowing for the most natural of placement within a parents arms or hands. With this level of natural interaction, siblings and pets can easily be included into the session with little awareness of the camera or photographer resulting in beautiful, candid shots. Subjects are able to interact comfortably without feeling pressured to pose or make eye contact with the camera.

Lifestyle newborn photography would be a great choice if capturing the love and genuine emotions for your newborn is the goal of the session.

*Regardless of which posing style is chosen, any photographer handling a newborn should be properly trained and insured (business and liability) in case of an accident or injury.

Newborn Photography Edits

If you prefer dark and moody photographs, I would not recommend using a photographer whose work is light and airy or vice versa. The way a photographer edits a session is as personal as to how they photograph – no two styles are the same and neither one is correct. If you asked two different photographers to capture and edit the same scene, they would look entirely different.

Proper editing is much more complicated than using a filter, such as those on Instagram, and can require years of practice and developing the eye to see imbalance of tones, exposure and tints.

Always view the portfolio of a photographer that you are considering, it will be their BEST work.

What to look for in newborn photography editing styles

  1. Consistency. Is the overall look of the work consistent? Is the lighting, color and tone consistent from one session to another.
  2. Specialization. Does the photographer have one or two areas where their work is visibly strong or do they photograph all types of sessions without any area of specialization? Weddings, sports, seniors, newborns, product, fashion are all specialized photography and each requires different skill sets and training. A sports photographer is not going to photograph a newborn photography session the same as a sporting event.
  3. Finished Edits. Editing styles, much like clothing, are very personal and there really is no wrong or right method but there are markers typically associated with a professional finish: a clean, minimal edit, not using outdated methods or styles (unless that’s the intention!), skin tones and eyes look natural, not overly smooth or bright. These “markers” are generally associated with photographs that are timeless and classic, not trendy.

Studio or At-Home Sessions

Both locations offer benefits depending on the type of session preferred and the desired outcome for the photographs.

Studio Newborn Session

Studio sessions are usually chosen when a posed newborn session is preferred. A studio session provides access to a large collection of props, posing equipment and backgrounds. Most posed newborn photographers prefer to offer clients a studio environment because it is difficult to travel with a large variety of equipment and props and then have to set-up in the home. A studio session is best for parents that desire a wide variety of sets, colors and variety.

Studio newborn sessions are typically scheduled between 5-14 days old.

At-Home Newborn Photography

If you’ve never thought about scheduling an at-home session, there are many benefits worth considering:

mom playing with two daughters at home
  1. Every session is unique. Unlike studio sessions where identical backgrounds and props are used repeatedly with very little variety, your home is distinctive and will provide a one-of-a-kind background
  2. Clients do not have to travel. When I used to photograph in a studio, I would find mom and family would often arrive frazzled, late and exhausted from having to get ready, packed and then fight traffic to arrive on time. More often than not, something would be forgotten or mom would be worried that she had forgot something. When I am traveling to my client’s home, there is nothing for mom to have to pack or worry about. The morning is more relaxed and unhurried for everyone. I often have clients tell me how wonderful it was that they didn’t have to bother getting out and traveling with a new baby.
  3. Hair and makeup artist can come to you. Having your hair and makeup artist come to your home provides mom with the same benefits of not having to travel with a newborn plus it’s a wonderful pampering opportunity for mom to feel special while getting ready.
  4. Documenting the everyday moments. Although studio sessions can create beautiful images, they are often choreographed poses and there is often very little natural interaction. I love being able to take the time to quietly observe and wait for moments that unfold naturally during feedings, bath time and snuggles.
  5. It’s safer for your newborn. Newborns have incredibly sensitive immune systems and there is a potential risk of exposing them to germs the more person-to-person contact they have while traveling to another location or waiting to be photographed in a studio. At home newborn photography sessions allow parents to limit the amount of exposure their newborn has with other people.
  6. Your home is quiet, comfortable and familiar. While many studios can offer a calming atmosphere, it is not your home, the place you feel most at ease. In your space, you will hold your baby more naturally, you’ll settle in more comfortably with your own surroundings and enjoy a more relaxing experience while I quietly document these authentic interactions during this beautiful season of motherhood.
  7. Your home has history. It is so important to me to create meaningful portraits for my families and help them build their legacy. Whether you are in your forever home or your “right now” home, it is part of your history and it will always be remembered as the home that you brought your baby to. The nursery that you worked so hard to prepare, the couch you snuggled on during midnight feedings and the chair you rocked them to sleep… these are all priceless backdrops that help tell your family’s story.

At- home newborn sessions are typically scheduled from about two weeks old and beyond.

A Little Information About Me

My name is Christi Grace and I am a natural light, lifestyle maternity and at-home newborn photographer based in Jackson, Mississippi and available for travel worldwide.

portrait of woman looking down

I adore capturing sessions for families that reflect human connection, truth and authenticity.  I am so grateful for the families that have chosen me to create timeless images of their life and loves.  The most beautiful exchange comes from working with families who see and value what it is that I love to provide. 

I value love, raw emotion, soft neutral colors, light and authenticity.  I want to provide this to you and your family in a way that reflects how precious and meaningful you are to your family, loved ones, and those you love most.  If these are the elements of this amazing journey and season of life that you hold with deep affection, then I’m your girl. 

