10 Tips to Prepare for Your Newborn Photo Shoot

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Today on the blog, we are highlighting one of our community partners; Chelsea Zimmerman of Flightless Bird Photography.

In this guest blog post, Chelsea explains the difference between traditional newborn photography, and her preferred style, "newborn lifestyle photography."

Plus, she gives her 10 best tips for pulling your professional photo session off with ease.

You can see Chelsea's work on throughout this blog post, and on her webiste: www.flightlessbirdphotgraphy.com


Most soon-to-be parents are familiar with newborn photography, but the term “lifestyle newborn session” is less known. Lifestyle newborn photos focus on a natural look when photographing the baby. These sessions break away from the posed, structured shots and instead capture little ones just as they are.

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The photographer strives to capture genuine connection rather than forced poses, and the result is pure magic. I prefer lifestyle photography over traditional newborn photography because to me it feels more genuine. I feel like it captures a new family more accurately and beautifully than a structured photoshoot. The early months home with baby may not be "picture perfect," and that's ok. Lifestyle photography is the perfect way to capture the real memories and beautiful moments of early parenthood.

Over the years, I've learned a lot about what makes a lifestyle photo shoot successful. If you're considering a lifestyle session for your family, here's my top tips for pulling it off with ease.

10 Tips to Prepare for a Successful Lifestyle Newborn Session:

1). Plan it for the first 1-10 days of life.

Little ones are newborns for a small window of time. Capture the sweet early days of snuggles and sleepy eyes. You'll be surprised at how quickly your baby will grow out of the "newborn look." It's best to plan your newborn lifestyle photo shoot for the first 1-10 days of life. I know that sounds early, but trust me, it makes things much easier. After approximately 2 weeks of life, a baby's relaxin hormone levels drop, making their limbs more stiff. They are also less sleepy after that 2 week mark, which makes photographing them more challenging.

2). Trust Your Photographer

Choosing your photographer can be a process. You want to be sure they will be available during that special 10 day window, have reliable equipment, and produce work that you can connect with. Ask for samples of their work in lifestyle newborn photography. Reading reviews is a great way to be sure your photographer is reliable. 

Chose carefully. But once you've decided, trust their vision. Now it's time for you to relax and enjoy this experience with your family.

3). Relax

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Relax. Relax into your partner. Relax into this special, once-in-a-lifetime moment with the newest member of your family. I want to capture that sweet newness – the genuine expressions, shifts, and growth of your family in the early transition days.

Take the pressure off of yourself to 'do it right' and allow yourself to be present in the moment. I always tell my families "you can't mess this up," and it's true. I'm there to capture the raw beauty of your reality, messy mom hair and all.

4). Embrace Imperfection

This is a special transition time for your family. Sure this time is hectic, but you’ll welcome the memories of sweet chaos as you look back at these photos months and years down the road.  Rather than focusing on matching outfits and perfect props, invite me into your real world to witness everyday life with you. 

Be affectionate, cuddle, and soak up this special time. I'll be there to capture it all; your sweet baby, your family, and the emotional connection you share.  

5). Take care of yourself

Drink lots of water. Make sure to eat something. If you’re hungry – or baby or daddy is hungry – during the session, eat something. If you want to take a nap while dad and the photographer finishes up some of the last shots, go for it. Take care and be easy on yourself.

6). Just go with it

Little one will inevitably get hungry, have a dirty diaper, or need a break. And that’s okay! This is why I (and many lifestyle photographers) budget 2 hours for a session. Center the session on baby's needs and wants, and everyone will be happy in the end.

7). Stick to 2-3 outfits for baby

Most newborns would rather not have 10 wardrobe changes in 2 hours, so pick your 2 favorite outfits to keep little one happy.

8). Remember the little details

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I love photographing nursery decorations, special blankets, storybooks, or other sentimental items that add meaning to the session. Let me know what means most to you.

9). Include pets

I can’t tell you how much I love photographing fur babies with their humans! This is a great opportunity to include the four-legged members of your family.

10). Don't stress about the mess

I can't speak for all photographers, but when I do a newborn lifestyle photo shoot, I generally stick to 2-3 locations. Most common places are the living room, the nursery, and the parent's bedroom. Wherever your biggest windows are is generally where we'll be for most of the shoot. So don't stress about the mess in the kitchen, or the laundry on your couch. Throw your clutter in the closet and don't worry about making the whole house spotless.


Invite Chelsea into this special time in your life. High Country Doulas readers get an exclusive 10% discount off of any photography service, including birth, newborn, and her special "first 48" session.

Mention High Country Doulas to Chelsea to receive your exclusive 10% discount.

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