Over the course of many years as a newborn photographer, I have learned a few things about what works and what doesn’t work for lifestyle newborn photo sessions. Today I’m sharing my top tips for in home newborn pictures in an effort to help things go as smoothly as possible and to deliver you the newborn gallery of your dreams.
1 – Wear Comfortable Clothes
Right away I need to define the word “comfortable” because this can mean different things to different people. When I think comfortable In My House, I think sweatpants and a long-sleeved t-shirt with a sweatshirt on top (it’s winter and I’m cold)…ie nothing that I would ever put on when I’m getting family pictures done. When I think comfortable for in home newborn pictures, for images that will be hanging on walls, the vision swerves away from a day running errands and toward a casually dressy vibe that is still comfortable (this is KEY) but is more elevated than typical daily wear.
With that said, my ideal client is one who recognizes that money is being spent on images that will stand the test of time so *ideally* the goal is timeless, classic, beautiful. It’s important to consider that mom has a new postpartum body that she’s not quite familiar with so that needs to be carefully thought about in advance. Outfit choice becomes crucial because I don’t want you distracted by how you look in your clothes. I want you consumed with how you look at your baby during your in home newborn pictures.
In my opinion, the best option for classic, elevated images is a high-waisted, longer, flowy dress for mama. This style for mom helps us avoid wardrobe malfunctions like something too tight that bunches or highlights problem areas, something too short that eliminates certain floor or seated positions, or something that shows undergarments. Avoiding these things – and aiming for the dress style recommended above – will allow mama to be comfortable and effortlessly ladylike during her in home newborn pictures. If breastfeeding images are on the agenda, such a dress often allows for discreet nursing as well.
Dad will do best in khakis or light-colored pants and a solid, light-colored shirt (no logos or patterns). He’ll be comfy without being pulled to the dark side by dark-wash jeans or a darker shirt (which make the photos appear heavy and saturated). Kiddos, if there are big siblings, should coordinate (but not match!) with mom and dad.
2 – Dress Baby in Something Warm, Comfortable, and Well-Fitting
It’s so easy to be swayed by the adorable outfit and the humongous bow – I get it. New parents are mercilessly marketed to and it’s so hard to see past the cutesy outfit and consider the more practical matter of actually being able to see the baby during your in home newborn pictures.
Too often, newborn babies are dressed in ill-fitting clothing that completely dwarfs them and doesn’t allow for those teeny newborn features (that we’re trying to *highlight*) to be visible. If the baby is on the smaller side and the outfit isn’t well-fitting, much of the session is spent tugging at the clothing. It becomes hard to see the true size of your little one and he just becomes lost in all the fabric. If the outfit requires frequent adjustments to make it look right, it’s probably not the best choice for your in home newborn pictures.
Big bows are similarly difficult. Bows are very sweet on newborns, yes, but the giant ones obscure her face and, again, we spend lots of time tugging at it which potentially leaves marks on baby’s head in addition to a face that can’t be seen. If a bow is a must, choose something small and unobtrusive – the bow should highlight baby’s features, not hide them.
The best outfit choice for baby is a simple, well-fitting sleeper. Ideally, fingers and toes will be visible (or able to have fabric folded back to make them visible) so we can document those tiny features. There’s nothing more precious than a snapshot of baby grabbing onto daddy’s finger (with those unhidden hands) or sweet pink toes peeking through the crib slats. If you need suggestions or advice, just ask. I’m happy to guide you (but expect me to be honest!).
3 – Prep Yourselves For the Time Commitment
In home newborn pictures are usually about two hours in length. This is a commitment, yes, but it allows for all the sweet moments that you’ve been dreaming of (and won’t want to forget!) to be captured. Want to include the furry family member? Done. Want to document breastfeeding? Say no more, I’m there. Want your husband to read books with the toddler while you’re rocking the newest little one and I’m documenting the serenity of the moment? I’m here for it. We can do all those things and more. But it’s going to take some time.
If you know your husband tires quickly of photos, prep him. Remind him that it will go much faster and be much more enjoyable if he’s not checking his phone at every chance or wearing a disinterested expression. Let’s be honest here…it’s usually (not always but *usually*) the mommas who want the photos and dad is often the one just going along with the plan.
Husband: imagine your wife’s joy when you vibe with the vision and smile (REAL ones) to make her happy. It’s worth it to give her the two hours she’s been dreaming of. Trust Me.
4 – Think Warm Thoughts
Your baby has just spent the last 9ish months curled up in a 98.6℉ cave. You already know he is super happy when he’s either swaddled or snuggled close in your arms. Now picture this: we take him away from his swaddle or his comfy pair of arms and put him in his cold, sterile crib (for a few shots, anyway). He’s not going to be super happy, is he? Nope. While we don’t *have* to do crib shots during your in home newborn pictures, I gotta be honest – parents love them, and it’s much easier to accomplish what we want when baby is happy and sleepy.
So how do we make baby as happy as possible (and as sleepy as possible)? Make it warm. Trust me (again): your babe is going to squawk as soon as the snuggly environment disappears and that chilly air hits her skin. She’s going to scrunch up her face, flail her arms and legs, and loudly communicate her displeasure which just made our job (of capturing peaceful, sleepy newborn moments) ten times more difficult. Let’s work smarter, not harder.
If it’s winter time, jack up that heat. If it’s summer time, turn the air from arctic to balmy. We want it to be warm and cozy (but not sweaty and steamy…there’s a fine line).
5 – Move Unsightly Objects
Another thing to trust me about? You don’t want to see anything extraneous in your photos. I’m talking about cords from lamps and baby monitors. Numerous electronic devices plugged into outlets. Storage items stuffed under the crib to get them out of the way. It may seem like a bunch of small things that aren’t worth your time while prepping but I promise it’s worth it.
Look around your rooms before I arrive and let your eye catch on the things you see-but-don’t-see everyday. It will make a huge difference in the aesthetic of your photos.
6 – Plan to be Spontaneous and Comfortable. Don’t Necessarily Wait For Instruction.
Yes, I will give direction if you need it. I will tell you how to stand and where to put your hands and how to position the baby. And it’ll *probably* be fine. (I’ve been doing this a long time.) BUT I’m here to tell ya that the photos look way more authentic if I’m capturing an actual moment rather than a prompted one.
Dad is much more likely to hitch that baby into a comfortable – and adorable – position if he does it naturally on his own than if I’m choreographing the entire scene. A couple in love and giddy over their new arrival is going to twist themselves into a spoony cocoon much more easily and true-to-themselves than if I try to guess how their bodies will best fit seated together.
If I tell a dad how I want him to sit, he’s going to try to contort himself to match my wishes…and he’s going to look uncomfortable. If we try to stage a magazine-worthy breastfeeding position rather than encourage mom to do what she usually does (and how she usually does it), it’s not going to be authentic.
We’re in your personal space doing your in home newborn pictures. You are most comfortable in your home with your things around you. There, you are more likely to create moments that feel natural to you and I will document them. I promise I won’t leave you floundering or wondering what to do. I promise. But don’t feel constrained to wait for instruction. Snuggle up to your love and cuddle into your babe. The results will be Real and Magical.
I can’t wait to see what we create together during your in home newborn pictures 💜
Featured on Subkit, Liz Viernes Photography is based near Brookville, MD, and specializes in maternity, fresh 48, posed and lifestyle newborns and first year milestone portraits.