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Newborn Prep Guide

LIFESTYLE NEWBORN

Nothing is more magical than welcoming a new baby into your family. The tiny, delicate fingers and toes; the precious, soft skin; the certainty that this is a love unlike any you have known. You are certain that your life will never be the same. These moments pass so quickly. It is a privilege for us to preserve this special milestone for you and your family to remember forever.

Everyone who has been a parent knows that those early days go by in the blink of an eye. The things you treasure so much – the smell of a baby’s skin, the feel of his or her little body cuddled against yours – become distant but cherished memories as your children quickly change and grow. I'm so honored to be there at the beginning of your little one’s journey to capture this time of beauty and innocence in professional photographs that you and your loved ones will treasure.

What To Expect

Once your little one makes his big entrance, let me know the news, and we can coordinate to choose a day for the photo session. Newborn photographs should be taken before the baby is two weeks old, and ideally within the first ten days.

If you have other children, please prepare them for our session as much as possible. Make sure kids know that this is FUN! No threats, as they usually bring about tears and added stress. Don’t even bother telling them to be sure to smile or “be good”. My goal isn’t to get a picture of your child “being good” or just “smiling” but having fun and interacting. Some kids who have been coached to smile for the photographer get so nervous that they are fighting laughing and relaxing because they are so worried about having their picture taken or making their parents happy!

During the shoot, if you are not in the picture, feel free to take a break- grab a snack or a drink. Consider me your personal babysitter. I will try to engage siblings or work with posing your newborn on their own. When I need assistance, I will definitely ask you to come lend a hand. 

Mom and dad, as you focus on your children, don’t forget about yourself! Keep your posture good as well as ensuring your chin doesn’t pull in. These allow for the most flattering images. Something else to keep in mind is to be watchful of your own expression as you’re trying to get children to smile or snuggle your newborn. Remember you are in the photos as well!

Rest assured I’ll be watching all of you and will definitely let you know if I see something out of place or looking off.

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Around The House 

When I arrive, we can take a look around together to determine the best location for lighting. Occasionally we may need to move furniture or other items around to make room/reduce clutter. Make sure you clear any rooms of clutter that you want to highlight in the photos (nursery/your bedroom/living room/etc). I may also want to walk through your house to find special baby items or other locations to use. Please make sure to turn the temp up in your house to about 80 degrees. Even though we may be hot and uncomfortable, baby LOVES it! It's a great way to put them to sleep.

To prepare for our session, you won't have to do much- just be yourself. I will help you guys use the space in your home to document this first week with your newborn. I don't pose, but I will direct and guide you into different positions. Don't worry- I got you!

I have a very organic and natural approach to newborn sessions. I do not pose you or your baby, but rather guide them into natural and comfortable positions. I will arrive to photograph when you guys feel ready for visitors (first 4-10 days of life), but before or after family comes to visit. It's easier to capture your new baby with just immediate family present (parents, siblings) so I will ask that extended family wait elsewhere while we work.

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Preparing Your Baby

Try to keep baby awake for a while before your session time. Wait to feed the baby until I arrive for your session. (We will pick a time that works for your family). I highly recommend if you’re solely breastfeeding to pump and bottle feed your milk for your baby’s session. I’ve had moms that breastfeed for up to an hour and unfortunately, that does delay the session quite a bit and does count against your allotted time coverage as well. 
If you do not pump, you can also formula feed baby just for this session. Breast-milk doesn’t keep our babies fuller longer so choosing to formula feed for the session, will not only be a little easier for you but it will keep them asleep longer during the handling and posing for a scene. Moms, please just be advised, it’s just a recommendation so if you choose to do neither, it’s completely okay. As a newborn photographer, I feel it’s my duty to offer any advice or tips that you as a parent can use to maximize the time we have  and in return, you’ll be able to showcase and display more than the average number of baby photos! I have three young children myself so I understand the way you feed baby is very personal and important to your family.

Don't worry about baby acne or little scratches. I will hand retouch your images to either eliminate or drastically minimize these imperfections. If your baby has extremely dry skin, try putting baby lotion on prior to coming to your session and bringing extra with you. I do minor retouching, but I do not do major skin smoothing (like glamour shots hehe). Embrace that peel, fresh newborn skin!

Before your session be sure to loosen their diaper. This will reduce the diaper marks from their naked little bottoms. Also do not have tight socks on their feet, they tend to leave sock lines at their ankles.

