Professional advice giver, amateur advice-taker, twin mom, and delightful family photographer serving Chicago and Oak Park, IL.
Hi, I'm Rossie (like rosie)

You love the idea of an in-home newborn photography session, and you are ready to start looking for the perfect photographer. Read below for some tips to help you navigate the process, know what to expect, and have a successful session with your new baby!

Pre-session consultation

When you hire a photographer for an in-home newborn session, you commission them to create original art for you. To create photos you will be proud to display in your home, most Chicago in-home newborn photographers will get to know you before the session through a pre-session consultation and an in-depth questionnaire. Use these opportunities to communicate specific requests. This helps your photographer prepare to create with your vision in mind. If their portfolio matches a style you love, these pre-session preparations will cater the session to your family’s unique personality.

Parents read book to young daughters as one gazes up
Patterns on patterns on patterns! Mama’s dress is from Free People

Plan a few activities during your in-home newborn session

Make a plan

Discuss a general plan for your time together during your pre-session consultation. Everyone will be more relaxed leading up to and during the session if they know what to expect. It doesn’t have to be elaborate. Keep it simple with things like having morning coffee with your partner while taking turns holding the baby or making pancakes with your older kiddos while baby-wearing. Simply snuggling in bed together as your relish these slow, quiet early days is enough of a plan. Most people dislike being in front of the camera and feeling like they have to perform, so building your natural rhythms into your photo shoot will help you feel relaxed and get genuine photos of your family connecting.

Example of an in-home newborn session plan

When I photograph families, I prioritize the light. We plan our activities in the rooms with the best light first and then move on to other important rooms. A sample plan for a family with two parents and a single baby will look like this:

Nursery (best light): Nurse or feed baby, portraits of baby with individual parents, portraits of the baby in simple onesie and swaddle, candid portraits of parents interacting with baby, changing baby, or swaddling the baby.

Parents’ room (second best light): portraits of both parents with baby (skin to skin, more feeding, snuggling), more portraits of the baby in a new outfit, if using.

Main living space (important room): documentary photos of parents lounging and relaxing with baby.

Let go of the plan

Go with the flow, and be prepared to let your plan go. This is especially true with older infants developing their own opinions about how things should go. This is where the pre-session planning comes into play because your photographer will be prepared to improvise and find a way to make your vision come to life even when things don’t go as planned.

Read more about the best time to schedule your newborn session here.

Mother holds newborn baby while she gazes at Father while he smiles at their dog.

Take Breaks

An In-home newborn session usually lasts a couple of hours, so it’s a good idea to take small breaks when you can. Not everyone is in all the photos all the time, so take the opportunity to get a drink or freshen up while your photographer is focusing on the other family members.

A comfortable environment

Prioritize keeping the baby comfortable. Turn up the heat in the house or have a space heater on hand when your baby is being photographed out of their swaddle blanket. Some babies do not like being too warm, so open a window or turn on a fan to keep them cool if you plan to dress them in a heavier outfit.

Check your schedule

Be sure not to schedule any doctor’s appointments or vaccines in the days leading up to your session, as babies are often irritable afterward.

mother lovingly sniffs her baby's head
A gentle hand holds yawning newborn baby boy

Preparing the home for an in-home newborn session

This is a matter of personal preference. I am a person who doesn’t mind her kid’s everyday mess about the house. I generally like to keep my house in order. But I also don’t worry about clearing the dining room table of all their art supplies because it’s honestly not worth the trouble on an ordinary day.

Parents sit in their living room with their newborn and two year old daughter

Squeaky Clean

That said, I go all Marie Kondo when a photographer comes to my home. I have an idea of what my house should look like at its best, and I want that version to show up in my pictures. If this is you, I recommend hiring a cleaner or having a family member come over the day before your session. Pro tip: Add this cleaning session to your baby registry! Try not to do any of the heavy cleaning yourself. You and your partner need all the rest you can get to prepare for your session.

Embrace the mess

Some clients believe that a certain level of messiness is charming and makes their house feel like home. Is the counter ever free of practical clutter? No. Have some kids’ toys taken permanent residence on the floor beside their proper place on a shelf? Maybe.

You might want a version of that in your photos if this is you. If your version of here and now is “embrace the mess,” bring that to your photos! Make sure you clear any rooms you want to be photographed of any clutter that you don’t want to show up in your pictures. Amazon boxes in the corner of your main living space might not look as endearing as a heaping pile of blankets, toys, and pacifiers. Your photographer will let you know if they need to move furniture or other items around to get you the photos you are looking for.

The evening and morning of your in-home newborn session

Now that you’ve done everything within your control to prepare take some time to relax! Try to spend the day before your session doing something that helps you feel at ease. Take a warm bath, have a soothing cup of tea, meditate, or treat yourself to mani-pedi (moms and dads!). Make sure you are hydrating and get enough sleep, so you wake up feeling refreshed.

On the day of the session, I encourage my clients to enjoy a delicious beverage before I arrive. Some people pick up their favorite latte while others bring out the bubbly for some mimosas. Whatever you do, make this an occasion. Start off your day on the right foot by treating the session like a special occasion rather than a chore. A slight shift in perspective can make a big difference in how you show up in your photos!

Chicago in-home newborn family photography by Rossie Schwartz

I hope these tips help you plan the in-home newborn session of your dreams! I am a newborn and family photographer in the Chicago area. My work is influenced by lifestyle, documentary, and candid photography. All sessions take place in the comfort of your own home. I would love to photograph your growing family if you are in the Chicago or Oak Park vicinities! Reach out today to learn more about my process.

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