The Heart Behind What I Do

Motherhood is raw and messy but it’s also precious.  It’s the greatest calling on this earth.  Early mornings and late nights.  Profound and emotional, giving your everything and expecting nothing in return.  It’s a life filled and overflowing.  Kissing hurts, calming fears and encouraging imaginations.  We, as mothers, need photographs but we also need to be present in them, as well, as a witness to the small, simple moments lived daily.  These moments that we live for, even prayed for, that we swear we will never forget, will one day start to gently fade.  This is why I adore photographing families and their lives.

These moments are fleeting, like a vapor, but photographs can transport us back to the precious moments that create and shape so much of our lives.  If you want to be forever reminded of those authentic, organic and genuine moments between you and the ones you love the most, those are the memories I want to preserve for you and your family. I began my photography journey over twenty years ago and I fell in love with the medium almost immediately.  Having the ability to suspend a moment in time, the subtle nuances or larger than life moments, with soul and an authentic perspective, is almost magical. 

What I Offer

I strongly value love, simplicity, authenticity, raw emotion, soft colors and gorgeous light, and all of these elements create the core of the photographic style and session experience offered.

mom photographed playing with her two daughters

I want to capture the genuine human connection and natural interactions between you and the ones you love the most with natural light, lifestyle portraits.

Our lifestyle sessions are suitable for all seasons of motherhood and include the choice of maternity, newborn or family sessions captured in the comfort of the client’s home or on location. Sessions are scheduled for mid-mornings and evenings (an hour prior to sunset) and include ample time for relaxing, playing and snuggling.

A beautifully curated studio wardrobe is available for use for mama and littles, if chosen or we can assist with wardrobe styling ideas for the entire family.

My Session Process for Clients

What to Expect

Over the last seven years, I have been invited to capture some of the most beautiful and intimate of moments shared between mamas and their loves, which is why my process starts with a conversation. We’ll get to know one another during a scheduled 15 minute telephone or video chat where we will discuss the details of your session, answer any questions you might have and figure out if we’re the best fit for each other. 

Location

Mama’s typically prefer the comfort and aesthetic of their own home for their cherished photographs but occasionally, some choose to reserve a bed & breakfast suite or use a relative or friend’s home.  I love home sessions because that is where you’re most comfortable, where you relax… it’s the where you brought baby home.  There’s nothing like creating beautiful images against the backdrop of your home.  Although my style has a signature look for each session, every session captured in home is beautifully unique.

Wardrobe Styling

We’ve curated a beautiful studio wardrobe for mama and her littles that compliment our light and flowy style with a pale color palette, ready to use or we’ll gladly make suggestions from wardrobe pieces you already own and love.  We’ve also curated a Pinterest board of clothing looks and brands for the entire family. We recommend choosing soft, neutral colors; remembering to coordinate, not match; and select timeless, well fitting, relaxed pieces with texture.

The Session

I believe in capturing moments as they happen, not staged.  I practice baby and children-led sessions that allow for capturing the tiniest of details, authentic emotions and natural movements.  No matter the session you choose, you will find our time together to be serene as it unfolds naturally and organically, as it should, because this is where the day-to-day beautiful moments create the memories we love the most.

Product Delivery

I am a lover of showcasing gorgeous prints and albums in my home; however, not all families have the wall space or have decided exactly how they want to preserve their photographs for the future.  To complete your session experience effortlessly, your photographs will be uploaded to our client site where you can view, share, purchase prints and download your files easily for a period of two weeks.

Newborn Photography Safety During Coronavirus (Covid-19)

The health and safety of my clients and their family is, and has always been, my top priority during a session. I want to reassure my clients that I am taking all precautions to maintain a safe environment so your littles and family are protected.

To minimize any exposure to families and myself, the following health and safety measures have been implemented:

  1. Health measures. Before each session, I regularly monitor my temperature and ask that clients monitor theirs prior to the session. I will have disposable gloves and masks on hand during the session and will gladly wear them throughout the session if the client prefers. I will also maintain the recommended distance of 6 feet or greater while photographing. Only immediate family members are allowed during sessions.
  2. Personal hygiene. I wash my hands thoroughly before and after each session and routinely use hand sanitizer during the session.
  3. Cleaning policy. After every session, I thoroughly clean and launder/sanitize any items that were brought to or handled during a session (comforter, blanket or wardrobe) for every client. All equipment and camera bags are cleaned and sanitized with wipes.
  4. Limited sessions. Until further notice, a minimum of 48 hours is required between all sessions to allow time for thorough cleaning and sanitizing of my equipment.
  5. Sick policy. Clients are required to disclose and reschedule the session if their child or any family member has had a fever or any other symptoms such as cough, running nose or vomiting within the last 24 hours. There is no fee to reschedule.

How To Schedule With Me

I value love, raw emotion, soft neutral colors, light and authenticity.  I want to provide this to you and your family in a way that reflects how precious and meaningful you are to your family, loved ones, and those you love most.  If these are the elements of this amazing journey and season of life that you hold with deep affection, then I’m your girl. 

It is very important to me that we are a great fit, which is why my process starts with a conversation, so let’s connect! You can email me directly at info@christigrace.com or complete an inquiry form HERE.

If you enjoyed this post, you may also be interested in “7 Benefits to At Home Newborn Photography” and “The Best Time to Schedule a Newborn Session.”

portrait of woman looking down

Hi! I’m Christi – a lifestyle photographer based in Jackson, Mississippi capturing seasons of motherhood for moms and those she loves most. I thrive within simplicity, seek to encourage others and actively pursue an intentional life grounded in love and gratitude. I’m easily distracted by home DIY videos, fresh french-pressed coffee, thrift stores and puppies. If you share a connection with these heartfelt ramblings, I would love to work with you. You can reach me at: info@christigrace.com.

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