Young mom in her fourth trimester as she snuggles with her newborn baby and has skin to skin time together in Concord, CA photographed by Xilo Photography


Documentary Newborn Sessions: Behind The Scenes Look


March 6, 2023


Kati Douglas


Congratulations on your little one on the way! As a Documentary Newborn Photographer in San Francisco Bay Area, newborn photo sessions are some of my absolute favorites!

There is just something about the beautiful rush of new life.

You know, tiny toes…big feels!

Fresh 48 Newborn Portrait In Hospital Basinet At Alta Bates, Berkeley, CA by Documentary Photographer, Kati Douglas With Xilo Photography

What is documentary newborn photography and what makes it different than any other newborn session?

In short, these are intimate newborn sessions that uncover the wonder. They are unique and tailored to you and your family, and are usually not very posed or structured. They are usually photographed at home in your living room, bedroom, nursery, kitchen, or all of the above!

They are personal, and focus on connection. They also often feature different angles and lighting than traditional newborn sessions.

Imagine a photo looking through the crack of your nursery door while you, your baby and partner have a moment together in the nursery, capturing your family just as it is. That’s just one of the unique and beautiful angles that you may create in a documentary newborn session. 

For me personally with these documentary newborn sessions, my goal is stopping time to document your smallest moments with your newborn baby with great heart.

Relaxing, comfortable, and honest portraits that speak to you and your baby’s experience right here, right now.

Newborn photos with parents: 

Newborn photo with siblings: 

Newborn photos with family: 

This sweet newborn documentary session at home in Oakland CA included mother, father, and their two children during this home session by Xilo Photography. The older toddler is in an indoor doorway swing and having a blast being pushed by their father and swinging.

What to expect when working with me as a newborn photographer?

As an inclusive documentary family and newborn photographer in the Bay Area working with me is really unique and will create images that reflect your personalities.

No matter where you are in life, I see myself in you. As an award-winning photographer and mother, I’m here to help you feel comfortable in your skin, while creating a space that allows you to connect to your newborn in a natural and authentic way. 

It’s my deep honor to celebrate love and share space with ALL people, especially those whose stories have not always been documented with the inclusivity, equity and real joy they deserve.

What are the logistics of working with me?

No one feels super comfortable with a camera in their face, so based on each

person’s personality we make sure to take it slow and not make it a stressful situation.

I love to laugh and making others feel comfortable is kind of my super power – you will walk away feeling like I captured your beautiful and unique selves.

Connection is the basis of my authentic and emotive work. Touch, joy, big feelings, and small delicate moments are captured by cultivating honest and authentic interactions through fun games and spontaneous moments. 

The connection comes from you and your family- which means the closer you are physically and emotionally, the better your photos will be.

What should I prepare for my session?

Nothing! Truly! Just dress in what you’re comfortable in, and dress the same for your baby too. I believe there is beauty in the most simple things, and even your newborn baby in a diaper or onesie will create some special memories.

Because who wouldn’t want to have pictures that show their chubby thighs, or their tiny little newborn toes, or the light peach fuzz babies often have at birth (also known as lanugo).

I’m here for it! Let’s get all of the tiny little details, and not stress about anything leading up to your session. It will be magical!

Coordinating outfits helps with the overall feel of the session but, more than anything, it’s important that no one is stressed and feels comfortable to move freely to avoid any meltdowns. 

Every session includes access to a website to help you with style coordination as well as my Session Guide that has styling tips and tricks as well as color palettes. I’m also only one call, text, or email away to help.

This is truly a no filtered safe space! I love to laugh and making others feel comfortable is kind of my super power – you will walk away feeling like I captured your beautiful and unique selves, and you had fun during it. I’ve had families tell me after our sessions how much fun they had and how it wasn’t stressful at all, but instead relaxing and natural.

That’s my goal! 

So…have I won you over on documentary newborn sessions?

No? Check out some newborn inspiration on Pinterest @xilophotography

Yes! Then let’s plan your session! Documenting your baby’s first few months of life would be an absolute joy, and I know you already have so many ideas! I do too! Let’s connect and make it a reality! Contact me

You can see more of my work and learn about what it’s like working with me, and my process for facilitating newborn, family, and couples (wedding/elopement) documentary photography sessions at

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