Tips for preparing your home for your newborn session | Atlanta Newborn Photographer

Most of you know that I own a photography business (Melissa Hayes Photography) here in Atlanta, but I don’t share a lot of my work stuff here on my personal blog. I plan to start incorporating some of my tutorial/tip posts and maybe some session sneaks to give you guys a peek into my business and passion. My work is a reflection of my heart and soul, so I want to share some of that with all of you here!

First up — tips for preparing your home for your newborn photo session.

So you have a baby on the way (yay!) and have booked a photographer for newborn portraits…. how do you prepare for your session once baby is here? I sometimes get questions or concerns from parents about not having the perfect nursery, or their house is a mess, or they don’t have much space for newborn portraits… but I’m here to assure you that I’ve worked with a variety of spaces and lighting situations, and I can always find a spot to work with. My goal is to capture this special, awe-inspiring time in your lives — so while the backdrop is a component of your photos, it’s certainly not the focus. I’ve compiled my top tips for parents to help make your in-home newborn session as easy and seamless as possible.

  1. Before the session, walk around your house to determine which rooms have the best natural lighting during the day. Sunlight provides a beautiful, natural-looking light for photographs. So turn off the overhead lights and lamps (I know you think that’s crazy, but I promise it’s the way to go!) and open up those blinds and curtains. When I arrive, I’ll do a walk-through to find a couple spots that work best for lighting. Even if it’s just a hallway or a guest bedroom, we can set up shop and you’ll never know the difference in your final images. I do have a special love for shooting in the nursery to capture some shots of baby in his or her own space, even if it’s just using the crib or glider for some solo shots. If you don’t have a lot of natural light streaming into your home, don’t worry — I can bring along some extra lights in case they’re needed.
  2. How should you dress your family? For parents and siblings, there’s no need to match — coordinating colors/patterns are best for photos. Neutral colors are great because they are pleasing to the eye and don’t compete with the focus of the photos, which is your family! The most important thing is that you feel comfortable and look like yourself. If you can have the baby in just a diaper (swaddled up is fine), then we can easily start photos without having to disturb them by removing clothing. I also love a baby in a plain white or light-colored onesie, so having one on-hand is great.
  3. I will provide a few neutral-colored blankets for backdrops, various colored wraps/swaddle blankets, headbands, hats, and a large basket for photos. You are more than welcome to provide anything else you like — a family quilt, a special stuffed animal or outfit, swaddle blankets, headbands, etc. I also have a white noise app that I can play from my phone, but if you have a noise machine or soft music, we can play that to keep the baby calm.
  4. An hour prior to the session start time, turn your thermostat up to about 85 degrees. It’ll be quite toasty for the adults, but baby will love it and be nice and cozy, especially when partially or fully unclothed.
  5. Plan to feed your baby just before the session starts in order to help induce sleep. A full baby is a happy, sleepy baby. It’s also a good idea to have an extra bottle on hand or be prepared to nurse in case they get hungry mid-way through.
  6. It may be easier said than done, but try to relax and just enjoy your session celebrating the newest member of your family! You’re here to soak in the newborn smell, the baby snuggles, and the love that created this new life. I’m here to take care of the details and create beautiful images for you to cherish forever.

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Christmas 2017


This Christmas season was a magical one, indeed. It was so easy to get wrapped up in the festiveness of the season with a two-year-old, even if she did try to sabotage a few of my fun plans, because #toddler. To help guide us through this busy, busy time of the year a little more intentionally (and not miss out on a lot of fun ideas), we did Leighton’s first advent calendar. She didn’t quite understand the idea of it, but she definitely enjoyed the end result. We included a variety of activities, some new and old traditions, some acts of kindness and ways to give to others, and some ways to teach Leighton the true, great reason for this season.

There are so many moments I want to remember from this season, this year, with this incredible little toddler of ours. Seeing the look on Leighton’s face when she saw our new Santa and puppy blow up in the front yard. Spending our first REAL, amazing snow day together and decorating our first gingerbread house to pass our time indoors. Listening to her recite the animals and names of everyone in “Christmas in the Manger” as she learned them — our favorite being “Bobby Geezus” for Baby Jesus. Showing Leighton how to roll out cookie dough and laughing about the 1,000 sprinkles she decided to use on one cookie during our annual baking/decorating day with Mee. Teaching Leighton about the importance of giving to others when we make a special outing to fill our shopping cart full of toys to donate to other little boys and girls “to make happy,” as she said. Watching her excitement on Christmas morning when she realized that the Minnie Mouse 4-wheeler (“roller coaster” as she calls it) and helmet under the tree were just for her. Enjoying the madness that is Christmas morning with my parents, beaming with happiness at spending this special day with their children, children-in-law, and two grand babies. Finally making it up to Nashville to extend our holiday celebrations with Craig’s family and sharing so many laughs, meals, and wonderful moments together.

This season was one for the books, and I’m so very thankful for the countless memories made over the past month. Here are a few of my favorites…