Newborn Experience Guide

I'm so excited to be working with you and I can’t wait for our time together during your upcoming newborn session! It’s normal to be a little nervous about your session. I always tell people that I still get nervous before having my photos taken - and I do this for a living!

I'm so honored to help you create and capture memories that you'll cherish for a lifetime. There is a lot to think about when it comes to planning a session, so I've created this guide to help you get the most out of your photos. By the time you've read through this guide you'll have all of your questions answered and feel more than ready and prepared for your session. Then I'll take care of the rest.

I’ll cover what to wear, whether to incorporate your pets & how to manage them, styling your space and more! I can't wait to get you in front of my camera!

xoxo, Melissa

Welcome, Mama!

The
Newborn Experience

For your comfort and convenience, newborn sessions ideally take place in your home. If your home doesn't allow for great natural light, we can also discuss holding your session outdoors or at a rental studio!

Newborn sessions are best when they occur 7-14 days after the baby is born. This is when babies are most fresh, flexible, sleepy, and likely without baby acne.

In my experience, one to two hours is the ideal time frame for a lifestyle newborn session. A majority of your poses will include mom, dad, and siblings. Toward the end of your session I will photograph some individual shots of the baby using natural, baby-led posing.

To allow for the best light, and a sleepy baby, I typically like to schedule your session to start at 9:30 in the morning. If you know your desired room gets nice, soft light at a different time of day instead, be sure to let me know!  To get the most out of your session, please plan a 30 minute buffer when getting ready so you are ready before I arrive and your session can start on time. We’ll want to take advantage of every minute we have together!

Is there a good time to take photos?

Styling your Space

Choose one or two rooms in your home to unclutter and style for your newborn session. Rooms with large windows, free of dark shade-screens, far from surrounding walls, and void of thick shrubbery are ideal. It could be the living room, nursery, master bedroom, or even the kitchen!

Dress up the spaces with simple, subtle touches like fresh flowers, meaningful heirlooms, or neutral decor. Light and bright is my signature style!  Also be sure to unplug phone chargers and other distractions to keep the focus on your beautiful family.

I usually start our session by taking some photos of the nursery while mama is getting dressed. Then I'll wrap Baby in a swaddle and we'll take your family photos for about 45 minutes. For his/her individual, posed portraits, I will use a combination of their crib, master bed, and/or posing basket dependent on lighting. 

If there's anything else you'd like to include during the posed photos, please have those handy (accessories, mini stuffed animals, etc.). For safety reasons, I don't place the baby in any props like crates, trucks, etc.

Quick tip: If you have colorful or dark bedding in the master bedroom, I suggest replacing it with white or ivory linens for our session. This will help with achieving my signature bright and airy style and place the focus directly on Baby!

Thinking of an outdoor session instead?  A beautiful park with tall wispy grass or an old oak tree can make for a dreamy newborn session.  Ask me for location suggestions!

Where should we take photos?

Time & Light

You just brought your baby home!

Whether you're a birth mom or adoptive mom, you'll be living in comfortable clothes for the next few weeks, so let's do our best to portray the authentic-ness of life with a newborn!

If you're breastfeeding, choose clothing that is nursing-friendly. Babies may want to nurse often throughout your session, so dressing appropriately will save time and frustration when he/she needs to eat. I'm a nursing mom myself, so I know how often newborns need to breastfeed. A happy and fed baby makes for a smooth portrait session!

If it's okay with you, I would also love to take some beautifully modest photos of you nursing the baby. It's so important to look back at that special time when your baby gets older! These photos are for you only and are never shared on my blog, website, or social media without your permission.

tips for looking and feeling your best

Use these tips while shopping...
Say YES to the dress! Long, flowy skirts and dresses look most stunning because they really flatter every female body - especially on camera.

Softer, pastel colors tend to photograph better than bright colors - especially since bright colors could reflect on your skin. I love bright, neon dresses, but I don’t love the neon reflection they add to your complexion.   

Play around with fabric textures, they can add a lot of delicate detail to your photos!

Be careful when choosing patterns.  Subtle patterns photograph nicely and add visual interest, whereas bold patterns can be distracting.

Accessories...
Keep it simple. Large jewelry pieces will distract from where we want the focus: on the baby! Wear your wedding band and small earrings only, if desired.

Hair & Makeup...
Professional hair & makeup is typically at the top of my clients' checklists because it looks amazing on camera and takes away much of the stress of getting ready on your own. This is the time to treat yourself! Professional hair and makeup will last longer and give you that extra boost of confidence in front of the camera. Bonus tip: Always say YES to false lashes!

I work with some of the best hair and makeup artists in the area, who would be so thrilled to get you glammed up for your session. They totally get my style and will treat you like the queen you are. If you need a list of referrals just let me know and I'll send you the list.

Manicure...
There will definitely be times during your session when we’re shooting your hands - which means it’s a good idea to clean up your nails before your session (this applies to the guys too!). Have your fingernails, toenails, and cuticles clean and manicured with a pale pink or neutral polish.

wardrobe tips - for mom

Use these tips while shopping...
Soft, neutral colors are the best choice. We want the mood to be calm and relaxing.

A soft t-shirt, henley, or dress shirt with jeans or slacks is ideal. Solid shades of white, light gray, blue, khaki, and soft pink are a strong compliment to most women’s outfits, whereas pinstripes or plaid patterns tend to distract the eye. I also recommend staying away from graphics, logos, and shorts. Simplicity really is the better choice!

Make sure Dad has bare feet or neutral socks. Shoes can stay in the closet for this occasion.

wardrobe tips - for dad

In my experience, every woman--regardless of her shape--has an area of her body that she's self-conscious about, so recognizing that area in advance is key. Choosing flattering silhouettes and colors that complement your natural features is the best way to ensure you'll love the way you look in your photos.  

