Lifestyle vs Posed Studio Baby Photography Sydney

One of the first things you should decide when you are looking for a baby photographer is what sort of photo session you are looking for. There are 2 main types of photography when it comes to babies – lifestyle and studio. Both are beautiful but are very different types of sessions resulting in very different images. In this article I’m going to outline the two different types to help you decide what type of photography you’d prefer and to help you find a photographer to suit you.

Posed Studio Baby Photography

Posed studio baby photography is what I do. Sessions usually take place in a studio or another a controlled environment. This results in more formal images of your baby and family.

Where: Sessions take place inside a photography studio where there is equipment for lighting (or natural light), props, backdrops and fabrics to make your baby’s session beautiful.

Types of Images: Babies are usually posed in different positions (for newborn photography) resulting in more formal images. Sibling and family images are taken and are typically posed in front of a backdrop or textured rug. These images are all about your baby/family without any distractions from the outside environment.

How long do sessions last?: Because of the nature of posed studio baby photography, sessions can take some time. A typical session will take about 3-4 hours to leave time for feeding and settling, posing and getting a variety of images in different positions & on different backgrounds.

What does baby wear? Babies are usually wrapped in various texture fabrics or posed in tasteful nude positions to capture their sweet wrinkles and perfect skin.

Posed or studio newborn photography results in more formal portraits of your baby. Sessions take place in a controlled environment such as a studio.
Image taken by me: (Amy Tong Photography)
Posed newborn photography typically features more formal portraits of your baby. Image taken by me: Amy Tong Photography.

Lifestyle Baby Photography

Lifestyle baby photography is a much more relaxed style. Sessions usually take place either outdoors or in a client’s home. Images are more candid and less posed. The aim of lifestyle photography is to capture moments in your environment and interactions between you and your baby.

Where: Sessions usually take place in a client’s home or outside at a park.

Types of Images: Babies are photographed in relaxed positions with their parents. Typically a lifestyle photographer will aim to be a “fly on the wall” and will ask you to go about your normal daily routine – capturing snapshots of your daily life along the way. The types of images you should expect to receive might include images of you settling/feeding/playing with your baby.

How long do sessions last?: Because lifestyle sessions are more relaxed and candid, they are usually shorter than a posed session. A typical lifestyle baby session lasts around 2 hours (or a family session about an hour).

Lifestyle baby photography is all about capturing babies in their home environment. Image courtesy: Beautiful Little Things Photography

What does baby wear? Your photographer will typically spend some time with you helping you choose items from your wardrobe which will work well in your images.

Should I choose posed studio baby photography or a relaxed lifestyle baby photography session?

It really depends what sort of photos you’re looking for. As you can see – the results are so very different! Both are beautiful and special in their own way.

If budget is a consideration, you may find that a lifestyle session works better for you. Whilst it’s not always the case, posed baby photography is typically more expensive (posed-style sessions take more time, require rental of a studio space instead of taking place at the client’s home, washing of props and fabrics, and take longer in retouching time etc).

Ultimately, you should choose whichever style you prefer and find a photographer whose work really speaks to you. Above all else, be sure to capture as many photos of your baby as you can in their first months. They change so rapidly! You don’t want to miss a moment.

Thank you to the lovely Bree at Beautiful Little Things Photography for supplying 2 of her beautiful lifestyle baby photography images to be featured in this blog post.

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  • BreeThanks Amy!!! ?

When a Photographer Doesn’t Deliver Photographs

I’m sure you’ve read the horror stories. The shonky photographers who are paid in full, and never deliver photographs to their clients. The photographers that are paid and never turn up. It’s a heartbreaking prospect – especially when it comes to irreplaceable photographs like newborn and wedding photos. What are your rights? What can you do to avoid this sort of situation?

Tip 1: Always choose a well-reviewed photographer

Before choosing a photographer, always check their online reviews. Make sure that these reviews don’t look manufactured (e.g. are all the reviewers new with only one review for this photographer?). Ask around for personal recommendations from friends and family.

