Baby Led Lifestyle Sessions | Arlington Newborn Photographer

What is a lifestyle newborn session?

Lifestyle newborn photography is a newer genre of photography that really became popular in the last few years. This style takes a lot of stress off of both the families and the photographer. Instead of focusing on ensuring newborns are deeply asleep and molding them into challenging (but beautiful!) poses, the focus is on a relaxed documentation of home life. This doesn’t mean lifestyle newborn photographers aren’t posing families and capturing them in the best light possible. It just means that sessions are baby led, with more of a focus on the family connection.

baby boy dressed in white onesie asleep on bed
mother holding new baby boy in diaper for photo session

So where does the ‘baby led’ come into play?

Baby led, to me, means conducting your newborn session in the least stressful way for both the baby and the parents. I go into every session with a “shot list” in my head. My goal is to capture the baby alone, the baby with any siblings or pets, baby with parents together and individually, and the full family. I want to capture these combinations throughout my client’s homes to also showcase their nursery (if they have one), as well as two places that a whole lot of hanging out and snuggling happens: the master bedroom and the family room. Baby led means that this combination of photographs happens in the order that the baby dictates. If baby is awake and calm when I first arrive, I tackle the sibling shot right off the bat. When I walk into a home with an awake and fussy baby, we start with parents holding baby. Sometimes your newborn might want to eat right away. That’s when I capture feeding photographs or work on capturing details of the nursery. Baby led means there is no right or wrong order for an in-home lifestyle session.

black and white portrait of family tickling toddler during arlington newborn session
big brother sitting on bed smiling during newborn baby pictures
family on bed during newborn photo session in arlington

Is there a preferred order of photographs?

Let’s say I walked into a session with a perfectly content and sleepy newborn. This rarely happens so don’t feel badly if this doesn’t describe your baby! This would be my preferred order of shots:

Baby with Sibling(s) ; Baby with Full Family; Mom + Dad Together and Individually with Baby; Feeding Photographs; Nursery Details; Baby Alone (asleep or awake)

This preferred order comes from experiencing many different families and babies and what tends to work best– for the most part! Let’s face it, siblings can have a really hard time with the arrival of your new baby. However, it’s usually the number one picture aside from the entire family, that new parents want. This is why my goal if babe is happy is to get all photographs with siblings out of the way first. Once sibling photos are completed and the full family has been documented, that sibling can run off and play. Many siblings will come back and want to join us for more pictures after a break and snack. But if they don’t, it’s okay, because I’ve already gotten everything I need!

While big sibling is needing parent attention, I work on other things! The flow is very relaxed and never takes more than 90-120 minutes.

details of baby boy
mother kissing baby boy cheek during newborn photos in arlington
black and white portrait of father with newborn baby in diaper

Troubleshooting: What if my baby never sleeps? What if they are fussy the whole time?

Don’t stress! I would say that babies only actually fall asleep during about 50% of my newborn sessions. The baby in these photographs was never actually sleeping! He looks like he may have been in both the first photo of this post and the last photo of this post. He was sleepy because he’s a new baby but not actually asleep. Your baby does not have to be asleep to get beautiful photos.

If they cry or are fussy the whole time, that’s okay too. I know it can be very stressful, but in those circumstances, we get every shot we can with baby where he/she is most soothed which tends to be mama’s arms. This may mean that there are not peaceful photographs of your baby laying alone on the bed, but that’s not the main goal of a lifestyle session anyways! I can still use creative angles to make the focus all about the baby while you are holding that beautiful babe.

mother with sons during in home photo session
black and white portrait of a baby being swaddled

Any questions about baby led lifestyle newborn sessions? Ask away in the comments!

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