newborn Session Preparation Guide
Congratulations on the new addition to your family! Thank you so much for considering me to take your newborn photos! I look forward to working with you. Newborns have very special needs and taking their photos require a little more attention so I have created this guide for you to review and prepare before your session. The more prepared you are for the day, the more smoothly your newborn photo session will go. Keep in mind, this list is purely a guide; its intent is to inform and relax you, not overwhelm or stress you out! If you don't see something on this session guide and you have concerns, please don't hesitate to contact me if you have any additional questions anytime before your appointment. I am here to help!
Booking your appointment:
- The time to schedule an appointment for your Newborn Session is during your pregnancy. We can set a tentative session appointment around your expected due date. If you could then keep me informed as the time gets close and contact me after your baby is born, ,we can officially book your appointment.
- Newborn sessions should be done within the first 14 days of being born for several reasons: They are more likely to stay asleep and cooperate during their poses, they still like to be curled up, they don’t mind being posed, and their flaky skin or baby acne has not set in yet. After 14 days old, they are less cooperative and it takes a lot of time to ease the baby. Not to mention, sessions at 2 weeks or younger are sure to best capture the newness, smallness, and innocence of your brand-new miracle. The best time to photograph your new baby, however, is between 5 and 10 days.
Session location and setup:
- Newborn sessions can be done in my studio or in your home, I use lighting, backdrops, and props. If you choose to do the session at your home, I will be bringing these items to you, and I will need an open area to set up. There is an additional fee to come to you due to hiring an assistant to help me carry and set up all of my equipment, travel expenses, and extra time (loading, unloading, setting up, and travel.
- If we will be photographing in your home, please make sure that the room that we will be using is free and clear from any obstacles, and other children and pets.
- If I am coming to you, make sure your nursery or bedroom is spiffy clean so we can take photos in their new room.
- Babies sleep best when the room is nice and warm. If we are photographing in your home, I will have you turn up your heater to approximately 80 degrees in that area. I will also bring a small space heater to warm blankets and alleviate air drafts. If we are photographing in the studio, I will have the heat turned up to 80 degrees as well as using the space heater.
Preparing your baby for your session:
- If nursing, try to avoid eating anything spicy (ie. pizza, hot sauce, etc) or anything that will cause gas and might upset baby’s tummy for 24 hours preceding your scheduled session. A gassy baby will not pose well during the session due to their little tummy being upset.
- One of the most imperative things is to keep baby awake 1-2 hours before their session so that they are nice and sleepy. Do not feed them until right before we begin the session. When we begin, I will have you feed baby well, and this will keep baby nice and full during their session. Also, baby should be fed as much as possible in the 12 hours that precede the session. This will allow for baby to sleep as deeply and as long as possible. A fed, sleepy newborn is a happy baby!
- Arrival time will be during the baby’s sleepiest time, which is usually in the mid morning.
- When you arrive, please leave baby in the car seat when bringing him/her into the studio. We will remove baby very slowly in the warm studio to avoid disturbing them as much as possible.
- Dress baby in loose fitting clothes to avoid any lines on baby’s skin and to also avoid disturbing baby when getting undressed. A simple sleeper is best. Please avoid onesies or anything that has to be pulled off over baby’s head.Plan to arrive when baby is hungry so you can feed just before the session.
- If your baby takes a pacifier, be sure to keep it handy. Even if baby does not intend on using one permanently, it is often convenient during pictures to keep baby calm and soothed for the 2-4 hours they will be taking photos. This is much easier than moving baby each time they need soothed. WE have a few extra pacifiers if needed.
- The other "shots"- We often seem to be on a similar schedule with baby’s immunizations. If you find your photo session is scheduled just after an immunization consider moving the photo session to before.You never know how baby will react, even if they've done well in the past. Best to be safe.
- Remove all bandages (from shots, etc) from baby’s skin at least one hour before arriving to the studio. These bandages cannot be removed in post processing and, if left on, will show up in the final images.
- Please be prepared with wipes, burp cloths and rags, as babies will have accidents during their sessions. Newborn sessions are often in the nude so messes are normal! All of my blankets are pre-washed.
- WE have a changing table, wipes, baby powder, baby lotion, hand and face wipes, etc. available for your use.
- Parents often ask ‘Can I circumcise my baby before the session?’ and the answer is ‘Please, no!’. Circumcision can often leave the area raw and painful for a few days after the procedure. It is important to note that newborn photos should be done either before the procedure takes place or at least 5 days after the procedure to ensure the area is healed. In fact, we feel so strongly about this that if baby arrives with a fresh circumcision (within 5 days) we will send you home and reschedule.
- Your baby is working hard getting their photos taken, they will require a little more love than usual while they are modeling.
- A typical newborn session is about 2-4 hours. After 2 hours, we all may need to take a break and cool off. We can get a lot of poses in 2 hours so after that we can evaluate how many photos we have and you can decide if you are prepared to continue. I know how exhausted you are while nursing and taking care of your new baby.
During the session:
We know it can be stressful getting ready for your session, but try to relax once you are with us. Don't ever worry about hat to do during the session, we will help you out every step of the way. Relaxed parents enjoy the experience more, which also helps babies become more comfortable and calm as well.
