Being Prepared for Your Newborn Portrait Session

Newborn photography is one of my favourite types of photography. Not only do I get to cuddle and hold sweet little babies, but I get the great satisfaction of lulling them to sleep and capturing their adorableness for all of time. Anyone who has brought their newborn to be photographed in my studio can probably attest to the giddiness I can’t contain when I get a perfect photo. My husband can also attest to the fact that I have a serious prop addiction. I just can’t stop the urge to stock my studio with endless blankets, props, bow ties, hats, backdrops, and diaper covers. I am a frequent shopper at antique stores, garage sales, etsy, and online prop shops to hunt for the perfect items. But newborn photography is not just about cute little babies in perfect slumber and oodles of props. There is a lot that you, the mother of that little baby, can do to prepare for your session and to help it to go as smoothly as possible.


1. Research newborn photographers BEFORE your baby is born. Don’t wait until you have had your baby and you are feeling great again. It is probably already too late to get a session with a great photographer in a timely fashion. Once you have found a photographer that has the experience, dedication to newborn safety, and style that you are looking for, contact them to get your name and due date on their calendar. While it is impossible to book the actual session before your baby makes their appearance, most newborn photographers will limit the number of newborns they will photograph in a month. You can save a spot by contacting your photographer and in some cases putting down a small deposit to secure your spot. When your baby is born and you are recovering from the delivery, probably the last thing on your mind is to make an effort to get out of the house and get those pictures taken. If you plan ahead and commit to a session, you won’t have to suffer from the regret a month or two or years later that you didn’t take that once in a lifetime opportunity to get those adorable photos taken.


2. Text, email, or call your photographer within 24 hours of your baby being born. Newborn portrait sessions are the most successful when your baby is 8 to 12 days of age. Beyond 2 weeks babies are often more alert and less flexible for the cute baby poses you have probably seen all over Pinterest or on my website. At 3 weeks and older a lot of babies develop baby acne, cradle cap, hair loss… You will want your newborn photos to capture their newness and their essence of innocence. The sooner you contact your photographer, the more likely you are to be able to get a session booked at the perfect age. If you are planning to include the family in the photos, don’t worry about the fact that you haven’t lost all the baby weight. A great photographer will know how to pose you and your family in a way that hides the areas you may be self-conscious about. Your child will love to see you in some of their newborn photos when they are older.


3. Let your photographer know if you have colour preferences. If you have planned a beautiful nursery with a carefully selected colour scheme it makes sense to have newborn portraits that are coordinated. I have lots of variety in backdrops and props to choose from and I want your photos to be able to be enlarged for your nursery wall and to reflect the colours that you like. At the same time, be open to the possibility of a few shots that are in contrast to what you might typically choose. It’s nice to have variety in your session and to trust your photographer’s vision. I will always respect my client’s wishes and if they scrunch their nose at one of my ideas, I am not offended at all. My #1 goal is to make you happy.


4. Come prepared for the session. To help your newborn have the best chance at being sleepy and cooperative for the session, try to keep your baby awake for about 45 minutes prior to your session. Leave time for a good long feed after that. Then drive straight over for your session. It can be tricky to coordinate all that with a new baby, but do your best. If they have had some awake time and their tummies are full, they should be ready to go for the marathon session (approx. 2 to 2.5 hours without family and longer if the family is involved). What to bring? Bring a soother, spare diapers, snacks for yourselves and possibly reading material, any props or hats that you may have, a sleeper for the ride home, and a bottle of milk or formula. If you are nursing your baby, you may not have used a bottle yet. If baby needs a little milk mid-session it can really be a lot quicker to give a bottle than to nurse for an extended period of time. That said, only do what you are comfortable with. The length of the session accounts for some time spent feeding, changing, and soothing your baby.


5. Try to relax. It can be stressful leaving the house at all when you have a newborn. Try not to let your anxiety get to you. Babies, their siblings, and your spouse can sense your stress and it can make everything more difficult. Just relax and expect some crying, some pee, and some surprises in your session. Patience is a big part of capturing those newborns and I will try to do the majority of the soothing, posing, and transitions. I like to have parental involvement at times in the session for the safety of the baby, but there will be lots of time for you to relax and take a little break from it all. I have a coffee maker and bottled water waiting for you. If you think you will be hungry you are very welcome to bring along some snacks. The temperature will be quite warm in the studio (27 degrees roughly), so dress lightly and bring a spare top along in case your baby pees on you. Take it all in stride. We’ll have a great time. 🙂


If you are interested in having your newborn photographed by Charmaine Toews Photography, please contact me for pricing and more information. I would love to capture those priceless memories for you.


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