I often get questions like: What is the average length of a newborn session? A typical answer you will find is around 2-3 hours for in-studio session. During this time, your baby will need to be fed and you will change his/her diapers several times. In fact the majority time of the session is about nursing, posing and handling the newborn baby, rather than taking pictures itself.
So what affects the length of a newborn photography session?
Factor 1. Are you particular about having all newborn photos being sleeping photos?
One of the biggest challenge of newborn photography is baby’s unpredictable mood. Some babies are very sleepy during the session and some are sensitive. Sleeping newborns are peaceful and calm. It gives the photographer opportunity to pose or wrap them with beautiful props. If you want the most artistic photos of your newborn baby, you will definitely want them to be sleeping.
However, you have very little control over when and how long they take naps. Sometimes they cry and act fussy, or perhaps they feel quite energetic. Let’s say if a regular session will take an average of 2 hours, in some cases it will take an extra hour to calm the baby. Usually I will ask parents try to interact with the baby and keep the baby awake at least one hour before the session. If the baby had enough sleep before the session, he/she will be less likely to take a nap during the session. Let the baby take a bath before the session is also a good idea.
Factor 2. The experience of the photographer in handling newborns
Because experienced photographers have handled newborn babies on a daily basis, they are able to calm the baby quickly and with less effort. Most of the time, especially with new parents, you will find that the photographer can handle the baby better than the parents do. They will be able to effectively wrap and pose babies and reduce the length of the session. This will also give the photographer more time to focus on taking better pictures.
Factor 3. How many setups do you get with your newborn package?
When you do your research for the best newborn photographers in your area, ask for how many setups are allowed in their newborn packages. This will give you an idea how long the session will take. Of course the more setups you get, the longer the session. When switching a setup, the background / blankets will need to be changed, and the baby need to be re-wrapped to match the theme color, plus additional props to be placed. During that time, you baby could wake up from sleep so she/he need to be put to sleep again.
Factor 4. Are you getting family and sibling photos?
I would say family pictures are probably the most meaningful photos you will get out of your newborn session. Family photos and sibling photos are different from the regular newborn-only pictures in the setups they use. With packages including family photos you will be looking at an average of 45 to 60 minutes extra session time.
With all these factors come into play, it is difficult for any photographer to give you an accurate estimate of the session time. However, in most cases, experienced newborn photographers have very good control in the length of the session. To make your 2-4 hour session is enjoyable, make sure you communicate with your photographer and trust them in their expertise.