Hey there new friend! I'm Emily, a newborn, family & wedding photographer serving San Luis Obispo, CA and beyond. I hope you enjoy viewing my recent work, passion projects and adventures, along with some great resources for finding a photographer and making the most of your session!
You’re having a baby! Welcome to the wildest, most beautiful adventure there is in this life. But with it comes so many questions, so many unknowns! You know you want to hire a newborn photographer, but you don’t know where to start. Before you can even find the right photographer, you need to decide what style of session you’re interested in booking!! As the genre of photography grows, so do the number of photographers who specialize in different sub-genres of newborn photography!
What are the sub-genres? Well, it really depends who you ask. But for the sake of brevity, we will go over the four main session types offered by newborn photographers. Being informed on what each session entails will help you decide what session type is best for your family!!
Studio or posed newborn photography has become wildly popular in the last ten years. One only has to open Pinterest to find hundreds of examples (or examples of the “Pinterest fail” versions) of babies in buckets or curled up on solid colored blankets. Each photographer will have their own style, their own preferred poses, props or accessories that they utilize.
For example, I am very minimal in my use of props for posed newborns. My aesthetic is more classic and minimalist. While there is nothing wrong with beautiful imagery of a sleeping baby in a bucket, it isn’t an example of my style of work. I don’t put babies in buckets, choosing instead to implement neutral accessories and clean white backgrounds.
Other photographers create beautiful composites of babies sleeping in a blooming flower or on a sailboat under a starry sky. There are also photographers who specialize in themed sessions, including props from the dad’s favorite baseball team, or Harley Davidson merch, or a safari theme. These images are creative and gorgeous, and they represent a different style of posed/studio newborn photography.
Regardless of style, these sessions focus on the baby’s sweet details with the goal of creating images that are a work of art to be displayed in your home or in a baby book.
On the other end of the spectrum, lifestyle sessions generally take place in a client’s home or sometimes outdoors. These sessions are focused on the connection and relationship between the family members, and includes siblings, parents, even pets! The word lifestyle is defined as “the way a person lives or a group of people live,” and that is very much what these sessions are about. Telling the story of how your family lives, of this new life becoming apart of that story and the authentic relationships that make up your family.
My goal with lifestyle sessions is to direct a scene while letting the moment play out organically. If your toddler doesn’t want to kiss baby brother on the head, we won’t force it. If she would rather jump on the couch or cuddle with daddy while momma holds baby, I’m okay with that too. I approach these sessions with the desire to tell your story, no matter what that story might be.
Birth photographers are the photojournalists of the business. They are in the thick of it, living the on-call life. While I don’t shoot many births these days, it is the most exhilarating and life affirming experience. As a momma, bringing a child into the world is the single most defining accomplishment of my life, as I am sure it is for many other women. But when you look back on the experience, it is oftentimes a blur. You usually don’t see the look on your partner’s face when your child let’s out their first cries, you’re busy making the magic happen. You miss out on the details, like the grasping of hands through a contraction, the lines on the fetal monitor or the tears in your mom’s eyes. Childbirth is magic. Terrifying, beautiful magic.
During the birth of my second child, my sister took photos for me. She isn’t a photographer, and I love them… but I regret not hiring a professional, someone who is experienced and skilled at capturing those once in a lifetime moments. That being said, birth photography is not for everyone. It can be uncomfortable to have someone who isn’t family in the room when you are in labor, so you need to consider your own feelings when thinking about hiring a birth photographer.
Ahhhh hospital sessions!! The fresh newness of getting to know this tiny creature that is entirely yours. The wrinkles and peeling fingernails and squinting eyes not yet used to what life in the light is like. Your time in the hospital is (hopefully) fleeting, such a short quiet time before you begin the process of relearning how to do life with a new baby. These sessions are usually shorter in nature, focused on all the details of this new life. Similar to in-home lifestyle sessions, hospital sessions are intended to document and highlight the connection and relationship between baby and parents (and siblings too if you so choose).
Hospital sessions are the perfect compromise between birth and in home lifestyle. My clients usually book them as an add on to a studio or lifestyle session, and I find that they really round out the story as a whole. Having a photographer visit you in the hospital allows them to document those first few hours of new life without them being present for the birth itself.. Babies change so quickly, he or she won’t look the same even at one week old when most studio sessions are taking place.
Depending on the photographer, hospital sessions can be lifestyle or even more documentary, with little or no direction from the photographer at all. It’s important that you ask any photographer you are looking to hire how they shoot and look at their portfolios for examples of their work.
Only you can answer that question!! Look at photo galleries on the websites of photographers who you admire and try to prioritize the session styles that are most important to you! Once you’ve settled on a type of session you can begin the hunt for a photographers who’s style of work and personality jives with your family. Need some guidance on finding the right photographer? Check out my blog post Five Tips for Choosing a Newborn Photographer!