With 130 million babies born each year the Newborn Photography business is booming! However there is so much information for expectant parents to wade through to get answers to their questions about Newborn Photography. I have therefore created the ultimate parents newborn photography guide with absolutely everything you need to know in just 10 points!
1. When should I book a Newborn Photography Shoot?
The best newborn photographers get booked up early! It is advisable to book your newborn photography shoot after your 20 week scan. You can of course wait until nearer baby’s due date however it may not be possible to book your first choice of photographer. I definitely suggest booking your newborn shoot before baby is born. This will avoid a last minute rush to find a newborn photographer with availability rather than a newborn photographer whose work you love!
Newborn photographers offer different booking systems. Some take a note of when your due date is and your shoot date is arranged once baby has arrived. Others will book a provisional date with the understanding it will be rearranged as necessary to suit early and late arrivals. I book provisional dates with my Clients as I find it an easier way to organise my diary. It’s very much personal preference. The important thing is that you have booked in with your preferred photographer. They will manage the rest for you.
2. What is the best age for a Newborn Photography Shoot?
The best age for a Newborn Photography shoot also varies depending on which photographer you choose. Some photographers like to work with young newborns who are still very sleepy and happy to be curled up and posed. These photographers will usually arrange your shoot for within the first 2 weeks after birth. Other photographers are happy to work with older newborns and will accept bookings for newborn photo shoots up to 6 weeks old. This is usually with the understanding that some of the more complex poses may not be achievable. It really depends on the style of newborn shoot you are looking for.
In my experience, between 10 and 14 days is the optimum time for a posed newborn shoot but any time within the first 4 weeks after birth should also be fine. This does vary from baby to baby and other factors such as whether your baby arrived on time or was particularly early or late can be a consideration. Your photographer will advise you on their preference.
I always start my newborn shoots in the morning. Again experience shows me that both baby and parents are fresher in the morning, even if they have had a “bad” night. This is also personal preference but the most unsettled newborn shoots I have had have been afternoon shoots…
So now you know when to book your newborn shoot and the best age for a newborn photography shoot. Let’s look at some of the typical concerns a parent may have about a newborn photo shoot. These are all issues my newborn clients told me they were worried about before booking their newborn shoot. It’s very likely you may have some of the same concerns.
3. What happens if my baby cries during our newborn photo shoot?
Babies cry! It’s their only method of communication. It would be very unusual for your baby NOT to cry at some point during their newborn photo shoot! Please don’t worry. An experienced newborn photographer will not be phased in the least by a crying baby. (Babies also wee, poop and posset during their newborn photography shoots! It’s what they do. It’s no big deal!) I have photographed hundreds of babies and a crying baby just means it needs attention. To be honest, I can usually tell when the baby isn’t happy before they start to cry and we can address whatever the issue is before they get distressed. They are either hungry, tired, need a nappy change, are feeling insecure, cold or uncomfortable.
We can fix all of these things. If they are hungry we stop for a feed break. If they are tired, an experienced newborn photographer will have plenty of tricks up their sleeve to help your baby fall asleep, I know I certainly do and I am usually asked if I’m available to do the night shift!! Nappy changes are easy to do and sometimes baby just needs a cuddle. A newborn photography studio is usually very warm to keep baby comfortable when naked but if baby is chilly your photographer will turn up the heat or wrap your baby. You may want to wear layers so you can strip off it gets a bit too warm for you!
Newborn photography shoots are usually 3 to 4 hours long to allow time for all of these breaks in shooting! Make sure your chosen photographer has allowed plenty of time for your shoot. I don’t take any other bookings on a “newborn” day so that parents don’t feel time pressured. Some newborn photographers allow 6 hours for a newborn shoot. Personally I feel that is a bit long for everyone involved but again it’s personal preference.
4. Will I be able to feed my baby during a newborn photography shoot?
💯 YES! Do not use a newborn photographer who hasn’t allowed time for you to feed your baby! I have never done a newborn photography shoot where a baby has not required a feed. It is essential for their hydration apart from anything else. In fact a baby will usually require more feeds than usual due to being handled during the shoot. The studio (whether it’s a home or commercial studio) will need to be warm enough for the baby to feel comfortable while naked. This is pretty warm. Your baby will probably need to feed a bit more to remain hydrated. This is important for you too. You need to remember to keep yourself hydrated, especially if breastfeeding.
