baby sleeping in his fathers arms

Choosing a session length for a newborn portrait session

Unsure which session length to book for your newborn photo session? I hope this guide will help you to see which is best for you.

You might also find it helpful to see examples below from 3-4 hour sessions and from 2-hour sessions. You can also hear from families why they chose the session length they did – and what they’d recommend.

Do get in touch to discuss what you’d like from the photographs. I’m very happy to offer guidance on what will be most appropriate for you.

Why choose a 3-4 hour newborn session

Why choose a 2-hour newborn session

3-4 Hour Sessions:

I asked Heather, mum of a toddler and a newborn, about her experience with a 3-4 hour session:

• Why did you choose a 3-4 hour session rather than a 2-hour session?

Having had a baby before, we were conscious that sleep/naps/ changes can de-rail a morning. Having a bit of extra time meant we could relax and work around the natural rhythm of the day.

Louise photographs with a natural warmth. This was exactly what we wanted in capturing those first special days.

We found it was the perfect session length to get a wide variety of images, without the shoot taking over the whole day. Shots included our baby awake, sleeping and feeding. The longer session also gave our older son time to meet Louise and relax into the experience. That definitely gave us both some fun and very sweet shots. Louise was great at getting him into the whole process. She engaged him in a fun way to make everything look as natural and un-staged as possible. We really enjoyed the whole shoot.

• How do you think your photographs / experience would have been different if you’d had a shorter session?

We moved from being in the garden as a family, to individual baby portraits in the bedroom. Louise took shots of our son sleeping, then waking and feeding, in various locations, with each of us individually and also as a family. I’ve no doubt that less time would have meant we missed out on some of these. I’m delighted we had photos that recorded all aspects of the day. Newborns’ routines change so fast in those first few weeks. Having beautiful photos to remember all the little details of that time is very special.

• Could you imagine having achieved the same results in a 2-hour session?

No, not with the same breadth or variety of image styles, or with our son both awake and asleep. When they’re very young, babies do sleep a lot. It would have been quite possible for our son to have been asleep throughout a 2 hour shoot! Even the way the light changed across the morning gave our images variety visually, which we loved.

• What advice would you give to other parents trying to decide which session length is right for them?

Think about what you want out of the shoot. If you’re after one or a couple of specific images that matter to you, then a shorter session could work and not interrupt your day or routine very much. A longer session gives you a reportage style session, capturing moments and details as they unfold. It also takes any pressure off.

The longer session allows you to enjoy your time with your new baby.

Here are some photographs from their session:

Photographs from a 3-4 hour newborn portrait sessionPhotographs from a 3-4 hour newborn portrait sessionPhotographs from a 3-4 hour newborn portrait session

2 Hour Sessions:

I asked Yoko, mum of a newborn, about her experience with a 2-hour session:

“We chose a 2 hour session because we didn’t think our newborn baby would last much longer than that. We also didn’t need a huge selection of photos.

We got the shots that we wanted, and even had time for a mid-shoot feed.

To be frank, if we’d had a longer session, we would have ended up with more photos than we needed. We wanted shots of our newborn to use for thank you cards, prints to give to our families, and keepsakes for us.

Even though our newborn was only five days old, our son had amazing facial expressions. Louise captured his expressions perfectly.”

Here are some photographs from their session:

2 hour session with newborn baby2 hour session with newborn baby

Other Families’ Experiences:

You might like to read comments from some other families about their experiences:

We chose a longer session to allow maximum scope for a wide variety of shots, involving both my husband and me with our son. Our newborn was only 10 days old at the time, so the longer session was particularly helpful given his need to frequently feed, sleep etc.

We had a wonderful experience. Louise was lovely and helped with our 10 day old son enormously (especially given we were first time parents!). She was very patient and understanding, and had a lovely manner with our son.

The result was a fabulous range of photos and in different settings. Having the longer session allowed our son to rest when needed in between settings. The photographs made a lovely album, which was put together beautifully.

We chose a longer session because we had newborn twins, plus 4 members of the extended family all present for the shoot - we wanted to make sure that we would be relaxed enough to get lots of good photos taken for everyone.

By having a longer session, I could take as long as I liked to breastfeed and to calm the babies, knowing that there was going to be plenty of time. The baby girls took turns getting grumpy, needing to be fed, and falling asleep so I was very glad we had a longer session - having extra time gave me peace of mind.

A lot of beautiful photos that were taken for us occurred when we were not posing or looking at the camera, but just going about our business, having a chat with the grandparents, pointing at a helicopter that was flying past, or cooing over the babies. You won’t get those kind of shots if you are wary of timing or that you’re trying to schedule/orchestrate every composition. Go for the longer session and you’ll be a lot more relaxed.

Photographs from a 3-4 hour session with twins and extended familyPhotographs from a 3-4 hour session with twins and extended familyPhotographs from a 3-4 hour session with twins and extended familyPhotographs from a 3-4 hour session with twins and extended family

We chose a longer session because we wanted to make sure we had time to get natural photos. The longer session allowed time to take a wide range of relaxed shots, and was an enjoyable experience for all of us.

The longer session allowed plenty of time for feeding, changing and to create a relaxed atmosphere. Louise was able to capture a wide range of photographs of him both awake and asleep, and of us all together. The extra time made the whole thing stress free and meant that we didn’t have to create any forced moments. This was reflected in the happy and natural photos we got.

The longer session allows much more flexibility and gives a wide range of shots. It also ensures a very relaxed process which I think is reflected in the quality of the photos.


We wanted photographs to remember how tiny and perfect our newborn was.

We didn’t know if his patience would last for a 3-4 hour session, so we booked in for a 2 hour session which worked well for us.

It helped that Louise is a baby whisperer who managed to settle our baby easily when he cried.

Our photographs are beautiful. We hadn’t considered including ourselves in the pictures, but these are some of our favourites. The photographs are modern without gimmicks or props which is exactly what we wanted.

We felt 2 hours would be more doable with a newborn. We had plenty of time - Louise was very flexible and got some wonderful natural shots as we went about our daily routine.

2 hours felt sufficient for a newborn shoot with a first baby. If you have a bigger family, you may well wish to go for a longer session.

We wanted natural photos in our own home which is why we chose Louise. We live in a small flat, and Louise took photographs in different rooms and settings.

The photos came out beautifully - we were very pleased with all of them.

I hope you found these examples helpful. Do  just ask though if you’d like to discuss which would be the best session length for you.

I look forward to hearing from you!

What to expect