Welcome to the Newborn Portrait Experience! Newborn photography is very different to your standard photoshoot. It is a specialised genre and most reputable, trained newborn photographers will already know the secrets to a smooth, relaxed newborn session. This is why I have developed this guide to help you prepare for your newborn photo shoot.
You have chosen to capture this fleeting time to forever remember them exactly as they are now, and I can absolutely promise this will be all worth it. The sleepy, peaceful babies shown in newborn photography all have one thing in common, their parents followed this simple prep guide before their session.
A peaceful state of sleepiness is the ultimate goal of our newborn session, together with some contented awake shots. To ensure this I’m asking for a little bit of help from you. All of these tips I have already done with my own babies and clients before you. A sleepy baby is essential to the success of your newborn session so please follow all of the helpful tips and instructions. This perfect sleep recipe has proven to be very effective in newborn photography around the world.
Preparation for the session.
1. If your baby has slept solidly in the morning prior to your session we may spend a long time trying to get your baby to sleep, this may mean we will struggle to get as many posed shots or be able to use the props you’ve requested. If you can, in the morning of your session, try to keep your baby stimulated for 2-3 hours by giving them a bath, and interacting with them. I find it best to give them their feed at the studio rather than before you leave home. A full tummy equals a sleepy baby. Obviously, this may not be doable, as these things are always easier said than done! But this little bit of prep really can make a difference to your session, especially if the baby arrives nice and sleepy.
2. Dress baby in a simple loose babygrow that doesn’t have to be lifted off over the head. It is also easier to undress babies if they aren’t wearing a vest. This makes it easier if the baby is asleep, we don’t have to disturb them when undressing. No tight socks or vests to avoid lines on their skin.
3. A dummy is extremely helpful even if your baby doesn’t usually have one. Please bring one along. It can be a huge lifesaver when the baby continuously wants to feed/suckle for comfort. Sometimes it really is the difference between settling babies without moving them or having to give them back to mummy to feed! A dummy can help to avoid contact with mummy while we are in the “rhythm” of a session. Baby can smell mum and hear her voice and this triggers their instinct to feed. Quite a distraction for a little newborn. Using a bottle or a dummy for a couple of minutes can help to maintain the fluidity of the session and helps the baby settle easier.
4. If you are breastfeeding, it may help not to eat spicy or acidic foods or drink caffeine in 48 hours prior to your session as this could possibly make the baby unsettled.
When you arrive.
A full baby means a sleepy baby, and we need a very sleepy & calm baby in order to achieve the sweet, flexible poses you see in my portfolio. If baby is awake when you arrive I will ask you to undress baby, wrap them in a blanket and give them a full feed. Baby will tend to feed more during this session so please bring plenty of milk with you to the session. A full baby is a happy baby and a happy baby will sleep soundly.
It will be hot, hot!
The studio will be heated intensely to keep your little one warm, so dress in layers so that you can remove some if you get too warm.
Soothing, feeding the baby.
The session is very relaxed. Much of the session might be spent waiting for Mummy to nurse, nappy changes, and soothing baby. This is normal and expected. You and your baby’s wellbeing is more important to me than getting a shot.
The three P’s!
It is only natural that baby, will pee, poop, and puke. I can assure you this happens all the time, and it’s completely natural. Please bring with you baby wipes, extra nappies, and a towel. After each newborn session, I launder all of my backdrops and other items the baby comes in contact with. An extra set of clothes for the parents is a good idea, just in case. Someone always gets wee’d or pooped on, it’s usually me, but sometimes you!
Parent and sibling shots are included in every session. Newborn sessions generally take 2-4 hours, so please plan for that. Older siblings, please be aware that young children can find this a long time. Arrangements may need to be made for young children to attend at the beginning or towards the end of the session so that they will not get bored and disturb baby throughout the session. This is particularly important with very young children under five. This is where Grandparents or very good friends really come in handy!
Family Photos – What to wear.
Keep clothing simple. To ensure that your images remain timeless I advise parents to think about the outfits that are going to be worn. Plain neutral colours work well. If you prefer colour then I suggest you colour co-ordinate, avoid busy patterns, logos or printed T-Shirts. I am a big fan of skin-on-skin portraits with you holding your baby against you. They’re so timeless. So if you want some natural portraits like this with your newborn, mum’s consider a strapless top or vest, alternately I could wrap you in a scarf with a stretchy material I have available. These can come for some very tender images.
Things to bring with you.
Milk ~ You will need to bring plenty of milk, more is better than not enough as baby will probably feed more than usual during the session.
Essentials ~ Spare nappies, wipes, baby blanket It is advisable to bring a little oil/vaseline and cotton wool if baby tends to have flaky skin, this can also be done before you leave home.
Special item ~ You may want to bring a special toy or blanket that you would like to be featured in some of the images.
Picnic ~ Please feel free to bring yourself a picnic a newborn session can be hungry work for parents and this is also your chance to sit back and relax and grab a bite to eat. It might be the only meal you get to have in quite a while that isn’t disturbed! We have a fabulous coffee station where you can help yourself to a variety of coffee’s, a selection of tea’s tea and cold drinks.
Dummies! ~ Even if you do not give your baby a dummy/pacifier it is a good idea to bring one to the session. This is a huge help to soothe baby during the session and can make the session quicker and more straightforward rather than constant feeding that can sometimes occur. As it is used for such a short time baby will not become reliant on it if you prefer your baby not to have one. Some babies just settle better with a dummy/pacifier during the session. It can be a huge lifesaver when the baby continuously wants to feed/suckle for comfort. It really can make a huge difference during the session. Baby can smell mum and hear her voice and this triggers their instinct to feed. It can be quite a distraction for a little newborn. Using a bottle or a dummy for a couple of minutes can help to maintain the fluidity of the session and helps the baby settle easier. However! If you really are against using a dummy then I understand and we will do without.
LOTS OF MILK!
NAPPIES & WIPES
PARENT & SIBLING OUTFITS
CHANGE OF CLOTHES FOR PARENTS JUST IN CASE BABY PEES OR POOS!
PICNIC (ITS HUNGRY WORK RELAXING IN THE STUDIO)
DUMMY (OPTIONAL, WE MAY NOT HAVE TO USE IT BUT VERY HELPFUL JUST IN CASE)
COTTON WOOL AND OIL FOR SKIN (IF BABY HAS FLAKY SKIN)
ANYTHING SPECIAL YOU WOULD LIKE INCLUDED IN THE PHOTOGRAPHS. (SPECIAL TOY/BLANKET ETC)
Please feel free to bring anything with you that you think you may need.
Thank you again for choosing Maxine Sarah Photography to document this special time in your lives. I am honoured you chose me, and I consider photographing your newborn a great responsibility and privilege.