I may ask for help with propping or holding the baby in certain positions. Please understand that not every pose you imagined may be possible- it all depends on baby. I want to make sure baby is comfortable and safe above all else.

One last thing....No matter what your baby does, please know that I am always relaxed. I do this all the time and have seen everything. This session is supposed to be a special experience for you and I don't want you stressed if the baby starts to cry. The baby can sense stress and it usually makes them cry more. We have plenty of time allowed for your session. If we need to take a break to feed, walk, rock, etc. we can do that. I want you to enjoy the experience of your session and this special bonding moment for your family.

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Illness

what to do if someone is sick

it is important that everyone being photographed is feeling 100%. There isn’t anything worse than an unhappy and sick feeling child - they especially do not want to be in front of a camera. At the first sign of any illness, please give me a call.

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Props & Heirloom Items

I prefer to use your home and nursery as the backdrop for our photos. I do not use many props but I will bring blankets and a few hats. If you have a special outfit or heirloom you would like included, please let me know! I prefer a "less is more" type of mentality where the focus is on relationships and your baby. If you need some ideas or want to brainstorm, please don't hesitate to call.

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Session Checklist

  • blankets that are special to you (made by grandma, embroidered with baby name, matches nursery, etc.)

  • hats or booties you love

  • diaper cover

  • plain onesie

  • fun personal items that represent a hobby, favorite sports team, family heirlooms, etc.


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Wardrobe Tips

what to wear

Ah, the age old question always associated with photo shoots. Styling is one thing I try not to have too much of a hand in, since I want you guys to still be you not, Ashley Newman's idea of fashion. But here is my 2 cents:

For mom and dad, think simple and neutral. For siblings, think layers. Probably the biggest difference between sessions that look great and sessions that look wow: little boys in a t-shirt, with a button up over it, along with a blazer. Throw on a fun hat (bowler, fedora, stylish ball cap) and you're set! Little girls: same thing, leggings, fun skirt, tank with a sweater and a tasteful (not too big and overwhelming!) headband.

*Side note: Stay away from gaudy gerber daisy flowers in neon colors and mesh hats with rhinestones, they look dated and tend to take away from your little one's gorgeous features.

Head to toe. Remember to dress down to you and your family's feet! No scuffed Reeboks for boys, but fun shoes like Converse, "boat" shoes, or boots. Same for girls, no Dora crocs, but more traditional Mary Janes or boots work best! 

Coordinate. As you think about your color palette, imagine your family being one complete piece of artwork. Each person/outfit will bring together a feeling of formality and coordination. Instead of everyone wearing the same shade of blue - think about what accent colors might look nice with said blue. Perhaps blue plaid shorts for your son with a t-shirt, vest and hat. Pull some of the colors of his plaid shorts to find a great skirt or dress for your little girl. Dad can wear some jeans and a shirt that coordinates with the plaid shorts and skirt on your daughter, and finish it off with an awesome jacket and fedora. Mom will round the entire family out with some great boots, leggings and darling dress that (again) coordinates with the family color story.

When in doubt, remember, I am here to help! We can design a visual board on Pinterest, I'm available via text or the phone to look at and discuss your ideas. Please do not hesitate to ask for help on your outfit choices.

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Favorite Places To Shop

Price points: $-cheap, $$-average, $$$-high, $$$$-expensive

1. Gap.com. They provide a great option for “basics.” Just about anything you’d need, you’ll find on their website. And Gap frequently offers sales and discounts if you sign up for their email list, plus their sale rack prices are amazing! $$-$$$

2. Freepeople.com. Free People is my happy place. Think easy, breezy, comfy, boho chick. $$$-$$$$

3. Anthropologie.com. It’s a little bit more on the expensive side, but the clothes are quality, unique and last forever. $$$$

4. Jcrew.com. Their Crew Cuts kids line is probably one of my top 5 sites for kids clothes. Also, their shoe selection for kids alone makes me giddy. $$$$

5. Mak-rose.com. A great cheap site for girls clothing. Boutique dresses, sweaters, blazers, tights, etc. Not much on that site I don’t love, and it’s very affordable. So, if you see something you like, it’s best to purchase now, because she sells out fast, and once it’s gone, it’s gone! $-$$

