Newborn Lifestyle Sessions are designed to depict a day in your life doing what you enjoy with the ones you love in the company of your new little addition. Whether you’re doing this for the first time in the calmness of your first little bub or this is not your first rodeo and you have more than one set of little feet already pitter pattering around your crazy home, a photography session like this is sure to be full of emotion and fun. The greatest part about these sessions is that they are unique to you. The key to planning your session is to incorporate activities.
If there is something you do with your newborn that you would love documented, then absolutely include it. That could be bath time, guitar or piano lullabies or breastfeeding for example and if you have older kids, the best way to keep them engaged and have your session look as natural as possible, is to plan to do something with them that they enjoy. So make an extra fun breakfast with them, bake with them (nothing fancy needed... keep it simple like box cupcakes or cookies), play trains with them, have a tea party... just give them something to do where their focus isn't on sitting still and this new person in their house.
Typically, I tend to work in the master bedroom, nursery and main living area. Usually any spaces that are filled with light.
My style of photography is very light and bright. So, in the main bedroom and in your precious baby's nursery/bassinet, the lighter and simpler the bedding is, the better. White or off-white would be best.
Although I do have a flash for times of need, I am primarily a natural light photographer. I can use all the light I can get when trying to achieve these nice bright images. So, please go through the home and open all blinds and curtains. If you forget, that's no trouble... I will gladly go through and attend to that when I get there.
Your home doesn't need to be as clean as a whistle. Who has time for that when you have a new baby to care for? All I ask is that you have a look around in the main rooms and pack away any unnecessary clutter. Sometimes a few unexpected bits and pieces may unexpectedly creep into the background of our shots, and if that happens, I'll just ask if we can temporarily move them.
On cooler summer days and definitely in the dead of winter, I recommend cranking up the heating in the home. A warm environment helps to keep new babies sleepy and more importantly, content when we remove the wrap for those precious detail shots.
If you have other children who are old enough to understand, it's a good idea to prepare your kids for what is to come before the session starts. Explain how much the photos mean to you so they know to be on their best behaviour. A lot of families discuss and pick something fun in advance as a treat for after the session if they're good listeners.
In the days leading up to the session, tell them that your friend Sarah is going to be coming to visit and will be taking some family photos. Even show them a picture of me so I am not a totally strange face to them. Encourage them and get them excited about showing me their special toys or things they like to do.
That being said, I am a parent too. So, if you raised an eyebrow while reading any of that... believe me, I get it. On the day, please don't be worried about how they will behave or embarrassed if things don't go as planned. They're little and I want to help you embrace these moments with them instead of trying to make them act a certain way for an hour. We will make sure to get a few shots of everyone smiling and looking at the camera, but for the most part I just want you to have a great time, be yourselves and interact with each other.
Kids are unpredictable and you just never know when they're going to decide that they've had enough. If you have specific combinations or scenes that you'd like to capture, be sure to make it known right up front.
Although it can sometimes take a few minutes for everyone to ease into the flow of a photoshoot, I'd rather we tackle those "must haves" first, just in case. We can always come back to that scene again later on if we feel everyone is more at ease and still happily cooperative.
If I had to give only one tip... it would be this one! Don’t be afraid to pick up your children and toss them in the air. Give your wife a sweet kiss on the check...dance even. Sing your babies a song and play little games. Have fun. Laugh. Giggle. Joke. Embrace. Kiss. Snuggle. Play. No-one knows better than you do, what makes your child giggle. Doing these things will allow the emotion to shine and elevate the true beauty of your family.
Somewhat related to the previous point...leave the stiff Barbie smiles for Aunty Sheila at the next family get together. I deliver galleries with too many images to have everyone always looking at the camera with a cheesy grin. Don't be afraid to look away. In fact, I'd prefer it that way. Keep your eyes on the ones you love. Look at each of your children, look at your partner... look anywhere other than at me (until I ask you to).
I promise I will still get that traditional family portrait... but capturing emotion is my priority. And, although it would be pretty cool if I had some sort of emotion-provoking superpower, I don't... so we ain't gonna get that if your eyes are locked on me.
My job isn't to make you look perfect or to make your children behave perfectly and sit straight up on a stiff chair with a stiff smile. My job is to show you that your family is absolutely perfect just the way they are.
Capturing all of the in-between moments, the ones that can't be scripted, is my absolute favourite part of my sessions. So if one of your children starts running away from the group giggling, scoop them up and smother them in tickles and kisses. If they are shy or upset, hold them close to you and tell them how wonderful you think they are while tucking their hair behind their ear.
If you as a parent keep smiling and having a good time, I will be able to capture sweet moments the whole way through. Sometimes, "imperfect" situations can lead to the perfect photo. And trust me, I know that some of your favourite photos will be of the intimate, or silly moments that we didn't plan on!
Newborn sessions allow for more time than typical family lifestyle sessions as newborns, and new mums, sometimes require a little more TLC. I have built in plenty of time for extra feeds, outfit changes and toddler tantrums. Take your time, relax and if you haven't quite managed to have breakfast before I arrive... we'll document that too. Once you're out of this newborn haze, you won't easily remember all the breakfasts you devoured with one hand, baby in the other all while your toddler tipped their bowl of cereal on the floor for the 4th day in a row.