Outfits,props, and Pinterest requests:
I supply all of the backdrops, furniture, baskets, hats, headbands and wraps for the session, and my style tends to lean more toward simple photos that focus on baby. I am always open to new ideas but be aware that I will not use anything that will harm, irritate or look awkward on your newborn. If you see something you like in any of our galleries, be sure to mention it before your session. I am open to suggestions on poses that you may have seen from Pinterest but please understand that every pose we do depends on how well baby cooperates and how safe the pose is for your little one. I cannot guarantee any pose for this reason. If you would like to check out my Pinterest board for inspiration, my page is www.pinterest.com/jessilynnephoto .
Special outfits- Feel free to bring and special outfits you may want in the photographs: Christening, Easter, Halloween, Christmas, or any other special outfits - bring ‘em, whatever the age!
Hair/head props- Babies frequently have hair (or lack thereof!) issues. We often use baby wipes to tame flyways. For babies with little hair, we have hats, headbands, and bows or feel free to bring your own, if you like.
There is just NOTHING more gorgeous than a baby’s skin. We keep it warm enough to make sure baby is comfortable enough to show it off! But, please feel free to bring along a special blankie, the baby's crib quilt, a toy, stuffed animal, something that symbolizes you, or perhaps a special item or outfit that has been handed down. Anything to make your session as unique as your baby.
We typically shoot most of your session with your baby bare. I will also ask you to bring along a plain white or neutral onesie.
We also have a vast Prop closet for you to look through to create unique "baby as art pieces".
- It is OK to include siblings and parents in any of your baby sessions, including the newborn session. With multiple subjects, it is more visually pleasing when you coordinate colors.
- All age siblings are welcome at the newborn session. Dress them in black or a subdued pastel and create an all-time new favorite picture of the most important little people in your life.
- If you have older siblings that you would like photographed with your newborn we will do these shots FIRST. Cream, ivory or white (without patterns or logos) is recommended for older siblings (tops with jeans or even dresses for girls). The more texture the better (knit, lace, etc). They’ll be barefoot, so no need to look for clean shoes.
*Due to the nature of the session we ask that your spouse/partner take the older siblings home or out for something fun to do while we finish up with the individual newborn shots.
First Family Photo- Make your first family picture a relationship picture you’ll treasure. Bring long-sleeved black tops for you to keep the emphasis on the face and showcase your family’s unconditional love. Pay attention to your nails as we’ll be taking close-ups of you holding & adoring your baby!
Dad & Mom- It’s time to fall in love with your baby’s daddy all over again... and to create a lasting memory of your unique and powerful mother/baby bond. I encourage parent portraits with the new baby, and these are usually done at the very end. A white/cream short sleeve shirt is suggested for Dads and a white/cream tank or blouse top is suggested for Moms. For more artistic shots, Dads may choose to remove their shirts and Moms may choose to be wrapped in a scarf, wrap or other stretchy material available in my studio. These can make for some very tender images.
- **A note to Mom: I know that you may not feel like yourself right after giving birth, but I strongly encourage you to have a portrait taken with your new baby while they are still so young and fresh. He will grow up and will want to know what his mother looked like holding him close to her heart as a newborn. I will shoot you in flattering angles, so don’t worry! Worst case scenario is that you don’t like the image and never look at it again, but at least your child will have this moment documented.
For nursing moms who may need to nurse baby, I recommend dressing in layers. If you’re breastfeeding and are open to bringing bottles with breast milk, great! Of course if you are exclusively breast feeding then I will ask you feed baby when required ( asking that you remain open to feeding on demand at the studio).
Just to warn you: When being photographed with your baby, you may get peed or pooped on! This happens daily in my studio (usually on me), but some parents are surprised by and unprepared for it.
The Bottom Line:
- Keep things simple, life is crazy enough for you these days. If you’re in doubt, bring it ~ and don’t forget extra bottles (if needed), diapers and your black shirts :) Leave the rest to us!
I am looking forward to meeting your new bundle of joy!
Newborn session checklist
This is just a quick re-cap of some things you may want to bring with you.
- You don’t need to bring everything! The newborn session is our lengthiest session so be prepared to spend 2-4 hours with us. You don’t need to bring any clothes for baby,unless you choose to. He or she will be naked, in a diaper with a diaper cover (we supply) or wrapped in blankets for much of the session.
- You don’t need to bring a thing for baby, only if you have a special outfit or accessory you would like baby to wear
- For mom & dad bring long-sleeved black shirts
- For siblings bring black or pastel shirts
- Parents pay attention to your nails
- For mom wear your hair and makeup as you usually do
- for parents avoid haircuts the week before - give a haircut a couple of weeks to ‘breathe’
- bring baby to the session wrapped in loose clothing, prepared to eat, we’ll feed baby first thing once you are here
Other things to bring:
- plain white or neutral onesie
- special blankies
- baby’s crib quilt
- special toys or stuffed animals
- hats, hairbands, hair bows
- anything that symbolizes mom and/or dad’s work, hobby, favorite sports teams, etc.
- bottles & formula (if necessary)
- extra pacifiers (if necessary)
- extra diapers