6. HM.com. I consider H&M the holy grail for all things boy and men. And, they just recently started selling clothes online! Eep! Their price point is ridiculously low, and the clothes are my favorite. My boys’ closets are stuffed full with H&M swag. Their trouser pants are around $10 and are amazing quality. Amazing. Also, the cutest little cardigans, sweaters, button downs and other great accessories for super low prices. Keep in mind that H&M sizes are a little different, and they run big. If your son is an average size 4, buy him the size 3-4 pants. The 4-5 seems like the obvious choice, but they’ll be too long and too big around the waist. $-$$

7. Forever21.com. Cute clothes for women of all sizes (and men!) on the cheap. Take someone with you if you choose to shop in-store. It’s a little overwhelming. But honestly, they have some amazing wardrobe choices and the best (cheapest) jewelry that won’t break the bank. $-$$

8. Zara.com. I get lost on this site, seriously. So many adorable pieces, shoes, accessories, etc. For men, women and children. $$-$$$$

9. Modcloth.com. A fun, flirty and pretty affordable site for women’s timeless dresses, fun tops and the best shoes and accessories! $$-$$$

10. Shopruche.com. Another great site for women’s dresses and tops. Gorgeous, gorgeous clothing. $$$

11. Joyfolie.com. Shoes, shoes, glorious shoes! For girls and women. Breathtaking dresses, jackets, caplets. Moms will thank me for this. Husbands, notsomuch. $$$$

12. Fleuranddot.com. The most adorable girls clothing you’ll ever find if you’re vintage-inspired in your look. Hands down. $$$$

12. Catch-alls. Antique stores. Garage Sales. Flea Market. Target. Ebay. Zulily. Hand-me-downs. Possibly even your photographer’s closet! Always keep your eyes peeled! You’ll be pleasantly surprised by what you find.



What NOT to Wear

What NOT to wear. Remember to Olan Mills look of everyone in khakis + white button down shirts? That isn’t the kind of matching I’d like you to do. Again, think coordinating without matching perfectly. Dads, instead of defaulting to a plain ole polo - look for fun colors, stripes, plaids. Texture photographs amazingly. Get creative!

Helpful tip! Head into your local GAP (or the like) and mention you’re styling for family photos. They are happy to direct you - and free of charge! No need to pay a stylist when you have knowledgeable fashion advice right there in the store.

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The Day Of

Each baby is different, so our time together can differ. I am a lifestyle photographer, which means while I may do some poses, I am focused on the details of your newborn, and interactions with family. I may rock, or sway with your baby, rub his eyebrows, use a white noise machine, etc. I want to make sure the energy in the room is always relaxed and calm, with lots of trust. They will occasionally cry- please know that this is never a bother for me. I will use a variety of soothing techniques to make your baby feel safe, secure and warm. Think of me as your baby sitter. Baby will never be placed in an unsafe position and newborn safety is my top priority.

I have a very hands on approach to newborns and I am very comfortable handling them. Bonus! I am fully vaccinated :)

2-3 weeks after the photographs have been taken and each image has been professionally retouched, you will experience the moment you have been eagerly awaiting! Sneak peek images may be posted to Facebook and/or the blog for your family and friends to view. You will get an email letting you know they are ready to preview. One week after your sneak peek, you will get the rest of your gallery.

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Final Thoughts

Keep your hands busy: Hold your child's hand, give kisses, brush their hair behind their ear, play and dance, chase and ask questions, pick flowers, tell secrets, start a tickle fight. Keep moving and enjoy the process. Activities you enjoy doing with one another will help tell an authentic story and capture your true personalities. 

Stay patient and positive. Children tend to go at their own pace – and that’s fine. On the day of your session, we will work with you and your family to make sure everyone has an enjoyable, relaxed experience. If that means older siblings need to take a break for a snack, or your baby needs a new diaper and a change of clothes, you should feel comfortable to take the time you need. We know that a great photo session takes flexibility and patience. Accept the unpredictable: Embrace the chaos of the moment and this season of life. Honest connections and candid connections create real and specific memories. Be vulnerable and open in front of the camera and your family's story will begin to pour out.


And so the adventure begins...

Whew! I know that is a lot of info!! Don't hesitate to ask questions of visit this page to re-read it. 
I can't wait to spend time with your family! Each family I get the honor of working with is etched on my heart forever. Please know this process is very important to me and I value the true heartbeat of your family.

Have a question or need some help? I'm here and ready to help make your session come to life!

-xoxo, Ashley