What is lifestyle newborn photography? How is it different than posed newborn photography?
Have you heard mention of lifestyle newborn photography and wondered what on earth it is or how it differs from traditional posed newborn photography? Do you wonder why photographers have to use phrases no-one outside of photographer-land understands? Never fear, let me give you the low down!
1. Lifestyle photos appear natural and “unstaged”
According to Wikipedia, lifestyle photography is “is a genre of photography that mainly aims to capture portraits of people in situations, real-life events or milestones in an artistic manner and the art of the everyday”.
It follows that lifestyle newborn photos involve creating artistic photos of new babies in settings and positions that a baby would naturally be in – for example, cradled in a parent’s arms, or sleeping in a bassinet or cot.
Although lifestyle images appear to document naturally occurring events, a lifestyle photographer will move parents into locations with flattering lighting and backgrounds. The natural moments are often “helped along” or directed by the photographer – i.e. the photographer is not merely an observer/documentarian.
In comparison, traditional posed newborn photos often involve the baby posed in positions that a baby would not naturally be in, such as the “potato sack” pose where the baby is bundled up in a cocoon type wrap and positioned to appear if it is sitting up vertically, or the “froggy” pose where the baby appears to have it’s chin propped up in the babies’ hands [Note: these complex poses should only be done by a professional photographer who is trained and experienced in posing babies safely in this manner – these poses are only safely done as composite images where the hands of the person supporting the baby are removed from the image in the editing process].
If you prefer to see babies in a more natural situation, then a lifestyle photographer will be more suitable for you. If you prefer the more stylised “still life” type photo then a traditional posed photographer will be more suitable for your needs.
2. Lifestyle photos are often taken in the family’s home instead of in a photography studio
Lifestyle photographers often go on location to the family’s home to photograph the baby in its home environment. The baby and family will be photographed in a variety of settings in the home. A skilled in-home photographer will have expertise in working in diverse home environments and be confident assessing the optimal photographic locations for lighting and backgrounds in a home. As each home is different, this takes considerable experience and skill.
The photographer will direct the family into flattering lighting conditions and settings within the home. An experienced in-home lifestyle photographer will incorporate elements of the home environment into the images in a thought out manner.
A photo session at home means you don’t have to go out with your new baby but can stay in the comfort of your home. If you have pets, they may be included. Siblings will be able to relax in their usual home routine with a few interludes for photos.
In contrast, posed traditional photos are usually taken in studio due to the number of props and equipment (e.g. blankets, beanbags, backdrops, baskets, boxes, lighting equipment) involved. The studio will often be heated to keep baby sleepy. A studio provides a consistent setting for a photographer and consistent lighting conditions.
3. Lifestyle photographers generally use natural light rather than artificial light
Lifestyle photographers usually use natural window light as their main lighting source. The photographer may use flash equipment if necessary (e.g. due to gloomy weather or very dark rooms). However, on the whole, lifestyle photographers prefer to use natural light. Lifestyle photographers will pose clients near windows for soft, flattering lighting.
Depending on the quality of the natural light available in their studio, studio-based photographers may use either artificial lighting (e.g. strobes or flash) or natural light.
4. Newborns usually wear their own baby clothes during a lifestyle session rather than being wrapped in the photographer’s wraps
In a lifestyle photo session, the baby will be photographed wearing the clothing the parents have dressed them in (e.g. a simple onesie or baby vest). The baby may also be wrapped in their own swaddle or blanket. If the family has a special item of clothing (e.g. heirloom christening gown) or blanket, then it is lovely to incorporate these into the session.
In the accompanying image, this gorgeous baby was dressed in a onesie – onesies are super cute and iconic for a newborn, so what better outfit could there be to photograph him in!
In a posed photo session, the baby is often wrapped in layers of wraps from the photographer’s own collection (washed between each session, of course). Babies are often also photographed without clothing during the session.
5. Lifestyle sessions incorporate items the family owns rather than “props” provided by the photographer
In a lifestyle photo session, the photographer will generally not bring props but will make use of items the family owns – e.g. if there is a special baby blanket, comforter or bassinet, then the baby may be photographed with these sentimental items in the session. In the accompanying image, this baby had a beautiful muslin with a pink heart design on it which was very appropriate to reflect the mother’s love for her new daughter.
Posed photographers usually have a variety of props such as baskets, boxes, blankets, little teddies, baby bonnets, headbands etc that they will use during their sessions.
6. Lifestyle photos are usually edited in a natural manner
Lifestyle photos are usually edited in a natural, true-to-life manner to reflect the authentic feel the photographer seeks to convey.
Depending on the style of the particular photographer, posed photographers often edit in a more detailed, stylised manner. They may merge 2 images to create composite images. As this type of editing can be very time-intensive, posed photographers often deliver fewer images.
Ta da, there you have it – my summary of what lifestyle newborn photos are! And before you go, here is my last word on the matter (for now anyway…)
In case it’s not entirely obvious – I take lifestyle newborn photos. I believe babies are amazing as they are and I prefer my photography to reflect that. I love my photos to show family life with a new baby, genuinely and beautifully. Although lifestyle photos may appear to have occurred without input from the photographer, a considerable amount of skill and experience directing families into flattering poses and working within diverse home settings is required to achieve a beautiful but natural-looking result.
Thanks so much for being here – I hope this post has explained what lifestyle newborn photos are and how they differ from traditional posed newborn photos. Most importantly, I hope it has clarified which type of newborn photography would suit you best!
If you’re looking for an Auckland newborn photographer, pick me! I’d love to be your photographer bestie – you only get one chance with newborn photos.