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How to prepare for your newborn session:
Let’s be honest, you can’t ever be FULLY prepared for a newborn baby, or any of the events surrounding the arrival of your new family member. For this reason, I try to keep my newborn sessions super flexible and revolve them around the comfort of you and your new baby- and especially any toddler-age older siblings that might be involved! As a mother of two, I remember how foggy and disorganized those first few weeks can feel, and I want my families to know I have nothing but complete understanding and compassion for that.
That said, I do know it helps to know a little bit about what’s in store for your newborn session once you’ve got it booked. A lot of parents are worried about what to wear. My advice is always that comfort comes first. My sessions are all about the connections and the reality of a new baby, so it doesn’t make a ton of sense to worry about perfect formal outfits. Many of my moms wear jeans (which always impresses me!) or leggings with bare feet and a comfy flowy top. A soft casual dress is also a great option. Something you’d normally wear at home with your baby will look most natural in the photos.
So what about dad? My answer to this is always the same- jeans, bare feet, and a sold tee. A collared shirt is fine too, if that’s a more natural look for him. I don’t usually suggest dressy slacks or shoes. But again, this is your session and if you are more formal daily dressers, I am all for it! I do love the look of a dad in comfy clothes snuggling his new baby, though.
should I dress the baby??
The baby doesn’t need any clothes! They’re so so tiny when they’re new that outfits often swallow them up. I think they look best in just a diaper or swaddled in a cute blanket. If a onesie is small enough and doesn’t cover their legs and feet, I think that looks super cute too- as long as it’s tight enough on their little body to not distract from the details.
how do I prepare the baby for the session?
It’s a common perception that newborns need to be asleep for their photo sessions. This is true for a posed session- but not a lifestyle session! I love to get a good mix of awake and asleep photos of the baby. So good news- you don’t have to worry about keeping baby awake or trying to be on any sort of schedule for your session! I aim to arrive just as you are finishing a feeding, so that the baby can get changed and burped and settled just as we are ready to start. Usually, they will then be awake for a few minutes and then either fall asleep or get fussy (at which point we can pause to soothe them to sleep). The only reason I like to put a baby to sleep during the session is so that s/he doesn’t get overtired. A bath earlier in the day before the session can be a good idea to clean up oily hair or crusty skin- but it is not necessary. I do like to wipe their eyes and face so it is good to have handy whatever you like to use for that. A damp washcloth or water wipe works well.
Prior to the session, I recommend undressing the baby for their feeding, and then just wrapping them in a blanket after- this prevents any red marks on their skin from wrinkles or elastic in their clothes and makes it easier to transition to the photo session after the feeding.
what about my house???
Please do NOT worry about making your house look perfect! I have no problem moving clutter just out of the way for a shot. I would much prefer relaxed parents to a perfectly tidy house! Additionally, I don’t always know which room we will be in most of the time since it’s completely dependent upon lighting, so I hate for tired new parents to use their energy cleaning an area that we will not use!
The only suggestion I make as far as your home is to set your thermostat a little warmer so that the baby will be more likely to settle and be calm and comfortable since s/he won’t be wearing clothes.
i’m worried about my toddler cooperating!
This is the number one concern I get from parents of newborns with older siblings. And I will be the first to admit it CAN be challenging to get a toddler to cooperate during such a huge transition in their life. Rest assured that is COMPLETELY normal. I see it every time, and I do everything I can to keep the toddler feeling comfortable. Sometimes (almost always) this includes letting them take breaks and go play while we carry on with the photo session as if it’s no big deal. Often, they will get curious and eventually participate. I can get a lot more great shots of a happy toddler in three minutes than an unhappy one in three hours! The most important thing is for everyone to stay relaxed and flexible with the new big brother/big sister. It’s great to talk it up before hand- you can tell them another mommy is coming over with her camera to take some pictures of the family. Use bribery with caution- sometimes this just indicates we are asking them to do something terrible and puts even more pressure on them and can lead to a meltdown! But you know your child and I will generally follow your lead on what you think will work best. It’s best to not have a certain sibling/family image in your mind and instead just see what they give us when they’re genuinely interested in participating- often it’s sweeter than we could have imagined ourselves.
I always get this question!! Truth be told, I don’t care THAT much what my people wear for their photos. When I photograph a family, my main goal is to catch love, connection, fun, personalities, and of course that one classic family photo of everyone looking at the camera. I feel like if I’ve done my job well, clothing is hardly noticeable past all the genuine emotion the images show. That said, I want YOU to love your photos and I’d be lying if I said amazing outfits didn’t take it up a notch.
I LOVE when moms and girls wear something flowy. It adds movement to the photos and makes them more real.
But if you are really going for a casual look or don’t want to wear something flowy, we can still get some good movement and real-ness in your images, so not to worry if this isn’t your cup of tea!
Generally, mom’s outfit comes first and then the rest sort of falls into place around that. So let’s talk colors. A lot of people go with navy, light blue and cream tones. That’s a safe bet, for sure! But what I love is a standout fall color on mom or baby, something a little bolder but still complimentary to being out in nature. I love deep reds (like the photo above, mustards, burnt oranges (and I’m not just saying that because, Hook ‘em!) and stripes. Loooove stripes! Consider thinking outside the box with some orange, yellow or deep khaki. Even if you’re not a longhorn, tell me the burnt orange on this baby girl isn’t stunning with her blue eyes and the green grass!
Once you’ve chosen a standout color or pattern, you can play off of it for the rest of the outfits. I love this handy color chart of coordinating colors because it has some combos that you might not think of. I found it on Pinterest- there are a ton of these available but this one is my favorite for fall. This one doesn’t show a red option, but I think if you do that, everyone else can be pretty neutral.
As far as pulling it all together, I recommend one person having a noticeable/bold pattern and the rest being solids or a subtle pattern. Maybe with a stripe mixed in.
I hope this helps! Above all, I recommend everyone being comfortable in what they’re wearing, as long as it’s not neon or showing a large graphic/logo. Those things distract from what we’re really trying to capture, right? Even more important than your outfits is mental prep- but that’s another post for another day! Let me know in the comments if this post was helpful!
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