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In newborn photography, there are two people to keep comfortable during the entire session: the baby, and the new mother. Lifestyle photography tends to keep the baby comfortable since the infant is in familiar surroundings. The baby can also be clothed or unclothed here.
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Some photographers will have a lifestyle and a studio package offered to clients. Others will offer one type of in-home session and bring along a beanbag for poses too. If you decide to use both styles, make sure that you are properly managing clients expectations.
Photographers favoring the posed look can still start out with in-home sessions using natural window light. But bringing along props, blankets and a beanbag will still cost a little more than just bringing a camera and lenses for a lifestyle shoot.
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A lifestyle newborn photographer doesn’t follow the family around for 24 hours, so the photographer will typically instruct the parents to interact with the baby in a certain spot and in a certain way, such as suggesting a bath.
However, during a lifestyle newborn session the element of time does not hold as much weight. The lifestyle newborn shoot focuses primarily on the interaction between the new baby and his family and surroundings and is much less centred around obtaining the perfect pose. Therefore having a baby under two weeks of age become less important. This is particularly helpful for Mothers who contact me once their newborn baby is over that magic age for traditional newborn photography. Just because a baby is a little “older” it no longer means you have to miss out on those precious newborn moments!
The goal of traditional newborn photography is still to keep baby as comfortable as possible to get those sweet, sleepy poses. Posed images may be more disruptive to the baby’s routine, however. The photographer has to go out of the way to keep the baby comfortable — such as using a space heater when photographing the baby with a bare bum.
Shooting in-home sessions doesn’t necessarily have to be exclusive to lifestyle photography, however. While a studio is more common for posed newborn photos, some photographers offer in-home posed sessions, carting along everything they need to photograph the baby at the client’s home or another location.
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Without control over the background, lifestyle photographers may remove more distractions like a light switch on an otherwise clean background. Or they may not, depending on their editing style.
If you want to branch into one style or the other but don’t have the portfolio samples for that style, try shooting a session with a mix of your current style and experimental style shots. Make sure to discuss your plans with the client ahead of time.
Both studio and lifestyle photography can include family members. But a lifestyle photographer tends to place a bigger emphasis on interaction between the baby and the members of the family. The only props are what’s at hand, and there are no backdrops. Lighting is often ambient light.
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Just like lifestyle newborn photography favors natural positions for the baby, natural light is often preferred for these types of images too.
Time: Timing is everything when it comes to newborn photography. For an in studio newborn baby photo session I like to try and get the babies into my Cambridge Studio before they are two weeks of age. When we are looking to obtain those sleepy, posed shots the younger the baby the better. A baby that is fresh and new is much more likely to provide me with a deep sleep allowing me to work with their tiny bodies to achieve those uber adorable shots. They are also very flexible at this age and quite enjoy being curled up and cozy while asleep just as they were in utero.
Seeing the Light: It is true that during a studio session the light is controlled. I know what to expect in my home studio. I know that the light comes in big and beautiful at a certain time of day and that my itty bitty newborn clients will be sleeping peaceful, bathed in the window light during their stay with me. An in home lifestyle session cannot obviously offer the same kind of assurance. Clients often come to me concerned that their home will not be bright enough, not be pretty enough.
About the Contributor: Cambridge child photographer, Nicola Toon specializes in newborn, baby and child photography using exclusively natural light. Hulahoop Childrens Photography creates one of a kind baby, child and family portraits for the Kitchener/Waterloo area.
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Because lifestyle newborn photography doesn’t require a sleeping baby through the whole session, many photographers suggest this type of session is more flexible on when the baby can be photographed.
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Lifestyle newborn photography tends to have a stronger emphasis on interaction. The photographer is probably photographing the family snuggling together, dad giving the baby a bath or mom feeding the baby. Lifestyle photography can include the baby by himself or herself too, but tends to have more images of family interaction.
SO there you have it. A little 4-1-1 on the difference between your studio newborn sessions that we all know and love and the lesser known newborn lifestyle sessions that hopefully we will all get to know and love just as much, if not a wee bit more!
Location: The location for your upcoming newborn session might also have you thinking about whether a studio photography session or a lifestyle shoot is the choice for you. All of my studio sessions are conducted in my in home newborn studio in Cambridge, Ontario. I have everything here that I need in order to provide you with a great experience for your baby’s first professional photo shoot! My studio is stocked with all of the props, back drops and posing tools that we need. The space has great light and is small so that it can be kept nice and warm to keep your baby comfortable during her session. Parents have a cozy spot to relax, grab a refreshment and watch TV during the shoot. All in all it’s a great place to come for your newborn photo session.
