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Newborn Lifestyle Photography Guide

Is your head still spinning over the fact that your body just made a human? Whether it's your first, second, or sixth, it doesn't seem to get any less weird or crazy. It's a wild ride, my friend. So keep in mind that while these tips can help you get the most out of your lifestyle session, none of them will make or break your photos. The most important thing to remember is to relax and focus on being present with your family. Often times the "didn't go as planned" photos are the best ones!

What is a Newborn Lifestyle Session?

Newborn lifestyle photos focus on the connections between mom, dad, and the new baby within baby's brand new world. This style of photography involves some direction but no highly specific posing or elaborate props. A good photographer will suggest activity ideas for a family to do during their session and will adjust people when needed to get the right shot.

This new mom and dad opted for a kitchen table sponge bath before an outfit change.

An in-home newborn lifestyle session would be perfect for you if:

  • You LOVE natural, candid photos

  • You'd like some laid-back guidance, but you aren't into posing

  • You want photos that focus on real connections

  • The idea of putting your baby in a bucket for a photo makes you cringe

  • You'd like your session to last about an hour, give or take (posed photos take much longer)

  • You want your photos taken at home

For a portion of this session we hung out next to the crib. I directed mom and dad on where to stand and sit and how I wanted them to hold baby. The expressions came naturally.

What Newborn Lifestyle Photography IS NOT

Newborn lifestyle photography is typically not done in a studio. Studio photography tends to be more posed and doesn't incorporate some key elements of lifestyle photography: An environment that's natural to you and items that hold emotional significance.

Preparing Your Home

You do not have to have a perfectly clean house for newborn photos, but I do recommend decluttering the living room, nursery, and any other room with good natural light. It's helpful to have end tables and dressers cleared off, but don't stress too much. A good photographer will move things that clutter up a frame. You'll also want to turn up the heat! Babies love to be nice and warm, so consider turning up the heat in your home a few degrees about an hour before your session. This is more important if you'd like to have photos of your baby in only her diaper.

Keep Baby Awake before the Session

Keep baby awake before your session, if you can. I'm not opposed to having your baby awake during the session. However, if you really want those sleepy shots, I recommend keeping your baby awake before the session if you can. But sometimes babies have their own agenda, so don't stress if it doesn't happen!

Wait to Feed Your Baby

If you want to have some photos of you nursing or feeding your baby, wait to feed her! Chances are you're still adjusting to a feeding schedule with your newborn. That's okay. If possible, hold off on nursing for at least an hour before your session. That way baby will be hungry at some point during your session. If you're not wanting to have those moments documented, then go ahead and feed your baby right before your session.

What to Wear for an In-Home Lifestyle Session

  • Keep It Simple: The goal is to capture your real life, not a glamorized and inaccurate version of it. I promise my artistic vantage point will capture the best version of those moments. But I still want it to be REAL.

  • Neutral Colors: When in doubt, stick to neutrals. You can't go wrong with them. These colors will help the focus be only on your family and your new baby and all those amazing details.

  • Limit Accessories: If you have a watch on, I'll probably ask you to remove it. I'd also take off hair ties from wrists. And stick to earrings, simple necklaces, etc. that you might wear on an average day.

  • Avoid Logos: I recommend steering clear of large logos or text across t-shirts and sweatshirts. These items can be real distracting in a photo.

  • My Favorites: Some of my favorite colors to photograph are earthy tones (like maroon, muted orange, and browns), white, and grays.

  • Outfit Changes: Outfit changes are totally welcome. You can totally take advantage of the fact that you have your whole closet at your disposal.

The living room had the best light in this home. Our entire session took place on the couch. The older five kids filtered in and out of the photos.

Ideas for Your Newborn Session

There are lots of lifestyle-y things that you might want to consider having photographed during your newborn session. Here are a few ideas:

  • Give your baby a bath in the sink or a sponge bath on the kitchen table

  • Nurse your baby or feed her a bottle

  • Swaddle baby or change an outfit

  • Dad snuggling with baby

  • Mom rocking baby

  • Have an older sibling hold baby


  • Do You Use or Bring Props? I don't! Natural photos are my jam. Not tucking a baby into a bucket or stuffing her into a stocking. My goal is to create organic, beautiful images.

  • How Long Does a Session Usually Last? Between an hour and an hour and a half. I don't like to overwhelm families with a long session. Most of the time an hour is plenty of time to capture all of babies details and meaningful interactions. However, I plan for extra time if a family would like it and we have an extra fussy baby.

  • But My House Isn’t Perfect. You don't have to have amazing decor, white walls, and the cleanest house. We really only need a small space to work with and good window.

  • We're Awkward in Front of the Camera. Will You Pose Us? The short answer is no, but sort of.

  • My Older Kids Are Cra-Cra (Crazy). Older siblings do not need to be a part of the entire session. It's a win if we can get them to hang out on the couch for 5-10 minutes with the baby. We'll also be spending time capturing cuddles with mom and dad and all those tiny details. Your other kids are free to run around and do their thing.

It's a good idea to know what to expect heading into your newborn session and prepare when you can, but I also give my clients complete permission to relax and let me worry about the details. I plan extra time for newborn sessions so we don't have to stress about going about things quickly. And remember, when preparing your home or choosing an outfit simplicity is okay.

Looking for a Newborn Lifestyle Photographer in the Twin Cities Area?

I'm based in Elk River and travel all over the cities for newborn photos! I love helping families relax and go with the flow to create some amazing lifestyle photos. Head to my Contact page to reach out!


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Located in Minneapolis, Kara Joy Photography is a lifestyle & documentary photographer who specializes in newborn & family photography. She's known for capturing raw emotion & authentic expressions through a laid-back approach. Her unforced images have a glaze that is natural yet polished. The cherry on top? A quick turnaround time.

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fresh 48 minneapolis


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