Before jumping in to wardrobe tips, let's clarify the type of session this is tailored for.
What is a "Lifestyle Newborn Session?"
Lifestyle newborn sessions aims to capture authentic moments and elements of a season of life shortly after a new baby is brought into the world. They most often take place right in the family home. There is no contorted posing, no complicated set-ups or props, just real moments in a real environment. Quiet stillness of cuddles on the bed, baby meeting the family dog, the careful details of the nursery... the stuff of life.
Babies are best photographed within the first 2 weeks of life, and we usually aim to capture baby by him/herself, but also alongside siblings and parents while being cuddled, fed, kissed, rocked, and loved.
The Question of Wardrobe
It's a little intimidating, and in most cases, far down the list of concerns when you've recently brought a new life into the world and are living off sporadic sleep and frozen dinners. But if you've chosen to hire a newborn photographer to come in and capture this story unfolding, chances are you care about having images you love and want to look good in them. No shame there-- in fact, I applaud you. Side note: You will NEVER regret having a newborn session, especially in 20 years when she's getting married and you're crying on your sofa flipping through the album and remembering her tiny feet in that first week you brought her home.
But I digress.
I have a few tips to offer families preparing for a lifestyle newborn session that will hopefully help narrow down your options and make you feel confident in your choices.
Colors: Neutrals for the win
Beige, cream, white, cool grays, black, or brown are all great options to keep the focus on baby. Add interest with accessories like a knit diaper cover for baby or pastel cardigan for mom. Soft and/or muted tones are also great ways to add a splash of color without subtlety.
Stay away from...
...bold and bright warm tones like apple red and bright orange, as they are just too harsh for the setting and will not compliment baby's already rosier skin. Light will reflect those colors onto skin when everyone is cuddled close. If those colors are your jam, add them in as accessories!
What about baby?
There are few times in life when it's acceptable to tool around in the buff, and this is one of them. Photographing baby in his/her birthday suit is my #1 favorite approach, mainly because a majority of clothes just swallow a baby that young.
Now, given the fact that lifestyle photography doesn't involve artful covering of certain areas with little burrito poses, I do suggest having a neutral or solid swaddle (I try to bring a few of mine in case you don't have any) and a neutral diaper cover or cloth diaper on hand. The diaper cover or cloth diaper just ensures that in unswaddled shots, we don't have Elmo or the Pampers logo or a blue stripe that screams "I just peed" staring back at you in your images. You'll thank me.
If you want to try clothes as well, think simple and/or sentimental. Sweet vintage rompers that once belonged to daddy or special little dresses that mean something to the family are great to include in a few shots. Otherwise, just keep in mind that the clothing will look best if it fits well and keeps the focus on baby. That means no characters, loud patterns, or bold colors. True newborn sizes or even preemie sizes are best for those first weeks; if the clothing is too big it will bunch around his/her face, and just look awkward instead of cute in photographs.
Dress to your home
I know that sounds weird, but you should consider your home a subject in your photographs for all sessions and especially newborn sessions which take place in the home itself. I recommend taking a look at your walls, the colors you use, the style of your decor when planning. You'll want your wardrobe to compliment that style.
For example: pictures with your baby in her pastel purple and white nursery will hurt the eyes if you choose a wardrobe of olive green and black. Yikes. That same wardrobe would look dynamite, however, if your home is full of reclaimed wood, cream walls, and warm tonal accents.
Example: This family used Navy in both the nursery and the masted bedroom, so a wardrobe palette of cool blue tones was perfect to tie it all together!
The movement test
In your session, you'll be sitting, laying, and standing. I'll be shooting from high angles, close up, and far away. Make sure you wear something you are comfortable in. I know that's easier said than done if you've just had a baby, but honestly, flowing fabrics, soft linens, and cozy knits look so beautiful in a cozy home session. When choosing your outfit (this mostly goes for mom) do few checks first:
The sitting test: does this look okay when I'm sitting down?
The bent over test: if I bend over-- like picking baby up from his crib or leaning over the kids on the floor, am I still covered to a point I feel comfortable?
The standing test: do I feel good just being me in this outfit without having to make adjustments with every move?
Other Misc. Tips:
- Patterns can be great when kept to a minimum. Mom in a soft floral maxi dress or silky robe, complimented by the rest of the family in neutral solids would be a beautiful combination. Mom in a bold and busy printed maxi dress complimented by dad in plaid and baby in chevron will hurt your eyes. That's an extreme example, but you get the idea - patterns are fine, but reign it in.
- Make sure all shirts are free of logos or writing.
- Wrinkles do show up in photos, so please make sure all clothing is ironed or steamed.
It's a tall order to find that perfect outfit ensemble for the whole crew , and it definitely takes some advanced planning -- (I did not do this and then after our daughter was born and there was no way I was going shopping, I was like.... ooooh crap I have nothing to wear... and ended up really not loving my outfit in photos.)
It's so worth it to find an outfit you feel great in because you will be looking at these images your entire life and passing them down to the next generation. Follow these tips and you'll be set for classic images that flatter everyone and keep love as the focus of it all.