I took those first two pictures with my phone using Heather’s Tips for Better Baby Pictures! And then she took the nice professional ones below! Read on for my tips for prepping and styling newborn photos! And more adorable photos of Fiona Green of course!
When Ginger was born, 5 and half years ago, I had NO idea that there was this magic window of time you were supposed to have newborn photos taken in. I figured I’d get some pictures of her taken when I felt up to it.
I wanted professional pictures and I wanted to share my gorgeous girl—but I didn’t realize that time was a-tick-tick-ticking and that people recommend you have newborn photos taken within 14 days of birth, because after two weeks babies wake up and begin to change.
My friend, photographer, and then neighbor Heather Mildenstein told me about the two-week rule of thumb when Ginger was 4 weeks old, and so she came over like the next day, haha, and took the pictures for me. Ginger cried the whole time. But, that is my Ginger girl. She’s going to do what she wants—so I kind of love that she’s screaming in most of them.
When Rad was born I had so much postpartum anxiety and depression I just didn’t care or worry about professional newborn pictures. I was more focused on surviving. So again he was at about 4 weeks old when I had Heather come and take some pictures. You can see his here. Heather’s a good friend! Ha.
But with Fiona, my last little baby, (yes people I AM DONE) I got it in my head I was going to make it happen in that 2-week window! I wanted the sleepy pictures! I wanted to capture that helpless, cozy little lump of BRAND NEW BABY all heaped in a pile that really only exists those first two weeks.
And it just did not happen.
I saw all these newborns on Instagram, and I’d see that their moms had these professional pictures of them at 5 days old, or one week old, and I would think, HOW ARE THEY DOING THAT?! It was starting to stress me out so much. I felt like a mom failure. Like I was letting something FUNDAMENTAL to my child’s development slide. HA! I know that sounds absurd, but hormones and comparison make us think absurdly!
But even though I wanted the pictures I wasn’t mentally or physically able to stop crying long enough to make photos happen in those first two weeks. Also, Fiona, like my other babies, had jaundice, and ended up needing to be kept on the bilirubin lights for 5 days. After she was off of them, it was Christmas, and then, well, the two weeks were up.
So Heather came and took these pictures and Fiona was 3.5 weeks old. And OH MY GOSH she’s still so tiny and why did I care so much?!
But that’s how it goes. I had a healthy, beautiful baby but I was letting the pressure of what I should be doing, and how I should be capturing it stress me out!
And that’s why I wanted to share these tips. Because newborn pictures are a once in a lifetime moment, and I think it can be fun to put some thought into them. But also, it’s a delicate time and you don’t need to add any stress to your life!
For me, I can’t plan a photoshoot before the baby is born, because I don’t know how I’ll feel. I also don’t feel well enough at the end of my pregnancies to do it! You can read about that here.
Whether the idea of gathering photo props makes you want to gag, or like me, you get giddy at the idea of flexing your creative muscles, I complied some tips for you. Because I’m kind of on a high horse right now feeling like some sort of expert with baby #3 under my belt. Haha.
I wrote this post in tandem with Heather Mildenstein the photographer and also social director of Chatbooks! (see if you take pictures for me you’ll for sure go on to greatness…kidding, BUT NOT) So on the Chatbooks blog Heather is sharing:
We thought it would be fun to share tips from the mom’s perspective and from the photographers perspective!
Now on to:
Alison’s Tips for Prepping For and Styling Newborn Photos
TIP #1: Decide whether you want to have the pictures in your home or at a studio, and who you want in them
Now, I personally like having newborn pictures in my home because I like to have the memories preserved of the little spaces we lived in those magical first few weeks. I feel like these beginning months are a romantic haze. I know from experience I will look back with a special reverence for the fleeting moments Fiona and I had together, in our home, as she was so fresh from heaven.
I remember so vividly where I sat and nursed Ginger over and over again, the spot on the couch I cuddled Rad hour after hour, and now the places where I hold Fiona so tightly, knowing it’s the last time I will do this whole newborn thing. And I have pictures of all of them. I like that.
Plus like I mentioned, I’m a postpartum hot mess and I feel more comfortable NOT leaving the house!
But you might really like the look of studio shots, with the controlled lighting and the sweet props that you didn’t have to gather. Plus it might stress you out to have someone in your home. So take these things into account!
