What to expect from your fine art newborn photo session

What to expect from your fine art newborn photo session


When To Book

The mistake a lot of mums make is that they forget to contact their chosen photographer until baby arrives! As the best time to complete newborn portraits is within the first 2 weeks, it’s unlikely that a busy photographer will be able to accommodate you with such short notice.

Once you’ve had your 12-week scan you’ll know roughly when baby will arrive and you should book a provisional appointment with your photographer. He/she will likely give you a session 1 week after baby is due.

Don’t worry, the newborn photographer’s diary remains flexible! It has to! It’s very rare that you’ll make this appointment but as long as you keep her posted, she’ll be able to allocate you a session within this time frame.

scan pregnancy

Choosing a newborn baby photographer

One of the best ways to find a newborn photographer is on recommendation – have your friends recently used a photographer? Ask around and you may find some really unique local photographers you may not have found otherwise.  Spend some time researching different photographers’ portfolios.  All photographers will have their own style so choose a photographer whose work you love looking at.  Can you imagine one of their images in your own home?  Take some time to read their blog if they have one.  This will profile their most recent work.  Do they have a Facebook page?  How professional do they appear in replies and posts?  Do they update their page regularly with images that you love?

Looking and sounding professional is important, as these are the photographers who are capable of working safely with little babies and will have valid public liability insurance. Beware of prices which seem significantly low, as you won’t receive the high quality which highly trained, widely experienced photographers like myself strive to provide. If a photographer has chosen to specialise in newborn photography and make it their particular area of expertise, this is a guaranteed safe pair of hands.

I took this photo while training with Kelly Shaw

I took this photo while training with Kelly Shaw

Home or studio?

Which do you think you would prefer?  Both scenarios have their own advantages and drawbacks.  For example you may feel more comfortable in your own familiar surroundings. The idea of venturing out to an unknown environment can be quite daunting in the early days with a new baby.

However, there is no reason why you won’t feel at ease in a studio environment. The right photographer is probably a mum herself and knows exactly what a new mother and baby needs to feel safe, secure and relaxed.

A newborn studio will have been designed with a newborn baby in mind. It is heated precisely to 25 degrees Celsius, the optimum temperature for a newborn without any clothes on. Soothing white noise is readily available, and will help to settle your new baby. The light is just perfect. The props are pristine, they haven’t been bashed around in the photographer’s car on the way to your home, and there will be loads to choose from. There’s much more chance for you to influence the style of your photographs, picking from different colours and textures to create art which will really suit the look and feel of your home. Also highly important is the comfy sofa and help-yourself tea and biscuits available to the tired parents.

a peek into Aimee Pool's photo studio

a peek into Aimee Pool's photo studio

What to expect from your newborn photographer

  • Respect for you & your baby.  Your photographer should respect your wishes and any specific requirements you have, for example, perhaps you’d prefer a certain colour scheme and no headbands? Perhaps you’d really rather not feature in any photographs with your baby… A professional photographer will never make you agree to anything you don’t want to do.
  • Duty of care.  Safety should be of paramount importance to the newborn photographer. If your baby is being posed in a position they wouldn’t naturally take up, your photographer will ensure they have adequate support.  You can expect them to work their editing magic to remove your supporting hands from the final image.
  • Upfront and clear pricing.  Ask for a price list in advance of booking. Alarm bells should ring if the information you get back is evasive or unclear.
  • Realistic pricing. Do not expect a photographer to work for a rock-bottom fee. Really cheap photographers are likely only doing this job as a hobby, they won’t be making a living out of it. If they don’t take themselves seriously, neither should you.
  • Cleanliness. Your photographer will definitely have a pile of washing at the end of the session and that everything used for your baby during the session will look and smell freshly laundered.
  • Awareness.  Expect your photographer to ask about any allergies, skin sensitivity or difficulties at birth.  Babies that were breech, for example, may prefer certain poses and babies with reflux or digestive issues may prefer not to be on their tummies.

What to expect from the session

Most photographers will send you lots of exciting information about how your photoshoot will unfold.  Spend some time reading whatever they send to you.  It will most likely answer any questions you may have, and will ensure your photo session runs as smoothly as possible.  For example if you are breastfeeding, your photographer may suggest you avoid certain foods known to make babies unsettled.  Having said that, this is your baby and certainly as a new parent you may have enough to contend with getting washed and dressed and out of the door for a specific time – don’t feel pressured into following ‘rules’ if this doesn’t work for you.  A stress free mum usually makes for a happy baby.

Generally speaking –

  • Newborn photography sessions generally take place in the morning
  • Don’t be surprised to hear that sessions can sometimes last up to 3 hours.  Not every baby will want to sleep, not every baby will want to be posed in certain positions.  Your photographer will work at your baby’s pace.  Actual shooting time with the camera is very quick, so take the opportunity to sit back and relax while your photographer works with your baby.
  • Your newborn baby cannot yet regulate their own body temperature and will be spending a lot of the photoshoot in just a nappy and swaddled in blankets or naked.  This means the studio/your home needs to be really warm (the optimum temperature is 28 degrees).  Wear lots of layers that you can remove as the session progresses.
  • You might see your photographer taking what appears to be hundreds of photos!  Please don’t panic and think that you will be expected to purchase every single one!  The information your photographer sent you should have let you know how many images you can expect to see in your preview gallery session, perhaps between 20-30. Your photographer is most likely ensuring they definitely have the pose they are shooting safely captured and “in the bag”.
  • All babies in the first few weeks will have dry, patchy skin.  Don’t be tempted to apply oil or cream just before your session as this will make their skin look shiny in photographs.  Your photographer would much rather sit and edit out a few flaky patches than try and correct overly shiny skin in Photoshop.
  • Your photographer will supply the beautiful outfits, blankets, furs, hats and headbands for your baby to wear, but if you have an heirloom piece or a special outfit, let your photographer know before your session so that they can plan to use any other suitable props with your item.

Important safety information for parents

  • If your baby is in a pose that they wouldn’t naturally take up, they may need supporting by you or your photographers’ assistant.
  • It is perfectly ok to ask your photographer to stop or abandon a pose if you feel uncomfortable with your baby’s manipulation.  Your baby will soon tell you if they are uncomfortable or being disturbed.
  • Ask your photographer about safety before booking, all reputable photographers will be able to discuss all of the precautions they take during the shoot.

If at any point during your newborn baby photography session you are not happy with anything you see – it is okay to ask the photographer to stop.  It’s also okay to ask them to explain what is happening if you’re not sure about a pose.

as featured on Kelly Shaw's blog about baby safety

as featured on Kelly Shaw's blog about baby safety

After Your Session

The information you were sent should tell you how long it will take your photographer to edit and present your images to you, generally though, it ranges between 1-2 weeks.

Your photographer will most likely want to upload one image from your session to their Facebook page, as well as maybe blog about your session.  Remember how that helped you choose which photographer to book?  Photographers rely on showcasing their most recent work to new customers.  Of course, if you’re really not comfortable with any of your images being uploaded online, inform your photographer.


Depending on the packages offered by your photographer, you may need to view a gallery of your images to choose which you would like to purchase as products.  Your photographer will have made this information clear to you at some point during the booking process or before your photoshoot.

Once you have received your images

Let all your friends know! Chances are, your photographer will be operating a referral scheme and will be delighted if you can send some new parents in her direction!