Emma Godfrey

Newborn photography checklist for parents | How to prepare for your in-home session

One of the things I always give my clients before their newborn photo shoot is a few tips for helping the session run smoothly. Today I’d like to share with you my newborn photography checklist for parents. This is a useful tool which ensures you have one less thing to think about when it comes to your in-home newborn photography.

Where in my home will you photograph?

I normally shoot in the living room, nursery and parents’ bedroom (using the bed and pillows). It is really helpful if these areas are reasonably tidy, but it doesn’t have to be perfect, I’m used to working in small spaces. If you’ve received lots of flowers or gifts it can be nice to have these around. They create atmosphere and add to the background of the lifestyle images I shoot.

What props or accessories do I need?

If there is anything special that you have bought for the session be sure to put it somewhere obvious so that we don’t forget to use it. The same goes for any presents given by friends and family, or the blanket that granny knitted. I can bring a long a few hats, blankets, bows and coloured muslins if requested, but think that the best accessories are ones that have meaning for you.

What temperature should the house be? 

On the day of the shoot make sure the house is nice and warm, around 20-25 degrees. This way, your baby will be comfortable without lots of clothes.

When is the best time for the shoot?

The newborn photos you will have seen online and from friends are usually taken within the first ten days after birth. This is when your baby is at that perfect, tiny, sleepy stage. I will take newborns up to 15 days after birth. After this time, I am very happy to do baby shoots but always tell my clients that these are usually best done as lifestyle images. This means images of you interacting with your baby rather than posed portraits. By this time in their life your baby wants to be close to you, they have become accustomed to clothes and don’t really like being changed. I want both you and your baby to have a relaxed photo shoot, so this advice is based on the many different babies I have had the pleasure of photographing.

The best photos come from natural light rooms. So, I prefer to shoot during the day when possible. I prefer not to use flash with such young babies but if I do I always ‘bounce’ it off a wall or ceiling to avoid disturbing them too much. 

What should my baby wear? 

I always think that classically cute onesies and cosy blankets are a timeless look for your baby. Choose something that reflects you. If you love bright colours then go for it. If you prefer a natural palette then choose subtler tones. The chances are that the clothes you have bought will reflect your personality. Accidents do happen, so have a few other options available.

We will inevitably have to stop at some point to change or feed. This is also a good moment for an outfit change as it limits the number of times we have to dress and undress your baby. If you would like any bare skin images, make sure to dress your baby in very loose clothing that is easy to remove without disturbing. I love to capture hands and feet so, even if you don’t want bare skin images, try to have one outfit that will allow access to those tiny little feet! 

Should my baby be asleep or awake? 

If your baby is asleep when I arrive, don’t wake them! They will inevitably wake up during the shoot, so we will be able to capture them asleep and awake. Every baby is different. Sometimes I will only get sleeping images, sometimes they are fascinated by the camera. The best way to get their attention is to talk to them. Your voice means something to them and that look they give you is one of my favourites.

What pictures will you take? 

My favourite moments to capture are you and your partner interacting with your new baby, but we will also do some newborn portraits and details of all their tiny features. If there are any specific shots that you would like, please write them down in advance so that we don’t forget. I tend not to do overly style posed portraits. I personally think a baby looks better in her mother’s arms than in a basket.

How long will it take?

I book a whole day for a newborn shoot but it normally only takes between 2 and 4 hours. The shoot should be stress-free, so if your baby needs to feed or needs changing please carry on. Feel free to point me in the direction of the kitchen and I can get us coffee while you care for your baby. Happy, comfortable babies make for happy parents and wonderful pictures!

A newborn baby boy lies on his mat with a mobile hanging above him.

A newborn baby boy lies on his mat with a mobile hanging above him.

A newborn baby girl looks towards the camera from between her blankets.

A newborn baby girl looks towards the camera from between her blankets.

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