After a client books a session, the first question that they ask is “what should we wear?” I really love documenting lifestyle newborn sessions because clients can incorporate themselves into the session… their home, their colors and of course their style. These sessions are candid, relaxed and if done right, truly showcases the new love that has entered into the home. Below are some tips for how to dress yourself and your family when booking a lifestyle newborn session, where to shop and how to be successful.
While I always encourage clients to pick clothing that they feel comfortable in, communicates the style they have and compliments their home decor – I do always suggest starting from a neutral palate. Newborns should be the star of the show when it comes to the session, so dressing in bright colors or busy patterns often is distracting to the viewer. Neutrals does not have to mean a plain white T-shirt. I consider neutrals as a palate of likeness (gray, navy, tan, white, ivory, soft blue, soft pink, etc.) The most important part for me is that the colors all compliment each other and there are three -four (if including denim) max. Men can sometimes have a hard time finding shirts without patterns in which case a solid sweater overtop can be a nice compliment to break it up.
Fabric that moves or has texture is always my preference. Women who have just delivered a baby do not feel like their most beautiful versions of themselves (although they should). Fabric that moves and flows is a flattering option, especially when choosing ivories and whites for your color choice. Textures are also wonderful as they add visual appeal but don’t distract the viewer. It is a great way to add interest.
I also love the look of a dress on a woman after childbirth. I don’t suggest wearing a maternity dress that is tight around the waist. Instead pick a dress with movement. maternal, classic and beautiful way.
While most woman feel that black is the most flattering color choice for clothing, as it is “slimming”, I find it a hard color for lifestyle photographs unless B&W images are preferred. My personal style of photography indoors is light and airy, so having dark clothing creates a moodier feel in the imagery. There is nothing wrong with moody – in fact it really adds emotion to the image, just be conscious about this when you make your color selections. The other thing to consider is your home palate. If your home is mostly white, wearing black will again make from strong B&W imagery, but might feel disjointed in color.
Babies are teeny tiny and most clothing (even 0-3 mo. size) is still too big right after birth. If choosing an “outfit” to document your baby in, make sure it fits! You don’t want your little one swimming in their garments. I suggest shopping in the newborn section, and trying the clothes on your baby before the session. If nothing fits, never underestimate the beauty of a baby that is swaddled. There are adorable swaddles out there now with endearing prints and patterns. If the rest of the family is dressed plainly, the baby will shine in a sweet swaddle with some spunk. Or, select a simple and timeless swaddle for that classic imagery that you’ll never tire seeing.
The beauty about being in your home is you have the chance to incorporate bits and pieces of yourself. Whether that is a favorite knitted blanket from Grandma, or imagery in the nursery – you have control over what is captured (light permitting – see further tips). Here is a link to a recent lifestyle newborn session that incorporated a lot of their beautiful home in the details – Hinsdale Newborn Photography Session
Here is a list of some of my favorite stores for finding clothes for mom as well as baby. They have a great mix of textures, colors and choices for every size.
Non-wardrobe related, the two other success factors are having adequate light and decluttering the background. Light makes or breaks the images, so don’t get your hopes up on shooting in a room with no windows. Look at your space at all times of the day and study the light. Exposure direction matters when shooting in the AM and PM and should be communicated prior to the session. I have a pre-consultation call scheduled with each client to ensure I know what I am walking into, and to set expectations for both the parents and me, the photographer. I also ask clients to send iphone pictures of both their wardrobe and home.
Decluttering is also key. I know parents are tired and cleaning is impossible – but books, kleenex boxes, bottles, magazines, empty glasses, breast pumps, etc. should be removed. You don’t want to remember that half consumed beer on the nightstand!