It's absolutely normal to still look somewhat pregnant after delivering a baby. It takes time for your uterus to shrink back to it's pre-pregnancy size! This is why most moms choose to wear loose, flowy dresses versus tight-fitting clothing for their newborn photos. Plus, it's way more comfortable! Off-the-shoulder or long sleeve dresses have a slimming effect on all arms, while strapless, sleeveless, or spaghetti strap dresses have the opposite effect.  

When considering the length of your dress, factor in whether or not you'll have young children with you. If you have little ones, you'll likely be sitting or squatting next to them. Cute, cocktail length dresses are adorable, but make these poses difficult, as do low-cut tops and high leg slits.

flatter your features

Colors...
Clients often consider the colors of the nursery or home decor where they plan to hold the newborn session when selecting outfit color. You'll want your outfit choice to suit the space and blend well on your walls where you plan to display prints. A good tactic is to choose one or two featured colors and use complementary shades to add richness to your aesthetic along with whites, ivory, khaki, or grey to fill in the gaps. 

There’s no such thing as too much white. Don't be afraid of white! Having everyone in varying shades of white, or other very pale colors, will ensure that your images are in line with my bright and airy style. White, ivory, cream, and
champagne complement all skin tones. Yes, even if you don't have a tan! White clothing instantly brightens your images, no matter the decor or how much natural light is in your home!

Mixing it Up...
Skirts, dresses, and rompers...oh, my! If you have multiple children, don’t feel like you need to put them all in the same type of outfit. For example, one of your daughters could wear a dress, while the other wears a skirt. One of your sons could wear a button-down, while the other one wears a long sleeve t-shirt. Mixing up the wardrobe pieces
will bring a great visual interest to the photos.

Prepping the Little Ones...
Snacks, treats, and lots of smiles Before your session, grab a little bag with snacks, water, and any small, neutral-colored toys that your child loves (just in case the toy ends up in your photos). Those may help to get their attention when it's time for them to look at the camera. I also suggest having your kids avoid screen time the morning of your session.

Have Fun!
Get ready for laughs and snuggles! A lot of families discuss and choose something fun in advance as a treat or reward for a job well done, like an ice cream date or bowling adventure. They're little, and I know things don't always
go as planned.

Give them (and yourself!) lots of grace. I've seen it all and will make sure to deliver some beautiful photos, regardless of their moods. My goal is to make this as fun and stress-free as it possibly can be for you and your family!

wardrobe tips - for the whole family

What to wear

for the baby

Newborn sessions require a lot of patience so we can work alongside baby's needs.  If baby allows, please have them fed as close to our start time as possible.  We want them full, happy, and sleepy!  It's perfectly okay if baby becomes fussy during the session and needs to be fed again, this is a normal occurrence during a newborn session.  Another helpful tip is to boost the thermostat to keep them nice and warm.  Baby will be photographed at times in a thin wrap or mostly nude and they're more likely to stay asleep in a warm environment. 

Wraps and tight swaddles will photograph better than clothing. Bodysuits and other clothing tend to look too baggy. I will bring a few swaddles to choose from and get the baby wrapped up nice and tight at the start of your session.   I will also bring along headbands if you'd like to add accessories to your sweet baby. You're also welcome to incorporate your own swaddle blankets and headbands if you have a something special already picked out.

Be sure to cut the baby's nails so he/she doesn't leave scratches on his/her face and check between their toes for lint.  It's a true mystery of how they accumulate all the fuzzies!

how to work with the star of the show!

newborn session Checklist

To Do...
-Set date, time and location with Melissa once the baby is born (remember, within the first 14 days is best!).
-Review Guide for style tips.
-Choose your outfits.  Feel free to reach out to Melissa if you need suggestions or assistance.
-Schedule hair and makeup appointments if you don't feel up to doing it yourself.
-Prepare home for photoshoot.  Bonus Tip:  Try to have the space all set long before you go into labor!  You won't want to worry about tidying up right after delivery.

Things to have handy ...
-Pacifier
-Bottle (if baby is taking one) and/or breastfeeding pillow
-Touch-up makeup
-Water for parents
-Snacks and water for little ones
-A close friend or family member to help with pets and/or toddler
-If you have a toddler or younger child, small eye-catching items to keep their attention, like toys or lollipops

a summary to prepare for your session

final note

After the Session...
Within a week of your session, I will edit a handful of my favorites and share them on social media as a sneak peek. I will continue to select the best of the best images from your session, edit them to perfection, and send the link to your final gallery within 30 days. 

Once you view your gallery, you can print photos, order birth announcements, and design heirloom photo albums... either from my professional print lab or a lab of your choice.  Details about ordering from the professional lab will be included in your gallery delivery.

Closing Thoughts...
I know I just gave you a lot to think about. I created this guide to help make you feel prepared and set the stage for a successful session.  I want your newborn session experience to be something you'll look back fondly on for years and years and treasure the images we produce.

It's not just about the photos for me. It's about the experience and the memories. I want your session to be a time when you are yourselves, have fun, laugh a lot, soak up those newborn snuggles, and let me take care of the rest!

xoxo, Melissa

what happens next?

{Brooke & Frank}

"Melissa's photography is amazing! She is so personable and makes your session lots of fun! If you need a great photographer, she's the girl for you."

{The Mills Family}

"Melissa has a very sweet, light, and romantic style.  She was a pleasure to work with and captured wonderful maternity and newborn photos of our family."

{The McMillan Family}

"We had a wonderful experience with Melissa!  She was very patient with our children and went above and beyond to capture beautiful images.  I love the light and airy look of her photos!"