Most studios will provide a quiet area for you to feed and they should have bottle warming facilities should you need them. They may also have some essentials that you may have forgotten to bring with you. I have a basket in the studio bathroom stocked with all things a new Mum and baby may need: maternity pads, breast pads, nappies, water wipes, cotton wool, nappy cream etc.
It’s also worth checking if your photographer provides refreshments. If they don’t, take your own. Four hours is long time without sustenance, especially for sleep deprived new parents. I always find Dad’s are a bit happier when they aren’t hungry! 😉
5. What should I wear for a newborn photography shoot?
The first thing to mention is that you don’t need to worry about baby! Your photographer, unless just starting out, will have plenty of wraps, outfits and accessories for your baby. There will also be times when your baby is photographed naked unless you prefer otherwise.
I usually suggest my newborn clients wear plain simple clothing to keep the focus on faces and baby. I imagine most newborn photographers would agree with me. With regards to colours it depends on your hair and skin colouring and your photographers style. I recommend dark colours on dark backdrops and whites or neutrals for lighter backdrops. Pastels can also work. Your photographer should be able to show you some images they have taken with Clients wearing different outfits and colour combinations so you can see what appeals to you.
It’s important to remember that these images are going to live on your wall forever so you want to be happy with what you are wearing in them. Patterns, logos and graphics can easily date an image and are also very distracting. The aim is for your clothing to complement the image, not dominate it! Plain colours are ideal. Textures are great for adding a bit of interest without being distracting. Lace, wool knits, embroidery anglais, tulle, chiffon are all examples of textures that can successfully be used in your newborn shoot.
When coordinating outfits I suggest picking a colour theme and choosing outfits within that theme. For example: neutrals, pastels, darks, whites. I don’t suggest bolds for a newborn shoot unless you are darker skinned. Then bolds are perfect!
For the bottom half, you can’t really go wrong with jeans. They are pretty timeless and usually comfortable. If you aren’t sure about your outfit choices discuss it with your photographer. It’s something I cover in my Client pre-shoot consultation.
Finally, if in doubt take a few options to your shoot. Your photographer will then be able to tell you which they think will be the best to wear. For outfit inspiration you might like to take a look at one of my Pinterest boards. You will see that your outfit choices really do make all the difference to the end result of your images.
6. My partner isn’t interested in a newborn photo shoot. What should I do?
Quite a common issue! One parent is more interested in the photo shoot than the other. This comes down to a few different factors. Firstly cost. A newborn photography shoot is usually quite an investment (I will go into that in more detail below). If your partner hasn’t been part of the research and decision making process they may not see the value in having the shoot. They may just see it as another new baby expense! Let’s face it having a new baby, especially a first baby, is expensive!
Involve your partner when you are choosing your photographer (again I will cover this in more detail below). Show him/her some images taken by your preferred photographer. Involve him or her in the pre-shoot preparations if possible. Try to involve them in the pre-shoot conversations with your photographer. This may help to ease their concerns. A lot of people hate having their photograph taken. An experienced photographer will be able to put your partner at ease and make it a stress free process. But they won’t know that unless they have spoken to the photographer!
I quote one of my newborn clients. I asked what her biggest concerns were before she booked her newborn photography shoot with me
Getting my husband to agree. He hates having his photo taken!concerned newborn photography client 😔
I asked how they felt after their newborn photography shoot
Since our first photo shoot my husband has always been really relaxed and willing to have photos taken by Sarahreassured newborn photography client 😍
Fear of the unknown! Make your photographer aware of your concerns and ask how they can help with them. An experienced photographer will be very used to making clients feel at ease. I start my newborn shoots with family images moving on to Dad and baby and Mum and baby. It’s all over in the first 20 minutes. Leaving you to just sit back, relax and marvel in your gorgeous creation!
7. Choosing a newborn photographer
There are a lot of factors to consider when choosing a newborn photographer. Apologies, this is going to be a long section but it’s an important one!
Considerations (in no particular order): style; reputation; experience; budget; location; recommendations; connection; availability; insurance; training; processes; products offered; type of shoots offered; studio (home vs commercial) or mobile; inclusion of older siblings…
The priority will vary for different parents.
