some memories never leave your bones
like salt in the sea;
they become part of you
I'm so excited to be working with you, and I can't wait for our time together! It's normal to be a little nervous about getting your portraits taken. Honestly, I still get the butterflies before having our family photos taken, too - and I do this for a living! I get it.
Thank you from the bottom of my heart for your trust in me. It is an honor to create one of the integral parts of your family's legacy.
The topics I cover in this guide will help you get the very BEST out of our time together! I'll try to keep it short and as simple as possible because "simple" is our keyword!
Most of my beloved clients are attracted to my work's very specific and unique look, and hopefully, this describes you as well! I created this guide as a resource because I need your help to achieve this look for you. So I'd be grateful if you read the helpful tips here, and as always, please reach out if you have any questions at all!
HOW IT WORKS
As a mom myself, it is always my hope to make the day of your session as stress-free as possible. I arrive with lots of grace and understanding that these early days are challenging and exhausting! There is no need to clean your entire house or do anything special to your home - you've just had a baby! Just make sure any areas you'd like to take photos in are clear of any clutter and set up in the way you want them! If you have a white duvet and sheets, those would be great to use during your session (if we photograph in a bedroom area). I recommend letting the baby have a little awake time before I arrive, then a nice full feeding about 15-20 minutes before I arrive! It can help your baby feel settled and comfy so that we have the best chance of getting off to a smooth start. But don't worry! If your baby is fussy or needs a feeding break at any time, we will give them what they need! We work on your baby's schedule. Remember, I have the whole day reserved just for you, but I will end the session when I feel that we have enough images.
I'll bring a Moses basket filled with all the sweet wraps, and a few props we'll need for our session, as well as the outfits we chose during our design session. I'll wash my hands at arrival so that I'm prepared to make any adjustments as needed (with your permission). While you get dressed, I would like your husband to take me on a little tour of the house to show me your nursery, bedroom, or any spot you consider to have photos taken so that I can find the best light in your home. We then get started, and I'll guide you through the entire session, asking you to give lots of snuggles to your sweet baby and photographing the precious and fleeting details of this season of life with your brand new baby.
Your Big Day
Are you ready for some good news? You don't need to do much! Besides outfit selection (which I cover in this guide), all I ask of you is to enjoy your experience. After all, the best part of appreciating the photos on your walls is knowing you had a fabulous time getting them taken.
Gum, transition lenses and spray tans...
All of these are cool. Just... not so much when it comes to photos ;). Gum shows no matter how much you think it won't (hiding it behind your teeth can't last for every shot), transition lenses look like sunglasses (we want to see those beautiful peepers!) and even if a spray tan looks ammmazing in person, it really throws off the skin tones that I absolutely pride myself in capturing. Your natural skin color is the BEST!
If you wear glasses and have transition lenses, you can remove the glasses altogether for the photos, or if they are an integral part of your look, you can change them out for a pair with traditional lenses. I will try my best to minimize the glare so we can see those gorgeous eyes!
I kindly ask all dads to wear timeless watches (or take them off altogether) and empty all pant pockets to free us of bulky hip and back areas. There is also no need to bring knives or other weapons. I promise you; this is a safe space, and weapons are not allowed in my house/studio.
What if I don't know what to do?
I think most of us feel this way at heart. Luckily not only are my sessions extremely relaxed, but I guide you and your family into poses and give you prompts so you can have moments of genuine laughter, real smiles while admiring your new baby, and lots of snuggles while they're still so little.. Often you won't even realize how amazing a moment is, and I sneak a photo (such as the example on the right, where I asked the family to admire their new baby and Dad got a kiss on his nose instead).
I'm here to see the beauty in what seems like ordinary moments. It is one of the best and most fulfilling parts of my work.
I prefer to photograph newborn sessions within the first 21 days of baby’s birth for several reasons:
+ Babies are more likely to stay asleep and cooperate better during their poses
+ This young they like to be curled up and don’t mind being posed
+ Baby acne has not set in yet
Please bath or wash your baby the night before or in the morning of our session. I'd prefer if you don't put any oils into your baby's hair.
