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How to Switch From Posed Newborn Photography To Lifestyle Newborn Photography

Im Elena

A "mom with a camera", on a mission!

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Eight years ago I gave birth to my third precious baby. At that time I was still posing newborns and marketing toward parents who were seeking traditional newborn portraits. I was rarely satisfied with my newborn work and usually left newborn sessions feeling exhausted, sweaty, and defeated, but I didn’t know why. 

The newborn side of my business was thriving but it was not satisfying me as an artist and it was not in line with my connected lifestyle family work.  When my baby was a few days old she was sound asleep, the perfect opportunity for posing her in my best newborn poses. I got out my bean bag and blankets, stripped her down, and posed her. And I hated it. I stood back and looked at her all posed on the bean bag and literally didn’t snap one photo.  It felt so wrong to see my perfect baby posed and out of my arms. I scooped her up in my arms and had a little cry. Tears of relief and joy. 

This was a huge “a ha” moment for me. I realized that the reason I felt my newborn work was lacking was because it was. It was lacking passion from me. My favorite part of every newborn session was when I was capturing the connection and emotion that is present when a new baby enters a family. I dreaded the time I spent in front of a heater posing the baby on the bean bag. 

I have so much respect for the genius traditional newborn photographers out there but in this moment I realized that I wasn’t one of them and that lifestyle newborn photography was what spoke to me as an artist. 

Right then and there I rebranded and redirected my business to be only lifestyle newborn photography. I gave away my bean bag and most of my blankets and never looked back. Naturally, I was worried I would have trouble getting business but the opposite happened, my newborn business exploded. 

It just goes to show you that having passion and putting your whole heart into something will make it thrive.

 I want to share with you five tips to transition from traditional newborn photography to lifestyle newborn photography.

  1. Complete any newborn sessions on the books in a traditional way while letting them know of the upcoming switch.  When I made this transition I honored my old style for the handful of sessions I already had booked. I explained to those clients that they would be among my last traditional sessions. I think it is important as a business owner to deliver what is expected and promised. 

  2. As soon as possible, refresh your online portfolio. Your online presence is your first line of communication with future clients. You have to display photos of what you want to attract. This can be painful because it can be hard to take down photos you are proud of and posed newborn portraits are beautiful, but you have to. Chances are, even if you were posing newborns you were also capturing moments and connection during those sessions. Scour your archives and gather images that speak to you as an artist and I assure you clients who appreciate connected lifestyle photography will come your way. 

  3. Seek out opportunities to build your lifestyle newborn portfolio. Even though I had a lot of great lifestyle shots in my archives, I wanted some fresh images with my new found passion. I put out a model call and photographed a handful of newborns and their families for free so that I could really let my creative juices flow and get my groove in lifestyle newborn photography. These sessions yielded images that are still among some of my favorite images I have ever made because I felt so free. 

  4. Notify your existing clients of the change. I am so very appreciative of my loyal families and my biggest worry was letting them down as they had come to expect posed newborn images from me. I sent out a newsletter to all my families letting them know that I was changing my approach to newborn photography. I let them know that I would still be honored to capture their future newborns, however that my approach was going to be different. Guess what? I have had dozens of old clients come to me with their subsequent babies even though my style is different. They appreciate my new style too! 

  5. Give yourself the freedom to let moments trump perfection. If you have been posing newborns and making traditional newborn portraits your brain is trained for perfection. The truth is, having a newborn is far from perfection. Allow yourself to break rules in order to capture what you are feeling. Let go of smooth blankets, perfect light, and sleeping babies and instead embrace natural baby movements, moody light, and lots of newborn snuggles. You might find yourself chopping heads, staring into the eyes of a wide eyed newborn, capturing a daddy soothing a fussy baby, or zeroing in on a tiny had curled around her mommy’s finger. The moments are endless during a newborn session. 

I hope your takeaway from this message is to follow your bliss. If you love traditional, posed newborn photography, that is wonderful! But if you are wondering why you aren’t enjoying it and are ready to throw in the towel, rethink your approach. Lifestyle newborn photography might be just what the doctor ordered.

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