Both styles of photography can include family members and the interaction between that newest family member and mom, dad and siblings. Traditional newborn photography tends to have several images of the infant alone, with a handful of poses with the family.
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I’d love to take some time to introduce everyone to this style of newborn photography and go over the many benefits that this relaxed take on a newborn photo session has over it’s in studio counterpart.
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Traditional and lifestyle newborn photography are two distinct styles that both capture a new person and a growing family. Each style has perks and disadvantages. The key to choosing between the two is finding a balance between your own style and the expectations of the new parents that choose you to document their little one’s tiniest moments.
Interested in reading more about newborn photography sessions? Check out: A Guide to Baby’s First Year Photo Packages!
The comfort of the new mother is more difficult to gage. The mom may have required surgery or stitches during delivery, which may make leaving the house to head to a studio more difficult.
The session below was shot almost entirely in the master bedroom of this new family’s Toronto home. This particular room in the house worked extremely well for two reasons. First it was bright and beautiful. The large window provided up with beautiful soft light which made shooting in that room easy and gave the photos an airy feel. Secondly the room was neutral. The white bedding and walls gave us a gorgeous and non distracting backdrop to work with making the baby and his family the focus of the session. The fact of the matter is, if you have one or two great, bright rooms in your home we can use them to our advantage to provide you with a gorgeous set of very personalized newborn photos that you will enjoy for years to come!
What’s in front of the camera doesn’t always determine the process for completing the image after the shutter is pressed. Some photographers use identical editing techniques on both posed and lifestyle images.
And other than moving from one thing to the next faster than the average day to get a variety of images, the baby probably is pretty comfortable during a lifestyle session.
Lifestyle newborn photography may be less expensive to start and more comfortable for the baby. Butt the posed, traditional style wins when it comes to control. No photographer can control how calm a baby is. But traditional newborn photographers can control the lights, the props, the set-ups, and the pose.
Lifestyle photography is a more go-with-the-flow type of imagery. Photographers have some control, such as asking mom and dad to move closer to a window for better light.
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Traditional newborn photographers can use natural light or studio lighting. Some prefer the look of window light while others recreate it with studio lights for more control over the final result.
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However, since lifestyle photography is a more minimalist style, some lifestyle photographers also embrace a minimalist editing style, fixing lighting and color, but leaving a majority of the images intact. Others will zap baby acne no matter whether the image was a lifestyle shot or a perfected studio pose.
Even when using studio lights, traditional newborn photographers still tend to favor soft light, so those studio lights will have some type of large diffuser to create that softer look.
Look at your current photos. If you are just dipping your toes into newborn photography, just look at your images from other genres. Are your images more structured, or more relaxed? Do you like the control of shooting with studio lights, or the soft quality of natural light? Do you favor a more documentary style, or a more traditional style?
If traditional newborn photography requires a studio, studio lighting and props, then of course that photographer is going to have to pay for a studio, lighting and props. While both types of photography will have some start-up costs, such as the camera and business expenses, lifestyle photography’s entry point is typically lower.
Newborn photography’s definition is about as flexible as those impossible ways newborns can tuck each finger and toe in to curl into a tight, little womb-like ball. An easier way to think about it is as posed or lifestyle newborn photography.
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A newborn is only a newborn for around two weeks. The little one then graduates to infant for the next three months, is considered a baby until around age one, and a toddler up to about age three. While these designations are somewhat subjective, it can’t be denied that the “newborn” stage is the briefest and most fleeting.
Parents who seek out newborn photography only have a small window of time in which to capture this precious stage in their child’s history. With such a limited time frame, both photographer and parents should strive for the most optimal decisions and results possible.
Two of the main options available for documenting newborns are posed and lifestyle photography. Each style has its benefits, and both photographer and parents must determine what scenario will be best for the family’s needs and preferences.
Posed Studio Newborn Photography Many photographers love the studio setting for its familiarity and the ability to control most of the variables there. From lighting to backdrops and props, the photographer is in charge of what’s on hand and can plan and prepare for how a session will unfold.