Once I arrived at your house, and ooohed and ahhhed over your sweet baby, Dad will take me on a quick tour through the rooms you'd like to be photographed in. This gives you the time to change into the outfit you chose during our design session. Most moms hire a hair and makeup artist and some are still getting ready when I arrive. Do not worry about that. If your baby is hungry we will feed real quick. There is a good chance that we'll be feeding a lot during our session. For some mommas, this is a great day to kick off the milk flow.
We start the session with the family part, and I don't mind if the baby is awake during this part of the session, but please don't let your baby sleep all morning long.
Babies sleep better when they are warm, full, and clean. Therefore, I recommend turning off the AC during the baby only session part.
Things to Have on hand
Your baby is working hard to get her photos taken and requires more cuddles (and feedings) than usual while modeling. Newborns can feel if their parents are stressed. Parents are often taking naps or watching a movie during the photo session, but for some poses, I might need your help.
After the family part of the session I kindly ask that a family member takes the older sibling/s into a different area of the home. This is to guarantee that your new baby's sleepy phase won't be interrupted (and it is also nice if mom gets a mini-break ;)).
The smoothie pacifier the hospital sent you home with. It's the bendable, green/blue/orangish one, and it won't leave marks on the baby's face.
Enough formula, if not breastfeeding.
Favorite blanket, if of neutral color and no heavy designs, we might include it into session.
Convenient outfit for your baby: An easy to take off onesie or romper, preferred if it opens in the front
Extra set clothes for baby and parents, in case of "accidents."
DON'T DISCIPLINE THE KIDS
For the time we have together, please don't worry a single bit about older sibling's behavior. They are still adjusting to the new situation. I highly recommend to schedule the session as early as possible after the baby is born. That way the new baby is still interesting to the older sibling/s. Sometimes kids can sense that they are about to do something out of the norm (I mean, how often does your whole family get dressed up for a photo session, am I right?), and they may act extra silly or start acting out. I understand you want them to be on their best behavior because I would feel the same with my kids! But in the spirit of just having a relaxing, fun experience (and getting good photos!), it works the best if disciplining pauses during the session. More often than not, it backfires anyway, and the grumpy faces stick around longer. I rarely see this, but I just wanted to plant a tiny seed that you don't have to worry about being "the bad guy" when we are together (hooray! Enjoy the day off!). Trust me; I'm Mama to two. If anyone has empathy for you, it's ME ;).
I have a "bag of tricks" that usually works if a child is having challenges. We have plenty of time to give them the breaks they need. I can stop the session for a bit to talk with them, and ask them about their favorite stories, shows, or toys. Make them feel special too, since so much focus is on the new baby. Worst case scenario? They stay grumpy, and you will get some pretty entertaining photos (but how adorable is he in this this picture, right?
THE BIGGEST PIECE OF THE PIE
AKP Client Closet
If you're taking advantage of my exclusive client boutique to dress your family, I'll have all outfits (and more) we chose during our design session with me. I'll bring a handheld steamer in case I have to steam the dress again.
You can lean back now and scroll on to "Wardrobe Tips".
Styling Recommendations When Wearing Your Own Things
Some clients want to use their outfits! No problem with that.
One of the analogies I use to describe photography is baking. (Yes, you read that right!) There are many photographers out there who have all kinds of different styles. It's like a bakery where you're choosing which cupcake you want. I am honored you are choosing mine! Here is your part of the recipe we need to make the exact flavor you have chosen. I have a specific style and strive to be consistent with my images to know what kind of photos you will be getting from your session (dreamy, light, airy, classic, timeless, and glowy).
Light colors and patterns
- THE BIGGEST IMPACT ON YOUR PHOTOS -
the "overall aesthetic"
When the ladies wear dresses, it helps create that timeless look. I highly recommend maxi for mama! The floor-length flatters and adds to the beauty. When a slight breeze flutters by, it helps create motion in the photo. Wearing dresses is NOT an absolute must, but it helps make the aesthetic you often see in my work. If it's colder outside, I recommend bundling up for sure. Don't worry about wearing a dress if it's too cold!
