After my son was born, I was exhausted and completely overwhelmed. Getting out of the house for the weekly and bi-weekly doctor’s appointments was a challenge. Forget about setting aside time to get to a portrait studio, I had bigger concerns!
Thankfully, I had all the props needed to do my son’s newborn portrait photo session in our home where everything I could ever need was at my fingertips!
5 Tips on How to Prepare for a Successful In-Home Newborn Portrait Session
Newborn portrait sessions in your home can be SO much easier than traveling to a portrait studio, especially in the following weeks after your baby is born. And if you’ve chosen to do it, there are a few things you can be doing and thinking about ahead of the photo shoot that will help the session run as smooth as possible. Every baby is different though, so always be ready for the unexpected too.
Here are a few tips to help you get prepared so that you and your photographer can capture this precious family moment perfectly!
1. Keep visitors & new experiences to a minimum
Everything is new for your little one — and exhausting. That includes the strange sounds and movements that occur during a newborn portrait session. So do your best to keep new visitors to a minimum the day before (and day of) your session.
Also, it’s best not to schedule a doctor’s visit the same day as your portrait session. Try to make it a day all about enjoying time with your family.
2. Warm & Noisy = Calm & Happy
The best temperature for the session is around 76-80 degrees. This is because a lot of newborn portraits are nude or mostly nude and we want the babies to be comfortable & sleepy.
No need to crank up the thermostat though! A space heater can easily do the trick once we’ve picked the best room for the newborn session. And since newborns are used to being surrounded by the loud sound of your heartbeat, a sound machine can be calming and a good thing to have on hand. Just ask your photographer to bring these items if you don’t have them.
3. Prepare a LITTLE ahead of time
You have A LOT to do when you first come home from the hospital, and it is easy to forget even the simplest things when you are sleep deprived.
I recommend putting together any outfits, blankets or other props in the weeks before your baby is born so you don’t forget anything you really wanted to be included in the photographs. And feel free to ask your photographer for suggestions too, we know what colors and textures will look best for each setting.
4. Prepare for a family photo — or two
My biggest regret with my son is I did not do a portrait with him. I was bloated from the IV fluids, exhausted and don’t like having my picture taken even on my best days. But, I did take a few selfies of us and those photos are far more meaningful to my son because of how easily you can see my love for him (and not a hint of how bad I felt). Feel free to keep your outfit simple. All you need is a solid black shirt and a little mascara if you’re still not feeling like yourself after you return from the hospital.
Also, if there are siblings, be sure to keep their schedule in mind, too. Newborns are typically sleepy for the portrait session and it’ll be a lot easier on you if your session is when the siblings are well-rested and at their happiest!
5. Pamper your baby
Different photographers have different skill sets when it comes to retouching photos. But, there are a few things you can do to help.
If your baby still has some dry or flaky skin, use a little lotion ahead of time. You should also file their fingernails a couple of days before the session to help cut down on little scratches around their face. And you can rinse their hair the day of the session so it will be extra soft & fluffy. Also, be sure to let your photographer know if you want them to keep or remove any birth marks or any other retouching requests because that might affect the poses they do.
VA Newborn Portrait Sessions | Heather Hughes Photography
One final word of advice: Try not to worry about getting EVERY pose you’ve seen on Pinterest. There are a lot of cute newborn portrait poses out there, but in the end, you are more likely to treasure the shots that capture what they do naturally.
It’s ok to buy a few swaddles or wraps because you really want THAT picture, but remember to embrace all of the nuances that make your baby unique!
For my newborn sessions, I always arrive early so I can find the best spot with natural light to set up my backdrop and start warming up the room. I do have lights that I bring along, but I rarely use them since flashes can startle newborns and sometimes upset them.
I personally like to capture pure, natural moments whenever possible. I will often photograph a feeding or sleeping baby for lifestyle portraits, too.
If you haven’t read about newborn portrait safety, please check out my newborn safety guide HERE for additional information and examples of safe poses for newborns and links.
And if you haven’t found the right newborn portrait photographer yet, LET’S TALK! I’d love to get in touch and figure out how to make your newborn portrait photo session a memory that will last a lifetime!
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