Newborn Photography | Posed vs Lifestyle


August 1, 2019

sweet newborn girl in cream with bow

So you’re interested in Maryland newborn photography, but you’re unsure which type of session to book. Some families love the controlled environment of a studio for those signature images of a newborn snuggled in a squished little pose. Others prefer the more relaxed, lifestyle approach that highlights their family and home in one session. This post will explain the differences between the two styles to help make your decision a little easier.

What is Posed Newborn Photography?

You’ve seen the images before. A sweet little babe all sleepy and squishy on a soft blanket wearing an adorable little knit hat or wrap. She’s peacefully resting with her hands folded under her soft cheek, all those newborn wrinkles and folds on display. A tiny life, only days old, sleeping peacefully all curled up and comfy just as she recently was in utero. That’s what a posed newborn session is.

posed newborn photography featuring baby only images

Posed newborn photography sessions take place in a studio within the first 5-14 days of life and feature the traditional curled up, sleepy shots of baby. The photographer controls lighting, backdrop and props and can be (mostly) prepared for how the session will unfold. Parents are able to relax and entrust the process to the photographer from start to finish, getting a break from the home setting and allowing the photographer to guide the creative process entirely.

newborn butterfly pose

When we are looking to obtain those sleepy, posed shots, the younger the baby is, the better. I always tell prospective clients that my favorite day to do a posed newborn photography session is day 8 of the baby’s life. Baby is quite sleepy but knows how to eat so when the eating is done, the sleeping begins and the session typically goes very well! It doesn’t always work out schedule-wise to meet on day 8 but when it does I jump at the opportunity!

posed newborn photography featuring the family

Newborns are super flexible at this age and quite enjoy being curled up and cozy just as they were inside momma. Blankets, props, wraps, headbands, hats and mini outfits can certainly be used in either setting, but the studio allows for more focused and targeted photography without distractions. Parent/family posing can be included but the focus is mainly on the newborn.

What is Lifestyle Newborn Photography?

Lifestyle newborn photography takes place in the family’s home. It tends to be more candid, capturing documentary style details and telling a story. I love to do discreet breastfeeding images, shots of nursery details, and photos of the parents adoring their precious new baby. I shoot from many different perspectives, from really far away to being right over your shoulder, capturing all the tiny moments that will fade from your memory if not recorded.  

newborn photography showing baby in his crib

While there are more variables in this style of newborn photography, these images tend to be super meaningful, because the possibility for profound unscripted moments is so high. Parents and baby will likely be more relaxed in the familiar home setting and open to more tender and intimate poses.

newborn photography - lifestyle photos at home with parents

Preparing a nursery is one of the most common labors of love that is undertaken during the long months of pregnancy so I always try to spend some time photographing the room so it can be remembered down the road. Lifestyle newborn photography sessions are also a great opportunity for pets and siblings to be involved. Moments are captured that would otherwise be missed. Not only that, it’s often a more relaxed session because the family is simply living while the photographer pretends to be a fly on the wall.

different moments showing in home newborn photography

The best homes for lifestyle photos have light, neutral wall coverings and furniture. On our consult call, we will discuss this (and I always ask for cell phone shots of your home and lighting so I can see for myself what we’ll be working with) so there are no surprises for either of us!

The lifestyle newborn shoot focuses primarily on the interaction between the new baby and his family and surroundings and is much less centered around obtaining the perfect pose.

When’s the Best Time?

In the first two weeks of life, newborns are very tired and they love to sleep. With in-studio, posed newborn photography sessions, timing is key because it’s important that we wait until the baby is settled into that nice, deep sleep before I start to work with them. This process can be lengthy and patience is everything.

I have had my fair share of sessions where I quote a time frame of 2-3 hours and I’m still there at the 4 hour mark. I *try* not to let that happen because those first days and weeks can be an exhausting time for parents, but I do want to make sure I give everything to the family that I promised. I do provide a lengthy preparation session guide before we meet so we can be assured of the best chances of success.

Conversely, with lifestyle newborn photography, the timeframe is less distinct as we are not asking the baby to remain asleep in a specific pose in order for the session to be considered a success. Newborns over that magic two week age are perfect for in-home lifestyle sessions. Just because a baby is a little “older” doesn’t mean you have to miss out on those precious moments.

If you’ve read this far, you might be interested in the companion blog I wrote about why you should invest in maternity photos. It contains some not-to-be-missed personal maternity photos that I think will convince any pregnant woman that professional photography is the way to go to document a pregnancy (wink).

Liz Viernes Photography is based in Silver Spring, Maryland, and specializes in maternity, fresh 48, posed and lifestyle newborns and first year milestone portraits.

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  1. WOW just what I was looking for. Came here by searching for business portrait

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