Newborn photo style guide
Let's get those finer details planned to get the most from your photoshoot!
Every six to twelve months I schedule in a shoot for our family and each time I’m reminded just how much work the process of choosing outfits can be!! Recently a friend told me she’d put her family photo shoot off for a year, because she just couldn’t get her head around choosing outfits, so I was inspired to write this guide. I hope it makes preparing for your shoot less intimidating.
In this guide you'll find my recommendation of how to dress for your shoot, to help make the session a little more seamless so you can just focus on each other and embrace this time together. Clothing choices can increase spontaneity or take some of it away - if you are thinking about wardrobe issues it's unlikely you'll look or feel relaxed. With some consideration we can achieve the highest level of both comfort and spontaneity so you have a great experience on your shoot.
First and foremost I want you to wear something you feel confident in. If your clothing choices don't align with my suggestions, that's fine, these are just guidelines and at the end of the day, the choice is up to you. If after having a look over this guide, you are still unsure, pop me through photographs of your options and I will help you decide. Enjoy the guide and see you on our shoot!
Hair and makeup
When it comes to professional hair and makeup for family photos, my vote will always be a resounding YES! I truly believe you will look beautiful either way, but having that little bit of extra can definitely add to your confidence level on the day. Once you feel great, it’s easier to relax and enjoy being in front of that camera with your family. Below is a list of the gals I recommend, they are experts at creating beautiful natural makeup, and I know they will look after you. Each will have different prices and availability so please contact them to organize along side your session. I suggest also finding out their postponement policy in case we need to postpone your session for some reason.
A friendly reminder, if your cut and colour needs doing or you don't love your brows, get them done. If these things are important to you they will make difference to whether you love your images or not so get those appointments scheduled in before baby is due to arrive!
Things to avoid
Patterns or large logos that are really large/geometric/very colourful/highly contrasting will draw the eye. I'm not saying don't go there at all but just be aware that the eye will focus on these strong patterns, especially if only one member of the family is dressed like this.
Matchy-matchy. As tempting as it may be to all dress the same (and easy) it really takes away each individual's uniqueness and personality to dress exactly the same. Similar colour tones are great, but not necessarily the exact same colour.
FOR BABIES AND YOUNGER
With babies and toddlers pop them in a nappy cover to cover their nappies.
If you have a spilly baby you might like to have a spare outfit just in case!
For little girls - Beautiful large sleeves, collared shirts and flutter sleeves on girl’s dresses/rompers can flip up and cover little faces from certain angles. Try the outfits and accessories on beforehand and see how they wear with movement and a little handling.
Dresses will fly up, or ride up when a child is being carried so if you aren't comfortable with a little flashing, go long, or pop something underneath.
Pants and shirts for very young boys are cute but not always that practical, as soon as you pick them up the shirt rides up and get creased, the pants ride down tags are out and the nappy is out, it’s fussy and can waste time. ( If you’re committed go for it) but rompers and all-in-ones are so much easier! They can be thrown up and around without worrying about adjusting the outfit to cover nappies etc
I recommend women wear medium or long dresses as short dresses will be a challenge when we do any seated photos. Maxi dresses give you something to twirl in, kids hide in the fabric, it covers legs when you sit and provides a nice backdrop when kids are standing at your feet.
Consider colour and seams in undergarments. The right colour and the right type of underwear for whatever outfit you’ve chosen. Make sure there is no pulling/ cutting in on you, no tight elastic etc. Do an underwear check to see if you have undy lines showing. If you don't want bra straps showing choose clothes that properly covers your undergarments, in all types of movement scenarios.
Remove scrunchies and hair-ties on wrists
FOR THE LADIES
FOR THE GUYS
Keep it casual and comfortable, most guys don't wear dress shirts when hanging out with their kids and sometimes this has them feeling over dressed. Linen, loose cottons on collared shirts, breathable fabrics, or a Tshirt with an open shirt over the top will help look less business-y.
Empty those pockets of phones and keys!
The colours you choose to wear will change the whole look and feel of your photos, and really depends on the story you want to tell. I love to work with warm, earthy and neutral tones. Think olive, rust, beige, dusty pink. However, these are your images, so if your favourite top is bright blue, wear that! For family portraits and larger groups, my advice is to colour coordinate tones but not to all wear the exact same colour. A really bright red does not tend to photograph well. Neither does black as all the details get lost in the shadows. Dark gray, dark wash jeans, and dark olive are great substitutions for black. On the opposite end, wearing bright white can cast bright spots onto faces in certain light, or look blue rather than white. Off-white and cream are great, though, and also white lace is fine because it has so much texture.
Below are a few examples of colour combinations from some of my shoots in a variety of locations. I hope these inspire you!
To make it easy for you to create a complimentary colour palettes, I've popped some examples below to help you choose what combos to work with.
