with Courtney Slazinik
Newborn Photography: 5 Reasons to Try a Lifestyle Approach
Newborn Photography: 5 Reasons to Try a Lifestyle Approach

When I first started my photography journey, like most people, it took a while to find my niche. I needed to take any job that was thrown my way so that I had the opportunity to try it all out and then later when I had the privilege of being selective about what work I’d take, I would then know what I truly wanted to specialize in.

In the early years of my photography I had lots of friends having babies and naturally I took most of their pictures. I remember finishing those sessions feeling exhausted and confused. I distinctly remember thinking “newborns can’t run away or say NO…it shouldn’t be this hard!” I would leave the sessions feeling a bit defeated because I had to work so hard to get the shots that look like they should be so easy. I read all of the articles, took all the classes, researched all the tips and tricks but those “poses” just did not come natural for me. I realized one day that those poses weren’t working out for me probably because subconsciously I didn’t really want them to! That’s just not where my heart was. I felt alive during those sessions only when I was taking the non-posed, natural LIFESTYLE pictures. Those were the ones that had me smiling behind the camera and feeling like I was creating something beautiful…memories that would last a lifetime.


For a couple of years I trapped myself into continuing that way because in my mind “without the posed images I wouldn’t have any work.” Photography is my full-time job and I had the pressure to earn a certain amount of money each month. I decided to take baby steps slowly and gradually taking less and less of the posed pictures and more and more of what I loved. It was exciting while I was engaged in those lifestyle moments and made me want more but then I’d get to the posed portion of the session and want to run away! I would fake it as good as I could because more than anything I wanted my clients to be happy. And I thought the posed images were what would make them happy so therefore it mattered to me. All of the overly posed images weren’t making it to my website or blog and were just “secretly” being shown on the client galleries. I continued taking those pictures for a while because out of the goodness of my heart I truly wanted my clients to have what I thought they WANTED but deep down inside it did feel a bit fraudulent since my heart just wasn’t there.

One day I woke up and decided it was time to be free! I would no longer take those images that I couldn’t stand by and I did not feel in my heart! I had enough “other” work that it was okay if I was slow on newborn sessions for a while…I would hold out and wait for the “right” ones who shared the same vision as me. I got rid of my beanbag, backdrop stand, hats and bows and began to be more vocal in communicating my style to potential clients so that they knew what to expect and were on board with “my” style.


Taking pictures of the “everyday” moments feels like fulfilling an even bigger calling than artist or photographer. It feels like you are helping to write history as a memory keeper. When I get sentimental about my own family I look back on the pictures that show the everyday with a great big smile and it’s almost like the feeling I had the day the picture was taken comes rushing back to me as if it was just yesterday. I don’t look back on the posed pictures…I don’t connect with those. I love the ones that capture the emotion behind the picture. It’s like those memories reside in your soul already and looking at the image taken brings out that flood of emotion from that day in your life which means a piece of it lives inside you!

I find a great amount of gratitude in the fact these families have asked ME to document their memories. That is a big job because in order to do so I need to take that job seriously. I need to put in the time to get to know THEM…to ask the right questions so that I can accurately capture WHO they are. I need to be their friend so they feel comfortable inviting me INTO THEIR LIFE. I love having the opportunity to get to know so many wonderful people.

Violet NB Session-42

For all of the reasons above I have fallen in love with newborn sessions all over again. Here are some more reasons why I love shooting lifestyle newborn sessions:

  • No.
    My favorite sessions are family sessions.

    Lifestyle newborn sessions are all about the story of a growing family so that kind of makes newborn sessions the same as family sessions to me! Interacting with families is so much fun. Add in the excitement of a new baby and it’s something to celebrate.


  • No.
    Lifestyle sessions are more relaxed.

    We don’t have to worry about the time frame being so rigid because we are skipping the unnatural posing anyway. We can schedule the session when the time is right for all (the baby, the family, and the photographer…).


