First and foremost, your baby’s safety and security is our top concern, and we adhere to stringent protocols to ensure the safety of your newborn.
What to Expect (When you are no longer expecting)
We like to think of the Newborn Session as the easiest part of having a new baby. You bring the baby, we’ll take care of the rest. You can expect to be greeted with an understanding smile, and probably a warm hug. We’re parents too, and so whatever you are experiencing, whether it be sleepless nights or the joy of watching first sleep smiles, we have been there before and we are excited to share some stories from our journey while we document yours! You’ll also experience a safety and practicality that comes from trained professionals... we will not ever try to “get the shot” if it means compromising the well-being of your child. That means no unassisted newborn poses and no unsafe mediums to support your child. Because no two babies are alike, newborn sessions can be unpredictable. While we are trained and practiced in working with newborns, and have numerous “tricks” to soothe baby, your baby’s comfort and security are our top priorities. We will never permit a baby to endure anything that s/he finds upsetting. We follow baby’s lead. While we would like you to relax and enjoy the session, you can also count on us to verbally guide you through the session, so there are no surprises, and you feel comfortable that your baby is in good hands.
Finally, you can expect that you will have fun. Our clients usually end their session by saying “it felt like we were hanging out with an old friend!” or “that was wonderful... we were so worried.” We aren’t in this for the session, we are in it for the relationship, for the chance to tell your story, for the lifetime of your baby, and your family.
Please feed your baby just before you leave home so he arrives with a full tummy. If you have a bit of a drive to the studio, you might want to plan to feed baby upon arrival (in which case we’ll suggest you arrive 10-15 minutes in advance of your scheduled time). If you will be feeding baby upon arrival, we’ll recommend that you undress him, loosen his diaper and wrap baby in a blanket. Otherwise, baby may get upset at being undressed when they were so cozy.
It is extremely helpful if the morning of your session you can keep baby awake and stimulated, so they are tired and cozy when they arrive at the studio. A gentle spongebath is a fabulous idea before coming in, and will help baby relax tremendously. This is a crucial step for a successful session.
Please arrive with baby dressed in clothing that can easily removed. We suggest you choose a garment that fastens in front and avoid anything that must be lifted over baby’s head.
newborn session facts
Generally newborn sessions involve patiently waiting for baby to fall asleep, then gently and naturally posing him or her on a soft beanbag to replicate the cozy world of his womb. These sweet images will melt hearts for years to come, but they aren’t easy to get! A newborn session may take up to 2 hours, and must be done in a heated room (over 80 degrees!). Though Chicago weather is always unpredictable, it is always the middle of summer inside our studio.
- Newborns are best photographed between 6-14 days old.
- Relax. Newborn sessions take up to two hours, and we completely take over, letting you have a break to watch and relax. .
- No crying. We want baby to be comfortable at all times and have cultivated numerous techniques for soothing a baby, but your baby will never be subjected to anything upsetting.
- Baby calls the shots. Each newborn is unique, so newborn sessions can be unpredictable. We follow baby’s lead. So as much as we want to be sure to capture all of your favorite poses, if baby does not like the position, we listen to her. Things like reflux, gas, and difficulties latching on can change our plans. Consider following our suggested foods to avoid if you are breastfeeding.
- Poop happens. Babies “relieve” themselves any time, anywhere, and we’re not fazed by it. It happens all the time. In fact, it is usually pretty funny!
- Speaking of Poop…. we stock natural diapers and wipes by the Honest Company. The Honest Company diapers, wipes, creams and cleaning products are environmentally friendly and non toxic - which is just one small part of our commitment to your baby’s safety and security.
- Hygiene. All backdrops and other items with which baby comes into contact are laundered after each session, and we use hand sanitizer throughout the session. No other children are scheduled in the studio the day before a newborn session.
- Doctored Images: Please do not schedule vaccinations for the day before your newborn session.
- Watch us work, or relax. You’re welcome to sit-in and observe the session, or enjoy some much-needed relaxation in our lounge area. If you are a breastfeeding mom, we may ask that you stay back at least 10 feet, as sometimes baby wont settle if she can smell your milk. However, we are always within your sight.
- Set your priorities. Perhaps you’re seeking a family portrait or a special image for a birth announcement. This will be our key goal. To help us reach your goal, please communicate your “musts” before our session date. “One or two family shots.” This may sound easy (and sometimes, it is), but a “quick family portrait” actually calls for a harmony of lot of moving parts, and is rarely quick. If you’re interested in sibling or family images, please let us know in advance so we can discuss strategies for success.