Tip 2: Check that they run a proper business

Choosing a cheap photographer that’s advertised on Gumtree for an important event in your life is asking for trouble. Does the photographer have a registered business on the Australian Business Register? Are they registered for GST (this is a good indicator that they run a legitimate business and not just a hobbyist)? Are they properly insured? Do they have a proper online presence (i.e. a dedicated website – not just an Instagram page)? Are they a member of a professional body such as the AIPP or the Academy of Newborn Photography for a newborn photographer?

Tip 3: Don’t pay upfront in full

Never pay your chosen photographer upfront in full before you’ve had your photo session. The majority of photographers will only require a small deposit with the rest payable after your event/session or when your images are delivered. If possible it’s a good idea to pay via credit card as some credit card providers offer some insurance if something goes wrong. Don’t make the mistake of paying your wedding photographer thousands of dollars before the big day to only have them not show up and block your calls!

Tip 4: Always have a contract

Never hire a photographer without a clearly written contract. This is important to protect both you as the client as well as the photographer from misunderstandings and disagreements in the future. The contract should specify what should happen if either party needs to cancel, and how long you should expect to wait for delivery of your images. This is also another sign of a legitimate photography business.

when photographers don't deliver
Don’t get caught out by a dodgy photographer! Be sure to always book a reputable business to avoid the heartache of missing photographs or loss of money. Cheap photographers are just not worth the heartache!

Tip 4: Be vigilant

A common story I hear come from clients who have paid for their images/products after their shoot, only to wait months (and sometimes even years) for delivery of these from their photographer. In the news recently was a newborn photographer from WA who had multiple complaints about her for this very issue. We are all human, and sometimes photographers need to delay delivery for health or other personal reasons, but they must always be in constant contact with you and get your images to you ASAP. Waiting more than 6 months for images is just not acceptable in my opinion – no matter what the excuse. Trust your instincts. If something doesn’t seem right (or if your photographer stops responding to you), then you need to take action quickly.

My photographer has blocked me/won’t respond to my messages/didn’t turn up to my wedding/I’ve been waiting a year for my photographs etc – what should I do?!

It’s a terrible situation to be in and I really feel for you! If this is happening to you my advice is to make all contact attempts in writing via email/text if possible. Make every effort to resolve any dispute or issue with the photographer in this way so you have evidence that you can use later if necessary. If you haven’t heard back from your photographer – or worse still if they are blocking you, and you haven’t received what you’ve paid for, your next step would be to make an official complaint with the consumer protection organisation in your area. Within Australia we have state-run Government bodies. You will need to contact your local Fair Trading (or Consumer Affairs) Department and lodge an official complaint. It’s a great idea to attach screenshots of any email threads or text messages as well as a copy of your contract to support your claim.

Links to Consumer Departments from around Australia

Missing photographs of important milestones in your life is heartbreaking. I wish you all the very best of luck and hope that this information is helpful.

Have you had a bad experience with a photographer? I’d love to hear about it.

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    Affordable Newborn Photography Sydney

    Join any Mums Facebook group and you’ll see regular posts asking about recommendations of “affordable” or “reasonably priced” newborn photography throughout Sydney. I’m always interested to read posts like these and the resulting comments. Posts like these really get me thinking though – just what is “reasonably priced”? And which photographers would be considered “affordable”? I fear that the people making these recommendations would not put me and my business in either of these categories!

    Just who is an “affordable” newborn photographer?

    I used to get upset, and perhaps even offended by these Facebook posts which would imply that any baby photographer that charges what I do is “unreasonable”. In fact, I have had potential enquiries tell me point blank that I’m “overpriced” and “unreasonable”. I used to get so upset by these comments. How could making a reasonable living from my profession be considered “unreasonable”? I have learned over the years that there are many reasons why someone would be looking for photographers like these. And it doesn’t always have anything to do with someone’s budget.

    One person’s “affordable” or what they’re willing to spend, is not the same as another person’s value of photography. While people have different levels of budget and what they’re able to spend, I think a lot of the time it extends beyond this. Some of my best clients have not been clients who could have perhaps afforded to spend more. But rather clients who really value photography and understand the importance of it.

    Does making a living out of photography make what I charge “unreasonable”?

