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7 ways to ensure a successful lifestyle newborn session

You guys, I LOVE babies. Absolutely LOVE.

The way they smell, arch their back when they stretch, and make the cutest little coos, it really makes my heart burst into a thousand pieces. Because I have this natural love for babies, especially newborns, I thought it would be a cake walk to dive into newborn photography. Boy was I wrong. Way wrong. After admitting to myself that I wasn't a secret ninja baby-whisperer, I took it upon myself to capture newborns in a different light. A new way where I didn't have to force skills I wasn't blessed with and could just sit back and admire the beauty of these sweet cherubs. Enter lifestyle newborn photography. Although it may seem more laid-back and less time-consuming than traditional newborn portraits, the lifestyle approach does still require some effort on your part. To ensure a successful lifestyle newborn session, I encourage you to consider these 7 tips.
LIFESTYLE NEWBORN SESSION
 

PREP THE PARENTS

Going into this type of session, make sure both parents know what to expect and what your expectations for them are. Help guide them about everything from the temperature of their home to how to dress. Being prepared on both ends will set you all up for a successful session from the get-go.
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KNOW THE LIGHT AHEAD OF TIME

Along with prepping your clients about the expectations for the session, asking them to do a little homework will also add to your advantage. Have your clients take a quick (or in-depth, whatever floats your boat) survey of the light in their home. Ask them for the best time of day for each room they want photographed and how the light fills in. You will want to be as prepared as possible going into an environment you've never been to before, so knowing what to expect can really help to set you up for success!
lifestyle newborn photos
 

GET THE BABY COMFORTABLE

Having the baby comfortable is the key ingredient to a successful session. By prepping your clients ahead of time, try to work it out so they can have the baby fed and ready to go when you get there. A fresh diaper, a happy belly, and a tightly wrapped swaddle is a great way to start off the session. I have found time and time again that keeping the baby wrapped in a blanket or wearing a soft, cotton onesie is best for them. Although crochet overalls, bows, and tutus can be cute, they usually are not newborn friendly, which only leads to an unhappy baby.
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SET THE MOOD

Depending on what kind of photographic style you are leaning towards, you'll want to tailor as much of the environment to your liking when applicable. If you love your photos be be flooded with light, then opening up the curtains and bringing in as much light into the rooms will help you achieve that. If you are into more of a moody look, then create contrast in your light and environment by closing off openings and careful subject placement.
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GIVE DIRECTION

More likely than not, your clients will need direction on how to interact in the photo session. Even though this is a more laid back and natural approach, you'll want to give tips on how you'd like them to stand, hold the baby, and connect with each other. Often times it can be a tremendous help to play out the scene yourself before plopping a new mother down and having to arrange her several times before you start snapping the shutter. After you've gotten them into place, give everyone involved encouragement by complimenting them as you go - this will help them get even more comfortable and give them a boost of confidence that will show in the resulting photos.
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SHOW THE SPACE

One of the ways to set yourself apart as a lifestyle newborn photographer is to tell stories with your camera. It's hard to tell a story when all of the photos look similar, so back up and change your perspective during the session. Shooting for various angles at various focal lengths will not only help tell the story, but it will give the whole session a new level of interest. I like to accomplish this by starting outside the room we are working in and then slowly getting closer to my subjects and shooting as various angles. You might only need one pose for this, but it provides a lot of variety in your complete session gallery!
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DON'T FORGET THE DETAILS

In addition to getting lots of pullbacks and environment during the session, it's also important to zone in on the details. Parents want to remember exactly how their baby looked when they were so fresh. All those flaky fingers, perfectly colored cheeks, fuzzy hair, and tiny little toes should be singled out and focused on alone for a few shots. This is add a new addition of variety in your session that everyone will 'oo' and 'ahh' over!
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  By taking these simple tips into consideration each time you take on a lifestyle newborn session, you'll be sure have not only be more relaxed and prepared, but you'll knock it out of the park every single time!

How do you prepare for a newborn session that aids in your success? Share your secrets in the comments and join the discussion with togs just like you!

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