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Newborn Photography 101: Everything You Need To Know Before You Book Your Shoot in New York City!

What is newborn photography, really? You’ve got a little one on the way, and you can’t wait to welcome them to your family. Not only that, you want to be sure that you are able to capture the amazing memories of those precious{. You’ve seen dozens of beautiful newborn photos, and you want some of those shots of your baby.

Where do you start?

 If you have questions about newborn photography, we have the answers you’re looking for.

What is Newborn Photography?

Newborn photography, obviously, is the art of photographing newborns—but that’s a simple answer to a more complicated question. Thanks to the rise of Pinterest and other popular photo-sharing sites, new parents can now see the full array of creative efforts that go into newborn photography. During this amazing period of your baby’s life, you’re able to capture stunning pictures of them when they’re brand new. This includes a wide range of poses, props, and beautiful pictures of your often-sleeping baby.

There’s something extra-precious about newborn photos, especially when you’re looking back on those pictures as your baby gets a little older. Whether you opt for the adorable “completely naked” pictures or prefer a diapered look—or perhaps pictures of your little one in a cherished outfit—there are a wide range of pictures and opportunities to choose from.

How Do You Do Newborn Photography?

Many parents opt for the do-it-yourself route at home for newborn pictures. After all, how hard can it be to stick a sleeping baby in a basket and snap a few pictures? As it turns out, however, newborn photography is much more complicated than that.

Newborn photographers don’t just have a great range of props that are perfectly sized for a newborn baby. They also have great lighting, fantastic cameras, and even editing equipment that can help smooth away things like baby acne or the occasional spit-up dribble. More importantly, newborn photographers have experience creating a stunning experience that will be wonderful for both you and your baby, rather than a rushed experience crammed in between naps and feedings.

In addition, newborn photography is a very safe experience for your baby. Newborn photographers know how to safely manipulate your baby into a variety of poses. They may also offer composite images to help give you the great look you’re after without making your baby uncomfortable or putting them in any danger for the photo.

Preparing for Your Newborn Photography Session

When you’re preparing for your Manhattan newborn photography session, it’s important to start with a photographer you can trust! Find someone who has amazing newborn photos that are just like the ones you want of your new little one. Ideally, you’ll start looking for a newborn photographer while you’re still pregnant and schedule a tentative shoot time before your baby is born, but if you’ve put it off too long, don’t worry! You can still find a great photographer who will take amazing pictures for you and your baby.

Choose your poses with care.

Sometimes, you’ll get a happy baby who can’t wait to snuggle into the props and poses you’ve chosen. In this case, you may get a huge number of fantastic photographs to choose from. In other cases, your baby may be fussy as the session progresses, which can make it harder to get those pictures. Choose your top priority poses so that they can be shot first.

Let your photographer know if there are specific props or poses that you’re interested in.

Most newborn photographers prefer to use their own props for newborn photography sessions for several key reasons:

  • They’ve chosen their props to be safe and comfortable for your baby: no sharp edges, no fall hazards, and nothing that could pose a hazard during the shoot.
  • They know how to best angle and shoot their props, so there won’t be significant delays during the shoot.
  • Their props are already on location, clean, and ready to go.

If there’s a specific prop that you really want—or if, for example, you have a special blanket or hat that you want to include in your newborn photography sessions—talk about it with your photographer. They’ll let you know whether or not they can work in what you have or if they have something similar that will help meet your needs.

In the Studio or at Home?

When you’ve just had a baby, getting out of the house with all of their gear and everything you need for a photo session can be daunting. Some New York City newborn photographers will come to your home to take care of your newborn photo needs. There are, however, several advantages to opting for a photographer who does their photos in their studio.

  • You’ll get a controlled environment: no loud noises or unexpected visitors who can interrupt and derail your shoot.
  • The temperature is ideal for newborn photography sessions. You and your spouse may even be a little uncomfortably warm, but your newborn will be warm and comfortable in spite of the fact that they’re naked.
  • Controlled lighting means amazing pictures no matter what the weather is doing outside.
  • There are no bugs, which can be a concern with outside photos.
  • Your photographer will have immediate access to all of their props and accessories, so you’ll have a full collection to play within your pictures.

Packing for the Shoot

What do you need to take along for your newborn photography session, anyway? When it comes to your newborn, there’s good news: no outfits are required, unless there’s something special that you’d like your newborn photographed in. The most popular newborn pictures are naked—and that means far less effort involved for you!

For Mom and Dad, casual, comfortable clothes are usually best. Look for something that makes you feel pretty, but that will keep you comfortable during the session. Make sure that you pack at least one change of clothes! Many parents end up getting peed or pooped on during the naked portion of the shoot, and you’ll want to have a change of clothes on hand for that possibility.

In addition to your clothes and baby’s, there are several things you’ll want to bring along with you.

