This sweet lifestyle newborn session with a documentary style spin was so incredibly beautiful. This up close portrait of a newborn looking over their mother's shoulder as the mother leans in to kiss her. From Xilo Photography, San Francisco Bay Area Documentary Photographer.


Documentary Lifestyle Newborn Sessions: The First 3 Months Of Life


March 30, 2023


Kati Douglas


Whether you are trying to conceive (TTC), currently pregnant, or just had your baby boy, girl or little one this blog is for you. I have been surprised by the number of fathers, mothers, parents, couples, and families that have been on the fence about scheduling a newborn session for their newborn ba

The questions I often get are:
Do I need newborn photos?
What makes newborn sessions so important?
Is it necessary if I have family photos booked later this year?

When is the right time to schedule a newborn session?
Is it too late to schedule a newborn photo session after my baby is born? 

How to find the right newborn photographer?

What can I use newborn photos for?

What is a lifestyle newborn session?

How does a newborn session differ from a fresh48 session? 

By the end of this blog, I hope to have put you at ease and helped you learn a bit more about what makes newborn photo sessions special, and why you won’t regret scheduling one. 

Newborn photo sessions are one of my absolute favorite times to be present and photographing my client’s lives. Why? Because your life, body, and family just underwent a HUGE change, and those ripple effects, adjustment periods, and even your bonding period deserve to be documented.

Life is messy, and newborn stages can be too (we’re talking spit-up, blowouts, messy diapers, lack of sleep, and spilled breast milk or formula). All together it sounds wild, but that’s the beauty of having a newborn. It’s a mix of the most beautiful moments, and the messiest ones. They come together to create the beautiful chaos that is life. And I’m here for it.

I’m not here for the Picture-Perfect-Pinterest-Posed moments. Nope! I’m here for the raw ones. The real ones. The every-day moments.

The ones you’re going to ache to recall 10 years from now. The ones that you miss when you have baby fever again down the road. I want to capture these special moments just for you… well and for your family and your baby too!

Intimate newborn sessions that uncover the wonder.





That’s why I specialize in lifestyle newborn sessions. You might be wondering what that means or asking yourself What Are Lifestyle Newborn Sessions? “Lifestyle” is often associated in the online space to advertising or modeling a certain time of life. But lifestyle when it comes to family and newborn photography means relaxed, natural, and raw! It means photo sessions that aren’t perfectly posed.

It means you get to be you!

It can be outdoor, indoor, at home, on your front porch or in your backyard, at your favorite park, or at the hospital after birth (usually this is a fresh48 newborn session as it’s in the first 48 hours after birth, but they can be done at home too). Generally a lifestyle photoshoot doesn’t take place in a studio environment though, as studio photoshoots are usually a bit more posed and less candid.

Lifestyle newborn sessions are usually scheduled within the first 3 months after your little one is earth-side. They are often centered around the natural and emotional connection you have with your child. 

While I often guide a family, I won’t have stiff awkward poses for you. These sessions are for you to go about your normal time with your newborn and allow me to document it for you. 

Often I will help you move or settle down in a way that allows the natural light to compliment the photo environment, and in turn yield the best photos. You may also see me popping around to get different angles while you snuggle with your precious newborn. This allows me to capture the light and emotion in different ways. When you see your final gallery, you’ll understand why!  

I am a documentary photographer who specializes in lifestyle, relaxed newborn, family and maternity sessions. My style of documentary and lifestyle newborn photography means I don’t edit out the details and smooth everything over. I love to see the little wrinkles of your little one’s waist as you pick them up, or even the often dry or flakey skin on their body in the first few weeks after birth.

I want to embrace the little moments with you, and those come with those little details too. Birth and having a newborn is a beautiful experience and I’m here to help you appreciate it from a different angle, things you may often not see, or will miss one day.

While you can’t smell a picture, I strive to create images that almost make you remember that newborn scent as you’re snuggled on the couch with your loved ones admiring the sweet little one in your arms.

That’s my kind of newborn session. Relaxed. Unposed. Natural. Real. Full of emotion. And something you never want to forget.

Do I need newborn photos? 

I would argue… YES! But I use the term “need” lightly. As in you’re going to be SO GLAD you did. Getting newborn photos is something you will be so glad you did! It captures a quickly passing moment in your life that you can’t ever get back. And your little baby boy or girl (even if they can’t say it yet) will be thankful to have pictures to look back at one day and in their baby book or heirloom album. 

So when should you schedule your newborn sessions?

Usually in the first few weeks or months after birth. Why? Because this is when they are rapidly changing, and less mobile! They want skin-on-skin, breastfeeding, or cradling with a bottle. This is also when so many of your first occur together and we can document some of those together! You can book well in advance with most photographers, and some may even offer payment plans throughout your pregnancy to help to alleviate price barriers.

If you’re later to the game of scheduling and have already had your baby? Don’t fret! Find a photographer in your local area and see if they have the availability to fit you in! It never hurts to ask! 

What is a lifestyle newborn session? 

We covered this quite a bit above, but as a summary… it’s a relaxed, unposed photo session that allows you to intuitively connect and spend time with your newborn baby and partner or family in a way that feels best to you, and captures your personalities. It’s a low-key stress free way to document your changing life and growing family during the early stages after birth. 

What can I use newborn photos for?

To ooh and aww over! Oh, and for baby books, newborn birth announcements, nursery photos, home decor and photos, customized Christmas tree ornaments, grandparents gifts, and more! 

What if my family doesn’t have a “typical” structure?

Don’t stress! I am an award-winning inclusive photographer! I see myself in you, wherever you are in life. I’m a mother too. And I’m here to help you feel comfortable in your skin, while creating a space that allows you to connect to your loved ones in a natural and authentic way. It is 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. I’ve got you. We’ve got this.

Whether you have specific cultural practices, religious views, a same-sex relationship, a blended family, or you’re a single parent, an adoptive parent, have a surrogate, or are in a triad relationship…I will capture your story and the love for your family and little one exactly as it is, and as it should be.

If you’d like to see more examples of my documentary lifestyle newborn sessions, give me a follow on Instagram at @xilophotography and check out my other blogs (especially my Fresh48 Newborn Blogs for a special spin on newborn photos).

I am based in San Francisco Bay Area (Raising my family in Oakland, California) and I photograph families all over the Bay Area. I love coming to you, exploring your favorite park, or in the comfort of your own home. I believe in you and your family being as stress free as possible for your sessions, so I usually lean towards at home, comfy clothes, and snuggles!

Have questions? Reach out!

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