Newborn photography can be tricky but so rewarding! You never know exactly how the photo session will go but that is part of the fun too. You have to be prepared for anything and that is why my favorite type of newborn photo shoot is lifestyle.
Why I Love Newborn Lifestyle Photography Sessions
A huge benefit of lifestyle photography is that you don’t have to spend the whole time posing people and thinking of things for them to do. It’s more about guidance. For example, what happens when all the family members are sitting in bed together? Inevitably a little person might sneak in for a cuddle, kids will start jumping, and the parents will start laughing! My job during a lifestyle newborn photography session is to simply capture it all.
My Top Tips For Successful Newborn Shoot
There are many questions that parents might have regarding a newborn session. “What is a lifestyle newborn session?” or “What age should newborn photos be taken?” are among the most common ones I hear. That’s why, before a lifestyle photography session with a newborn, I explain to the new parents how this type of session takes place. I will repeat this one more time once I arrive at the family’s home. I remind the new mom that there is no formal posing, just guidance and I tell them not to worry about smiling at the camera. I also advise them that if they’re not sure what to do, to just look at their baby and play together.
For lifestyle newborn photos you want to go with the flow as much as possible, but always ensure you get multiple combinations of people.
So there’s mom with the baby, dad with the baby, both parents with the baby, big brother or sister and even the family pet. And of course the whole family together!
As a professional lifestyle photographer you should always ask your clients if there’s anything specific they would like to be captured, and if possible, try to focus on that early on so that you don’t forget.
Don’t be afraid to bump the ISO and embrace the grain. You can always convert to black & white which is really forgiving on grain.
Don’t get fixated on posing. The beauty of a lifestyle photography session with a newborn is that it allows things to evolve naturally.
For example, when breastfeeding in the nursery, the siblings may be coming in and out, and they may even have a tantrum. Don’t try to direct or redirect them during those instances, just capture what’s really happening.
During a photo session keep chatting with the family – it will help them feel more relaxed. Keep a calm and uplifting tone that will help make them feel even more comfortable.
You can get a tonne of variety by simply shooting from lots of different perspectives. This enables the family to stay in the same position for a longer time.
Stand up and shoot down, kneel down and shoot up, shoot from all sides, and even from behind peeking down on them. Vary your perspective by standing on furniture and shooting down or even get down low onto your belly.
Common Challenges During A Newborn Session
Like I said newborn photography can be pretty tricky, but knowing some of the most difficult challenges ahead of time can help you feel more prepared.
Light is the biggest challenge for newborn lifestyle photography. I personally consider flat light to be the worst to shoot in because the lack of shadows offers no depth. In those situations, I try to find some shadows near a window in order to create some depth for the photo. I also shoot from above a lot, especially when the light is not great (I’m always standing on people’s furniture – but I ask first!).
Shoot from all different angles, and try to find the room/area with the best, most interesting light and surroundings, and guide your family towards that area. You can also use the window coverings to create an interesting light. For example you can open heavy drapes just a touch for a sliver of light to enter, for a more interesting lighting situation.
Sometimes dads or kids don’t want to be part of the photo session. In this situation, – you just have to go with it. Explain your process, be friendly, and don’t force anything. Shoot whoever and whatever your able to – often they’ll end up warming up as they realize lifestyle photography is a very relaxed style of session.
Take detailed shots of the baby crying and some shots of the mum settling the baby. Continue trying different angles and perspectives for variation.
Make sure the parents know it’s okay for this to happen so that they don’t get stressed.
When shooting newborns in tight spaces, once again, just shoot at different angles. Stand on the bed or sofa to get top down shots, shoot from down low, shoot from outside of the room peeking in. Peaking through the doorway can convey intimacy. You can also shoot over mum or dad’s shoulder to create an uplifting aesthetic.
Lifestyle Newborn Locations
Try to shoot in rooms which are important to the family. The main areas I usually choose for lifestyle newborn photos are the living room, the nursery or the master bedroom. The bed is such a great place for this style of newborn photography, not least because it’s literally comfortable for them. In the case of siblings, young children love being on their parents bed so you’ll always get some great interactions and expressions. I also love shooting in the nursery because it’s the perfect backdrop for newborn photos, and it also showcases their first bedroom in photos, for the sake of prosperity!
When I first arrive at a client’s home, I take an opportunity to check out the light in various rooms. If the light is really bad in my usual preferred rooms (living, nursery and parent’s bedroom) I might avoid one of those rooms, or just choose a different location. I usually like to look for dynamic light – I quite like shadows as opposed to flat light. So I’m not afraid of a rainy day, as long as there is some form of natural light coming through the windows or doors.
For beautiful lifestyle newborn photography, use your own creative eye to look around for those meaningful, special details that will not necessarily be obvious enough for the parents to point them out. Try to get up close and get detail shots of their little hands or feet. Not every photo has to have their faces or whole bodies. Photos of those sweet newborn details are some of my personal favorite pictures!