Inside the Rise of the Newborn Photo Shoot

As with pretty much every trend spiking today, social media has played a massive role in fueling the popularity of newborn photography. “People want to post adorable pictures of their babies rather than immediate, wrinkly ones with slight cone heads,” Pope notes. Few posts garner as many likes as a 5-day-old sleeping blissfully in a woven hammock or napping atop a tiny Princess and the Pea–style brass bed.

Renee Grant looked on as her 6-day-old son was nuzzled in a nest in a newborn shoot by New York newborn photographer Zoe Hiigli. Then, she says, “I immediately posted to Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.”

“Social media is huge for me. I posted images from my maternity shoot to both Facebook and Instagram, and I’ll be doing the same once I receive my newborn shoot images,” echoed Fallon Carmichael, a New York lifestyle blogger (Sage + Sparkle) who had a pumpkin-themed newborn shoot taken of her now 7-week-old son, Jayden, when he was 11 days old. Hiigli shot Jayden in a pumpkin hat, amid leaves and gourds; another look features him wearing a knit Yankees uniform (an ode to Carmichael’s husband’s favorite team), lolling among vintage baseballs and peanuts.

The rise of the newborn photo shoot also dovetailed with the celebrity-driven glamorization of pregnancy and babies, starting with Demi Moore, nude and belly-clutching on the cover of Vanity Fair, to Brad and Angelina lounging with Shiloh in their bedroom on the cover of People. We wonder at celebrity “bumps,” know celebrity children by name. A newborn shoot allows non–Jolie-Pitt parents to feel like A-listers in their own circles.

Newborn shoots “started with celebrities, then went to the affluent who can afford the photographers, and now it’s going to the mainstream,” says Rachel Blumenthal, CEO and founder of Cricket’s Circle, a shopping site for new and expectant mothers. (Newborn shoots can range from a few hundred dollars for smaller-market photographers and simple shoots to $2,000 or more for elaborate, multi-prop shoots and the albums and framed art prints available afterward.)

Though there is no definitive data on the number of newborn photography sessions captured in the U.S. today compared with 20 or 30 years ago, baby-industry insiders say the whimsical trend began intensifying about five to 10 years ago. Before 2010, when Pope spoke at baby-industry shows for expectant parents, she’d notice only one or two newborn and pregnancy photographers (naturally, the two often go hand in hand) offering their services. “Now they’re everywhere,” Pope notes.

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