lifestyle and fine art portrait specialist

Courtney Malone


Hi, I'm Courtney.
I'm so glad you have found your way to my little home on the web. I'm a photographer, graphic designer, and most importantly a mom to two sweet kiddos. I'm obsessed with newborns. family stories, helping mamas to better learn how to use their cameras to document their own motherhood journeys, and am constantly seeking to understand the wild and crazy ride that is motherhood.
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The 5 Things I Do at the Start of Every Newborn Session

February 27, 2019

Being invited into someone’s home during the special and tender time when they’ve just welcomed a brand new baby into their life is incredibly special and intimate! It’s truly a huge honor, and it’s one I don’t take lightly! I always try to be sensitive to the fact that many families are still navigating life as a new family of three (or four or more!), and enter client home’s with grace and understanding for each and every newborn shoot in a client’s home.

Before session day, I send my clients a detailed e-mail with what to expect on the day of the shoot itself! I use this as an opportunity to ease fears about having a perfectly cleaned house (you just don’t have to do it!), and also help them know what to wear, how to help baby get ready for the session. and what to expect when I arrive at their home!

This e-mail goes a long way in helping my clients feel prepared for the day of their session, and also lets them know that I’m a mom too, and that I’ll be arriving with a lot of grace and will be ready to guide them through every step of the way. It primes them for a smooth start on session day – one where they’ll know what to expect when I arrive at their home!

How to start a lifestyle newborn photography business

While my client prep process spans the length of my interaction with my client, the things I do when I arrive at my client’s home are so important to me! It’s often times the first time I’m meeting a family in person, and I want to show respect for their home and family, while also establishing that I am confident we will have a great shoot, and that they’re in good hands.

Today I’m sharing the 5 things I do at the start of every in-home lifestyle newborn session!

1. I start with a simple conversation.

When I arrive at my client’s home, I always start with some simple conversation! This gives me an opportunity to get to know everyone a little, and admire their precious new addition! I send every client a pre-session “getting to know you” questionnaire, and often pull on some of those details to come up with some conversation topics and things I can ask about! I love this part of the session, because I get to know a little more about their family, and I usually get to really connect with mom over their birth experience and first weeks as a new mommy!

2. I get the grand tour and assess the light.

After I’ve said my hello’s for a few minutes, I ask the family if they’ll show me around. Often times mom is finishing up getting ready or topping baby off with a feeding when I arrive, so dad will show me the nursery and any other area of the home they might want pictures in.

While I LOVE to see their home and the nursery they’ve spent so much time preparing these last 9 months or so, what I’m really trying to do is quickly and accurately identify the light I have to work with on session day, and how I can use it to get a look that is in line with my portfolio (aka the reason they hired me!).

Making consistent lighting choices, and using white the same way from session to session is key to consistency in your work. The problem, is that every single home is different, and it can feel overwhelming and confusing to identify light on location, and feel like you’re starting from scratch every single time you arrive at a clients home. I’ve developed a system to quickly name and identify light. I’m looking for light coming from a specific direction, from a light source that has a certain size, and how I can use those things to incorporate their story by including the elements of their home.

By being able to quickly and easily identify my light source, and most importantly notice any shortcomings in the light I have to work with, I can make quick decisions about where I will place everyone and whether or not I will need to bridge the gap with natural light by using flash.

3. I wash my hands!

This part is super important! Once I have my game plan in place, I ask where I can find a place to wash my hands, and let my clients know I love to do that so that I can make any adjustments to baby if they’re comfortable with that. I always always always make sure I start a newborn shoot with clean hands!

4. I turn off interior lights.

I always turn off any lamp or overhead lights in the room I’m shooting in – and even nearby hallways or rooms if light is leaking into my shooting space! The warm “temperature” or color of the light cast from interior lights often competes with the cooler temperature of natural light coming through windows, making a white balance MESS when it comes to the final photos. It’s best not to mix temperatures, and make sure all interior lights in your shooting room and surrounding areas are off!

5. I let my clients know what’s going to happen next.

Session day can be really nerve wrecking for new parents! As photographers, we often forget that for our clients, this is not a normal, every day experience! It can be intimidating to have a camera pointed at your face by someone you’ve just met in person for the first time. I’m a huge believer that client prep goes a long way in preparing our clients for a successful session. From the moment my clients inquire, I’m preparing them fo reach step in the process of working with me by letting them know what happens when, when they’ll hear from me etc. Session day is no different, and before I even snap a picture, I share my game plan for capturing all the sweet little memories of their new family! I walk them through what part of the room I’m going to use, what combinations of their family I’ll shoot first (bonus points if you get dad’s and toddlers done first so they can peace out and move on to a more enjoyable activity!), and let them know my plan for shooting in any other rooms they have in mind. This always helps my clients feel at ease with what I’m doing, and they also know they are in great hands with someone who is confidence in what they’re doing.

Are you a lifestyle newborn photographer?

I have more resources for you! Check out my “Education” page to see how I can help you grow your business and get consistency in your on location work.

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