Training & Processes
I suggest training and processes should be one of the top decision making factors. The Newborn Photography industry is currently unregulated in the UK which means that you do not need to complete any formal training or receive a certification to begin practising as a Newborn Photographer. Scary right? Don’t be alarmed. Most Newborn Photographers will ensure they have undertaken plenty of training before working with Clients babies but it’s something worth asking. It is also worth checking how they achieve certain poses. Some of them should be composite images, as shown below. Please be very wary of any newborn photographer that offers similar poses without doing composites. No image is worth risking a baby getting hurt. Ever!
Most newborn photographers will have an assistant/spotter or they will ask a parent to assist with more complex poses. Don’t worry, they will tell you exactly what you need to do to support your baby.
Whilst we would all like an unlimited budget the reality is that everyone has a budget and it is different for everyone. I recommend choosing a photographer at the top end of your budget. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Your baby will never be newborn again! Now I love a bargain as much as the next girl but this is not the best time to bargain hunt. You are going to have these images forever. Think about other forever purchases like buying a house or a car. Do you buy the cheapest possible or the best you can afford?
Reputation & Recommendations
Has the photographer got a good local reputation. Have a look at their reviews on google and social media. You can also check out testimonials on their website bearing in mind they are unlikely to post any negative testimonials! Do you know anyone who has used a newborn photographer? Recommendations are a really good guide. If you don’t know anyone you can ask in your local Facebook group.
How long has the photographer been photographing newborns? Newborn photography is very different to other types of portrait photography. It takes experience to settle babies and ease them into delicate poses. Feeling where a babies resistance points are and knowing whether a particular pose is suitable for a particular baby.
On the other hand we all have to start somewhere! You may be happy to choose someone with less experience as they are often a bit cheaper whilst portfolio building. Still it should be a conscious decision so make sure you find out what level of experience the photographer has.
Location & Studio or Mobile
It’s also important to consider how far you are willing to travel to your dream photographer. Most of my Clients live within a 45 minute drive to my studio but I do know some photographers who have Clients who will travel hours to have a shoot with them. What’s your distance?
Also, would you prefer to go to a studio or would you prefer the photographer to come to your home?
Style & Posed or Lifestyle
Next you need to find a newborn photographer whose style you LOVE! These photos of your beautiful new baby are going to be on your walls for a lifetime. You need to absolutely adore them.
You also need to consider whether you would like a posed newborn shoot or a lifestyle newborn shoot. I will explain the difference in the point 8.
Inclusion of Older Siblings & other Family Members
Can you have family and sibling images taken as part of your newborn shoot? This is a big factor if you already have children and you would like to update your family portrait. It is important to check this with your photographer as they may have limited space or may not include family/sibling images for other reasons. What about the family pet!? Some photographers will allow you to bring along well behaved dogs others may not. I have included the family pet in newborn shoots but it is hard work and so I suggest you only consider it if your dog is very well behaved. I certainly wouldn’t take my springer spaniel to a newborn shoot! She’s far too excitable!! 😂
Does you photographer have public liability and professional indemnity insurance? Any photographer practising professionally should have this to protect you as well as themselves. Please check!
So you have done all your research, you’ve checked your budget and all the other factors. Now I suggest you have a chat with your preferred photographer. Make sure you get on well together and there is a connection. Newborn shoots are typically 3 to 4 hours long and you are allowing this person to handle your precious new baby. You need to feel comfortable with them.
And lastly, you can’t book someone who is fully booked! Start early and book as soon as you have decided who you would like to use.
8. Posed vs Lifestyle newborn photography
Oooh this is a fun one to research! Get yourself on pinterest or do a google image search and see what you prefer. A posed newborn shoot involves posing baby on a large bean bag or similar base and in various props. You will usually choose a range of complimentary coloured backdrops, wraps, outfits and accessories. Some photographers will have hair ties and bonnets, flat caps and beanies for you to choose from. Others will have a more natural style. A lot of posed newborn shoots are studio based but you can still find a newborn photographer who will do a posed shoot in your home. You will discuss what colours and accessories before the shoot as they will only be able to bring a limited amount with them.