A note about circumcisions
If you are considering having your baby boy circumcised, we will need to make sure we allow him at least 5 days of healing time before his session.
A note about siblings
Depending on the ages of your new baby’s siblings, it is often best if they are present for the beginning or end of the session, not our entire session. This can lead to a less calm working environment and be more stressful for everyone in your new family. I recommend dad being able to take them for a walk (great bakery down the street!) to play. As moms ourselves, we also understand the subtle nuances of a new sibling relationship, and sometimes watching the newborn get all of the photographer’s attention can create unnecessary and unpleasant feelings in the older siblings.
So, if you are bringing baby’s sibling, please let us know in advance. (Sibling shots with baby will impact our pre-session planning.) We ask that you bring a spouse, grandparent or friend to care for big bro/sis (who typically get bored and need to go outside to play). When possible, we suggest bringing older sibling(s) in a separate vehicle so they can go home when their role in the photo session is complete.
what to bring
Pacifier - The “soothie” pacifiers are highly recommended for your newborn baby. These have been found to be the most effective in soothing and helping newborns to latch on easily. Even if you aren’t thinking you will want to use a paci, I encourage you to bring one to your session. The short amount of time we will be using one should not affect any habit-forming behaviors for your baby. A pacifier, literally for just a few seconds, can calm a full, but otherwise fidgety baby, just long enough to get an image. Our goal is to help keep the baby happy and calm during our session, and we have found pacifiers very helpful. Of course, please don’t hesitate to let us know if you would rather one is not introduced.
Aquaphor - Aquaphor is pediatrician recommended lotion for babies who’s skin is peeling. Apply a good amount on baby at home the morning of your session then bring it to the studio so we have it on hand if needed.
Extra bottles - Whether you are nursing or bottle feeding, having extra bottles and/or milk is suggested. Some babies tend to eat more than usual during their photo sessions. It’s best to be prepared!
Layered clothing - plan to bring layers of clothing for you, your partner and any one else joining you the day of the session. The room will be very warm, which baby will love, but you may be more comfortable in layers.
Extra diapers and wipes. We do have newborn diapers, but if you prefer a special brand we encourage you to bring them along.
A change of clothes for yourself (see Poop happens above!)
What to Wear: Newborns
Wardrobe for baby
In our opinion, newborns are absolute perfection when they wear nothing at all! We have a wide variety of hats, blankets and props in our studio boutique, so you need not bring anything to your newborn session other than your beautiful baby.
We love organic fabrics. Nothing spells baby more than a plain white onesie and a soft swaddle blanket. Or nothing at all (tastefully of course). Soben Studios has several simple hats, wraps and blankets that we will provide for your session or you can personalize your images with your own items. Typically we caution against “outfits” as usually they overwhelm your newborn. Save the fancy, busy clothes for the visits to the grandparents, or bring them for the end of our session and we will make sure we capture an image that include your favorite. Have a look at our portfolio to view colors and choices that we adore!
If you have an untraditional portrait concept in mind, let’s talk about it ahead of time so that we can be certain it is safe for baby, as well as prepare the studio accordingly.
Wardrobe for parents
Selecting clothing for your first postpartum photo shoot may seem daunting. Your first instinct may be “oh, no, the baby only, not me.” But you have us, and we are experts - we know what we are doing (that’s why you hired us, right?). We know how to position you so that you look your best and that we capture the bond between you and baby. If you are going to show off one image of you and your baby, it will undoubtedly be the one taken by a professional! We think simple clothing is best for the new mama without distracting patterns. Moms are welcome to wear something from the studio wardrobe (a favorite option of ours is a loose textured wrap supported by a tube top), or something simple and soft from home. Dads look great in a fitted cream or gray casual t shirt, like a Henley (nothing formal, please - no dress button ups or polo shirts), and nice pants or jeans. If dad is comfortable going shirtless, we love capturing skin on skin images with dad and baby as well.
Newborn sessions are our exemption to the “don’t wear black” rule. Classic black and white newborn family portraiture works well when parents choose to wear all black as well. We suggest you consider either a lighter neutral clothing palette OR a solid black ensemble, but not to mix the two color stories.
If you are planning on family images, please be sure parents and siblings are all in the same tonal range. Either choose black/navy for everyone, or the cream/neutral palette - but do not mix creams with blacks in the same portrait. When choosing black for your attire, please do your best to keep sleeve length consistent between mom and dad - either both in short sleeves or both in long.