Traditional, Natural, Lifestyle, or Documentary: Which Style of Newborn Photography is Right for You?

April 28, 2023

There is a lot that goes into choosing the right newborn photographer. Of course, it’s most important that you find a newborn photographer who is experienced and will work safely with your newborn. After that, you’ll want to consider which style of newborn photography is right for you.

Most people aren’t even aware of what options are out there until they start searching for newborn photography in their area. If you’re looking for a newborn photographer in Los Angeles, or another big city, the options can be overwhelming. Knowing what style of newborn photography is right for you will help you narrow down your choices.

There are four main genres, or styles, of newborn photography: Traditional, Natural, Lifestyle, and Documentary. In this post, I’ll explain the key features of each style and the differences between them. By the end of this article you should know which style of newborn photography is right for you.

Traditional Newborn Photography

Traditional newborn photography is also known as posed newborn photography, newborn photography with props, or styled newborn photography. Most often photographed in the studio, traditional newborn photography features backdrops, props, and styled posing.

Within the genre of traditional newborn photography you’ll find a range of interpretation.¬†For example, props can be simple or elaborate and posing can include natural positions or those that require spotters and compositing.

Grid of posed newborn photography
Images courtesy Rachel Rayne Photography

Natural Newborn Photography

Natural newborn photography, the style that I offer, is a relatively new genre that has grown in popularity over the last decade.

This style of newborn photography can be achieved both in studio or in a client’s home. Images are typically minimalist and do not feature props, costumes, or backdrops. Babies might be naked, in clothing, or wrapped/swaddled. Neutral colors and natural fibers are favored.

Posing is natural in that it mimics positions that baby can get into on their own or are reminiscent of their time in the womb. Babies may be photographed on their own or with parents and siblings. Often, poses are supported with a parents’ hands, which become a feature of the image.

Natural newborn photography collage
Images by Ariel Cannon Photography

Lifestyle Newborn Photography

Lifestyle newborn portraits are usually photographed in the home. Lifestyle photographers often focus on the interactions between you and your baby. Baby may also be photographed alone, but their environment is usually a key element of the photographs. Although lifestyle newborn photography has a candid look, your photographer will most likely pose or direct you.

lifestyle newborn photography collage
Images courtesy Bella Wang Photography & Live Snap Love

Lifestyle photography has become very popular over the past twenty years and many of its elements bleed into other genres. For example, during my newborn sessions I include plenty of images that capture real interaction.

Black and white family portrait

Documentary Newborn Photography

Documentary newborn sessions are photographed in the hospital shortly after birth or at home. A documentary session is similar to a lifestyle session in that the focus is on environment and interaction. The biggest difference between the two is that while lifestyle sessions are often posed or directed, a true documentary session is not. During your session, you’ll go about your normal routine and your photographer will document the moments as they happen. Of course, they’ll inject their artistry into the images with their use of light, choice of perspective, and by deciding what to include in the image and what to omit.

Documentary Newborn Photography collage
Images courtesy Desiree Walters Photography

So, now that you know the difference between traditional, natural, lifestyle, and documentary newborn photography, which one is the style for you?

If you’re looking for natural newborn photography in Los Angeles, go ahead and get in touch!

big sister and newborn

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I photograph maternity, newborn, baby, and family sessions in and around Los Angeles. If you're interested in a session, please get in touch.

Ariel Cannon Photography | Los Angeles

Newborn Baby with arms overhead
Baby girl portrait on bed

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