There’s something so special about a newborn baby. Their fragility. Their squishy cheeks. Their appearance into the world after being almost abstract to their family for many months. They are certainly reason to celebrate.
When photographing a newborn, there are a couple of location options that I tend to opt for, but most frequently, I photograph at the newborn’s home. Parents have often created a nursery for their littlest ones out of the love that is in abundance while they can’t yet hold their tiny hands and feet. Mother’s bodies are healing and one less outing, the better. Families change and seasons change, and documenting the home your baby comes home to is a special kind of documentation to me.
One of my children, adopted and having moved internationally at age 2, can never know what the home he was born into looks like. We can’t really even imagine it. What a gift it would be to him to have a sense of place and home of birth through a photograph.
Our oldest, though he can’t remember it, knows the home where he was born and says, “Hi old house!” every time we pass it. The photos we have of that home where he was born help him establish the days he doesn’t recall. And see how goofy we looked standing on the front porch on the way to his first doctor’s appointment. The Christmas tree where we stood after he came home from the hospital. And the red slip covered couch where I sat to watch too many hours of The Today Show after he was born.
I have a handful of tips on how to prepare for your newborn photography session at home. These are things I tell to almost every family.
Schedule ASAP. Newborn photography is best done before baby is 14 days old. Less than a week is ideal for photographing, but not always ideal for parents just getting home from the hospital and recovering.
Warmth. We’ll probably be changing baby or wrapping baby or undressing baby, so keeping your house warm will help baby stay settled and sleepy. Crank up the heat and be prepared to get toasty.
Clothes. Mama’s bodies do not bounce back in a day, so not everything in your closet is going to fit. Honestly, I know that makes it hard to plan ahead. That in-between stage, when your body is still looking like you are about 4 or 5 months pregnant can be hard to dress, and so I just say- girl, do your best. Your presence in the photo is far more important than any shirt or pair of jeans you can squeeze into. Many tops these days are rather flowing and have a lot of drape, so that can be an easy option. I advise couples to coordinate but not match, and to send a picture if they have questions about wardrobe. Simple is best.
Tidying. There is no need to wear your body out more than it already will be cleaning and preparing. I do suggest clearing out any excess clutter sitting out in the nursery (like bags of diapers, those shower gifts that never found a home or need returning, or pile of laundry), making the bed in your own room, and potentially tidying up in the living room. But don’t overhaul the house. I’ll move whatever I need to and it’s no big deal.
Props and special tidbits. If I see a fun basket or bowl or box in your home, I might use it as a prop. If you have any special heirlooms, handmade gifts, blankets, hats, or clothing you’d like included, have it out and ready in case we have a great way to incorporate it.
You can expect that if my kids are sick or I am sick, I’ll postpone for the safety of your child. I’ll also use sanitizer or wash my hands before holding your baby.
I’ll never pose your baby in a dangerous way, nor move away from baby without a spotter.
If you are having a newborn mini session, your photos will likely all be relationship photos, and little to none of those photos will have baby alone. Mama and Dad will be there to cuddle baby for our short time together. If baby is really sleepy, we’ll do our best to get baby alone.
If you are having a This Season session, you can expect a longer, relaxed pace together. We’ll spend a full morning, afternoon, or evening together. I’ll photograph a mixture of posed portraits, candid moments, soothing, feeding (as desired), and details of baby and their space. If baby is fussy, it’s OK. If baby is sleeping the whole time, that’s OK. You can expect to just enjoy looking at your baby and spending time as a family.