Parents can relax and entrust the process to the photographer from start to finish. Mom gets a break from the home setting and can let the photographer guide the creative process entirely — or they can both approach it as a collaborative effort.
Lifestyle Newborn Photography Lifestyle newborn photography is an entirely different prospect. It requires the photographer to travel with their gear to the child’s home and to be more flexible in setting up scenes and capturing shots.
While there are more variables in this style of photography, the possibility for profound unscripted moments is much higher. Mom and baby will likely be more relaxed in the familiar home setting and open to more tender and intimate poses.
The Differences The main differences between posed and lifestyle photography for newborns is the level of intimacy vs. a controlled setting. Lifestyle sessions will always feel more natural and intimate than studio sessions, and many parents and photographers favor them for these reasons.
However, the studio allows for optimal lighting, a larger variety of backdrops and props, and highly specific creative poses/outfit ideas to be played out. For example, specific effects with cheesecloth wraps, various hats and headbands, props and themed backdrops can all add up to priceless family photos.
Whether posed or lifestyle, the newborn session will take place within the little one’s first two weeks of life; during this time, they are often quite sleepy and therefore able to be positioned and “molded” into awe-inspiring poses.
Blankets, props, wraps, headbands, hats and mini outfits can certainly be used in either setting, but the studio allows for more focused and targeted photography without distractions. With lifestyle photography, distraction is invited (or at least expected), and the photographer must go with the flow, staying open to unscripted moments as the parents and child reveal themselves.
Does it Have to Be Either-Or? Clearly, there are pros and cons to both studio and lifestyle newborn photography. Do the parents have to choose just one? Of course not; it is entirely within reason to schedule one of each type of session for the most comprehensive coverage of their new bundle of joy.
Highly creative studio effects (which can be augmented even further with the use of photo editing software) can then be complemented by tender, intimate photos taken in the baby’s home setting. That said, if parents would like to choose just one direction, they should consider the pros and cons.
Are mom and dad up to having the photographer in their home, or would they prefer to get out into a more neutral setting? Does going to the studio sound like a welcome break to them, or would it be less stressful to have the photographer come to them? There’s no right or wrong decision; it’s simply a matter of personal choice.
There are benefits for each type for the photographer as well; the studio offers the perfect setting for creating optimal scenes and using advanced technical wizardry for incredible results. However, traveling to the client’s home opens them up to a world of wonder and unconditional love so often characteristic of a household just joined by a new baby.
What style of newborn photography do you prefer?
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These images are usually of a baby (most often asleep) in poses on blankets or inside props. This style of newborn photography typically uses backdrops and props and may also include studio lighting.
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Expectations can vary on a number of different factors. In some areas, traditional posed newborn photography is more common. In other areas, the expectations are based simply on the family’s lifestyle. Researching your own area and talking with expecting parents can help you determine what your clients expect.
Studio photographers, on the other hand, may spend more time creating a perfect blanket fade in Photoshop to keep the attention on the baby.
Lifestyle newborn photography, on the other hand, is a style of photography where the baby is in their own home or another location important to the family, not a studio. In lifestyle photography, the baby is photographed in natural settings and poses that the baby moves into unaided.
Don’t allow a client to assume they’ll receive both styles because both are inside your portfolio if you require separate sessions for separate styles.
This means a lot to bring and losing some control over the surroundings. But, some moms may appreciate the ability to stay home (after all, they just made a tiny human). Others may be nervous over inviting a stranger into their homes at a time when a newborn’s demands leaves less time for housekeeping.
Props offer a sense of scale. Traditional newborn photographers will supply their own props, but in lifestyle photography, the props are what’s already available in the scene. Lifestyle photographers will photograph the newborn in their own crib, on their parents bed or on the living room couch. Existing toys and items around the home will serve as the props to create a sense of scale.
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Before determining what style of newborn photography is right for you, it’s important to differentiate between the two. Posed newborn photography is more traditional.
Newborn photography styles aren’t a one-size-fits-all solution. One style may suit you best, while the next photographer may prefer the other. The key to deciding between lifestyle and posed newborn photography is to determine your own style. And balance that with the expectations of your clients.
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There’s no rule saying photographers have to shoot only posed or only lifestyle sessions either. Some photographers do both. Typically, the photographers who shoot both styles will still have a unifying style between the two. Maybe their poses are more relaxed or maybe they use natural window light in both.
