Posed or lifestyle
Winter months bring some space for newborn photography and a lot of space is needed for newborn photography. Not only do I pack up my photography gear to bring along, but also time, patience and an inner stillness.
Newborn photography tends towards two directions – posed or lifestyle. I’ve recently parted with my cute baskets in which to pose a sleeping and moldable two-day old against backdrop paper. No more heating the studio in preparation for a newborn who could sleep comfortably unclothed. No more asking moms to leave the comfort of their homes and head to the studio in their first postpartum days. From now on, it’s lifestyle sessions in the comfort of home.
What is lifestyle photography?
Lifestyle photography aims to capture natural feeling and expression. A lifestyle session can be portraiture photos mixed with some photojournalism with the end goal of telling a story. Capturing moments from diaper changes to feedings can become beautiful and interesting. I prefer to use natural light and avoid flash photography – allowing the newborn to stay relaxed and calm and also for texture and depth.
The best time for the basket and posed shots are the first two days of life when your newborn is still very sleepy and easily moved without waking. During this time there is more possibility to plan specific shots as baby is still curled up tight and sleeps deeply for extended periods even with noises and movement. This is the time for baskets and swaddles! If this isn’t a possibility then arrange to shoot as soon as possible. Caesarean section moms are often discharged from hospital 72-hours later. For newborn-looking photos, you’ll need to shoot within the first two weeks before your little one starts to fill out.
How to prepare
A warmed room with flat natural lighting – heat on, full blast! Watch the light in your home throughout a day to note when the light is the least harsh, with minimal highlights or strong shadows. A room with clean backgrounds and less clutter is ideal. That being said, there is no need to clean up extensively for a newborn session in the home. The most important is that both mom and baby are relaxed.
Your photographer might bring along some props but do pull out any headbands for girls, cute hats, baby wraps and blankets without too much pattern, sheepskin and a boppy pillow (for placing below blankets for posing). Using matte, natural colors such as creams and tans shows your baby’s hair color and skin color best!
Dress baby in a loose diaper and clothing in the hours before the session so that the skin is free of marks. Avoid removing dry skin, you can use lotion, or tending to newborn milia as this irritates baby’s skin which can redden easily.
Your photographer will need to “read” your baby to understand how to achieve the best photos. Some babies love to be swaddled while others want to stretch and extend. Some need to be fed frequently throughout the shoot. Allow time and space for yawning, grimacing, tummy issues, burping, feeding, crying, resettling and just being natural. Let the little one guide the shoot and have a cup of tea with your photographer, allowing the session to unfold naturally. The best time for micro shots of fingers and toes is when baby is feeding. If you don’t want breastfeeding shots, trust your photographer to shoot fingers and toes during this time.
Siblings tend to swing towards two camps, they are either big fans of the new addition or a bit apprehensive. Your photographer will need to work with your little big ones to see how they are best comfortable taking a photo in this new situation. Forcing your toddler into photos can only cause some distress while creating natural situations like asking the little one to come along for a hug could be more productive.
The best expectations are no expectations!