I admit, I had a LOT of fun digging through 6 years (!!!!!!) of newborn sessions for these photos! While I do specialize in weddings, I adore photographing newborns (it gives me baby fever EVERY TIME), and it is a part of my business I plan to expand the next few years in terms of how many sessions I can take! As far as Newborn photography goes, there is a lot of variety in the style and outcome of the pictures that a family can get of their new baby. This post may simplify it a bit more than it should, but for the sake of explaining MY style and why I choose it, we are going to break the styles into 2 categories: Posed and Lifestyle.
Before I dig in, I want to share that I absolutely love both styles. I love both styles so much that when we had our 3rd baby, we did both types of sessions, and they are honestly some of my most treasured images. There is absolutely NOT a better and worse style here– I am just sharing what I have come to love as a photographer. I also am 100% willing to share many local recommendations where you should go for the other style if you prefer it– because it is beautiful and absolutely worth it if it is what you are drawn to (and like I said, I am drawn to both!). I shoot one style, and don’t TRY to do the other because I am not great at it and there are MANY wonderful local photographers who are– so I will point you towards them if you ask me for that style!
As a newborn photographer, I shoot lifestyle images. There are quite a few factors that go into what that actually means and why I choose that style- so I am going to break those down now! These are all just my personal opinions and artistic style- others who shoot lifestyle OR posed images may do things similarly or completely differently!
What “lifestyle” means and why I shoot lifestyle newborn photos
1). With rare exceptions based on major space or lighting limitations, I shoot in my clients homes. I almost always use the natural light in client’s homes (I use natural light when I shoot all the time except for wedding receptions). I love shooting in my clients homes for many reasons. First and foremost- it means mom and new baby don’t have to go anywhere. It is really easy for some new moms to pack up and go, but it is a major challenge for others, so I love not having to even discuss that. It also means that the photos are in the environment that your new baby regularly lives in– with your furniture, blankets, and backgrounds. I love the idea that you can see bits and pieces of your home and your style in the photos–it makes the session a lot about the family environment, and I am drawn to that. I also love love love taking photos in the baby’s new nursery. Typically, mom (and maybe others!) has put a TON of thought and heart into this space- so it is really fun for me to capture some of the details of the space, and of your baby in their nursery. I also LOVE when we are in seasons where we can take a couple of photos outside–there is something about a new baby out in nature that just makes my heart melt a bit.
Note: I do have clients who worry about “tidying up” their homes or that they don’t have good spaces or enough light. Honestly, as long as I have ONE big window that lets in good light (which means it doesn’t have a tree right by it), it’s all good! I do send families a customized guide to help prepare, and I ask dad to help tidy up the spaces with the best windows, and am happy to move some things off nightstands/etc when I get there to help. Sometimes it is a challenge to make the light work in a particular home, but I am up for that challenge!
2). I have to preface with that again, I LOVE the look of posed newborn images. They are beautiful and peaceful, and I love them on my own kids! But as an artist, I am drawn to more natural posing with my own newborn clients. In the beginning of my career, I am 100% willing to admit that’s because it felt easier! Specific posing of newborns (like with their little hands under their chin or their bare butts in the air!) is really hard, and takes an immense amount of patience! So in the beginning, it was easier to swaddle and make sure the light was good and the baby looked comfortable, and shoot. But then it became about what I experienced as a mom…that swaddled look was how my baby looked at MY house! That was their normal environment! And I loved that. So even after I learned more about posing and flat fingers and propping up their sweet heads and butts…I stayed drawn to what I call “baby led posing”. It doesn’t mean I just lay a baby on a bed or couch and hope for the best! 🙂 I definitely still spend a lot of time moving and posing and adjusting…but my newborns are almost always clothed or wrapped and it is a much more baby-led approach. If baby isn’t going to easily move a certain way, I move on and try something else. The patience of my sweet photographer friends who really pose babies absolutely blows me away because it can take a lot of time– and I admire that SO much!! But it isn’t quite how I shoot. As you will see below, baby is still posed, but not as specifically as you might see from other photographers. Here are a few examples of how my style of posing looks:
3). I don’t use a lot of props. I certainly love a headband or hat, and will use a few different wraps or onesies or blankets…but I don’t tend to use lots of other props or “costume” type outfits. For me, it goes back to wanting to capture your new baby as he or she really is and what they regularly look like– so that you can keep that REAL memory of what they look like in their home forever! I think all those things can be so so cute– it just isn’t a part of my lifestyle photography! I should note though, if parents have some props or costume type outfits they REALLY want, I will definitely discuss and incorporate! It just isn’t naturally a part of my lifestyle photos.
4). Last and most importantly to me, I include a lot of photos with mom, dad, siblings, and or pets. To me, about 50-60% of the session is about your new baby alone, and the rest is about your new family. I know this can be a challenge for a mom 1-2 weeks after giving birth– I have been there (3 times!) and it is hard. But it is so beyond worth it. There is absolutely nothing like the way a family interacts with their new family, and those moments– that tenderness and sweetness- won’t ever be quite the same. And I LOVE including your sweet pets, which is a major benefit of photographing in your home! Obviously everyone’s pets aren’t right for this (we haven’t ever been able to have our wild pup in newborn photos with our babies!) but when it works, it’s amazing! I like to have the space and time and freedom to really take a lot of pictures of the family together and lifestyle sessions really allow this!
Newborn photography is so important— they are only little for such a short amount of time! It is something I hope every family can find a way to invest in! So now that you’ve read what lifestyle newborn photography means for me– it’s time to see! Here are some of my favorites! These images are different than what you will see in a lot of other photographer’s portfolios (especially in the Central Illinois and Springfield area– I do not know of any other photographs who regularly shoot only lifestyle newborn sessions!)– but if these images speak to you, I might be your newborn photographer! And if not, there are so many extremely talented photographers in Springfield who shoot a more posed style! I book starting from right when you know your pregnant, but typically hear from mamas between 10-30 weeks pregnant (and have accommodated an occasional “I had my baby 3 days ago and really want photos!” client as needed!)!! I take only 2 newborn sessions a month to provide a great experience for those families, and would LOVE to add you to my calendar before I book up for the year!
These are just a few favorites that were easy to grab from all my years of shooting newborns– to see so many blog posts sharing ALL the families that are so special to me, click here!
Do you want to learn to take better pictures of your kids?!! Do you have a "fancy" camera but it isn't giving you the results you want (or even collecting dust on a shelf)? Click here for a quick E-Book with my top tips for parents!
I'm Jill, a wedding and portrait photographer based out of Chicago and Central Illinois, and available world wide! I'm also a photography educator, wife to my favorite person on the planet, mama to 3 amazing kids and an energetic aussie, and obsessed with statement jewelry and all desserts (especially fruit pies!).
As a past high school teacher, I have a major heart for education. After going full time in my business, I have built a business I love that gives me an almost 6 figure salary and allows me to be home part time with my kids. I dream for you to run a business that enhances your life and lights you up, and I believe I can help you learn how to do it with a little hustle and a lot of heart!
click to learn more about me
You're in the right place! As a past high school teacher, educating others is my life's work and a HUGE part of my business! I have been teaching moms and hobbyists how to use their camera from first purchasing it all the way to coaching them into businesses of their own, and I'd love to help you as well, wherever you are (and whatever camera you have!).
I'm so glad you are here! Teaching Photographers and other small business owners how to run more joyful, successful, and profitable businesses is one of my favorite parts of my business! I specialize in working with photographers to make their goals a reality (or figure out what their goals should be in the first place!).