What Is Newborn Lifestyle Photography

newborn photography What Is Newborn Lifestyle Photography

newborn photography What Is Newborn Lifestyle Photography

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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!

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.

A few months ago I met this lovely family to capture their new baby girl. The inspiration to this session, and will be for other newborn portrait sessions, is capturing lifestyle. I know it’s a buzz word for portrait photographers these days so I thought I’d write a few thoughts about what I think LIFESTYLE means. Especially for newborns.

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.

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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Where will we shoot?The session takes place in the client’s home, preferably in the nursery, master bedroom, and living room.  We can also take some photos outdoors if the weather permits (ideal for spring and summer due dates!).  Do not worry about your house being a mess—you just had a baby!   All you need to do to prepare is open the blinds/curtains to let in as much light as possible.  I’ll quickly push things out of the area I’m shooting so that your home will appear to be spotless in the photos.  Don’t be surprised if I move some furniture around, I’m just working to get the best light in your home. I’ll put it all back where it was! 🙂 The only thing I will ask you to do is have your bed made with a neutral quilt/comforter on top. Your bed makes for a great place for cuddly family photos!How can I make sure my baby is comfortable and cooperative during the shoot?Newborns are unpredictable and this shoot is all about them.  Please do not worry about your baby crying or needing to eat during the shoot—newborn sessions are purposely longer to allow for plenty of breaks, feedings and even diaper/outfit changes.  It’s usually a good idea to try and feed your baby right before the session so they’re sleepy and content.What should my husband and I wear? I recommend keeping it simple and comfortable. Neutral, light (creams, whites, grays or pastel tones) work best as they don’t take away from the natural beauty of your baby.   You can add pops of color to your outfit, if you wish, by using jewelry or accessories. Solid or floral tops (and textures like big knits and lace) work best.  Stay away from prominent logos or writing on clothing. For your husband, the same rules apply.  View some ideas on my Pinterest board.

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.

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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!

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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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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!

Do you use props or specialize in stylized newborn poses?The style of newborn photography that I specialize in is lifestyle sessions.  Rather than posed newborn shots, I love to capture the relationship between the new baby and his/her parents and siblings.  This doesn’t mean that I won’t take individual photographs of the baby and capture some great detail shots of his/her little toes and fingers.  I am happy to incorporate any ideas you might have! Feel free to incorporate any special family quilts, heirlooms or baby blankets that you would like to use in the photos.How long are these sessions?A typical lifestyle newborn session takes 2-2.5 hours. When it comes to a newborn session, the baby is in charge, so we allow time to enough feeding and diaper changing breaks. 🙂 What can I do to prepare for the session?This is such a special time in your family’s life.  There will be so many emotions during the shoot—love, excitement, wonder, amazement.  It will be tough, but try to relax!  Moms tend to stress out because this is a new experience and because they want things to be “perfect.”  I will take your baby’s lead and allow him/her to be the focus of the shoot.  If your baby cries, or poops, it’s okay.  I promise!  Just focus on relaxing and cuddling with your sweet new addition and I will create images that you will cherish forever!

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!

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.

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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…..

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What should the baby wear?I prefer babies dressed very simply in plain onesies, muslin swaddles, or just diaper – whatever their comfort level is. 

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!

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A lifestyle photographer captures just that….the way you’ve styled your life. The clothes, blankets, nursery room and other little details that make your life unique and important for you. A lifestyle photographer, like myself, will use their surroundings and the families interactions to guide their session. Not props or poses that are popular right now. While those are beautifully done it is not what inspires me.

No two collection of images come out looking just the same in a lifestyle session, yet…as you can see from this newborn’s images…the emotion is (if not more so) touching as you are quickly drawn into the time when you first brought baby home. Exciting, sleepy, wrapped in her grandmother’s hand made baby blanket…receiving enough kisses so that she knows she’ll always be loved.

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What is a lifestyle newborn session? At-home lifestyle newborn sessions are about the connection and love that family members already have for this new life. I’ll capture special moments with each family member and the baby as well as the family all together. If siblings are involved, we usually take care of those photos first so that they can go and play during the rest of the session. I love when family pets can join in too. It can be helpful to have a friend or family member at the house who can watch siblings during the rest of the session so that Mom and Dad can be in photos with the baby. There will also be time for photos of the baby alone; these are usually done when the baby is sleepiest. I take photos of babies swaddled or undressed and they are posed in a way you’d find them naturally.

Most photographers recommend that you capture your sweet baby within 10 days of being born. Sometimes (especially if baby isn’t the only one) this can be hard as you struggle to adjust to lack of sleep and getting to know this new person. The reason that most photographers require you to book within 10 days is because they start to perk up a bit making it difficult to pose these new little babies. With lifestyle photography you have a bit more wiggle room for booking a session as no posing of the baby will be done. Although, don’t wait too long….they start to gain weight and grow before you bat an eye. The sooner the better for booking a lifestyle newborn session….but within a month is recommended.

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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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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What Is Newborn Lifestyle Photography