In-home newborn or family photo session: How to prepare

While having my studio in Dedham is absolutely amazing, some clients prefer to have in-home newborn or family photo session, and I love them! Its fun to shake things up and get my creative juices going by getting out of my regular routine in the studio. But since I am coming to you rather than you coming to me, there are a few things I will ask you to do to prepare before I arrive, to set us up for success!

in-home newborn or family photo session

Where will we do your in-home newborn or family photo session

Master bedroom

I don’t know about your kids, but mine LOVE jumping on mommy and daddy’s bed. They truly cannot get enough and its become our pre-bedtime ritual to get the sillys out. For in-home family photo sessions, this is a great place to snuggle up for some cozy shots or have a tickle fight and get some genuine, laughing smiles. You’ll see this all over my website, but my goal is to get BOTH shots of everyone looking at the camera smiling, as well as all the fun moments in between. I do find its easier for kids to be themselves and let their true personalities out when they are in their own space, and that’s what I love the most about in-home newborn or family photo sessions.

If we’re doing a in home newborn photo session, this is a great place to have an older sibling lay with baby or snuggle up next to each of the parents holding the baby as well. If this is your only baby, we will get lots of different angles and poses here. Don’t mind me standing on your bed or twisting myself into odd positions to get some great shots.

One thing to note – some families prefer to use a guest bedroom rather than their own bedroom because maaaaybe its a little cleaner and organized? I’m not sure what their talking about because MY bedroom is always spotless just kidding, this is a brilliant idea if you have the option!

in-home newborn or family photo session

Kids bedrooms

If this is an in-home newborn photo session, we’ll definitely want to take photos in baby’s nursery. Think baby in the crib, snuggling in a rocking chair, standing near a window, etc. If the room isn’t finished, no worries–we can either use the parts that are or skip the baby’s room. Just with my studio sessions, the focus is on you and your family, which means you don’t have to have a perfect Instagram nursery to do that.

I love playing in bigger kids rooms for in-home family photo sessions as well. Standing in their crib, sitting on the toddler bed, showing me their favorite toys, sitting in a cardboard box with 100 crayons (you can find that one on my Insta feed)–one of the main points of a family photo session in is to document your family as they are. I want to capture all the details that you want to remember.

in-home newborn or family photo session

Living spaces

Your living room is a great spot for us to use for your in-home newborn or family photo session. Everyone can snuggle together on the couch. Again, this is a great space to document your family as you really are and let your personality into the shoot. If you have a play space or any other spaces that you love, we can use these as well! I’m not against documenting a sink bath, or even decorating some cookies on your island, or anything else that you’d really like to document. I’m also a sucker for a nice staircase.

If you have an alternative space that you want to use, definitely let me know. Think big sliding doors off the kitchen or a big window with a seat in front. Basically I love windows but anywhere you think is cool works for me!

in-home newborn or family photo session


If its nice out, we can definitely do some shots outside as well. Depending on the time of day lighting can be a little tricky, but let me worry about that. If its chilly and we just want to get a quick outdoor shot, I love to do a pullback with you standing or sitting at your front door. If we have good weather and you have a nice outdoor space, I’m down to spend more time outside as well.

in-home newborn or family photo session

Do I need to clean my whole house for my in-home session?

While you definitely do not need to CLEAN your whole house, I do recommend tidying the spaces that we will be shooting for your in-home newborn or family photo session. For example, making beds in the rooms we will shoot and clearing some clutter. Some places to focus, depending on where you would like us to shoot are nightstands, coffee tables, side tables, etc. But obviously, don’t worry about the spaces we won’t be in. If you don’t want to shoot in your dining room, feel free to shove some extra stuff in there 🙂

in-home newborn or family photo session

What should I wear to my in-home photos?

Here is a blog post I wrote about what to wear to your newborn session, and another about what to wear to your family session. Check out my Instagram to see great examples of what other families have worn as well. For an in-home newborn or family photo session, all these same rules apply.