Lifestyle shoots used to be mainly home based. They are a more relaxed photo shoot, almost documentary in style. The focus is on connection and interaction rather than posing. Don’t get me wrong there is always an element of posing but this is much softer and more like guidance. Since the first Covid lockdown quite a few newborn studios created a lifestyle set to provide a socially distanced newborn photo shoot option. These are great if you like the lifestyle vibe or you prefer your baby not to handled but you don’t have the set up you would like to show in your photos at home. They also enable parents to still capture those fleeting newborn features in a Covid safe environment.
I now offer both posed or lifestyle studio newborn photo shoots. Which Clients choose is completely personal preference. I love doing both!
9. How much does newborn photography cost?
Hmmmm! 🤔 How long is a piece of string?
There isn’t a definitive answer to this question as it varies greatly. A general rule of thumb is that a less experienced photographer will usually charge lower prices (although not always). A mobile photographer or a photographer with a home studio may charge lower prices as they have lower expenditure than a photographer with a commercial studio (but they don’t always). It really depends on the photographers cost of doing business and what they feel their service is worth.
Some photographers will charge a shoot fee. This may or may not include images and/or products. If images and/or products are not included you will need to purchase them separately.
Other photographers offer all inclusive packages and some offer a combination of packages and A la Carte (individual) items. It really is up to each photographer to decide how they would like to present their offerings.
Just make sure you know the full extent of prices before you commit to a particular service. Booking a shoot for just £30 seems like a very cost effective option but remember that is unlikely to include any images/products. Be sure to ask to see the full price list before you have your shoot to avoid any surprises. It’s disappointing for both you and your photographer if you go through with a shoot only to find out you can’t afford to purchase any of the images!
An all inclusive package may seem more expensive initially but at least you know what your maximum expenditure is upfront.
10. Alternatives to a Newborn Photography Shoot
Sometimes life just doesn’t go to plan. Perhaps baby has arrived early and taken you by surprise. Maybe the boiler has broken down and you need to shell out £1,000 on a new boiler. Or sometimes your babies birth can be a little more traumatic and you have a hospital stay or need a little longer to recover than anticipated. You may not even have considered newborn photography until it was too late to book a shoot.
Whatever the reason, please don’t worry. As with everything in life there are always alternatives.
The first alternative is to go for an older newborn shoot. If your baby arrived a few weeks early then there is a bigger window for getting those sleepy newborn images as your baby will be in earlier stages of development than a baby who was born two weeks late. However, you can still opt for an older newborn shoot if your baby was born late as long as you understand that some of the more intricate poses may not be possible
Lifestyle shoots can easily be done with older newborn babies because it doesn’t matter if baby sleeps and the baby isn’t being posed. It’s a good back up option. The baby in the images below is 6 weeks old. These images were taken after the Covid-19 lockdown 1 in June 2020.
You may decide to wait and have a baby photography shoot. Baby Photography shoots are also a fantastic experience. Your baby will go through some amazing developmental stages during their first year and you can time your shoot to capture these milestones. I recommend having a baby shoot between 4 and 8 months depending on which milestone you would like to capture.
At 4 months you should be starting to get some interaction, smiles and giggles. Around the 6 month mark baby may be starting to sit unaided. A session at this age and onwards is often called a “sitter” session/shoot. By the time baby is 8 months they may be on the move, crawling and starting to pull themselves up but not yet walking. All these stages are lovely to capture in a photo shoot.
Finally, most newborn photographers offer a 1st year or Watch me Grow package. This will either include a Newborn, Baby/Sitter & 1st Birthday/Cake Smash Shoot or maybe 3 baby shoots at perhaps 4, 8 & 12 months. Do some research and see what your preferred photographer offers. It’s a fantastic way to capture the incredible 1st year in your babies life.
Not sure what a cake smash is? Read more here…
What to do now you have read The Ultimate Parents Guide to Newborn Photography
Firstly I hope you have enjoyed my parents guide to newborn photography and you feel a bit more informed. It would be great to hear your comments below. I would also love to hear about any concerns I haven’t addressed so I can add them to help other expectant parents.
My Clients travel from all over Hertfordshire, Bedfordshire, Cambridgeshire, Suffolk, Essex and North London! If you live in one of those areas and you would like to discuss a newborn photo shoot or my parents guide to newborn photography I would love to hear from you.
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Thank you and wishing you much fun and love on your new adventure!
Ultimate Parents Newborn Photography Guide – Absolutely everything you need to know in 10 points!
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