I oftentimes get asked when parents inquire about newborn photography, “What does my session fee include?” So I thought I would take some time to describe what my newborn photography sessions typically look like.
Now that I’ve been photographing newborns for over 4 years, I have a good rhythm to my sessions. Some babies may be fussy or awake and might limit my number of setups. Others might be extra sleepy and allow me to do even more setups than usual. But generally, I have a specific set of poses and setups I move through when I photograph your sweet little ones.
When parents book a newborn session with me, I have them fill out a questionnaire to determine what their favorite colors, nursery colors, least-favorite colors and other style preferences are. I have so many props and newborn accessories, that I’m typically able to come up with something to accommodate a lot of different styles.
It takes me about an hour or more to prepare for a newborn session. First I set up the beanbag. This is where we do the ‘blanket shots’ that you see most newborn poses done with. (Pardon the messy cell phone shot below, but you get the idea.) Note to self: I need to take some better photos of my studio setup.
I usually use 3 different blankets on the bean bag, with a couple poses on each one. Then I add headbands or hats and wraps to add variety as well. I set all this up before the session so that once baby arrives, I can move smoothly from one setup to the next without pausing to start over.
I also set up 2-3 ‘prop shots’ in addition to the blanket shots. These are buckets, wagons, baskets, and too many others to list. I like the props because they add variety, but I prefer emphasis to be on baby. Of course I will always accommodate a fun request for a unique prop, but I tend to spend more time on blanket shots during a newborn session because I feel like baby is center stage (as opposed to the prop being the subject of the photo).
Another important part of sessions is warmth. I turn off my air conditioner in the summer (or turn on the heater in the winter) so that the room temperature is about 80 degrees F. It’s WARM. I always make sure parents know this so they can dress in layers and hopefully not be too uncomfortable during the shoot. But newborn sessions are done within the first 2 weeks of life, and these babies are used to a 98.6 degree womb! They are photographed mostly naked (except for some swaddled shots), so in order to keep them comfortable, they need the air to be warm. I use a space heater to help with this as well. If I’m not sweating a bit during the session, I know the room is too chilly for baby.
Finally, I set up for parent and sibling shots. I usually try to do these shots at the beginning of the session so that parents and siblings can just relax and hang out once these are done. Some parents have a grandparent arrive to pick up older siblings so that they don’t have to wait, but others do just fine being entertained with my toy room and Netflix.
My newborn sessions are typically 3 hours long, but they have been shorter or longer depending on baby’s temperament and cooperation. Each baby has its own unique personality. Not all of them like to be posed or touched while they sleep. I’ve gotten comfortable with finding out ways to photograph a baby that is wide awake, and I have quite a few tricks up my sleeve to soothe an unhappy baby. The reason sessions are so long is because much of the session is spent soothing and keeping baby asleep, and each pose can take awhile to get all of the details right. I love having every little finger laying flat and perfecting each pose so that baby is comfortable and adorable. Sometimes I will spend 20 minutes on one pose, and right when I’m about to take the photo, baby wakes up and we need to start again. Patience is the most important skill when photographing newborns.
After the session is over, I spend time going through the images and narrow it down to 50-100 proofs. I do minor edits on these for exposure and overall appearance and post the proofs in an online gallery for parents to see. The newborn session fee is separate from the packages and product fees, allowing parents to choose which images or products they would like. Once they choose their favorites, I spend much more time editing each photo for all the details. Scratches, blemishes, baby acne and rashes are removed. Blotchy red skin (typical for most newborns) and jaundice skin is reduced. I also add my own artistic edits and style to each photo to make it look like those you see in my portfolio.
After all edits are finished, I post the final images in an online gallery for parents to download and share with friends and family. I give parents a color and black/white version of each image and I give recommendations on where to print the images so that the color and quality is retained.
When all is said and done, my newborn sessions take about 8-9 hours of my time. This includes setting up, taking photos, cleaning up and re-organizing, doing laundry and sterilizing props, loading photos onto my computer, choosing the best proofs, uploading to the proof gallery, emailing with clients about choices, doing final edits, and uploading again to the final gallery. Of all my photo sessions, newborns are definitely the least profitable time-wise. Add to that the amount of money I spend on props, and you would shake your head in disbelief. But I honestly LOVE photographing newborns. It’s an honor to be one of the first people to meet your cherished babies, to feel their sweet warm skin, smell them, hear their little cries and soothe them back to sleep. I wouldn’t trade it for the world.
Here is an example of a sweet baby boy’s final gallery (his mom didn’t want to do parent shots, so he got a couple extra prop shots instead):
Thanks for reading! I typically book up my newborn calendar a few months in advance, so please don’t wait to contact me if you want to book a session with me. It’s best to book a newborn session in your 2nd or 3rd trimester of pregnancy. 🙂 Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or even text me at 602-531-8046. I’d love to photograph your precious little one.