by Jenni Jones
I am not going to lie, I spend a ton of time preparing for a newborn session. My goal is to keep everything cohesive, so regardless of the images a client chooses to display in their home, they will all go well together – AND – everything will match the color palette of their home.
My preparation begins long before the session even starts – in fact, it starts with the first inquiry. When a potential client emails me, one of the first things I do is send them a questionnaire. My primary goal is to understand exactly what they are looking for, as well as get a feel for their personal style and taste. Ultimately this helps me determine whether I am a good fit for them (and vice versa), but, if they do end up booking a session, it also helps me in the planning process.
I ask clients to consider the words that come to mind when they think of their own personal style, and give them a list of words to choose from such as simple, modern, neutral, and monochromatic. I also ask about the color palette in their home – what color are the walls? Is there a recurring theme or color throughout rooms? What about furniture – what colors or tones are seen throughout the house? I also ask if there are any colors they would like to include in their session (or any colors they would like to avoid).
Based on the parents feedback, I select one to two primary colors to include in their session, and possibly one accent color, and build everything I bring around those. Don’t go overboard – the more colors you choose to include, the more challenging it will be to bring it all together.
I break it down into warm vs. cool tones. When looking at my backdrops, props, etc. – warm and cool are broken down by:
- Warm: cream, tan, brown, blush
- Cool: light grey, dark grey, and soft pink
- White & off-white can work with either one
I am very much a neutral tones kind of gal – I actually have very little “color” – I use all neutrals. However, if you use a lot of color, the concept remains the same. Here’s how I would generally group colors by warm and cool (obviously there are variations in hue, you could have warm and cool hues for each color, so please take this as a generalization):
- Warm: Red, orange, yellow, brown, tan, cream, pink
- Cool: Blue, purple, green, grey
Once I know the one or two colors I want to focus on in a session, I start pulling everything together with backdrops, furs, hats, wraps, and props. I normally bring 2 different backdrops (for beanbag shots) and 3 props with me to a session. Sometimes I use them all, sometimes I don’t.
An Example Session
For this session with a beautiful baby boy, the client wanted to include dark grey, so I planned for dark and light grey, as well as off-white. I start by pulling out everything I have that is grey (both dark and light) and off-white/cream. I put it all on my dining room table and started narrowing down the items I wanted to use. For the record – I made a giant mess.
Once I know the backdrops I want to use, I coordinate with wraps and hats. Then I start figuring out which props to use, and get them packed/stuffed/filled so they are ready to use when I arrive at the session.
During the session – I will swap out various hats and wraps to add variety to their gallery. I know I won’t use everything that I bring, but it’s there if I need it, and I know it will work well with everything else I use.
My obsessive need to plan everything (in life) has finally paid off.
Bringing It All Together – Session Images
Here are the items on my dining room table put to use:
I know it can be time consuming to plan everything out – but I promise your clients will appreciate that you’ve taken the time to ensure every image in their gallery will look great hanging on their walls.
Jenni Jones, Texas
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Jenni Jones is a part-time photographer and full time digital marketer in Austin, TX, with a masters degree in business and a background in eCommerce strategy and online marketing and analytics. Armed with her Nikon D800 and various prime lenses, she brings a soft, earthy feel to her newborn and maternity images. She is mother to two shockingly handsome dogs, and is a self-proclaimed dork with an uncanny ability to find humor in just about everything.