For more inspiration
Odds are, you already have a vision in mind about how you want to present yourself in these photos. But sometimes, that vision can be hard to describe when it’s not sitting right there in front of you. For more outfit inspiration Pinterest is where it's at. I've curated a bunch of helpful resources like the ones you see here, so take a look at my boards below, and feel free to re-pin to your own board!
Coordinating: Choosing one outfit is hard enough right?! Let alone for a whole family! My strategy is to lay it all out so you can see how the colours and textures work together. I pull out all the possible options I like from our wardrobe and then narrow it down by pairing things up or seeing where the gaps are. I take photos as I go and I can flick through these to compare which option looks better. For our last shoot, I flicked a few photos to a friend who helped me narrow down my selection. Once I have the final options I can clearly see any bits and pieces that might be missing. The Bennetts did this for their extended family shoot, example below!
Another great way to match tones is to choose a favourite piece of clothing or the one piece you know for sure that someone in the family will wear and build everybody else's garments around that. If Mum's dress or top has a print match the colours in the rest of the families outfits.
What do you want to do with your images?
When you start planning what to wear and what type of location to have your photographs taken at, take into consideration your home and how you want to display your images. Do you want to put big frames on the wall or have a beautiful album sitting on the coffee table?
If you want a beautiful set of frames to put above your couch or in your entry way, think about what colour the decor in your home is. Not everyone is in their forever home, but if you are this is something to consider. There might be certain colours that will compliment your decor, or you may not want to have certain colours on the walls as they might look out of place. I'm happy to chat over this if you aren't sure!
What to expect
When I arrive, I'll have a quick look around for the best light and chat to you about your morning. I'll usually start the session with Mum, Dad and siblings (if there are any) to get one shot with the whole group looking at the camera and some candids of the entire family. I'll then do just siblings, then just Mum & Dad and baby, then just baby. For the baby only shots, I will ususally have you do a top up feed so baby continues to sleep or be settled. It's important to keep the room and environment nice and calm for this part of the session, so it might help to have a parent or other family member keep other siblings occupied in another space in the house at this time, then we can have them come in as needed.
The rest of our time together will be determined by how the baby and or kids are responding, and will involve casual groupings that are semi-posed or based on an activity that provides something other than the camera to focus on. If you know there is a family member that is camera shy, please let me know. It can also help to share with them some of my work in advance so they know what to expect and put their mind at ease.
Be aware that sometimes we may not need the full timeframe of the shoot, I work quickly and can capture a lot in a small amount of time. On occasion, we may need to photograph for slightly longer. Sometimes children need to stop to eat, babies need to breastfeed or have some time out if they are misbehaving or just need a break ;)
Children are unpredictable, so it's my job to be ready for anything. Newborn shoots with other siblings involved can feel chaotic and full of energy, don't apologise if this is how your session plays out, this is just kids being kids!! Some parents get frustrated because their children aren't doing exactly as they're asked, but it is often those unpredictable moments make the best shots. Don't worry I have never had a shoot that was a complete disaster and usually parents are surprised at the results. Don't feel pressure to make it perfect, relax and join in with what your kids are doing as much as possible. Children match your energy, so if you can show you are having fun, they will join in too.
I’m chasing natural interactions and unposed moments, there's no need to coax your children into fake smiles so please don't worry about having your children say cheese! We will have much more fun ways of getting natural spontaneous & genuine expressions, from you and your children by way of play, singing & dancing for example. I'll often photograph children away from parents for a bit so that they will focus only on me and my silly jokes, as they often will behave for a stranger, and this can make all the difference. Other than that, remember this session is showing you and your family with all the little quirks and things that make you unique, so relax and enjoy!
Newborn sessions are a mixture of lifestyle 'candid' images, and posed shots. I'll usually start the session with Mum, Dad and siblings (if there are any), then just siblings, then just Mum & Dad and baby, then just baby. For the baby only shots, it's important to keep the room and environment nice and calm for this part of the session, so it might help to have a parent or other family member keep other siblings occupied in another space in the house at this time, then we can have them come in as needed.
The rest of the images will usually be taken in a bedroom or lounge space and are very relaxed! I'll guide and direct and if baby needs some time to feed or resettle that's totally fine too!
HOW TO PREP
Before your newborn session, please feed your baby around 20 minutes before I arrive. If you can, try not to let your little one sleep in the hour or so prior to me arriving. Instead let them kick around a little or even try giving them a bath. We want to set baby up for a nice deep sleep to help ensure those sleepy newborn pictures! Each baby is unique and sometimes this won't work, and that's okay, I'm used to being flexible. Please heat up the house to around 26 degrees before I arrive. This may feel super hot for us, but remember that our babies have just come from inside our bodies which is around 37.8 degrees and we want to replicate the womb to help baby drift into that deep sleep. To help keep baby awake before I arrive, just keep them dressed warm and in another room that is slightly cooler. I also recommend putting on some relaxing music or some white noise.
If you can't find anything you love in your own wardrobe, Lend Me The Dress offers an amazing range of beautiful garments you can hire in a variety of sizes and colours. Use the discount code 'photographer20' for 20% off.