A chic jungle-themed nursery is the perfect backdrop for this beautiful at-home newborn photo session in The Woodlands
Justyna and Sathish welcomed their first baby this year and she’s an absolutely perfect princess with the sweetest little face! We celebrated her in-home newborn session in her beautiful jungle-themed nursery, filled with color and personal touches.
Surprise – it’s a girl!
I worked with Justyna and Satish earlier this year for their lovely maternity session; she wanted to blend in-home photos with outdoor images at a park down the street. The result was a beautiful photo gallery filled with with “studio look and feel” indoor images, along with romantic outdoor photos at sunset.
It’s always exciting to work with first-time parents, but there is something extra special when baby’s gender is a surprise! I was overjoyed when Justyna reached out in July with the news she and Sathish had welcomed a happy, healthy daughter they named Minali.
A jungle-themed gender-neutral baby nursery
Justyna sent me a brief description of Minali’s nursery, but I was not prepared for what an amazing place she prepared for her daughter! Along one wall Justyna put up jungle-themed wallpaper marked by gorgeous muted colors and all kinds of animals. She kept the rest of the nursery very simple and elegant, with a gray crib, neutral side table and a gray armchair. Little stuffed animals and a bright pillow on the chair accent the space, along with a light gray polka-dot rug.
She also added a letterboard with baby’s name and birth stats, along with a framed ultrasound photo of tiny Minali in the womb. Little personalized touches like this added extra sparkle to Minali’s room.
I knew from their maternity photo session that Justyna and Sathish love a clean, studio look to their photos, making the white wall behind the crib perfect for part of this at-home newborn photo session. I love the simplicity of this series of images, with just the light gray crib behind the family of three. Then, we slowly moved around the room, using the gray armchair and the jungle wall as backdrops for photos.
I’ve seen more and more first-time parents using wallpaper to create stunning, unique nurseries for their babies – and it’s a trend I fall in love with more every session! I can just imagine how much Minali will enjoy playing in her room as she grows with such a cool mural on the wall. Even better, I can absolutely see that this space would have worked just as wonderfully had Justyna and Sathish welcomed a son instead of a daughter!
Designing a photo-friendly nursery
I send all of my clients a copy of my magazine, Celebrate Motherhood, a 72-page session guide designed to help them feel totally confident and 100 percent prepared for photo sessions.
The most recent edition includes my best tips for a photo-friendly nursery, partially inspired by how well Minali’s room photographed. Here’s a snippet of what I share with clients:
Natural light is so important for your photo session!
I like to open the blinds and push aside any curtains for newborn sessions so we can make the most of any light coming in through the window(s). That’s what makes your photos look bright and airy. If your nursery is on the darker side, or if it’s raining on the day of your session, I’ll use simple off-camera lighting that mimics natural light. Fortunately, Minali’s nursery has a beautiful, big window that allowed for tons of sunlight.
Ensure that your photos are extra beautiful by wearing earth tones – especially if the nursery features mostly neutral shades!
My best suggestion for absolutely every single photo session is to wear neutral colors. These are the most flattering colors for you and baby, and they always look better in a baby’s nursery than bright/bold or dark/heavy wardrobe choices. You can see in the photos above of Justyna and Sathish that their wardrobe choices are classy and perfect whether the crib is in the background, or the jungle wallpaper. Your eyes are drawn to the family’s faces, not their clothing, and that’s exactly what you want for these special memories.
These days, the vast majority of parents decorate baby’s room in whites, grays, creams or other super light shades with accent colors. If your husband opts for dark dress pants + a dark shirt in a room decorated in neutrals, your eye will naturally be drawn to him first in every photo. That’s beacause dark, heavy colors stand out like a sore thumb when surrounded by lighter, happier colors.
If he could instead opt for jeans, khakis or other lighter pants with an earth-toned, light shirt, he’ll blend in better with the room. Instead of those dark colors stealing the show in every image, your attention instead will be on baby first, and your faces second.
Even if you design a nursery that features bold colors, neutrals will still photograph better, especially with bright or heavy colors dominating the room.
I’m always happy to give clients feedback on wardrobe options ahead of your session! That way you’ll know before I arrive that your clothing will photograph well in baby’s room.
Add personalized touches for extra magic!
There are endless tasteful ways to add little touches to baby’s nursery, whether that’s through monograms, letterboards, ultrasound photos or family heirlooms. Elements like these add personality and interest to the space and to your photos.
Does it feel like the nursery is missing something?
It helps to stand in baby’s doorway and survey the room. If you’ve got two or more empty walls, consider adding wallpaper, artwork, or even a mirror to help fill the space. Occasionally I see parents who decorate just above baby’s crib and leave the rest of the walls blank. That can make the space feel empty and cold.
Also, a rug can do so much to pull the room together! In fact, I love to photograph baby-only images on the rug in the nursery to weave in color and incorporate part of the decor in these photos.
Must-have elements in the nursery
We spend at least half of an in-home newborn photo session in the nursery. It’s the spot where you’ve spent hours getting ready for baby, and mamas often feel quite sentimental about their nurseries! Justyna and Sathish designed one of my favorite nurseries of 2021 because they created an amazing space for their daughter by pulling together perfect must-have elements and colorful decor.
There are a couple of must-have elements that ensure gorgeous newborn photos:
- You definitely need a crib! In a pinch, we can use a bassinet if you haven’t picked out a crib or put it together before your photo session. Sometimes families who move into a new home just before baby arrives haven’t had time to finish the nursery, and I completely understand that assembling a crib may be low on your priority list in a brand new home. However, you’ll love your photos so much more if you’ve got a crib or bassinet as a backdrop in baby’s room.
- You need an armchair. I love to use some kind of chair during newborn sessions not just because seated photos are a nice break from standing ones. I also know that you’ve just had a baby, and you probably aren’t getting a lot of sleep. Taking a few minutes to sit and snuggle with your newborn make for lovely memories and it gives you a break from being on your feet. Plus, there are so many creative ways to capture you and baby when you are seated!
- You need a window, preferably not blocked by solar shades or trees. One of my favorite parts of every newborn session is photographing mama cuddling baby next to a window, where both are covered in gentle natural light. This is the most flattering light for both you and baby, as you can see from this gorgeous portrait of new mama Justyna and her perfect baby girl.
Can you use just one room for an entire newborn session?!
If you only want to use baby’s room for newborn photos, you’ll still have a beautiful photo gallery of sweet memories! In fact, we used Minali’s nursery for 80 percent of the session. We worked together in the master bedroom for about 15 minutes, but the session would have been just as wonderful in just baby’s room!
For Minali’s newborn photo session, I photographed the family in the following ways:
- in front of the crib
- standing with the crib on one side and a bookcase/decorated shelf on the other side
- mama next to the window
- mom and dad separately holding baby seated in the armchair
- mom and dad separately holding baby with the jungle wallpaper as a backdrop
- with me standing in the doorway, capturing as much of the nursery as possible as mom and dad snuggle baby together
- baby snuggled in my Moses basket, situated on the polka-dot rug
This means Justyna and Sathish had seven different backgrounds in their newborn photo gallery – using just one room! I move families around the room during every newborn session, making the most of furniture and decor. Even though they wore the same outfits for all of the photos in this room, we changed up accessories for baby Minali and there is so much variety for Justyna and Sathish to choose from!
Celebrating this sweet family of three!
This joyful in-home newborn session marks the start of Justyna and Sathish’s parenting journey – and what gorgeous memories they have! Don’t miss the rest of Minali’s gorgeous photos from her first-ever photo session.