How to Prepare and Host Your Newborn Sessions with Poise and Compassion.

January 5, 2021

Have a newborn session coming up? Not sure what to expect? Or maybe you’ve done these for a while now but feel like you need to up your game a bit. 

Well you’re in the right place. I am discussing all about proper etiquette when running you newborn session so that you and your client can have the best experience.  Check out my full podcast on this topic here!

Recently, I had the privilege to work with sweet baby Kaden (peep his photos below)! And I am sharing with you about what etiquette and attitude I bring to these sessions. 

As in all my photography, my newborn photos are reflective of the family’s life with their new addition. For me, newborn sessions take place in the client’s home where I can capture the parents, siblings, and sometimes pets, with the newborn in the comfort of their world.  

Because these sessions take place in my client’s personal space right after they have experienced a life changing event, I take specific steps to ensure that they feel as comfortable and confident as possible.  

Prior to the Session

When the session is booked, I always make sure the parents feel comfortable with me at their home.  Especially if they are first time parents, it might be the first session they have ever done in their home.  I want to put them at ease.  

Approximately 2-3 days prior to the session, you want to send an email with a reminder of the session time and date, and encourage everyone to participate so that the most realistic photos can be captured. You can also add a few important tips for prepping the environment such as – 

  1. “Make sure to keep the house nice and warm so that your little one is comfortable!”
  2. “Please dress your babe in loose fitting outfits to avoid lines and indentations
  3. “Go ahead and feed your babe approximately 30 minutes before I arrive, so they’re nice and sleepy!”

When packing your supplies for your session, think about neutral colors and what might fit your style.  I usually pack a few blankets, furs, or swaddles to use as backdrops and props.  Most of the time, the parents have already selected outfits, blankets, and other props to use for the photoshoot, but these can often be patterned or bold colors, so having a few of your own on hand is always a good idea! I am primarily a natural light photographer, however, I do bring my studio lighting with me just in case.

If it helps calm your nerves, you can always ask the family about the amount of natural light in their home or a specific room with big windows that might be better than others. Get them thinking like you.  

Day of the Session

Now you are ready for your shoot.  You arrive at their home and it’s go time. Remember to focus on the emotional wellbeing of your client, putting yourself in their shoes. They just had a baby! You are now in their space and respecting that can go a long way.  

Come into the home softly. Let the parents lead the way, allowing them to show you their home. This piece of etiquette is extremely important.  

Inquiring about a location in the home to start the shoot is fine, but always take their input first and then guide them in a way that will work with your shooting style when it seems appropriate.  Remember that their home is their personal space, you’re the guest (repetitive I know, but this is important).

Some clients will ask about outfits and it’s okay to give guidance regarding their outfits / props.  You are the professional. Give suggestions that will encourage the best photos.  You want these photos to reflect your talent and style, so this is your opportunity to provide input to make that happen.  

Especially if you are working with first time parents, be courteous of their emotional and physical state.  They are excited and completely in love with their new addition, but also feeling overwhelmed and exhausted.  Keep in mind that the mother’s body has been through massive amounts of change. They might not show you or tell you how they’re feeling, so coming into the shoot knowing with this awareness is important. Meet them where they are.

Typically, newborn sessions last around 2-3 hours depending on the newborn.  Remember, you are on “baby time” so be flexible and plan your day accordingly.  A good rule of thumb would be to schedule your session starting at 9am and expect to be there until about 12 noon.  

New parents are learning.  Encourage them to keep the baby on schedule and go about their routine.  Most likely, the baby will need to eat again while you are there, or need a diaper change.  This is more than okay. Patience is key on newborn days! 

If the baby takes a feeding break, let the family know that you will step out and give them that space.  This is a great time to create.  Grab photos of the nursery if it is open, or some of the decor around the home.  Use this time to take a deep breath and relax.  If there is another sibling, grab some shots of them.  Tell the story of this day so that family has those memories forever. I always remind myself to “Tell a Story.” If I had to tell a story using only images, what other shots would I need to take? 

The last, and maybe most important piece of etiquette involves handling the baby.  I recommend not handling the baby unless you have been invited to do so.  This is especially important with the current climate COVID climate and being sure to keep everyone safe and healthy.  Pandemic aside,  always ask first.  “Do you mind if I adjust them this way?”.   

And you did it! I bet your images are absolutely beautiful and now your families are going to be raving about you. 

Remember the more relaxed you are, the more relaxed your clients will be. 

Check out these shots from Kaden’s session and feel free to share some of your work with us below!

As always, if you know a fellow photographer who could benefit from this episode, share this with them and spread the word.


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