1. Not doing your newborn photography session in the first 10-12 days of life
If you’ve never worked with a professional newborn photographer before, you likely wouldn’t know that the best time for newborn photography is in the first 10-12 days of your baby’s life, because this is when your baby will be the sleepiest. Imagine trying to create baby pictures of an awake baby, arms and legs flailing, fingers in the mouth, private baby parts immodestly displayed… At the newborn stage, it’s much, much more difficult to capture beautiful newborn photography of an awake baby than a sleeping baby. This isn’t to say that if you wait until day 20 or 30 that newborn photography is impossible. It can still be done, however, your professional newborn photography session will likely result in a smaller quantity and variety of images, the longer you wait.
Wait beyond 45 days, and the classic sleeping baby pictures of babies in bowls and in adorable positions with their bums in the air, etc., are most likely no longer possible. By this point, your baby is much too awake and is also no longer as “curly” and flexible as s/he was during the first 10-12 days when still used to being curled up in your womb.
One final caveat: doing your newborn photography session early is no guarantee that your baby will sleep. Every baby is different; the goal will be to get your baby to sleep most or at least some of the time. And the earlier your newborn photography session takes place, the easier it will be to coax your baby back to sleep after s/he wakes.
So need I say it? I know you’re busy, but you need to book your professional newborn photography session before your baby is born! (And I don’t mean in the weeks before your due date.) Your baby’s newborn moments are fleeting. They’re once in a lifetime and will be gone before you know it.
2. Eating the wrong foods or drinking the wrong drinks in the days leading up to your newborn photography session
I already explained why we’re going to want your baby to sleep through most of his/her newborn photography session. If you’re breastfeeding, then some of the responsibility for this falls on you! Certain foods can make babies fussy, agitated, or otherwise uncomfortable, and drinking caffeinated drinks like coffee can also keep your baby from sleeping.
The half-life of caffeine in newborns is up to 5 ½ days, so stop drinking coffee at least 6 days before your newborn photography session. For foods to avoid in the 48 hours leading up to your newborn photography session, check out these two guides:
4. Not being in some of the newborn photos yourselves
During a newborn photography session, we spend most of the session photographing just your baby. But we typically also create some photographs of mom & baby, dad & baby, sibling(s) & baby, and the entire family. Now, after having been pregnant for 9 months and after just giving birth to a beautiful newborn baby, I understand that you may not feel as photogenic as you’d like. It’s easy to slip into the mindset of just wanting photographs of your newborn baby, and not wanting to be in any of the photographs yourself. This would be a mistake! This newborn photography isn’t just for you. This collection of baby pictures is a legacy that you will leave behind for your future generations. When your baby grows up, s/he will treasure these baby pictures of his/her earliest moments with the two of you like nothing else, and I promise, your child will not care if you gained weight during your pregnancy or if you look a little bit tired.
In fact, let me tell you a true story. We once had a newborn photography client who didn’t really care to be in any photographs with her newborn son. When we spoke about it, she said, “Well, if you really want to, you can take some photos of the baby with my husband and me, but I don’t really care.” We did create family portraits of the three of them, as well as mom & baby and dad & baby portraits. And can you guess what happened at their “photo reveal,” when they saw their baby pictures? They chose a family portrait of the three of them to be the largest of a 5-piece canvas gallery wrap love grouping to hang on their living room wall!
5. Choosing the wrong newborn photographer (for you)
Newborn photography is a very distinct specialty that requires very different skills than other types of portrait photography. Beyond that, not every newborn photographer is created equal! Even if you follow everything else I’ve put forth in this guide, choose the wrong newborn photographer, and your baby’s newborn photography session will be a spectacular fail instead of a spectacular success. Here is a checklist of things to consider to help you determine which professional photographer is the right fit for YOU.
Does the professional photographer you’re considering have a newborn photography portfolio? (And do you like the photographer’s newborn pictures?)
Do you want to do your newborn photography session in your home or at the photographer’s studio? Check if the photographer will do this, since some photographers work only in-home or only in-studio.
Will the newborn photographer supply all wraps, blankets, and backdrops? What types of props will the photographer provide? (Some newborn photographers don’t provide any of this, whereas other photographers may supply these items only for in-studio sessions.)
Meeting in-person prior to your newborn photography session is very helpful for planning purposes, and also gives your photographer the opportunity to get to know you, your likes/dislikes, and your personality so s/he can create newborn photography that fits you and that you’ll love. You’ll also feel more comfortable on the day of the session if you’ve already met your newborn photographer. Not all photographers will meet you in person before the session. Will the photographer you’re considering do this?
Will the photographer cull images? There will never be a photography session (of any kind) where every single photograph created is a good one. Would you rather be handed 200 baby photos that you have to delve through to find 40 good ones? Or would you rather your newborn photographer do this work for you?
Will the photographer edit/retouch images? Let’s be honest. Newborn baby skin is not the beautiful skin of an older baby. In fact, newborn baby skin is not pretty. Ask your newborn photographer if s/he performs editing and retouching.
Think beyond (and before) the newborn photography session. Would you also like a maternity photography session? In that first year of your child’s life, s/he will change so fast and achieve so many “firsts.” Would you like additional baby photography sessions during that first year to document those once-in-a-lifetime moments? Ask the photographer if s/he offers baby photography plans. These are multi-session plans covering the period from pregnancy to your child’s first birthday and typically come with discounts not available when booking individual baby photography sessions.