Connection: Of course most clients also want to capture some darling images of their new family dynamic during their newborn photo session. Whether it be photos of baby with Mom, Dad, big brother or sister or all of the above, these treasured family photos can be obtained during both studio sessions AND in home lifestyle sessions. However the resulting look is completely different. Which you prefer is entirely up to you…..
If you are trying to settle on a style to run a successful business (rather than to photograph your own child or a friend’s), meeting client expectations is key. Clients whose expectations are met will recommend you to friends and leave positive reviews. But how do you determine if your client expects lifestyle — or the traditional poses?
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However the thought of travelling with a newborn can be daunting for some new parents. Lifestyle newborn sessions are conducted in the comfort of the clients home. Having your photo session take place in your home provides a level of intimacy and a personal touch to your lifesytle images that might be missing from your studio session. Imagine having images of baby in her own nursery or snuggling with Mama in their favourite chair. Documenting beloved books, toys and that surely wonderful wardrobe some babies acquire before they are even here?! These small details make your newborn’s photos even more special for years to come!
To get those sleepy newborn poses, most photographers recommend photographing the newborn within the first two weeks.
In lifestyle photography, the photographer may adjust where the baby and family members are in order to properly light with a window. Lifestyle photographers typically work with natural light along with the lights in the home. Natural light’s softer qualities mix well with lifestyle photography.
But the whole idea of lifestyle photography is to photograph daily life with a newborn which usually includes several surprises and bumps along the way. Lifestyle photographers may have to face challenges like avoiding clutter in homes and working in limited light, challenges that studio photographers aren’t typically faced with.
Photographers may also face different challenges in post depending on the style of the image. Photographing in someone’s home may mean the paint color on the walls created an odd color cast on the baby’s skin that needs to be corrected, for example.
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Of course as a newborn photographer myself I definitely offer this style of newborn photography to my clients in the Waterloo area and beyond. I do however also offer an alternative type of newborn photography, which is a little lesser known, but just as beautiful and amazing as an in studio newborn session. Lifestyle newborn photography is becoming one of my all time favourite sessions that I offer to my clients.
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On the other hand, taking care of a newborn leaves much less time for housekeeping and some new moms may be uncomfortable bringing a photographer into their homes. Others may not feel like their home decor is sufficient enough to be the background for their session.
Choosing images most representative of your work and style to include in your portfolio will help manage client expectations. And it will make discussions with the client ahead of time easier.
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Newborn photography can be those traditional, intentional images with the baby in a basket or perched just so on a beanbag and a blanket. Or, it could mean photographing a baby inside his or her nursery, interacting with parents, siblings and even the family pet.
Newborn photography can be as different as the families captured by that camera — there’s no one answer to just how a newborn should be photographed. But, posed newborn photography and lifestyle newborn photography have several important differences — and one photographer may do better inside one style, while another may be completely at home in the other.
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Lifestyle newborn photography is typically shot in the client’s home. That means, if you’re shooting entirely lifestyle photos, you don’t have to have a studio location. This makes lifestyle photography easier for new photographers to branch into.
What’s the Difference Between Posed and Lifestyle Newborn Photography?
So how can photographers figure out which approach is best for them? Here are ten things to consider when comparing posed newborn photography vs. lifestyle newborn photography.
And the very best part of a lifestyle newborn session….if baby sleeps then we can still get those ooey gooey posed newborn shots…no matter where we are!
Time is also key during an in studio newborn session because it’s important that we wait until the baby is settled into that nice, deep sleep before I start to work with them. This process can be lengthy and patience is everything. I have had many sessions where it has been two hours before the shutter has been released as we are waiting on baby to get comfortable and settled.
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A sweet nudie little babe all sleepy and curly on a soft blanket backdrop wearing an adorable little knit hat or wrap. These kinds of posed newborn photographs have become synonymous with the term “newborn photography” over the past five or so years. I love them. We all love them. There is something so serene and pleasing about a brand new life. A baby only days old sleeping peacefully all curled up and comfy just as they recently were in utero.
Traditional newborn photographers will have more props to buy and bring, which can both be a blessing with control over what, exactly goes into the shot, and a downfall because, well, props can be expensive.
While several aspects of the clients’ expectations are out of your control, there is one way photographers can help ensure client expectations are met: the portfolio. If your portfolio is full of only traditional newborn photographs and you go and deliver an album full of only lifestyle images, you probably didn’t deliver what your client expected.