  • Tuck in a pacifier. Try to choose a brand that won’t leave red rings around baby’s mouth!
  • Bring along extra diapers. You never know when you’ll need them!
  • If you aren’t breastfeeding, make sure you have a bottle on hand.
  • Gas drops in your kit will allow you to soothe your baby if their tummy gets upset. 

During the Shoot

During a newborn photography session, your newborn will be arranged into a variety of poses and positions. Typically, parents want a position that mimics the one that your baby is in when they’re still in the womb: that cozy, curled up position that looks so comfortable when they’re tiny. Your newborn is still incredibly flexible and pliable, so they’ll be able to easily mold themselves into those positions.

Usually, your Brooklyn newborn photographer will take individual pictures of baby first, then pictures of baby with Mom and/or Dad, then pictures of the entire family. If you’re bringing siblings to the session, it’s important to either have someone to entertain them while they’re waiting on their littlest sibling to be done or to wait to bring them in until it’s close to time for them.

That way, they won’t be bored or distracting your newborn—or you!

You should expect to spend a minimum of a couple of hours at the studio when you arrive for your newborn pictures. If you can, try to feed your baby either right before arriving or when you show up a few minutes early for your session. This will lead to a cuddly, sleepy baby who is ready to curl up in those poses and take a nap.

That doesn’t mean that you should worry if your baby doesn’t want to eat right before your session or gets hungry in the middle of it. Manhattan newborn photographers are used to working with, well, newborns! They’ll provide a space for you to nurse or bottle feed as needed.

What’s the Best Age for a Newborn Photography Session?

If you want those cute, scrunchy, “still posed like they’re in the womb” photos, it’s best to take your newborn pictures before your baby is two weeks old—and ideally, before the ten-day mark. In an ideal scenario, baby will be at least 5 days old before you take those pictures: big enough that they’ve had a chance to establish a nursing relationship and that the parents have had time to get to know their little one’s personality. At the five-day mark, most mothers have had their milk come in, which means that baby is feeding less frequently.

Why schedule newborn pictures before baby is two weeks old?

There are several reasons most photographers prefer to schedule newborn pictures before your baby reaches the two-week mark. First, newborns have far more bones and cartilage than adults: adults have just 206 bones, while newborns have more than 300 bones and cartilage pieces. This means a lot more flexibility in your baby than you’d be able to manage yourself! Of course, this depends on your baby’s rate of growth, which can vary between one newborn and another.

Newborns also change and grow at an incredibly rapid rate. There’s an amazing difference between a two-day-old baby and one who is nearly two weeks old, and there’s an even bigger difference from a two-week-new baby and one that has passed the two-month mark. If you want to capture those beautiful, amazing newborn days to the best of your ability, scheduling that shoot early will help you do it.

What if I don’t manage to schedule my pictures inside that two-week window?

More than one parent has panicked as their baby approaches the two-week mark and newborn pictures are still untaken—or worse, unscheduled. Here’s the good news: your baby doesn’t magically “expire” when they’re fourteen days old. You can still take some amazing pictures with your little one no matter how old they are.

Older babies, in general, tend to have a little bit more fat than their younger counterparts. They may also be more alert, which may mean that they sleep less during their session. That’s okay! There’s not a magical limit at the 14-day mark that says your newborn can no longer be photographed. In fact, you may capture pictures that you love even more. Just be willing to be flexible about your expectations.

Babies under the 14-day mark are more flexible and often more sleepy than their older counterparts—which means that they’re more likely to sleep through the session. As a result, they’re easier to pose, and you may get a wider range of pictures. For older babies, you’ll end up with more wrapped pictures, so baby may have more pictures in a single pose.

Newborn Photo Shoot Props

There are a wide range of props that are available for newborn photo shoots, all of which will help you capture the stunning newborn pictures you want. Most of the time, you should let your photographer supply the props—they have the best idea of what will be safe and comfortable for your little one, since they have plenty of experience.

Sometimes, there may be a special prop that you want to include in your newborn photo shoot. Talk with your photographer ahead of time to learn how it will fit in! This might include a special stuffed animal, a hat, or a blanket made by a loved one just for your new baby—all of which will be precious additions to your pictures. Your photographer will often be able to work them in for you.

What vision do you have for your newborn photo shoot? The props actually used in your session will vary based on your specific desires, your child’s gender, and a range of other factors. However, there are some props that are used fairly commonly. Use them to get your creative juices flowing!

Swaddles and Wraps:

Swaddles and wraps often help keep baby comfortable and cozy when the naked shots just aren’t working for them. We try to keep the studio warm and cozy, but some little ones need to be swaddled in order to settle down.

Themed Props:

Are you and your spouse big baseball fans? Consider capturing your little one sitting in a baseball glove. Do you love watching construction trucks? A big toy truck can make a great prop. Pearls and crowns, on the other hand, are an amazing addition to a princess-themed shoot for a little girl.

