How To Dominate Lifestyle Newborn Photography On Your First Try

You’ve booked your first-ever newborn lifestyle client. Get gorgeous lifestyle newborn photos with these tips for a successful in-home session. (Hint: wear socks!) (Photography by HOLLYANNE PORTRAITURE)


You’ve booked your first-ever in-home lifestyle photography session with a newborn baby! Yay!

You feel pretty confident about your overall approach: how to interact with your clients, how to work with the light…

But you don’t know what you don’t know. And that’s what has you a little bit nervous.

We have 10 tidbits of advice that will help make your first in-home session a breeze, impress your clients with your professionalism, and get you those great lifestyle newborn photos you’ve promised!

Read our tips, then share your own!

How To Get Great Lifestyle Newborn Photos On Your First Try
Photo by HOLLYANNE PORTRAITURE


#1: Dress for Spit-Up (& Other Ick)

I don’t care how cute you usually look. Put on your favorite yoga pants or your wash-and-go trousers, pair them with a soft, washable top, and head to war. I mean your lifestyle session.

Babies are adorable little smushcuddles of squishum happiness. But they also like to spit-up, pee, poop, drool, and snot at the exact wrong time.

Go prepared and you’ll legitimately be able to laugh it off if (when) it happens to you.

How To Get Great Lifestyle Newborn Photos On Your First Try
Photos by HOLLYANNE PORTRAITURE


#2: Wear Socks

Or bring a pair to slip on.

Regardless of your own habits, you’ll want to slide your shoes off when you enter your clients’ home.

Some clients will ask you to remove your shoes; others will silently wish you would, and the rest will simply see it as a considerate gesture.

Removing your shoes shows you care about germs – and their carpet. It also sets you up for those strange moments in which you find yourself standing on the sofa to get the shot.

How To Get Great Lifestyle Newborn Photos On Your First Try
Photo by HOLLYANNE PORTRAITURE


#3: Pack Hand Sanitizer

Before you even attempt to touch that new baby, let your clients watch you pull out a little bottle of hand sanitizer and cleanse your hands like you just spent the day petting snapping turtle tails. (They’re so gross, y’all.)

If you forget the hand sanitizer, kindly ask where you can wash your hands before you start the newborn session.


#4: Gear Up

The safest focal length to bring to a newborn session is 50mm, but you can also bring a 35mm lens to fit more in the frame when you are in tight spaces.

As for the aperture, keep the range from f/1.4 to f2.5 to get a bit blur. Doing so can add emotion to your newborn session while enabling more light to enter the camera’s sensor. Since you’ll probably rely on natural light and the newborn won’t move around much, shutter speed between 1/125 to 1/200 should suffice.

How To Get Great Lifestyle Newborn Photos On Your First Try
Photos by HOLLYANNE PORTRAITURE


#5: Request A Tour

“Could I get a little tour of your home so we can decide where to photograph?”

In a newborn session, this should be the first thing you say after, “Your newborn is the most beautiful baby I’ve ever seen in all my years of seeing babies, period, end of story.”

The home tour gives you a chance to find the home’s best light for your newborn session. Some spaces have tons of great light, while others – well, let’s just say the words cave and dungeon come to mind.

But you’re bound to find some nice natural light for your newborn session somewhereAnd you may need to do a bit of a clean-up to get that space ready for lifestyle newborn sessions.


#6: Consider the Light

Flash can startle a newborn baby. Ask the family about natural light in certain areas of the house before you start your newborn session. Being the homeowners, they know well at what time of the day the rooms get the brightest light. 

Asking them helps you plan what time you should go to a particular room during the newborn session.

For example, a playroom with window coverings may produce interesting light. Position the parents and the newborn baby on a couch next to the window. You can also try opening heavy drapes to let in a sliver of light for a more dramatic effect. 

How To Get Great Lifestyle Newborn Photos On Your First Try
Photos by HOLLYANNE PORTRAITURE


#7: Allow Plenty of Time

You should plan for this during the booking process of your newborn session, of course. Now that you’re at your clients’ home, you’ll see why.

Babies have lots of needs (as all parents know). And those needs seemingly increase in tandem with a parent’s worry about their pending newborn session.

How To Get Great Lifestyle Newborn Photos On Your First Try
Photo by HOLLYANNE PORTRAITURE

You’ll put your clients’ minds at ease if you reserve about two hours for their lifestyle session. This allows plenty of time for feedings, diaper changes, comforting snuggles, clothing changes (remember the spit-up?), and whatever else Baby and Parents need.

Depending on your style and approach, you may need more time; or perhaps you can work with less. But it’s best to have wiggle room, however you schedule your day.

You should, of course, charge accordingly. The baby may not have a job, but their parents do!

