As a local Chicago newborn photographer, I’ve seen how smooth and chaotic a newborn shoot can be! It doesn’t matter if this is your very first baby or a new addition to your growing family; planning for newborn photos can be overwhelming. It is a bit of a dance between juggling feedings, crazy sleep schedules, and getting dad and siblings on board with the idea!
This is why I tell people that of all the photos in your new baby’s life that you want to hire a professional photographer for, newborn sessions will be your best investment (in both time and sanity!)
I’m going to go over all the ins and outs of newborn photography, so you have a really clear idea of what to expect and how to not only have a memorable experience but also have photos that you love.
These are the most popular variations on newborn photography locations; I offer both in-home sessions and studio photos and Fresh 48s in Chicago and the north shore for newborns. To learn about the difference in each of these sessions, view my blog about the various newborn photography styles.
The first thing you need to decide is if you have a preference and the look and feel you are going for with the photos.
Do you like the simplicity of the studio sessions, or do you like a bit of a looser, more candid look with the home session? While there certainly can be a bit of both in each session, there’s no doubt that a studio looks like a studio and not a home.
Give some thought to how you want to display these photos and how they might look in your home before you book your session.
Lifestyle vs Posed?
Studio photography lends itself to perfect lighting conditions and perfectly designed sets. While I often do groupings of baby and parents, baby and siblings, and the whole family, it’s a bit more formal than it would be in your home.
Studio sessions work well if you have a specific color or aesthetic that you have envisioned for the artwork that you will display on your walls.
In-home sessions allow for more lifestyle-type photos because you’re in a more “homey” environment. They can also be a bit less intimidating for siblings (and let’s be honest, sometimes even for dad).
It surprises a lot of people that newborn sessions are very time intensive. The average length of any session is about two hours, so that’s something you might want to consider when choosing between in-home newborn photography and a studio location.
If this is your first baby, you may have no idea what a feat it is to get yourself showered and out of the house with a baby in those first few weeks. If the idea of this overwhelms you before you even have that baby, then an in-home session would be a perfect fit for your family.
There are other timing considerations, and that’s how much of a “newborn” look you want in your photos.
Tiny and Sleepy or Connected and Smiley?
I generally recommend newborn photos to be taken within the first 12 days of life. There are several reasons for this.
– Baby still has many traits of a newborn in utero, curled up and tiny
– Baby still as fuzzy peach skin
– Baby has not started moving their limbs and head
– Baby acne hasn’t usually appeared by this time
Newborns are beautiful and amazing, but at the tiniest of ages, they mostly sleep, feed and cuddle. They can’t engage much with you yet; their rapid growth in those first few weeks takes all of their energy.
Newborn photos are taken when their bellies are full and they are fast asleep, but once in a while, we get lucky and see some peepers!
If a baby is slightly older, around 3-6 weeks, their nervous system has done its job, and their ability to stay awake for longer periods has improved.
At this age, you might expect to see:
– The baby more awake and alert
– The baby “tracking” faces of people they love with their eyes
– The glimmers of a smile, and sometimes a full one!
– The ability to hold their head up better (a little more neck!) and they aren’t so curled up.
There’s no right or wrong on what look you want for your photos! I always tell people that if life gets away with you after that baby is born and it’s suddenly been a month, don’t scrap the idea of newborn photos! Photos of a baby older than 12 days are no less precious, and you will love them just the same.
Plus, once you’ve been a mom for a while, you’ll discover the big secret: none of us can remember what day things happened after our kids were born years later!
Let’s start with mom because you’re probably wondering what is flattering (and comfortable!) postpartum. I love long, flowy maternity dresses that are a little looser fitting. You don’t want to try to be putting yourself into anything uncomfortable, or that will bunch up. Remember that the focus is on faces, so you’ll be sitting and holding your baby for the photos; your whole body will not be showing.
For baby, keep it super simple. A white onesie and then anything that you want in the photo that is meaningful. I’ll bring along wraps, bonnets, and headbands, but if you have something you love and want in the photo, please let me know!
For dad, keep the palate neutral and match to mom’s dress. A white or cream-colored button-up shirt or henley sweater is timeless and classic. Avoid blacks, grey and solid navy (a little navy for accent is great). Finally..khaki’s, please, and no jeans!
Keep the siblings in light, neutral tones. Patterns compete with those faces you love, so keep the clothing simple and unfussy.
For a good example of photo attire, check out my Pinterest board.
I’ve learned over my years as a newborn photographer that the big name of the game when it comes to newborns is preparedness and patience.
Newborns may be tiny, but they rule the world for those hours that we take photos! Here are some ways to prepare for your session
– Have clothes (and back up clothes) ready to go the night before
– Keep the baby awake for at least two hours before my arrival
– Make sure clothing is loose on baby; 30 minutes before removing anything that is leaving creases or red marks
– When I arrive, we’ll need to kick up the heat to keep it toasty warm for baby
– After the heat kicks on, start to feed or nurse the baby to get them sleepy. I’ll be looking for the perfect spots in your home to take photos.
I’ll begin photographing with the baby because they are the boss! I don’t ever put your baby in unsafe or compromising positions, and they lead the way. If they need breaks for soothing or feeding, it’s totally fine!
After baby, I’ll add in siblings and then mom and dad to complete the picture if time allows for more formal photos. With a new baby in the family, this doesn’t always happen, so as I say, the most important thing is to be patient and be prepared for anything!
Another thing you may want to consider is to have breastfeeding photos taken during your newborn session. They can be a really special way to commemorate this time in your life. Let me know if you are interested in them, and we’ll make sure to make time for them.
Chicago Newborn Photography; When to Schedule?
If you know your due date, we can tentatively schedule a time for your session, and I’ll check in as the date nears. If you have a planned birth date, then schedule as soon as you know what it is so I can mark it off on my calendar.
And if you’ve just had a baby, the time is now; I’ve even had clients call me from the hospital!
To talk more about your ideas about newborn sessions, or if you have questions, I’m always happy to help. Contact me here or call the studio in Lake Forest at (773) 405-0960.