How to Look and Feel Your Best for Your Newborn Photography Session

I cannot tell you how excited I am to finally get this info into writing. After 5 years of shooting lifestyle newborn photography, I decided to team up with one of my ROCKSTAR hair and makeup artists, Brielle Brenner, to bring you some quick and dirty, practical tips for looking your best at your newborn shoot.

First off, can I just say how much I heart Brielle? In my next life when I have the guts to get lots of tattoos, I'd totally be her.  She is approaching 10 years of experience in the skin care and makeup industry, and if you surf her Instagram for a sec, you'll see that she's done some pretty sweet gigs in the entertainment industry for fashion/lifestyle, editorial, tv commercials, bridal, and film projects. In addition to this, Brielle has a heart of gold and truly loves her work for the sheer opportunity to brighten someone's day and make them feel good about themselves.  It's no surprise each one of my clients who works with Brielle L-O-V-E-S her and hires her again and again.

So here we go!  After one serious whiteboard sesh, we have organized our thoughts to bring you three major recommendations for looking and feeling your best at a newborn photography session (and thank you to my dear client and friend, Lindsay Marshburn, for being our gorgeous mom model):


I always tell my clients that wardrobe can truly make or break a session. For indoor lifestyle photography, here's what I recommend:

  • Color schemes:
    • Make sure everyone in your family is coordinated. Choose a color palette of 2-4 colors and stick with different shades of those colors. 
    • Take the backdrop into account. If you have lots of decor and color in your home, stick with a lighter neutral palette (whites, tans, and grays) so you're not competing with the pink and green floral wallpaper in your nursery.
    • If you have  a neutral home with light-colored walls and minimal decor (your natural light photographer loves you btw), that gives you more flexibility to either spice up your shoot with a floral, pattern, or fun color scheme....or you can keep it all neutral to accomplish those light and airy monochromatic photos that are so popular right now. The lighter the color palette, the lighter your photos are going to turn out. 
  • Fabrics: 
    • Choose fabrics that are interesting to the eye - lace details, embroidery, sweater/textured materials, chiffon, and sheer overlays that may allow window light to pass through. Stay away from unlined tops and dresses and clingy knit fabrics.
    • Dads can get away with a button down (with rolled sleeves), sweater, or even a dressier t-shirt. My only suggestion here is that Dad doesn't wear a polo (with a logo) or look like he's at an office meeting - no dressy slacks please. And toddlers can follow these same rules as long as colors coordinate...they're gonna look cute no matter what, right?
  • Style:
    • The most flattering styles for right after baby are flowy maternity tops and dresses, and if you're going the pants route, maternity pants or jeans. Some of my moms rock their post-baby bumps a la Kate Middleton, and some choose to wear undergarments like Spanx.


2. Invest in professional hair and makeup.

Raise your hand if you think you look pretty darn good in your wedding photos. It's because that's probably the last time you had professional, camera-ready hair and makeup combined with a professional photographer. I feel so strongly about this that I've included it for my baby plan clients. Let's face it, right after you have a baby you're not going to have the time or energy to apply enough makeup to show up in the photos, or do all of the things involved in making your hair look it's best (and if you're going to have these photos on the walls of your home for years and years, you want to look your best).  You deserve this, momma!!

I always talk through what “camera ready” makeup means and how it will look so much more natural in the photos than it tends to in person.
— Brielle Brenner

Brielle shared a few other thoughts on this:

  • Don't fear "camera-ready" makeup.
    • I often work with clients who wear very little makeup or only sometimes wear Burts Bees chapstick and mascara. That can make it scary to sit in a makeup chair not knowing what the final product will look like. Because of this, I always talk through what “camera ready” makeup means and how it will look so much more natural in the photos than it tends to in person. I do a few things like add natural looking individual lashes on top of a coat of mascara to help the eyes pop, as well as do a more medium to fuller coverage foundation to make the skin look bright and flawless. We are always aiming for natural, rested, and glowing!
  • Bring your favorites along!
    • I love when my clients have a favorite product and bring it along to their session. Some women love a certain mascara or lip color and I welcome incorporating that into your makeup look for the shoot. Don’t be afraid to ask!
  • Ideas and inspiration are a must.
    • Most of the time I ask my clients for pointers on how they want their makeup and hair to look, but I know it can be hard to articulate what kind of makeup look you are going for (especially if makeup is new to you or you don’t use it often). I always suggest showing me a picture of yourself when you liked your makeup the most, or thinking up a few pointers like “I don’t like anything too pink on my lips“ or “ I love when my lashes are full and stand out” etc. These things help me to give you a look that you’ll love and feel comfortable in!

3.  allow time for skin prep.

Here are a few tips from the expert:

  • Skin prep:
    • Skin prep is the most important thing you can focus on for your makeup session. I recommend never trying anything new (like peels, facials, new skincare products) within 2 weeks of your session and do all your waxing, tweezing, or threading at least 5 days before your session. Focusing on thorough makeup cleansing, extra moisturizing at night, sun protection during the day, water intake, and rest (as much as you can with a new babe!)  are the best skin care focused things you can do to ensure a great makeup application."
  • Spray tanning:
    • According to Brielle, "Spray tanning can be a wonderful process, and on the contrary, it can turn out terribly streaky, too orange, or too dark. To prevent this, I recommend getting it professionally done about 2-3 days before your session. There are a few places in and around Atlanta that will choose your color level for you and hand spray you (this prevents streaking, missing spots etc.) Favorite place to go :  RAW Bronzing Studio ."


There you have it!  We hope this was helpful and wish you all a wonderful newborn shoot. Thank you for allowing us to have the jobs of our dreams! 



Hayley Johnson is the owner of Hayley Jo Photo - an Atlanta based newborn and portrait photography business. Hayley is an award winning photographer and was named one of Atlanta's Best Newborn Photographers by in 2016, 2017, and 2018. She was also named a Top Family Photographer by Hayley is a member of the National Association of Professional Child Photographers and Clickin Moms, and her work has been featured by Inspired Magazine, Beauty & Lifestyle Mommy Magazine, TheBump, and Pottery Barn Kids.

Hayley Johnson