  • No.
    The baby is more comfortable.

    Because we are naturally photographing the baby in real life circumstances (versus complicated poses) the baby is able to carry on hardly being bothered by the camera at all.


  • No.
    The sessions are typically able to be shorter while typically producing a greater amount of pictures.

    Because each picture is taken of real life unfolding we can take a “fly on the wall” approach giving the families lose direction or ideas that they can make their own taking pictures from different angles to give a fresh perspective to their galleries. Because we aren’t doing complicated poses the picture taking can move more quickly while still giving the clients lots of quality, quantity and variety in pictures.


  • No.
    Each session is unique.

    With the session taking place in the client’s home and specially formulating the session to be all about them, it would be impossible to make any two sessions exactly alike. They are all unique and special.

    kelly split frame 16-2

I would like to say that I have appreciation for the work that other newborn photographers do. Just because it isn’t my style doesn’t mean that it isn’t beautiful and special. One of my best friends takes absolutely gorgeous traditional newborn pictures and she is truly talented. I admire her SO much despite the fact that we are so incredibly different. The cool thing about photography is that the market is so huge and everyone is looking for something different…there is a perfect photographer out there for each client and a perfect client for each photographer. Figure out what makes you YOU and stand by it! You don’t have to settle because the perfect clients are out there and you will find them if you wait patiently. I am just very grateful to have found what moves me and what keeps me feeling charged up with a full battery.

Read more: 10 Tips to help dramatically improve your newborn photography


I am even more excited to announce that all of this passion and excitement for lifestyle newborn sessions has been made into a two voice Clickinmoms Break Out Session with myself, Kelly Garvey, and Lisa Tichane, a wildly talented French lifestyle photographer. This break out started as two friends coming together to take a big leap of faith into a business idea to write an educational piece about something we are very passionate about…but it ended as probably the most exciting and rewarding personal project we have ever had! As we poured our hearts and souls into this, we realized how much the whole process has helped us grow and refine ourselves too. We’ve spent months and months nurturing our class to get it ready for you…we have grown it four times bigger than we ever planned! In it you will find YEARS of experience and learning all wrapped into one class…we now present to you: A Story of Love and Joy: Capturing Connections in Lifestyle Photography.


  • Pam Ellis
    July 15, 2015 at 10:36 AM

    Hi there, I love your perspective, and while I would consider myself more emergent on “posed” newborn photography, I completely embrace the ‘freedom’ of a lifestyle shoot. Thanks for providing some great nuggets for thought and the ability to release us all from the posed, newborns… I still love those, poseys, but the lifestyle shoot is always a beautiful addition “or” option.

    NOTE: quote my daughter-in-law “can you get pictures of me nursing my baby? This will be my last and I want to remember it forever”

    • Kelly Garvey
      July 16, 2015 at 8:31 AM

      Nursing pictures are so special! I set up a tripod to get mine and I’m so happy to have them. I didn’t have any with my first son. Thank you for reading!

  • Denise Orford
    July 15, 2015 at 11:33 AM

    Your post resonated with me. I have only done a handful of newborn session and have “followed the pack”. Lifestyle is much more my thing. I have a question – your photos are all beautifully lit – and some if not most – will not be so easy to provide natural light. What lighting do you take and do you visit before the session? I love this blog. Thank you !

    • Kelly Garvey
      July 16, 2015 at 8:26 AM

      I use ALL natural light on my shoots! Thank you for the nice comments!

  • Sara Facchin
    July 15, 2015 at 12:02 PM

    This post has really inspired me! I’m trying to find ‘my way’ to photograph and the life style approach appeals to me.
    I’ve just started on my journey as photographer and was struggling with the styles out there… I will definitely follow my
    heart and I’m sure the right client will come to me :) Thank you!!

