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  • Writer's pictureNancy Dinsmore

Expectation vs. Reality

When your newborn session isn't as glamorous as you imagined


There’s an expectation that newborn photo sessions are magical and perfect and full of dreamy moments. Nobody cries, nobody poops on the props, and the pictures are all perfect.


I’d love to say that’s how it really goes, but I’d be lying.


A newborn baby sleeping with her hand by her face
Sound Asleep


Everybody cries — the baby, the parents, sometimes even the photographer. There will be pooping incidents. And while there will be perfect pictures, there will be just as many imperfect ones. There’s no such thing as an uneventful newborn session.


And you know what? That’s okay!!


Photographers are prepared for this, and pretty much nothing fazes us anymore, so if you’re worried your session is going to be epically messy or chaotic, or the baby won’t cooperate…don’t be. I promise, we’ll make it work.



A newborn baby lying on a pillow with baby's breath
Wide-Eyed

One thing I like to do is help parents be as prepared as possible, so nobody panics when things get a little wonky. In addition to my session guide, we’ll have lots of conversations about what to expect — and what not to — and I’m always here to answer any questions parents may have.


Another thing I do to increase the chances of still getting the best photos possible is schedule the session for no less than two hours. Even if we’re doing the session in your home, Baby is going to need breaks to feed, to be changed, to settle down. Each of these things can take up to 20 minutes, and if you only have a one-hour session, you’ve just lost all of it to taking care of Baby’s needs. So we give ourselves extra time. Trust me, I am not in a hurry.



A crying baby wearing a white top and a pink-trimmed tutu
Not Having It


When I did my first newborn session, the baby was not having any of it. She shrieked and cried and fussed for about half an hour before she finally settled down long enough for me to get some pictures. Mom and Dad were mortified, but honestly — what is a newborn supposed to do but sleep, feed, and cry? All we can do is wait it out and keep trying.


Same with diaper (or no diaper) accidents. They are going to happen. I always have puppy training pads with me, which I tuck under the blankets when we lay baby down or wrap them up. I’ll have a change of clothes with me — and I’d recommend that the parents do, as well.


a baby sleeping on a white furry with a black dog beside her
Baby & Dog

And as for Baby staying asleep…well, if wishes were horses, and all that. Honestly, Baby is in charge and it’s our job to adapt to their needs, so if Baby doesn’t want to sleep, then we work with it. Honestly I like it when they’re awake (as long as they’re not screaming, haha). The interaction between Baby and parents is even sweeter when there’s eye contact (and have you noticed all that wisdom in those newborn eyes? ::GUSH!::


The bottom line is this: You’ve got to suspend any and all expectations for how your newborn session will or should go. It’s entirely up to Baby. So while I can’t promise a super smooth session, I can promise you some beautiful, emotive, and precious photos. And in the end, that’s what we’re here for, right?



Nancy Dinsmore is a Gainesville, Florida-based photographer specializing in Lifestyle Engagement, Maternity, and Newborn Photography.

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