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Making the Shift from Posed to Lifestyle Newborn Photography

7 min read

Eight years ago, I gave birth to my third precious baby. At that time I was still posing newborns and targeting parents who were seeking traditional newborn portraits. I was rarely satisfied with my newborn photography, and usually left newborn sessions feeling exhausted, sweaty, and defeated — but I didn’t know why.

The newborn side of my business was thriving, but it wasn’t satisfying me as an artist, and it didn’t align with my family lifestyle sessions, which were all about connection. 

When that precious baby of mine was just a few days old, I did what I THOUGHT I did best… I pulled out my bean bag and blankets, and posed her soundly sleeping body in my best newborn poses. 

And I hated it. 

I didn’t snap a single photo. Seeing my perfect baby posed on a bean bag instead of in my arms just felt… wrong. I scooped her up and had myself a little cry, weeping tears of relief and joy.

This was a huge “a ha” moment for me. I realized that the reason I felt my newborn work was lacking was because… it was. 

It was lacking passion. 

Why Posed Newborn Photography Didn’t Fit 

My favorite part of every newborn session was when I would capture the connection and emotion that comes with a new baby joining the family. I dreaded the time spent in front of a heater, delicately posing the baby on a bean bag.

While I have so much respect for the genius traditional newborn photographers out there, in this moment I realized:

  1. I wasn’t one of them, and
  2. It was actually lifestyle newborn photography that spoke to me as an artist

Right then and there, I rebranded and redirected my photography business so it’d focus exclusively on lifestyle newborn photography. I gave away the bean bag, blankets, and other props essential for achieving those darling newborn photography poses, and I never looked back. 

Naturally, I was worried I’d have trouble getting new clients, but the opposite happened, my newborn business exploded… and I learned firsthand how having passion and putting your whole heart into something can make it thrive.

Black and white photo of a newborn baby

And now I’m here to pass these lessons onto you.

5 Tips for Transitioning from Posed to Lifestyle Newborn Photography

#1: Deliver Posed Newborn Portraits You’ve Already Committed to

When I decided to move away from wrapping and posing newborns, I still honored my old style for the handful of sessions I already had on the books. I also let those clients know they’d be one of my last traditional newborn sessions. I think it is important as a business owner to deliver what’s expected and promised.

#2: Incorporate Lifestyle Photography into Your Portfolio

Your photography portfolio should reflect the type of work you want to do, so, when making the change to lifestyle photography, you should refresh your online portfolio ASAP.

This can be painful, because it can be hard to take down photos you are proud of, and posed newborn portraits are especially beautiful, but it’s necessary. 

Chances are, even if you were posing newborns, you were also capturing moments and connection during those sessions. Scour your archives to gather those moments, along with photos that speak to you as an artist. And I assure you, clients who appreciate connected lifestyle photography will come your way.

Mom holding and kissing her newborn baby

#3: Capture Some Lifestyle Newborn Photos

Even though I had many great lifestyle shots in my archives, I wanted some fresh images that reflected my newfound passion for in-home newborn photography. 

I put out a model call offering free newborn photoshoots for a handful of families. It was a win-win for everyone involved: precious, unposed newborn photos for the family, and the ability to find my creative footing in this new terrain for me. 

The photos from these sessions still rank as some of my favorite images ever because I felt so free.

#4: Share the News With Previous Newborn Photography Clients

I am so very appreciative of my loyal families, and my biggest worry was letting them down, as they had come to expect posed newborn photos from me. 

I sent out a newsletter to all my families letting them know that I was changing my approach to newborn photography. I told them I’d still be honored to capture their future newborns, however; my approach would be different. 

Guess what? Dozens of them have returned with their next babies for a lifestyle session. Turns out they appreciate my new style too!


#5: Embrace the Imperfections of In-Home Newborn Sessions

Give yourself the freedom to let moments trump perfection. If you’ve been posing newborns and making traditional newborn portraits for a while, your brain is probably trained for perfection. 

But the truth is, having a newborn is far from perfect, and capturing lifestyle newborn photography means embracing those imperfections. 

Let yourself break the rules in order to capture what you are feeling. Let go of smooth blankets, perfect light, and sleeping babies, and instead embrace the moments — the natural baby movements, moody light, and lots of newborn snuggles. 

You might find yourself cropping in, staring into the eyes of a wide eyed newborn, capturing a daddy soothing a fussy baby, or zeroing in on a tiny hand curled around her mommy’s finger. The moments are endless during an in-home newborn session.

Father holding his newborn baby

Is Newborn Photography Your Photography Rebirth Too?

I hope your takeaway from this message is to follow your bliss. If you love traditional, posed newborn photography, that is wonderful! 

But if you are wondering why you aren’t enjoying it and are ready to throw in the towel, rethink your approach. Your photography business might need a refresh, and lifestyle newborn photography might be just what the doctor ordered. 

Written by Elena Blair | Photos by Elena Blair Photography

Shooting & Lighting
Dec 2023
Shooting & Lighting
Aug 2023

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