  • michelle
    July 15, 2015 at 1:10 PM

    I am a mommy and amateur photographer but love doing newborns. I still need to go a long way because I am struggling with the poses. And then suddenly I see your work and I am completely blown away! Not sure I have seen anybody doing this in south africa. Thank you for inspiring me.

    • Kelly Garvey
      July 16, 2015 at 8:28 AM

      I am so happy to hear this! Thank you Michelle! And good luck to you on your journey. Maybe you can be the trendsetter in South Africa :)

  • Iris
    July 15, 2015 at 8:47 PM

    I adore your style, Kelly. And the breakout you and Lisa have put together is just amazing. Any photographer who does not feel comfortable posting newborns (like myself), this course is a must have!!!! There are no words to express my gratitude. Thank you from the bottom of my heart!!!

    • Kelly Garvey
      July 16, 2015 at 8:28 AM

      Thank you IRIS! You have been beyond supportive in helping us spread the word about this Break Out and we are genuinely grateful. You’re so awesome :)

  • Esther
    July 15, 2015 at 11:45 PM

    Yes! I love this! I feel as though I’m still struggling to find my voice and style as a photographer and I wonder sometimes if that also makes me struggle to find the right clients. I am much more of a “lifestyle” photographer than “posed” so this was so refreshing and inspiring to hear because I feel like most people want “posed” and that I have to fit what people want. Thank you for sharing your story!!!

  • Kelly Garvey
    July 16, 2015 at 8:29 AM

    Absolutely, Esther! Thank you for listening! Good luck to you – and yes, give yourself the permission to be YOU! And the clients will come. Thanks!

  • Elodie Burrillon
    July 16, 2015 at 2:50 PM

    Wonderful! Thank you Kelly for sharing these nice thoughts.
    Your pictures are truly beautiful.

    • Kelly Garvey
      July 16, 2015 at 3:37 PM

      THANK YOU elodie!!!

  • Sharon Henderson
    July 16, 2015 at 6:31 PM

    Thank you for this! I’ve felt, and practiced this philosophy for the past year… But have continued to take on some Posey requests, and honestly just hated the entire session every time. I won’t be doing it ever again. No more dreading post process of a photo session I really didn’t want to do to begin with! Color me empowered! You rock!

    • Kelly garvey
      July 18, 2015 at 9:42 AM

      Yay sharon…I love this! Thanks for reading!

  • Yesim
    July 17, 2015 at 4:38 PM

    I just feel the same way on the posed images and reading your similar p.o.w has given me a motivation to shoot and promote more lifestyle sessions. I will also check the breakout on CM. Thank you!

    • Kelly garvey
      July 18, 2015 at 9:47 AM

      Thank you yesim! I appreciate the conment! Sometimes it’s just nice to hear someone shared the same view right?!

  • Gosia
    July 20, 2015 at 3:53 AM

    Wow, you are reading in my mind. Week ago I thought that my photo business will be lifestile newborn photography, because I don’t feel comfortable with the posing pictures and lifestyle photography is my best. And then I read THIS <3 and know that my decision is good. Thank you very much for this article, Kelly!

    • kelly garvey
      July 22, 2015 at 11:25 PM

      thank you for reading it gosia!

  • Jenny
    July 22, 2015 at 2:38 PM

    Thank you so much for this!!! You so eloquently put into words exactly why I love lifestyle photography. My clients seem very hesitant about it and a lot are scared to do it in their homes, feeling like their homes aren’t nice enough. But, I feel like your words have helped clarify for me on why I love lifestyle more–any advice on helping clients feel comfortable in their own homes?

    • kelly garvey
      July 22, 2015 at 11:27 PM

      :) i would tell them that no matter what state their house is in at the moment or where they live it is HOME and they will be SO happy to have it documented years from now. their baby will love seeing the home he/she was born in when looking back on pictures and the context is part of the story and marks a place in time. the pictures are about them anyway and the location isn’t the focal point. it’s the love and connection that is the focus! the house is just a special detail worth capturing in the background :) xx best of luck!

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