Posed Newborn Photography vs. Lifestyle - What's the Difference?

You may be asking "What is the difference between a posed newborn portrait session and a lifestyle newborn session?"  One is not better than the other, but they are two very different styles.  Each style has some unique characteristics to consider.  

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Although a posed newborn session can take place in your home, it is much more likely to take place in a photography studio, whereas a lifestyle session is usually done in home.  Many times, this is because the photographer can control the atmosphere, the lighting, and the environment altogether, while having full access to an array of props and backdrops for the session.  You see, for a posed newborn session, it is very, very important to keep the baby happy!  The baby is being moved and adjusted for much of the session, so they need to be extra comfortable.  Some tricks of the trade are to keep a calm and soothing atmosphere while keeping it very warm (think rain forest temperatures).  Newborn babies aren't able to regulate their body temperature very well yet.  So, when you have a partly naked baby who is very sensitive to changes, it's important you consider all the aspects of the session.  At our portrait studio, we are careful to select only the softest fabrics and outfits for our littlest clients and to place them very carefully with lots of extra soft padding.  We know how delicate they are and how much they love to snuggle so we take care to keep them very happy and to select the best props and accessories.

Usually for a lifestyle session, photographers choose to use natural light.  You may have your photographer ask to see your home prior to your session so they can plan the best rooms to photograph in for the best light.  For this reason, the time of day of your session is very important and will be decided on based on the available light.  Some photographers may bring studio lights with them for your lifestyle session, but it is less common.  

For a posed newborn session, photographers choose to use either natural light or studio lighting.  In our studio, we have chosen to invest in studio lighting - the best studio lighting in fact.  This way we can ensure consistent lighting for each of our sessions.  Having control over lighting helps to make sure the images are produced in the same way each time - giving each session a consistent look.  Our newborn sessions are scheduled around the studio and the parents' schedules.

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During a posed newborn session, each element of the photograph is thought out and usually planned in advance.  The photographer considers the colour palette, the background, the pose, the outfit or accessories,  the prop, and the lighting.  Each of these elements has a big impact on the image.  Our studio works with clients in their pre-session consultation to make some of these decisions.  We work with parents to decide on preferred colours and favourite props to use.  We also plan images based on the family's display needs.  If a family is planning a premium canvas collection, we photograph a bit differently than if they were planning an album or framed print.  

During a lifestyle session, the photographer works with your home environment.  The photographer may bring a few items to use in the session, like a wrap to swaddle baby in.  But, for the most part, he or she is creating the image using your room, furniture, clothing, and everyday surroundings.  This combined with relaxed posing creates a nice relaxed and casual tone for the session images.  These images may be planned in advance, but often lifestyle photographers are designing the image on the fly.  Also, a prop (if any) for a lifestyle session is more likely to be a teddy bear or something from the baby's room rather than a large antique bowl or bed that you may see in a posed studio session.

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The pose is likely the most important aspect when distinguishing the difference between posed and lifestyle imagery.  Both of these sessions are posed, technically.  However, one has very deliberate and structured poses and the other has a more loose, and gently guided pose.  For instance, posed newborn photographers use a lot of names to describe specific poses.  Newborn poses include names like "tushie up", "womb", or even more specifically, "modified womb" pose.  These can get very specific and photographers can spend years training and perfecting these poses.  

Lifestyle photographers also pose their clients, however it appears less intentional and perhaps more coincidental.  They're not though.  The baby and parents are placed very intentionally in the best light and in the correct angle to have the light fall in a particular direction or to have the lines in the photograph lead to the subjects.  This also takes years to develop a great sense for these different aspects of an image and to make it appear relaxed and casual.

This is not an extensive list by any means, but we have highlighted some main differences between these two popular styles of newborn photography.  We hope you've enjoyed these comparisons and have perhaps learned something about newborn photography.  You may feel yourself drawn to one style or the other and that is pretty typical.  This can make it easier for you when narrowing down your choice of photographers for your session.

If you find yourself drawn to a posed newborn style of imagery, like the images displayed throughout the Everlast Photography website and social media pages (icon links below), then please accept this as an invitation to sit down for coffee and discuss your own creatively designed, custom, and one-of-a-kind newborn portrait session!  Send your inquiry using the contact form or call Karena at 587.357.9738.  We are excited to work with you and your family!


**Lifestyle images contained in this article are generously provided by Kristy Klarich Photography of Red Deer, Alberta.