Kansas City Dog & Pet Photography by Jennifer Starr » Kansas City Dog & Pet Photography

Preparing for Your Newborn and Pet Photo Session

As I prep for the upcoming birth of our first child, newborn photos are of course one of the top things on my mind. I will have plenty of hands-on practice soon, but in the meantime I’ve compiled the best tips I’ve discovered to help you prepare for your own shoot.

How much will I invest in the session fee  and photos?
For a limited portfolio-building time, I am offering discounted pricing for announcement, maternity and newborn sessions. You can read all the details here. You can see blog posts of previous sessions here.

When should I schedule?
Newborn sessions should take place within the first 10 days after their arrival.  This ensures they can be captured in their sweet and sleepy stage and won’t mind some of the poses quite so much.  It’s ideal to schedule your newborn session prior to your baby’s birth to ensure a spot (not to mention you will have enough on your mind after baby is born!) Check out the Book a Session tab during your second trimester or send me a e-mail at Jennifer@fixyourimages.com to secure your date and time.

How long will the session take?
Newborn sessions will take around 2-3 hours, depending how many feedings they will need in between shots. It really all depends on baby’s mood and willingness to sleep.

What should I wear?
Keep it simple and consider coordinated outfits. That doesn’t mean everyone has to wear perfectly matching black or white shirts, but color coordinating is always a nice touch. Because you want your baby to be the focus, soft neutrals are a win. A pop of color is nice, but I recommend avoiding busy patterns which aren’t as timeless in the years to come. If you prefer a skin-on-skin portrait feel, consider a strapless top or tank as well. Feel free to change your outfits as necessary.

Will this be studio style or lifestyle shots?
While I don’t have an official studio, I have invested in some cute props, backdrops and posing fabric to bring to your home for a studio feel.  I only shoot using natural light, so please have your blinds and curtains open so I can scope out the best spot for light in your home upon my arrival.  If you have any family heirlooms or props of your own, please don’t be shy! I would love to incorporate anything special to your family. For example, my Mom has crocheted some beautiful items like a snuggly afghan which would be perfect to include in photos. Since I will be in your home, I can also take lifestyle shots of you with your baby in your bedroom (be sure to make the bed), nursery or living room. Some of the best shots have a candid feel – while you are feeding your baby with a bottle or just sitting on the couch cuddling with them.

Some other tips: Keep your home a bit warmer than normal during the session. I’ve learned already that babies are not a fan of being naked so soon after arriving into the world. I will also have a portable space heater to help with their comfort level. If the weather is warm enough, we can even take photos outdoors.

How do I prepare my baby?
Be sure your baby has recently napped before the start of their session and been fed. Most of the poses work best if the baby is asleep.  A well fed baby is a happy baby – so please feed and burp baby right before the session. I am also prepared to take breaks throughout the session when your baby needs additional feedings. Sometimes these breaks are imperative to the general demeanor of all involved.

What if my baby has an accident?
I mentally prepared myself after reading it’s bound to happen in a newborn shoot, especially when the vast majority of shots are in the nude. And sure enough, one of my newborns did pee during his session – in his dog’s face to be exact. We just giggled, cleaned up the mess and moved on to the next shot. I will bring some potty pads for extra precaution and it will be helpful if you have a stack of old towels, extra wipes and blankets available if anything gets messy. But don’t worry or be embarrassed as this is totally normal! If you prefer your baby in a diaper to avoid any mishaps, it’s a good idea to have a diaper cover in a solid color or bloomers of some kind, as regular diapers can be distracting and not appear as clean in the shots.

What if my baby has acne or dry skin?
Don’t worry about any cosmetic imperfections. All images in your gallery will have post processing artistry applied. With a little Photoshop magic, you will never know there were any skin issues.

Should I include pets?
Absolutely! Pet and child safety is number one though, so please be sure to read my recent article and interview with local dog trainer Emily Coleman at this link here. Here are some quick tips on introducing your baby to pets, which ideally would be before we incorporate them into a photo session.

  • Bring in as much gear as possible in advance and as early as possible.  Let your dog get used to the playpen, bassinet, stroller and other items before the baby arrives.
  • Once your baby comes home, have someone bring your pet a blanket or item of clothing that smells like the baby.
  • Greet your pet first upon arriving home. Once they calm down, let your pet smell the new baby and get acquainted. Slow introductions will allow your pup to see, interact with, and adapt to the new arrival.
  • Continue to reinforce basic obedience in close association with the baby.
  • Baby wearing’ is a great way to keep your baby safe and still keep your hands free.
  • When nursing or bottle feeding, have your partner give your pet treats so they associate feedings with positive reinforcement.
  • Include your pet in baby-related activities like changing a diaper and talk to both “babies” during the activity. This will help your pet view your baby as less of a stranger.
  • During the first few weeks, your pet may misbehave more than normal due to the extra stimulation. Instead of scolding your pet, redirect them toward something that will make him happy, like a new toy.
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