Special Items:

For military members and their spouses, there are some amazing shots of baby wearing a special hat or curled up in Mom or Dad’s uniform. Make sure, of course, that you’re following appropriate regulations as you use any piece of your uniform!

Baskets:

Newborn babies fit perfectly in baskets of many shapes and sizes. Even better, they can be wrapped up in cuddly blankets while they’re tucked in, creating an even better picture that you’re sure to cherish.

Books:

Do you have a little future reader on your hands? Consider including some of your favorite books as part of your photo shoot. Your baby won’t be able to read them yet, but those books might just become future favorites!

Holiday Items:

Was your baby born around the holidays? From a stocking for Christmas to a pumpkin theme in October, celebrate their special birthday in their newborn pictures. You’ll only get so many years to do it before they start wanting to choose their own themes!

Flowers:

There’s something special about babies surrounded by natural beauty. In some cases, however, you won’t want to take your newborn outside to catch those gorgeous images. Luckily, you can bring the flowers to them! From sunflowers to roses, there are some great pictures that can be taken with your baby surrounded by flowers.

Styles of Newborn Photography

Newborn pictures aren’t necessarily just about those cozy, cuddly moments when your newest love is positioned like they were in the womb. Remember, you’re choosing pictures that you’ll look back on for the rest of your life. Make sure you choose a style you’re going to love! Some things to consider:

Composite Images versus Unedited (well, mostly):

There’s a lot of editing that goes into many photo shoots. Do you want raw shots of your baby exactly as they are, minimal editing, or some of the fun composite shoots that take multiple images and put them together to make it look like your baby is doing something incredible, like the frog pose? While there will likely be some editing in your final images, you want to be sure that you’ve chosen a photographer who will produce the types of images you want.

Color Versus Black and White:

There are some stunning things that can be done with black and white photography. On the other hand, colors will help capture a little bit more of that precious newborn feel. Make sure that you choose the right style for you—or perhaps mixing and matching according to your desires.

Posed Versus Lifestyle:

Do you want the formal, posed pictures of your baby that you see scattered across Pinterest and other popular sites, or are you looking for lifestyle shoots: beautiful pictures of you cuddling with your baby, changing diapers, and other things that are part of your everyday life with them? Those memories fade faster than you think, and having those pictures to look back on is a great way to bring them back to mind.

Fussy Babies at Your Newborn Photo Shoot

Let’s face it: babies fuss. It’s part of the package. They’re adorable, and cuddly, and precious; but they also poop, and pee, and cry at the worst possible times. So what happens when you show up for your session and your easygoing baby turns into a colicky nightmare?

First, don’t panic.

If you stay calm, your baby is more likely to be calm, too. A panicked, stressed-out mom, on the other hand, is likely to lead to a baby that’s even more upset—and that’s a vicious cycle that will lead to total meltdown for everyone involved.

Take a minute.

Most of the time, newborn sessions are designed with some extra time built in. In some cases, this may be time to feed your baby. (Hint: nursing is often a great way to calm them down, even if they aren’t hungry!) In others, it may be the chance to settle them down a little when they start fussing. If you can put baby to sleep, even better!

Reschedule if needed.

Your photographer isn’t going to throw you to the curb because your baby is crying or you’re having a rough day. If you need to, you can always reschedule your session for a couple of days later. Whew!

Embrace the outtakes.

Sure, they aren’t the stunning pictures you dreamed of hanging on your wall, but those outtakes are precious in their own special way. Enjoy them! Those memories will bring you plenty of laughter as your baby gets older.

What If Baby Gets Hungry?

Newborns, it seems, are always hungry. Luckily, a baby that gets hungry in the middle of a photo shoot isn’t a catastrophic occurrence. Remember, there’s extra time built into your photo shoot so that you will have time to feed your baby!

If you’re nursing, you may want to take further advantage of this time to capture stunning nursing pictures of you and your baby. That nursing relationship is a precious memory that you’ll carry with you long after your baby grows up, and having those pictures to look back on will be delightful.

Of course, in order to make the most of the time allotted for your shoot, make sure that you feed your baby right before the session. This will give any gas bubbles time to settle and help increase the odds that baby will arrive milk drunk and ready to model.

Is Baby Usually Awake or Asleep During a Newborn Photo Shoot?

Most of the time, sleepy babies make the best models—that is, they’re the ones who are the easiest to scrunch and mold into those great newborn poses. On the other hand, if your baby is wide awake, looking around, and taking in the world, we can capture some great pictures of their eyes and some amazing expressions! It doesn’t matter if baby is awake or asleep for your photo shoot; your photographer will make the most of it regardless.

Schedule Your New York City, Manhattan, or Brooklyn Newborn Photo Shoot Today

Are you eager to see your new little one in some of these amazing poses, or to create memories that will last you both for a lifetime? If so, fill out our contact form now! We’ll get back to you to discuss your desires for the shoot as soon as possible.

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