The word “lifestyle” is thrown around a lot in regards to photography lately so I thought I’d describe what it means to me – especially when it comes to Newborn Lifestyle Photography.
In “lifestyle” newborn photography, you’ll never see a baby posed on a swing, hammock, wooden box and such. Most often, you’ll see pictures of babies in their parent’s arms, in their crib, or on a bed in natural positions. Babies have a unique way of curling up into the most darling positions, naturally, when they are warm and comfortable – no posing needed!
We’ve all seen newborn photos of babies curled up inside a flower pot or some other unlikely spot you would find a baby. What you might not know, is that those images are heavily photoshopped. Most likely, the parent(s) are right there next to the baby with hands holding them. While these images may be cute, I don’t think they are necessarily safe or comfortable for either the parents or babies! Posed newborn sessions can take up to 4 hours because there is so much time spent in quieting the baby and getting them into sometimes awkward, unnatural positions. This seems really stressful to me and that’s the last thing I want to add on to a new parent’s life!
Prior to working as a full-time independent photographer I worked in a hospital setting taking newborn photos. I learned a lot about newborn safety and comfort in the year I spent in this role. I know how important it is for babes to be held, stay warm, not be over-fed, and when they are just “done”! I believe this job has given me a unique perspective in working with all types of families and newborns!
Lifestyle photography is essentially capturing what is happening in the moment. It is supposed to be a realistic picture of your life as it is right now. For newborns, that most likely means eating, sleeping, being held and snuggled by your family, and even crying! My goal with lifestyle sessions is to focus on the love and connection between family members and to create images that will bring you right back to these precious moments.
Because we are capturing babies in their natural environment, doing what babies do, I never take more than 2 hours in my lifestyle sessions. If we’re lucky, we can be done in an hour – but sometimes baby just needs a rest without the click of the camera, a diaper change, or a peaceful feeding. I plan for lots of breaks for baby (and parents) during newborn photoshoots so that everyone stays comfortable and engaged.
Going against everything I just said, I do actually bring a few items to give my photos a “studio” look if baby and parents are up for it! I do bring a large beanbag and some props (swaddles, binkies, headbands, etc). If baby is a DREAM, and doesn’t seem to get stressed with the extra step of various swaddles and swaddle techniques then I say go for it! I always, ALWAYS, follow the lead of baby and parents. If mom seems stressed or baby is extra fussy, we will immediately end the session and not force any more poses!