    In truth, there are so many newborn photographers out there – each catering to a wide range of budgets. This mostly has to do with the amount of experience that a photographer has. For myself, I used to charge a very minimal amount for all the digital files. When I was first starting out and photography was not my sole income – I could afford to do this. Now that I have been a photographer for over 7 years, and have continued to improve my skills, I can no longer charge so little. I have a family to support, school fees to pay, and professional expenses of rent, equipment and insurance to cover. On top of all this, I have spent almost a decade honing my skills. I deserve to make a living out of my profession. This is not my hobby. This is my job and how I earn my living.

    affordable newborn photography sydney
    Just what exactly is affordable newborn photography? Is it just about budget, or is it more about the value you place on the quality of photographs you receive?

    There’s a baby photographer out there for every budget

    There are so many baby photographers in the market these days vying for your business. A lot of people feel very overwhelmed by just how many there are to choose from! Choose the very best baby photographer that you can afford. However.. irrespective of how much you can afford to/want to spend, please remember to always prioritise your baby’s safety! Cheaper (and typically less experienced baby photographers) may not always understand or be qualified to work safely with your newborn. (You may like to read my post about How to Choose a Baby Photographer here or about the Certified Newborn Photographers accreditation).

    Remember that these are moments you can never get back. Don’t choose someone just based on budget and later regret that you didn’t prioritise the importance of good quality newborn photos more. If budgeting is a concern for you, remember to ask if your preferred baby photographer offers interest-free payment plans to help ease the strain on your back pocket.

    As a closing post…. please don’t post on Facebook asking for recommendations for a “reasonably priced newborn photographer”. All of us “unreasonably priced newborn photographers” might just cry a little 😉

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    • MelindaThis is SO true. Also my other bug bear is when people ask for a photographer who “doesn’t cost an arm and a leg” ?

    When a baby passes away – Heartfelt Volunteer Photographers.

    It’s your worst nightmare as a baby photographer. The email or call to tell you that your client’s baby has passed away.

    I’ve been lucky. Over the past 7 years specialising in newborn photography, I counted my lucky stars that it had never happened to me. All that sadly came to an end this month when I received devastating news from not only one but TWO clients.

    It’s difficult in situations such as these to know exactly what to say to people. What do you say? What can you say? I think the honest truth about this is that there really isn’t anything that you can possibly do or say to make your clients feel better.

    As much as there is no consolation that you can give to families in these awful situations, it makes me feel good to know that there is a wonderful volunteer service that I can refer my clients to to help them at this difficult time – Heartfelt.

    Heartfelt – Volunteer Photographers for families in devastating situations

    Heartfelt is a wonderful group of photographers in Australia and New Zealand who volunteer their services to families who have experienced still/premature birth, or who have a child with a serious and terminal illness.

    Heartfelt photographers are trained in working in difficult situations and with families who are grieving. They work discreetly and sympathetically to capture images of your baby or child such that you will have a photographic record to remember them.

    For my clients who have experienced stillbirth, the call was put out to volunteers from Heartfelt who came to the hospital and took photographs of their baby and their family. They said that they found the experience a very positive one and that it has helped them grieve their baby. They have felt relieved at having images of their baby to look back on in the future and to remember their important member of the family.

    Thank you to all the Heartfelt photographers out there who do such an important job for families.

    If you’re a photographer who would like to volunteer with Heartfelt, or a family needing a photographer please visit heartfelt.org.au

    If you are looking for more information about stillbirths visit The Stillbirth Foundation or Sands, an organisation supporting those experiencing miscarriages, stillbirths and newborn deaths. Sands has a 24 hour support line on 1300 072 637.

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      Top Tips for a Successful Baby Photo Session

      The key to a successful baby photo shoot is a happy, content baby. Over the past 7 years as a baby and newborn photographer, I’ve narrowed down the top things that parents can do to increase the chances of a smooth and successful baby session. I share most of these with my clients in my prep guide to help them prepare. Here are my top tips!

      Tip #1: Schedule the photo session for the best time of day

      Most parents will find that their baby is happiest in the mornings. (Usually after being up most of the night keeping their parents on their toes *wink*). The afternoon and evening is typically known as the “witching” time after a long day of being stimulated and winding down to bed time. This is why I always photograph newborns and older babies in the morning. My typical start time is 9:30am for newborns and around 10:30 for older babies (however this can be adjusted depending on your baby’s normal routine).

