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How to prepare for your lifestyle newborn session

I use to think that all newborn photography should be done in the first 14 days of life if you want your session to run smoothly and capture those perfectly posed newborn photos. Since adopting a lifestyle approach to newborn photography, I quickly realized that artistic, emotive newborn photography can be captured at all ages of newborn life, and lifestyle photos more completely crystalize what those early days are like for the whole family.

What is lifestyle newborn photography?

Lifestyle newborn photography celebrates the newborn's arrival in a relaxed, informal way and captures the emotions and interactions of the whole family with their newest member. Of course newborn portraits are a big part of the session, but instead of wrapping and posing your newborn in unnatural ways to stage a certain aesthetic, many of the pictures happen with your baby in your arms or lying on a blanket as they naturally are. Candid moments between siblings, and special moments with mom and dad are all part of your complete gallery, which together tell the story of your family.

Getting your home prepared

"Staging your home" for your newborn photo shoot can seem like a daunting task, never mind that you're up all night feeding and trying to keep it together for young siblings under foot. But here's the thing -- your home doesn't have to be perfect. Most newborn photoshoots happen in only a few rooms of your home -- master bedroom, baby's room and family rooms are all popular choices. Focus on tidying only where it matters for the photo shoot and forget about the rest. Keep in mind that some clutter is an authentic part of family life and enrich your photographs, but put away anything that doesn't add to your personal story like breast pumps or food wrappers. When I first arrive to your home, I will check rooms out and move things around if needed.

What to wear?

When choosing the family's clothes for the shoot, always start with mom first. Beige, pastels, blacks or white are all great neutral colors that keep the focus on the baby. Moms, you should choose something you feel beautiful and comfortable in. Tops or dresses that come in slightly at the waist are more flattering than baggy, oversized tops that can add bulk. Long flowing dresses are great choices because they photograph well and are comfortable to wear. Avoid anything that you have to fuss with during the shoot (eg hiding bra straps).When planning the kids' outfits, think comfort first and choose something they can easily move in. Comfortable, happy kids lead to better photos and better candid moments. Dads are the easiest to plan for and look great in jeans and a sweater or shirt. Have a few swaddles, hats or headbands ready if you'd like to add variety to your photos for your newborn.

Prepare your newborn by keeping rooms warm and feeding your baby right before the shoot. Naked babies get cold and cranky. Try turning up the temperature about 30 minutes before the shoot if you want to capture those naked baby photos.

Plan for a longer photo session, then relax and go with the flow.

Family life is unpredictable and newborns can take it to a whole new level. Plan to put aside 60-90 minutes for your newborn session to allow for that extra flexibility if you need to stop to feed your new baby or your young toddler refuses to get in the photo and has a meltdown. It happens. Don't worry if things don't so as planned. Sometimes the most amazing, candid, real life moments happen just when it seems like things are falling apart. Go with the flow and know that with the luxury of time, we can pause, pivot and make it all work.

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