Lifestyle newborn photography is a new trend in newborn photography. It’s an approach that lets photographers capture a newborn in the comfort of the family’s home, so they can enjoy more natural-looking photos compared to posed newborn images.
This approach has been gaining popularity lately, as it offers a genuine way of telling the story of a newborn within their home. But it also comes with challenges, such as indoor locations and lighting that might not be ideal, or how to create beautiful imagery that captures the emotion and interaction between the newborn and family members.
In this article, we’re going to give you all the details for a creating natural and stunning lifestyle newborn photos; from what to prepare, the recommended gear, and tips to photograph a newborn in their home.
What is lifestyle newborn photography?
Lifestyle newborn photography is usually conducted in the comfort of one’s own home. It has a documentary approach, which allows a photographer to capture stories, love, and emotional connection between a newborn baby and their family members. This approach usually creates images that are natural and relaxed.
This article can help you understand more about posed vs lifestyle newborn photography.
What to prepare for lifestyle newborn photography
Since the session is conducted in the client’s house, there’s a limit to what a photographer can prepare when it comes to lighting and settings (unlike in a studio session where you have full control over lighting and background).
Having said that, there are a few things that you and the parents can prepare.
What a lifestyle newborn photographer should prepare
Lifestyle newborn photography is about telling stories through captured moments and expressions. You want to use lenses that can accommodate you in capturing the whole scene, as well as the little details.
For capturing details
- 50mm f/1.4
- 85mm f/1.4
Usually, 50mm or 85mm lenses are most commonly used for newborn photography, for their ability to capture little details and add depth to the story. These lenses allow you to keep a sharp focus on the newborn by blurring the background with low aperture, resulting in a light and soft image that is perfect for newborn photography.
These lenses are also good for when you want to fill the frame with details like the newborn’s toes, facial features, or fingers, as they enable you to highlight the newborn’s features and characteristics.
And of course, a 50mm or 85mm lens can also ease your burden in taking photos in low light conditions, which are often encountered when you shoot indoors. Use low aperture and slow shutter speed (and higher ISO if required), and you’ll still be able to create well-exposed images.
For capturing the scene
- 24 mm f/1.4 lens
- 24-70mm f/2.8 lens
- 35mm f/1.4 lens
A wide-angle lens is another important tool you need to have in your camera bag. For images where you want to add a sense of scale, or simply to show the newborn in the surroundings within the family home, any of these lenses will do an amazing job.
There’s a chance that you’ll deal with a low light condition indoors, so always bring a tripod to be safe. If there isn’t much natural light in the room, you know you can use a low shutter speed and still keeping the image sharp and focus with the tripod.
What parents should prepare
Figuring out the natural light
Indoor photography can be a bit tricky, especially since flash is a no-go with newborns. That’s why natural light is extremely important for lifestyle newborn photography — that’s the essential element to create stunning images.
Most likely, you’ve never been to their house, so you can ask the parents to help you figure out the most ideal situation and spot for your session. One of the lifestyle newborn photography tips from photographer Beth Deschamp is to give the parents ‘homework’ to find the natural light in their house.
Usually, parents want to have the session either in the nursery or in the master bedroom. Ask them to note the time when those rooms have the most natural light, and schedule your session based on that.
You can also ask the parents for the room in the house which has the most natural light, and use this as an alternative.
A clean and uncluttered background makes so much difference to a shot. Doing a newborn photo session at home can often be tricky when the space is less than ideal, but keeping the background away from distractions is a good start.
Remind the parents to put away cluttering objects such as bottles, alarm clocks, wires, or toys in the rooms that you’re going to have the session in. Make sure the dressers, nightstands, sofa, and coffee tables are free from clutter.
Parents usually ask what outfit they should wear for the session. The answer is, whatever makes them feel good and comfortable. Dresses with textures or flowy dresses for moms are usually the favourite. Stick to neutral and pastel colours to keep the focus on the baby, and avoid wearing outfits with patterns. Black outfits are best avoided if you aim for images that are light and soft.
Lifestyle Newborn Photography Tips
Do a quick tour around the house when you arrive
Once you’ve arrived at your client’s house, do a quick tour and pay attention to the natural lighting in each room, and also special features of the house that you can use to enhance your photos. Although parents have done the homework you’ve given them, there might be something that they’ve missed.
This is also a good opportunity for you to bond with the newborn’s sibling(s), if any. Engaging with them from the start will help to gain their trust, which will make it easier later when it’s time to take photos of them with the newborn.