      For older babies 3+months:

      This is probably the number one golden rule – particularly for older babies 3 months+. By about 6-8 weeks, you’ll notice that your baby will start falling into a natural rhythm of wake times and nap times. Of course some days can go haywire (we’ve all been there Mums!), but for the most part you can start to get an idea of approximately when your baby will have his/her nap. If you’re having your older baby photographed, the absolute worst time of day to schedule a photo session is for when they want to be taking a nap. I usually suggest to my clients to schedule their session for around mid-morning. The best time being just after they would normally wake from their first nap of the day. I only photograph one baby per day so I can usually adjust my schedule and start time to accommodate when your baby would normally be waking from his/her sleep. I encourage parents to try to encourage their baby to have their sleep on the way to my studio in the car so that they wake up fresh and ready for their session when they arrive.

      (Please note that this tip doesn’t apply to newborns less than 2 months as babies are not normally in an established routine at this stage and have very little awake time)

      Tip #2: Be easy going

      Baby photo sessions should always be baby-led. Every baby is different. They have their own personality, likes/dislikes. They have good and bad days just like all of us. My number 2 tip is about setting your own expectations as a parent when you are going into a baby photo session. It’s helpful to have an open mind about the types of images that your photographer will be able to achieve with your baby. This is particularly important when it comes to posed newborn photography. There are some poses and positions that your baby may not like. If you have your heart set on very specific images you may be left feeling disappointed if your baby isn’t settled that day, or if he/she doesn’t like that particular pose. An experienced baby photographer will know how to make the most of your baby’s session regardless of whether your baby is unsettled on the day of the session.

      Tip #3: Be open to using a dummy/pacifier

      In rare cases, some babies may be very unsettled for the duration of the newborn session. I have a range of settling methods to help keep them calm and happy for their photos, but as a last resort (once they’ve been fed, changed, burped, wrapped, cuddled, rocked etc) a dummy can be a lifesaver in helping to get a good gallery of images of your baby. In cases such as these, I will always seek the parents’ permission to use one for the session. I encourage my clients to bring one along – even if they’re not planning on using one on a regular basis. Sucking is a natural reflex for babies and is a proven method for soothing fussy babies. I have some Avent Soothie brand dummies on hand in the studio which are freshly sterilised before use and only with your permission in case parents have not brought their own. Rest assured that using one for a few minutes at a time throughout your session will not cause any nipple or feeding confusion. If you would prefer not to use one that is totally fine and completely your choice.

      top tips for a successful baby photo session
      This precious baby boy was very unsettled throughout his photo session. All the normal settling techniques weren’t enough to keep him settled and calm for beautiful photos. In cases such as these I always ask for the parents’ permission to use a dummy (pacifier) to help keep their baby calm and settled. In this case, it was enough to keep him calm enough to get some beautiful photos for his parents! Thank you dummy!

      Tip #4: Bring Extra of Everything!

      Always bring extra of anything you may need for your baby (and yourselves). Extra nappies, wipes, extra bottles and formula if you are bottle feeding etc. It’s always a great idea to bring along a spare change of clothes for every member of the family. Sometimes babies will poo/wee during unwrapped shots – accidents happen! You don’t want to be going home covered in it 🙂

      Tip #5: Enjoy Your Baby’s Photo Session

      Having a baby – and particularly your first baby – is a very stressful time in your life. Nothing prepares you for the physical and emotional rollercoaster of the first few months of your baby’s life. Sometimes I meet clients who arrive for their session feeling very anxious and worried about whether their baby will “behave” for their photo shoot. Please try to relax. It’s my aim for you to really enjoy your time at my studio. For the most part, I will take care of your baby for you (always within your sight, and I will always pass them back to you if they need you). For many parents this is the first time since their baby arrived that they don’t have to do anything. Many parents feel emotional and teary when given the opportunity to simply sit, relax and look at their baby and just how perfect they are. I really enjoy this aspect of my job as a baby photographer. In all the noise of the long “to do list” when you’re a new parents, it’s rare that you have the time to take it all in. My hope is that your baby’s photo session will give you the opportunity to do this. Please enjoy the ride! 🙂


      I hope these tips really help you prepare for your baby’s upcoming session. By following these and coming along to your session with a smile and an open mind (despite the exhaustion!) you’re sure to get some beautiful images for you to treasure forever!

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