Newborn sessions are crapshoots. They are unpredictable, but there are many things we can do to improve our chances for success.
HOT HOT HEAT! The studio will be kept at 82-85 degrees to keep your little one warm while in her birthday suit, so I recommend dressing accordingly. I'll use a heating pad under my blankets on the beanbag as well. It helps baby sleep harder.
A weird thing I have learned is that your baby will sleep harder if you are across the room. It sounds weird at first, but I promise it's true. You two have such a strong bond that your baby will naturally be more wakeful when he senses your presence/smells your milk. I generally prefer to handle the baby for the duration of the session except for feedings or if we need to clean up a pee/poo.
The environment should be very calm and peaceful. I recommend, if you're bringing extra adults or other children, to arrange to have them present for just the beginning. (One helper is welcome to stay throughout, but I've tried newborn sessions before with several extra people/animals around for the duration, and it is challenging.)
Your session can last 1-4 hours (I've been averaging around 2 hours lately). You are welcome to rest and relax during your baby’s very first photography session (or bring something to work on, like thank-you cards from your baby shower). The first hour can be spent getting baby into a deep enough sleep for good posing. Please don't stress over this! Just relax and know that I will eventually get the baby to be super-floppy, just the way I like him/her! I generally won't need your assistance except for feedings.
If you are nursing, try to avoid eating anything spicy (i.e. pizza, hot sauce, etc.) that might upset baby’s tummy for 24 hours preceding your scheduled session. Also, the baby needs to be fed as much as possible during the 12 hours preceding the session. This will allow for baby to sleep as deeply as possible. If you are already supplementing, the feeding just before the session is one to supplement, because formula sits heavier on the belly and they sleep harder. However, I am a SUPER-HUGE BELIEVER in breastfeeding and would in no way suggest supplementing unless you are already doing so for another reason.
Bring a pacifier if he/she takes one.
It is important to *try* to keep baby awake for 1 hour before the shoot. Without this, we spend too much time getting him/her to sleep and not as much time photographing him. A bath can be a great suggestion for keeping baby awake.
Bring extra clothes for yourself in case she pees/poos on you. Happens almost every time. She will most likely pee/poo on all of my blankets and all of my clothes. Don't worry a bit about it!
Bring snacks for yourself just in case we go longer than you expect! Also, expect baby to feed more during the session than normal, as we're disturbing her by moving her around and waking her up. She'll want to nurse for comfort.
If your drive is less than 15 minutes, feed baby before walking out the door. If your drive is longer, consider feeding baby when you get here!
Dress baby in loose-fitting clothes to avoid any lines on skin; a loose-fitting diaper and some baby blankets are best, and a simple button-up sleeper is second best. I prefer items that we don’t have to pull over their heads.
My studio is fully stocked with everything I need, including lots of throws and hats. If you have special items, such as blankets made by grandma, I'm glad to incorporate them into the session! Stuffed animals, toys, and larger items are a little harder to incorporate, so just prepare yourself that they may be of better use either in home snapshots or in later sessions. It's also really fun to shop Etsy.com for some great hats and headbands before the session (be sure to look for “ready-to-ship” items if we're near your session). I generally prefer daintier headbands and accessories with a more organic look over the huge, elaborate items, and I almost always thing baby looks better naked or in wraps than in outfits. I may even buy the accessory off of you after the session!
WHAT TO WEAR: Parents who intend to be in the photos (and you should) should wear soft, casual clothing in soft, solid colors. Instead of white or black, I suggest cream or charcoal, or some nice, subdued colors like eggplant or olive green, or pale yellow. All rules are made to be broken, so if you have some cool ideas that don't fit within these guidelines, of course let's chat about it! Important note: a lot of families with other children want a photo of the kids in their "big brother, baby sister" etc. shirts. This is not the easiest or most beautiful thing, since the baby will likely be covering her shirt, and the sibling (often 2-4 years old) will have a hard time being still on his back. I usually prefer sibling shots bare chested and cuddly. Newborns look best in their bare bottoms; they tend to get swallowed up in clothes, and even in diapers! Feel free to bring a favorite big basket, vintage chair, or another prop you'd like to see your baby posed in. Also consider bringing any blankets (even the throw from your sofa!) with nice textures/colors. Generally, smaller props (such as stuffed animals) should be saved for older-baby sessions. Cloth diapers or Seventh Generation diapers are better than Pampers, but newborns look pretty funny in any diaper; they look better naked. I can always advise you, so call me with any questions. I’ll always encourage the mom to be in the newborn photos, even if it’s just a shoulder or something. Bring or wear a dark or light shirt for yourself, so you can be a background if baby needs to be near mom (or dad). Dads, although it's never advisable to get a new haircut right before a photo session, please have your neck cleaned up a day or two before a newborn session. I sometimes have babies peeking out over dad's shoulder, and a messy hairline on the back of the neck can be a distraction.
For family shots with newborns, solid-colored clothing is best. if you want your photos to be light and airy, wear white (or tan, light pink, light gray, etc.). if you want your photos to be dark and dramatic, wear black (or midnight blue, eggplant, etc.). If you're like me and you LOVE color, wear solid, bright colors!
FOR NEWBORN SESSIONS AT YOUR HOME: If we are shooting at your home, please set your heater to at least 82 degrees, and gather any of these items you may have: space heater, sound machine (for white noise), and a car seat or bouncy seat (for me to place the baby in between setups). Clear a good amount of space around the window in your home with the best light (if you're not sure which one is best, I'll figure it out when I get there). Plan to start a feeding at the session start time, as it will take me some time to get set up, and this will ensure we're not missing baby's good sleep during setup. Also, a great place to take your family photos can be on your bed, so try to have your bedroom semi-tidy if you think that would be a good idea in your case.
Please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org if you have any questions! If you need me last-minute, my cell phone is 281-639-8614. Feel free to text me photos of clothing or accessories if you have questions about them! I'm SO excited to photograph your baby!