As for WHO to have in them. For Rad it worked out that Eric was there, for Fiona and Ginger he wasn’t. I didn’t try to have the other kids in the pictures because it just felt too stressful. Like I couldn’t coordinate an entire family picture. People needed haircuts and clean clothing. I plan on having family pictures taken soon enough. But it might be really important to you to have siblings there! My reasoning was these are newborn pictures and are about the baby. I come with the baby, so I’m in some too!
TIP #2: Use the season or time of year as inspiration
At first I wanted to do something Christmassy because Fiona was born on December 8th. But we ended up taking her newborn pictures after Christmas, and I was just over it by then. Haha. So for my next option I thought something fresh and floral would be pretty, and also something I didn’t have to do myself! So I texted my friend and owner of Foxglove Flowers, Courtney, and asked if she could so something, “wintery and modern” for Fiona.
Foxglove (they did all the flowers and greenery for Alison’s Cabana Boogie) made this gorgeous garland. I loved it because it’s wintery without screaming Christmas.
But you don’t have to hire a florist to be inspired by the season. Ginger was born in September and we took her outside with a blanket and put her in some gorgeous Fall leaves. Rad was born in April, we did nothing with that. Haha.
But also Fiona’s middle name is Green! So I loved having this LUSH greenery. And speaking of Green, that brings us to newborn photography styling tip #3:
TIP #3: Use your baby’s name as inspiration
I had the idea to make this little headband for Fiona the night before the shoot. I made a stencil of her name by printing it on card stock in a font I liked, and then I cut out the letters with an xacto knife. Once I had the stencil I drew the letters on 100% wool felt with a fabric pen. I cut the letters out with teeny tiny scissors and hot glued the letters to some elastic.
I love having this little handmade element in the pictures, and it didn’t take a really long time to make. Which is good for me because having 3 kids is kind of no joke people. Haha. Why do we do these things?!
For Rad I held him up in front of the letters I made for his room. You can see that in his room tour here!
TIP #4: Create fun backdrops using what you already have
I’d say the #1 tip I have for life and tell people any time I teach—whether I’m teaching about business, how to be awesome, or how to plan events—is: USE WHAT YOU HAVE. And this tip also applies to backdrops!
For my personal style I like black and white A LOT, have you noticed? Ha, as well as light pinks and a few bold patterns, so that’s what I went with. I’ve also been focusing more on not just colors when it comes to backdrops, but textures too. So that’s something fun to keep in mind when looking for blankets and rugs and whatnot.
We put the garland on my bedspread, because I loved that it was white but had texture, and we moved it upstairs so we had better lighting.
And these pictures below are actually on one of my favorite jackets! I had seen a gorgeous faux fur blanket in a picture that I thought would be fabulous, but it was sold out. I got so sad and then realized I had a whole bunch of faux fur options in my closet! Obviously.
Swaddle blankets make great backdrops too because they are large and they have SO MANY cute designs now. I mean since I’ve had Ginger I can’t even believe how many more options there are!
For Ginger’s baby pictures we used my couch as a backdrop, and for Rad we used his crib sheet a lot.
You don’t need to special order anything, I mean if you’re anything like me you probably already spent tons of money prepping for that little bundle and have tons of blankets, sheets, and other gorgeous soft surfaces aplenty! Remember, raid your closet too!
This one was taken on Fiona’s rug! Which I love, and as you can see Fiona is a fan as well.
And this is on a small sheepskin rug from Ikea that I use for EVERYTHING in my life. I own 6 of them actually because they are $15 each and look cute draped on chairs too.
So. Remember, it’s tempting to think you need to run to the store or go crazy shopping online, but I bet you have more backdrops than you can shake a stick at laying around your house!
TIP #5: Keep wardrobe super simple
This will probably be the only time you encourage your child to be photographed in the nude. Maybe not. I don’t know your life! But as far as what THEY will wear, I opt for white, soft knits, swaddles, and their little bare bum. I didn’t buy any special bows, I used ones I had, and then made her “Fiona” headband and that pom pom headband.
I just feel like new babies are angels and deserve to be in white a lot of the time. It’s like this funny thing I have. Haha. So really for the first few weeks my babies are in a lot of white onesies. I did order a couple of bonnets, but they didn’t get there in time. Oh well, right?
