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How To Prepare | Newborn Photo Session



Because of the delicate nature and temperament of newborns, there is a “finesse” to a successful portrait session.   After refining my process and approach for many years, I ask all of the families that work with me, to come in with an open mind, and a lot faith in my knowledge.  I hope that you’re open to do the same….please come in, relax, and let me “do my magic”.  Before you arrive, I’ll prepare the studio (or please prepare your home) for your session by having the thermostat turned up to 75+ degrees (depending on how young baby is), so that (s)he isn’t phased at all when disrobed for bare skin portraits. White noise will be ready  if we need it (noise machine, space heater, and even a vacuum cleaner), as well as plenty of warm blankets to keep baby cozy and comfy.

At least an hour before your session, please remove any socks or shoes that your baby may be wearing so that we don’t see lines around his or her ankles in the final portraits. When you arrive (or when I arrive to your home) please do not wake baby (on purpose anyway). Having a sleepy baby at the beginning of the session is ideal, and a wonderful way to photograph newborns. In fact, my goal for the first part (or at least some point) of the session is to have baby in such a deep sleep that they do not wake when being posed or re-positioned.  There is usually a time during newborn sessions when we need to wait for baby to settle, or go into a deeper sleep.  That is perfectly normal.  I have all the patience in the world, as long as you do.  Your trust in me is helpful, knowing that I have the patience and experience to recognize when baby’s in the proper stage of sleep for photographing those beautiful sleepy shots.  Please be sure that all family members attending the session are aware of this process so that they don‘t impede by trying to hurry things along.

To further aid in preparing for your session, below are answers to our clients’ most frequently asked questions.  These tips and tricks will help set the scene for a great experience, and stunning portraits.

What is the best age for newborn portraits?

Because babies tend to sleep much deeper in the first 14 days, that is the ideal time to have baby’s first photo shoot take place (21 days absolute maximum).  This sleepier stage usually allows us to capture sleepy, snuggly portraits, and a often a few with baby awake toward the end.  During the first two weeks, newborns *usually* sleep right through posing and re-positioning for portraits.  As we get toward weeks 3 to 4, there is a hormone surge that occurs, causing a significant amount of baby acne, in addition to baby becoming much more awake and aware.

Is there a certain time of day that seems to work best?

Most definitely, and this is KEY. It’s my experience that mornings are always best. Afternoons are a more needy time of day for little ones, and they are much less tolerant of re-positioning, etc.  Late afternoon and evenings are honestly, just plain a bad idea.  I know that I am definitely not at my best, later in the day.   I bet you’d say the same: I start to ware out a bit, need snacks, and get pretty cranky.  Imagine that for a baby who is brand new to the world, trying to figure it all out – while exhausted.  While it may be convenient to schedule after a work day, it will take 3x as long for baby to settle, which means, you will need to purchase a longer session. If we both plan properly and set the scene for success, a mini-session is almost always all that’s needed. Mornings are a time of day when we’re all fresh and ready for the day to come, including newborns.  I know that I can do a much better job for you earlier in the day, rather than catching me at the end of an 8 hour day when I’ve been chasing toddlers, helping senior girls choose between 50 lip gloss shades, and cuddling babies who need a world of patience.

If, by some fluke, it becomes obvious that we happen to have an “off” day for baby, we’ll stop and talk about the possibility of rescheduling, or the option of upgrading your session.

Would it be helpful to try and feed the baby before we leave for the studio?

Please try your best *not* to adjust baby’s schedule at all on the day of the session.  Just flow with his or her needs as you normally would. Newborns pick up on our anxieties, and it’s important that they feel calm and happy. Please also keep in mind that the session in and of itself will be a “work-out” for baby.  Generally newborns will require an extra feeding at some point either during or immediately after the session. We have a private changing area for you, where you’ll be able to take care of feedings and diaper changes as needed.

What should I have my baby wear?

My style of photography shows that we’ll be capturing the innocence and purity of this time in your baby’s life.  Clothing tends to take the focus away from that, and it does date the photos. Babies in bare-skin allows us to capture all of those sweet new features that so quickly fade away as baby grows. I have a variety of soft blankets, cloth wraps, quilts, hair bands, newborn hats, small delicate props, etc, on hand at the studio, that I’ll have ready when you arrive.  You will naturally gravitate toward something adorable that we can incorporate it into baby’s photos.

Is there anything else that I should bring?