Keep the newborn comfortable and warm
One of the advantages of lifestyle newborn photography is that the baby doesn’t have to be asleep, as explained by Erin in her brilliant tips for home lifestyle newborn pictures. That being said, we still want the baby to be comfortable. A fussy baby will just make it hard for everyone, especially the photographer. Take a break whenever the baby needs to feed or change diapers. Don’t rush a photoshoot, give enough time to allow these things. Two hours is usually a good estimate, as it gives enough time for breaks for feeding and changing.
One thing to note is newborns like it warm, so don’t forget to set the temperature in the room for their comfort.
Take many photos from different angles
Parents with a newborn are usually tired, so the less they have to move, the better.
When you sit the parents with the newborn, try to get photos from at least 3 different angles. Position the camera above their head for shots with a bird-eye view, lay low to capture the expression of the parents, or alternate between the closeup and wide shots.
Capture the little details
Now is the good time to make the most of your 50mm or 85mm lens. Blur the background and focus on tiny details of the newborns. Parents adore every little detail, so capture that as much as you can. Newborns grow so quickly, and it’s these little things that parents will want to cherish and remember. Their little yawns, how their fingers curl, the way their eyes blink… No details are too small for the parents.
Don’t miss the bigger picture
Lifestyle newborn photography is all about telling the story of the newborn at home, with all its surroundings and routines. Parents usually put a lot of work and care in preparing a nursery, or even the house in general for the shoot, so it’s good to show these in the images.
Step back and use a wide-angle lens to incorporate the surroundings, capturing the whole scene. Not only you’ll capture the image of the newborn with the scene of the family’s home, but you’ll also add a sense of scale this way.
Showing the newborn against the huge surroundings will highlight his tiny figure, something that every parent will appreciate as children grow up so quickly.
Give directions to the parents
Parents often don’t know what to do when being photographed with their newborns, and directions from the photographer are much appreciated.
There’s a secret for beautiful lifestyle newborn photos: direct them to interact with the baby, not to pose.
Lifestyle newborn photography is all about natural interaction and connection between the newborn and the parents, so avoid posing them (this can cause awkward and unnatural images). Instead, tell them to look at the baby, to kiss the baby, or let the baby wrap their hands against dad’s finger.
Encourage the clients to relax and interact with the newborn just as they usually do.
If there’s a sibling involved…
Photographing a newborn with their sibling(s) is not always easy. A few important tips if there’s a sibling involved:
- Do it at the beginning, when they’re still fresh – they might have limited patience, so do the shots with the sibling and all members of the family right at the start.
- Give them attention – siblings can feel left out when all focus is on the baby, so make sure to give them the spotlight as well. Engage with them and make them feel special, and this will make it easier for them to co-operate.
- Make it into a fun play session – play with their toys, ask them fun questions, or sing with them; anything to make them smile (or even better, laugh). Happy kids make for beautiful family photos.
For more detailed tips, you can read 6 Tips for Photographing Newborns with Siblings.
How to add something special to your lifestyle newborn photos
Use the architectural feature of the house to frame your shots
This is actually the secret to adding a wow factor to your shots.
Every house has unique and beautiful features, and using this to frame your shots can instantly transform your images into something extraordinary.
Pay attention to special features like big windows, wood panelling, archway, or unique decor. You can even use the garden or backyard if possible, if there’s anything interesting there that can be used as a background. This article about finding beauty in your client’s home will give you ideas about what to look for.
Ask the parents to do one activity with the newborn
Doing an activity adds so much value to your imagery, and usually, a good way to do this is by asking the parents to do one activity from their routines since the newborn arrived. It can be giving the newborn a bath, nursing the baby, or something entirely different that’s special to the family.
Document the activity, and you’ll get stunning photos that tell their story, while also capturing all the expressions and little gestures. Babies grow up so quickly, and having a ritual captured on camera is something that every parent will be grateful for.
Present the story, not the photos
You’ve taken and edited the photos, but don’t stop there. The way you present the story affects clients satisfaction. You can go all out and improve the value of your work.
Instead of giving your client the edited photos only, arrange the images to create a story that flows. Presenting them in a stunning baby photobook is one way you can deliver the story that the parents want to remember; the new life with a newborn, the feelings and emotions that follow after the arrival, and the interaction of the family members in the early days.
Parents with a newborn don’t have much free time, so having the photos neatly arranged in a photobook is something they will truly appreciate, and a beautiful way to cherish the precious newborn phase.