For myself I usually like to stick to solid colors. With Ginger I wore black and with Rad I wore blue. But like I said, I’m on a texture kick, and nothing I have really fits me right now, haha, so I did make a special trip to the mall and I got that cozy sweater from H&M. I opted for the black and white mix because I thought it would fade into the background nicely and go with all of the other billions of black and white things I own. These pictures aren’t about ME (shocking I know). But I do like being in them as extension of my baby.
And even though I keep wardrobe simple, I like to have my nails done. When I got them done a few weeks before the picture I 100% planned the color to coordinate. I’m insane. I know. Also I used the tutorial from my own blog on how to do an amped up make-up look that my friend and makeup artist Kayti shared with us!
And because they are really a part of her wardrobe I had all my favorite swaddles for Fiona washed and ready to use. Obviously I’m into the swiss dot people. WHAT CAN I SAY?
TIP #6: Make a quick list of pictures, poses, and moments you want to capture
You don’t need to obsess over this. But it’s easy in the moment to take some pictures, and then think, “Um…what next?” And then just kind of draw a looooong blank. If you’re using a professional photographer they’ll for sure have some ideas! But just like only YOU can prevent forest fires, only YOU know which moments or pictures you’ll be sad you didn’t try to get (notice how I say “TRY” because these are newborns, not trained poodles). Maybe there’s a spot in your house you want to immortalize, or maybe you LOVE those pictures of the baby slumped over your shoulder.
These have kind of become my standard of things I like my newborn pictures to capture, as well as some other suggestions:
- Nursing: Heather asked if she could photograph me nursing Ginger, and I have loved having that moment photographed ever since. Nursing is SUCH a big part of life that first year, and especially those first few months. I love that I’ve been able to nurse and feel so lucky it has been something my body can do.
- Feet: Heather also had me hold Ginger’s feet for scale, and this is something we’ve done for each baby
- Baby swaddled
- Baby sleeping (if possible)
- Mom looking at baby
- Baby over the shoulder (view from behind)
- Baby crying (all my babies cry so I like to have that, haha)
- Baby yawning
- Newer babies are easier to prop and pose with little booty pops and having them all propped on their elbows with their head in their hands, but at this age it’s a little harder
You can see some of those in action!
I’m just dying over how Heather caught that little foot sneaking out!
GAH! And I just love the sleepy girl all snug in my arms.
And the hand escaping from the swaddle is always super popular with me too! Haha. Baby burritos are my favorite.
And I love the pictures of her in my arms because you can see how tiny she is.
And there you have it!
I adore and treasure these pictures and I know I’ll always be glad I didn’t let the fact that she was older than 2 weeks old stop me from having some newborn photos taken!
Every time I look at Fiona I’m just so blown away that she’s HERE and healthy. It seems too good to be true, and that’s all that matters.
I hope these tips were helpful.
And I also hope you check out Heather’s 5 Tips for Better Baby Photos!
Again, I wanted to share these styling and prep ideas because I want to help take away any iota of stress I can from a new mom. So if looking at them did the opposite and stressed you out, or got you thinking you need to be or do something different, oh mama, THAT IS SO NOT THE POINT!
The point is and was that pictures are nice and can be meaningful, but the real thing here is finding a way to capture them that makes you feel good and comfortable. It’s not about how many likes they will accrue on social media, but how accurate they are at preserving such a special and fleeting time in your life and the life of your child.
Also, you might not want to be in the pictures because you think you’re fat. Do you think I think I look thin in these pictures? No. I do not. Have I looked better? Sure. I sure have! But have I been happier? Not really. And I feel like that’s worth photographing.
Lots of love to you!
Still want something fun to read? Try this!
Garland: Foxglove Utah
Fiona’s Mustard and Black and White Swaddle: Solly Baby
Fiona’s Black & Buffalo Check Bows: A Dash of Sass Designs
Fiona’s White Swaddle with Grey + : KB Cute Designs
Fiona’s Gold Leather Bow: Little Poppy Co.
Both Bed Spreads: West Elm (black and white dot is discontinued)
You Are My Bucket List Print: RBTL Paper
Fiona’s Rug: Moroccan Diamond Rug in Ivory from Rugs USA