If you have a blanket or two that have special meaning (or great texture), please bring them along.  For portraits that have special meaning to Dad, please have him bring a few personal items that show his personality & interests.  A football, basketball, or armed services hat, for example. Including these items in an image or two will make for the most unique and personal portraits.  These have always, always been the images that Dads love the most! Please view our web site for samples. Beyond that, please leave it up to me and my stock of newborn items that I have here at the studio (it’s quite a lot). 🙂

What should I wear?
Please have one or both parents arrive dressed in a white, black, denim, or any solid colored top (avoid logos, patterns, etc), in case baby prefers to be held for most of the session.  From time to time this does happen, and we still capture beautiful images that include mom or dad’s hands, or their embrace, in the photos.  These are some of my favorite images, always.  🙂

Please keep in mind:

All newborns are different, and none of us can predict how the session will unfold for your new little one.  Some babies will curl up into sweet newborn poses and love to be swaddled in a blanket, others stretch straight out and do not like to be swaddled at all, while yet others want and need to be held for most of the session.  Please arrive with realistic expectations, and an open mind.  Baby is 100% in charge of how the session unfolds.  I will be very sensitive to his or her cues, what your baby likes or dislikes, and will photograph accordingly, to assure that he or she is comfortable, and as calm and happy as possible.  I know that other photographers will hold 3 and 4 hour newborn sessions so that baby is sufficiently exhausted and sleeping in the photos so that they’re willing to be placed in baskets, etc.  In reality, this means a lot of crying and stress on the baby, in my humble opinion.  I’ve been there, I’ve done 3 and 4 hour newborn sessions.  Time and experience has led me to choose shorter sessions, where we both prepare well, and baby is not stressed or over-stimulated to the point where it takes hours to calm him or her down.  Instead, my goal is for you to leave with a baby who is somewhat tired out, but comfortable and not at all stressed.  I am a firm believer that this should be an easy, beautiful, and calming experience for you all!

Can we include family and sibling photos, as well? 

We can definitely make that a part of our plan, knowing that baby is in full charge of what we are able to capture.  Please arrive with a mental list of groupings from most important to least important, and we will start from there. Generally 2 to 3 groupings are realistic.  Keep in mind this is a huge time of change for older siblings and it’s often very confusing from a child’s perspective, when a new baby is brought into your family dynamic. Adding photos to the mix can either be incredibly beautiful, or incredibly stressful.  Specific hopes for several Pinterest ideas with baby & siblings is almost always a bad idea.  It’s best to play it by ear, follow cues from all of your children, and hope for the best possible outcome!

What happens if we need more time?

If baby is extremely fussy,  needy, or there are a lot of very unique ideas, chances are, we will go over in time. At the 40 minute mark, I’ll stop to have a conversation with you about either ending the session with what we have to that point, or upgrading to the Full Session (see pricing pg).  While we do take breaks and pause the session time here and there, an extended session is something that comes with a price tag, and my time is valuable to my family and other clients, as well.  If we flow with baby’s needs, come in with an open mind, and weuse wraps, hairbands, hats, etc as fits with the moment, 30-40 minutes is ideal.  Longer sessions are so hard on babies who are new to the world!

What happens if we’re running late to the photo shoot?

Everyone runs a few minutes late from time to time.  Completely understandable with getting kids in the car. However, more than 15 minutes late will likely require either a reschedule.  Your session time starts at the time you were scheduled for.  Please plan ahead as best you’re able, and allow extra time.  We usually have sessions through the day, and there are likely others scheduled when your session time ends.

What happens after the photo shoot?

Many times, parents leave wondering if we captured any good images.  The reality is, Mom & Dad are so busy helping, and catering to baby’s needs during the session that you may not be able to “see” from my vantage point.  Rest assured, there will be many beautiful images for you to choose from!  Roughly 14 days after your session, you’ll receive a link to your online gallery so that you can view and order your portraits from the comfort of your home.  You’ll also receive a download link so that you can start enjoying your digital files right away.  Have the tissues ready though!  Many happy clients have reported back that joyful tears flow when seeing newborn portraits for the first time. 🙂

Feel free to call, text or email if any questions have come to mind!


Studio Location:

6036 Town Hall Drive   |   Sun Prairie, WI  53590

Hours by appt

Tue-Fri: 8am-6pm     Sat:  8am-12noon      Closed:  Sun-Mon

 Email:  info@brendaeckhardt.com     Call/Text:  608.318.3456


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