New babies grow up so fast, and having photos of your little ones at their smallest and newest can help you remember years later how tiny they truly were.
As you’re preparing to welcome a new addition into your family, consider booking a newborn photoshoot to capture this wonderful moment in your life. And if you’re unsure what a newborn photo session with me entails, I’ve compiled this list of common questions new parents have asked me in the past.
What’s the best age for newborn photos?
There’s no “best age”, in my opinion. Lots of photographers will tell you it’s between 5 and 12 days, but honestly, I think that’s wrong to limit it so much.
I say newborn sessions can happen anytime between birth and 12 weeks!
Limiting the category of “newborn photos” to just those first few days puts too much pressure on new parents! Yes, if you do the photos when the babies are this tiny, they’ll likely spend most of their time sleeping and often still snuggle up in positions that are similar to those they held in the womb - which I know is important for photographers who do those “baby snuggled in a basket” kind of photos. For my kind of photography - the more documentary-style kind - that staying-asleep-thing is not necessary.
That being said, I always love capturing these tiny first days and when someone calls and asks for newborn photos in that first week, YES YES YES is my answer, let’s go for it.
THE FIRST WEEK
Honestly, I like the first week as a time for photos for the following reasons...
Your life is so different in that first week - you’re just settling into so much with your tiny new person, it’s incredible to document that.
It's your first week as a family with this new tiny being around!
It's so gorgeous to remember this time through pictures taken by someone else...
Also, in the early days, older siblings are still *really* fascinated by this new babe.
I love those exploratory pictures we can get, investigating tiny toes, etc… that’s the best.
In addition, if we get this tiny tiny stage documented, it leaves room for the next session in the Baby's First Year package, the six month session - to happen a bit earlier - so we'll be able to do the toe grabbing shots before they lose interest in their toes... etc... and OMG you will not believe the changes between tiny tiny and six months.
WEEKS TWO THROUGH TWELVE
Remember that babies grow fast, and after two weeks, your little one will start stretching their arms and legs more and will be less comfortable with posing—and less likely to stay asleep for most of the session. For me, that’s a great thing because we start to see a little tiny personality emerging.
I don’t need lots of sleeping photos - I want to document *who* this new person is who just joined your family… not necessarily just the sweet sleeping moments.
I want to see their eyes as they look at you, I want to see their sweet face as they react to you or to grandma in their first sink tubby... that’s the magic.
Of course I’m always happy to snag a sleeping babe picture when it happens naturally, but for me, that’s not all I’m there to do.
Also, if we do our photoshoot before your baby turns twelve weeks old, you qualify for my “Baby’s First Year” package - which means we can do three sessions in your baby’s first year and have a book made at the end of the year. And to me, that’s everything.
For the record, if we wait and do the first session in your baby’s first year at around 8-12 weeks, I like to shift the second session in the package out from 6 months to more like 7-8 months, so we really show change over the year… and 7-8 months is extraordinarily delicious time for photos, too… again, ALL.THE.SMOOSH….
How early should I book my shoot?
If you want to do photos with me and your newborn, pop me an email as soon as you know your due date. Some people want to do maternity photos, lots of people don't... but either way, it's great to get in touch early.
My calendar opens two months ahead (so in early January I start booking my March sessions, in early February I open my April calendar, in early March I start emailing with people about my May sessions, and so forth. Once I know your due date I’ll schedule an email to go out to you as soon as I start booking the month that you want to do your photos, and we’ll take it from there.
What if my baby arrives later or earlier than expected?
Of course, that happens all the time! Once we book your session, it’s on my calendar and I reach out to everyone a few days before their session. This gives us a chance to reschedule if the baby hasn’t arrived yet, and I’m very used to that. It’s easy, and no problem. If your baby arrives early and you want to do your photos early, just let me know and we can shift the date of your session.
How long is a typical newborn session?
My newborn photoshoots are much shorter than most photographers’ newborn sessions, because I don’t heat your rooms and wrap the baby and wait for them to fall asleep… I normally spend between 45 to 90 minutes with a family for a newborn session. That’s plenty of time, and honestly MOST of the time I’m in and out in under an hour. Once in a while when a babe needs a feeding or I just chat too much it goes as long as 90 minutes, but it’s much more commonly an hour or thereabouts.
How should I dress my baby?
Honestly I don’t worry too much about clothes with newborns. I want your babe to be comfortable, but often I’ll ask if you don’t mind if we strip them down to a diaper, since those little arms and legs are what I want to show off in the photos.
Having some soft blankets around that you won’t mind having in photos can be helpful, since wrapping a babe up in a blanket is a lovely soft thing for photos. If you’re going to do clothes for your little one, solid colors work well. It's best to have some soft cotton form-fitting clothes in pastel colors available for tiny tinies in the winter - onesies, etc... (Pastels tend to photograph better than white.) I like solid colors for adults, and that's about it. If you want a bit more information: light colors are good on dark days (because they reflect light up into your face), whereas darker colors are good on bright days… but usually I vote for lighter over darker any day. But don't worry too much about clothes. I can work with anything.
I have a newborn, and there's no schedule yet. How do I pick a time for photos?
Oh, I understand, don't worry too much about it. If your baby falls asleep in the middle of pictures, I'm happy to wait through the catnap. (I'll often bring a book when I know it's a tiny baby.) Sleeping pictures can also be really beautiful.
Can we include older children, grandparents, etc. in the photoshoot?
My goodness, yes! Whatever tells the story of your tiny new person right now - that’s who we want to include in our photoshoot. If having that person at your photoshoot feels natural and like any other day at your home, I say go for it, let’s involve them in the session. It’s all part of your new baby’s story.
Ooh, one more thing!
I just launched a new VIP Facebook Group for local families who are expecting a baby and who have a baby under a year at home and I would just ADORE it if you'd come hang out with me in there!
My new group is called Year One Together.
It's for new parents who are getting excited about or already navigating their baby's first year here in the Boston area. I interview local experts in all things baby every other Wednesday, and then those interviews are saved in the group archive so you can watch them anytime. Topics the experts are covering in their interviews with me will include: "Dressing your Baby in Boston Weather", "Do I want a Doula? A Midwife?", "Postpartum: The Emotional Side", "Year One With Twins", "Sensory Play Ideas for Babies"... and so much more.
Don't have a baby in your house right now, but you live in the Boston area and want a fun online community of families to connect with? Come join my group for families with older children - it's called Boston Families Together and you can join that group here.
Hope to see you in there! I can’t wait to meet you.
I'm Jessica McDaniel, and May 2021 will mark my 18th anniversary photographing babies and their families all around Boston.