Plain dresses in solid colors are perfect for little girls. You can also add texture with sweaters, boots, bows, etc.
Professional Hair and makeup is highly recommended, because it lasts longer than your typical hair & makeup done at home. I recommend going a shade or two darker with blush & lipstick than usual . I promise it'll photograph lighter. Faux lashes also go such a long way in portraits, and give you the wow effect in each and every picture.
My favorite vendor is Destin Mobile Makeup Box. You can easily contact Brittany or Allison through the booking link in this form. Hair and makeup application takes 1.5 hours, and the artist will spoil you at your home/ vacation rental.
Hair & Makeup
Anything neutral, light and/or NOT distracting, works! In the Summer, I love kiddos in bare feet if the terrain allows. As for babies who can't walk - if it's warm enough, let's see those cute toes! If it's cold out, neutral boots are adorable, or just about anything as long as it's not a bright color. If mom is wearing a maxi dress, often times we won't be able to see those shoes so no pressure there. When all is said and done, I just want to make sure the shoes don't attract too much attention. We want that attention going to your faces!
Shoes (or not)
I like to keep props clean and classic (aka: not too many banners, or things that make the photo cluttered).... remember, I like to keep the focus on the face! That being said, I love including a prop or two, especially if it is meaningful. For example, I LOVE LOVE LOVE floral bouquets, a beloved book, or a sentimental toy (just for some of the shots). If it's Christmas, bust out some candy canes! Little props that are simple and meaningful, can add some fun photos to a collage, and make for visual interest. If you DO bring a prop or two, please let me know before we start so I can incorporate them when the time is right in your session.
First off, this is just a suggestion and not the end of the world, but... clothing that is cream or ivory, photographs white. Clothing that is WHITE-white, photographs blue(ish)! Cream clothes are softer on skin tones and luckily easier than ever to find...(this hasn't always been the case!). So if you can, go with cream.
*The exception to this is if you are using a lot of grey in your clothing! Grey's and whites go better than Grey's and cream! Think cool tones vs. warm tones.
"White vs. Cream"
For the fellas, SIMPLICITY is the best bet! For shirts, I recommend henley and button-up dress shirts (rolled up to the elbows if the temperatures allow! It helps create a dressy, but not stuffy look).
For bottoms I highly recommend keeping them light. This can make a HUGE difference in the photo aesthetic. Khakis, tan pants or light grey will work. If you'd like to go the denim route, make them very light. I discourage dark pants because of the contrast it creates with other light colors. Your eye will go right to it!
*Adding layers and textures by way of blazers, suspenders, vests, etc. is always a good idea as long as the colors stay muted.
Keep it simple!
Undergarment: Nude, low-cut bra (strapless, if an off-shoulder dress is chosen) and undies with no designs work best. For some dresses (tight fit), some clients choose to wear no slip at all.
Nails: Manicured & pedicured, natural or painted in solid, natural colors (nudes, white or french manicured), no heavy nail design to keep your pictures timeless
Jewelry: Meaningful, dainty pieces and I recommend to stay away from current trends
What happens after the session
Ideally, you wave good bye to me and say, "Wow, did we really just take photos or just hang out?" Or "She was the best. Andrea for President." (P.S. Your baby/ies will sleep well that night, promise!)
On my end, I will start downloading & saving your pictures right away. The next day I will cull them with fresh eyes. I need two weeks to properly go through the images, weed out multiples and blinks, and then edit them in my specific and unique style. Two weeks after your session date, I will send you an email with a link to my scheduler to set up your ordering appointment, where you will be able to view your photo proofs and make selections for your order! We can meet virtually, or even better I come visit you again and can make recommendations specifically for your home while I'm there. I'm here to assist you every step of the way.
Some FINAL words
My greatest wish is that you, your children, and your grandchildren ADORE these photos forever. After all, your family is what life is ALL about, and one of my greatest joys is that I get to be a small, behind-the-scenes part of preserving your legacy.
I can't wait to work with you!
I hope this guide covers everything you need to know to prep for your in-newborn session! If there is something I missed, or you need a recommendation, feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org