How To Get Great Lifestyle Newborn Photos On Your First Try
Photo by HOLLYANNE PORTRAITURE


#8: “Do Not Disturb” (the Baby)

Parents often greet their newborn baby’s lifestyle photographer with a proposed wardrobe selection that would make Anna Wintour proud. Unfortunately, babies care absolutely nothing about fashion, and often pitch the most dreadful fits when you try too frequently to change their outfits.

Make sure your clients narrow the outfit selections to a minimum, prioritizing whatever outfit is a “must-photograph.”

Communicate that your goal is to get happy, beautiful lifestyle newborn sessions, so wardrobe has to come second (or 17th). If Baby doesn’t want to change clothes, well – Baby is the boss.


#9: Suggest What to Wear

Keep it simple and comfortable. Neutral, light colors like whites and creams work best as they won’t steal the spotlight from the newborn baby. Recommend tans and grays, as well as earth and pastel tones. 

For the newborn baby, begin with a simple cloth, swaddle, or onesie. Parents usually request for themed lifestyle newborn sessions, which is why you must talk to them first about headdresses, accessories, and props.

You can suggest using accessories if the parents want to add pops of colors to their outfits. Tell them to avoid wearing loud, busy patterns, and prominent logos on clothing on your lifestyle newborn sessions. 

How To Get Great Lifestyle Newborn Photos On Your First Try
Photo by HOLLYANNE PORTRAITURE


#10: Prepare Posing Guides

Lifestyle newborn photography means letting the whole family engage in the newborn session. Take the chance to ask the newborn’s siblings to join the lifestyle newborn photography session. It’s advisable to capture shots in the nursery, bedroom, or playroom.

Common poses in newborn sessions include snuggling with the new baby on a bed, sofa, or floor. Instruct the parents or siblings to kiss the baby’s head and shoot from the side. As a photographer, you can also help pose the parents and have the newborn lie on the chest. 

For the parents, ask them to sit next to each other with legs outstretched. Then, put the newborn on one of their laps. You can try different angles to get various shots, including standing above them, so that you can emphasize the act of parents looking down at the new baby. 


#11: Get Permission To Spy On Them

Time for a feeding? Ask if you can make a few photos when they’re ready. Baby needs a diaper change? Find out if you can tag along.

Some parents have a clear vision of what lifestyle newborn photos should look like. Others have no clue what you’ll be doing.

Guide them during your newborn sessions, and don’t hesitate to assert yourself respectfully.

How To Get Great Lifestyle Newborn Photos On Your First Try
Photos by HOLLYANNE PORTRAITURE


#12: Photograph the Nursery & All the Little Things

In those moments when the new baby is “indisposed,” make a few photos of the nursery and the little newborn baby items the family has put in place.

Don’t just make detail shots. Photograph the way these special items interact with the space around them. The stuffed animal in Dad’s leather armchair by the bookcase; the dog sitting under the mobile bought by Grandma; the tiny newborn baby shoes next to Mom’s slippers on the rug she bought in Turkey.

These may not seem terribly significant now, but they’ll hold special meaning when Baby becomes College Grad, and those trinkets are long gone.

How To Get Great Lifestyle Newborn Photos On Your First Try
Photos by HOLLYANNE PORTRAITURE


#13: You’re Not Reinventing the Wheel. You’re Making Newborn Photos.

Babies are small. They’re simple. They’re beginner humans with basic needs like hugs and snacks and lots and lots of sleep. Let your photographs reflect that reality.

You don’t need to get crazy with complicated lights and 14 lenses. It’s okay to arrive with a reflector and a flash (or no flash at all) as your only accoutrements. I’ve made lifestyle newborn photos with nothing more than my camera body and a single 50mm lens.

Keep it simple and straightforward, and Focus On What Matters Most.

How To Get Great Lifestyle Newborn Photos On Your First Try
Photos by HOLLYANNE PORTRAITURE


#14: One Moment, One Million Memories

One of the coolest things about babies is that they’re incredibly entertaining – particularly to their parents. Every little twitch and coo is fascinating to see, so you can place the newborn Baby and Parents in one perfect spot, and make endless images.

Wide shot, mid-length, close-up, macro, change angles. Then do it all over again.

Photograph Baby’s face; each parent’s face; hands holding; toes curling; hair cascading; the cat casually lounging on the back of the sofa.

Take a breath, absorb the energy around you, and photograph that. The best lifestyle newborn photos are those that capture the deep, mysterious love between the parents and their child.

How To Get Great Lifestyle Newborn Photos On Your First Try
Photo by HOLLYANNE PORTRAITURE


Tell Us Your Tips for Great Lifestyle Newborn Photos

Comment below and help a fellow lifestyle newborn photographer with their first lifestyle newborn photography session!


Written by ANNE SIMONE | Photographs by HOLLYANNE PORTRAITURE via TWO BRIGHT LIGHTS


ShootProof Online Galleries. Client Contracts. Easy Invoices.

Keep Building That Bold Business! Read On...