For moms, I’m happy to bring one of my client closet dresses to your home (please just give me some advance notice so I make sure to pick it up), or you can wear something of your own.

I personally prefer a more casual look for in-home newborn or family photo sessions. Again, we’re focusing more on your family and personality but with a documentary style, something like jeans or leggings and a sweater or a t-shirt dress works well. If you have a gorgeous dressier dress that you want to wear, that is awesome too!

My big “rules” are to stay away from crazy patterns, keep to one pattern only for the whole family, and avoid bright neon colors. But these are YOUR photos and if loud patterns and neons are your jam, then do you! I want you to hang these on your walls, so your clothes and these photos should reflect your style.

What should my family wear?

For dads, I personally prefer t shirts, henleys, sweaters, etc over button downs or collared shirts. Neutrals and texture are great!

For kids, keep it comfortable and simple. The last thing you want is a toddler meltdown over itchy sweaters or uncomfortable button downs. Generally I love waffle knits and rib knit–texture and neutrals are my favorite.

If this is a newborn session, I love putting baby in a simple onesie or neutral one piece outfit. I have a bunch and am happy to bring one to your session for you to borrow. Its also helpful to pick out a swaddle blanket to use if baby seems fussy or we go outside and its cooler.

Bare feet for everyone. No socks please.

in-home newborn or family photo session

Can I include my pets or other family members?


I love including pets in photos, and an in-home newborn or family session is a perfect setting for them. When you’re sitting in front of baby’s crib or when you’re snuggled together on the couch or bed, we can entice them with treats and love to get them come give baby a little kiss.

Grandparents or other family members are totally welcome to join in-home newborn and family sessions as well.

in-home newborn or family photo session

What else should I do before my in-home newborn or family photo session?

Turn up the Heat

Specifically for newborn sessions, bump your heat up a bit. (I usually set my studio temperature to 75 degrees for newborn sessions.) The general rule of thumb for “normal” temperatures is to dress baby in one extra layer of clothing, so for them to be comfortable, happy, and maybe even sleepy in just an outfit, it helps to have the air a bit warmer than usual.

Prep for Lighting

One of the most important things in any photo session is lighting, and this can make a big difference in in-home newborn or family photo sessions as well. Please turn all your lights off and keep the shades open. Curtains don’t need to be closed unless you happen to have white sheer ones. I’ll pose you and your family depending on where the light is coming from to ensure the most flattering lighting.

Feed everyone

Please feed your baby or children (and probably yourselves) before the session starts. We all know that a hangry toddler is not a cooperative toddler :). Also, I love feeding images, so please let me know if you’d like to feed baby during the session, and we’ll make sure that happens, even if its right before we finish. If you’re not into it, that’s cool too!

Prepping kids

Don’t worry about telling your kids to say cheese. “Cheese” smiles are not genuine and you’re going to be much happier with real smiles! Tell them you have a friend coming over who is going to play and I’ll do my thing. I have a 2 and 5 year old and I’ve been doing this for over a decade, so I’ve got this 🙂

Ask Questions

Don’t feel weird asking me any questions you might have! I’m here to help, and my goal is to make this in-home newborn or family photo session fun and easy.

in-home newborn or family photo session

What about an in-home maternity session?

Yes! I love these as well and are a great alternative to studio sessions when its not warm enough to do an outdoor maternity session. All the same rules above apply! I’m also down to do a more “intimate” style where you might want to show off your belly more. I’m here for it all!

in-home newborn or family photo session

PhotographyWhitney O'Brien

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Whitney O'Brien is a Boston newborn photographer with a studio in Dedham, MA. She specializes in natural, timeless portraits of motherhood, including maternity, newborn, milestone, and family sessions.


She serves Boston neighborhoods such as Roslindale, Jamaica Plain, West Roxbury, and Hyde Park, as well as Dedham, Needham, Newton, Brookline, Westwood, Norwood, Walpole and beyond.


To see my latest work and photos of my own kids, follow me on social media!