Beautiful Documentary Newborn Photography


January 10, 2023

Welcome to my blog about Elanor’s documentary newborn photography session with her parents, Adam and Rachel, and their dog! As a professional photographer, I always love the opportunity to capture special moments for families, and there’s nothing quite as special as a new baby. However, shooting in-home newborn sessions can present their own set of challenges, especially when it comes to lighting.

backlit documentary newborn photography photos in front of window

Now, I have to preface this by saying that Rachel and Adam were both champs when it came to prepping for their session. I always ask clients to send me photos of the rooms in their home that they think will provide the best lighting for the session. In documentary newborn photography, that is usually the nursery and the master bedroom. However, in cases like Rachel and Adam’s home, where the nursery and the master are on opposite sides of the house, it can be tricky to figure out when the best time would be to shoot.

a bright kitchen can be a great place for documentary newborn photography

They must have sent me 7 or 8 different sets of pictures, trying to find the time when the lighting was the most ideal. With the nursery in the front of the house and the master in the back, lighting was either too harsh in one room or not bright enough in the other. We eventually decided on a time and I crossed my fingers that I’d be able to deliver a documentary newborn session in the style they were coming to me for.

documentary newborn photography, nursery decor

When I arrived at Elanor’s home, I was immediately struck by how beautiful and welcoming it was. Adam and Rachel had put so much thought into preparing for the session, and it really showed in the little touches and details throughout the house. I could tell that this was going to be a special session right from the start.

documentary newborn photography, newborn in crib

However, the lighting in the house was a bit of a challenge, as we figured. This meant that we had to get creative and find other ways to bring in light. I utilized lenses that are ideal for low light situations and tested my camera’s settings to their outer limits.

documentary newborn photography, parents gaze at newborn

We started by shooting in the nursery, which had two large window that let in a good amount of light. I did my documentary newborn photography thing, getting shots of Elanor in the crib by herself, the family of three standing and sitting, and shots of Rachel with the baby and their four-legged family member. We also got some sweet images of Rachel holding Elanor while Adam played his guitar for her.

dad plays guitar to new baby daughter

Next, we moved into the master bedroom which, while large and beautiful, was the room I was a bit more concerned about. This room was more challenging, with direct light shining on the bed and a dark blue accent wall that falls outside my light and airy aesthetic. I worked my way around these obstacles as best I could, as documentary newborn photography requires rolling with the punches. We got some shots of Elanor by herself on the bed, Elanor with the dog, and Elanor with her parents.

mom hugs new daughter on master bed, documentary newborn photography
newborn and family dog on master bed

One thing that I really love about documentary newborn photography is the opportunity to capture all the special details that make a house a home. Sometimes that means utilizing rooms that aren’t normally included in documentary newborn photography – in this case, the kitchen! As we were wrapping up the upstairs shots, I told the family I was going to take one more look at the downstairs area…that’s when I noticed the beautiful light, bright, white kitchen area and the beautiful windows just off the kitchen!

utilizing bright white kitchen in documentary newborn photography

Knowing that our time was running short, we quickly set up and got some beautiful shots of Elanor and her parents in this cozy yet out-of-the-ordinary space. I love kitchen shots because they are so beautifully documentary. Dad leaning against the countertop with baby in his arms, mom gazing up at dad with their new little one safely wrapped up in their embrace. Not every documentary newborn photography shot has to be in the nursery or the master bedroom!

nursery photos, documentary newborn photography

In the end, we were able to get some really beautiful, natural-looking shots of Elanor and her family despite the challenges of shooting in a naturally-lit home. I think that this is a testament to the power of being adaptable and open to trying new things. Sometimes, the best shots come from places you didn’t expect, and that was certainly the case with this session.

mom and dad smile in mirror shot, documentary newborn photography

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.

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