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What to Wear: Lifestyle Newborn Session

After a client books a photography session, the first question that they ask is “what should we wear?” I really love documenting lifestyle newborn sessions because clients can incorporate themselves into the session… their home, their colors and, of course, their style. These sessions are candid, relaxed and if done right, truly showcases the new love that has entered the home. Here are some tips on what to wear when planning a lifestyle newborn session.

Tip No. 1: Neutrals

While I always encourage clients to pick clothing that they feel comfortable in, communicates the style they have and compliments their home decor – I do always suggest starting from a neutral palate. Newborns should be the star of the show when it comes to the session, so dressing in bright colors or busy patterns often is distracting to the viewer. Neutrals do not have to mean a plain white T-shirt. I consider neutrals as a palate of likeness (gray, navy, tan, white, ivory, soft blue, soft pink, etc.) The most important part is that the colors compliment one another and there are three-four colors (if including denim) MAX. Men can sometimes have a hard time finding shirts without patterns, in which case a solid sweater overtop is a nice compliment to break it up.

Tip No. 2: Flow & Texture

Fabric that moves or has texture is always my preference. Women who have just delivered a baby do not feel like their most beautiful versions of themselves (although they should). Fabric that moves and flows is a flattering option, especially when choosing ivories and whites for your color choice. Textures are also wonderful as they add visual appeal but don’t distract the viewer. It is a great way to add interest.

I also love the look of a dress on a woman after childbirth. I don’t suggest wearing a maternity dress that is tight around the waist. Instead, pick a dress with movement. Think maternal, classic and beautiful flow.

Tip No. 3: Avoid Black

While most women feel that black is the most flattering color choice for clothing, as it is “slimming”, I find it a hard color for lifestyle photography unless B&W images are your objective. My style of photography indoors is light and airy, so having dark clothing creates a moodier feel in the imagery. There is nothing wrong with moody – in fact, it really adds emotion to the image, just be conscious about this when you make your color selections. The other thing to consider is your home palate. If your home is mostly white, wearing black will again make from strong B&W imagery, but might feel disjointed in color.

Tip No. 4: Proper Fit

Babies are teeny tiny and most clothing (even 0-3 mo. size) is still too big right after birth. If choosing an “outfit” to document your baby in, make sure it fits! You don’t want your little one swimming in their garments. I suggest shopping in the newborn section, and trying the clothes on your baby before the session. If nothing fits, never underestimate the beauty of a baby that is swaddled. There are adorable swaddles out there now with endearing prints and patterns. If the rest of the family is dressed plainly, the baby will shine in a sweet swaddle with some spunk. Or, select a simple and timeless swaddle for that classic imagery that you’ll never tire seeing.

Tip No. 5: Incorporate Something Personal

The beauty of being in your home is you have the chance to incorporate bits and pieces of yourself. Whether that is a favorite knitted blanket from Grandma or imagery in the nursery – you have control over what is captured (light permitting – see further tips). Here is a link to a recent lifestyle newborn session that incorporated a lot of their beautiful home in the details – Hinsdale Newborn Photography Session

Tip No. 6: Where to Shop for the above

Here is a list of some of my favorite stores for finding clothes for mom as well as baby. They have a great mix of textures, colors, and choices for every size.

Tip No. 7: Declutter & Light

Non-wardrobe related, the two other success factors are having adequate light and decluttering the background. Light makes or breaks the images, so don’t get your hopes up on shooting in a room with no windows. Look at your space at all times of the day and study the light. Exposure direction matters when shooting in the AM and PM and should be communicated prior to the session. I have a pre-consultation call scheduled with each client to ensure I know what I am walking into, and to set expectations for both the parents and me, the photographer. I also ask clients to send iPhone pictures of both their wardrobe and home.

Decluttering is also key. I know parents are tired and cleaning is impossible – but books, kleenex boxes, bottles, magazines, empty glasses, breast pumps, etc. should be removed. You don’t want to remember that half-consumed beer on the nightstand!


About the Author: Marena Beck | Marena Beck Photography

Marena Beck is a native Ohioan currently living in Chicago.  She’s been a professional photographer since 2011, and opening her Lakeview studio in 2013. Marena’s family includes her husband, two adorable children, and one large fur baby.

“My favorite moments during a session are the unexpected, in-between ones.” ~ Marena Beck

Accomplishments: Recognized internationally, with several winning images in both the National Association of Professional Child Photographers (NAPCP) competition and Wedding and Portrait Photographers International (WPPI) image competition. Marena Beck Photography currently services Chicago and Chicago’s North Shore, including but not limited to Evanston, Wilmette, Winnekta, Kenilworth, Glenview, Glencoe, Northfield, Highland Park and Lake Forest. I also take sessions in Hilton Head Island, SC.


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