Newborn photography has become almost a must for all new parents, and of course being a newborn photographer it thrills me! It’s also insane to see the amount of photographers that are popping up every day, regardless of their knowledge and education in photography and business. Therefore I decided to give a few pointers to those who are looking for the perfect newborn photographer. I love it when my clients tell me they have been researching for a few weeks, and just kept coming back to my website. It means that they know what they want and are educated on newborn photography.
The newborn stage is so fleeting and magical, I can’t help but sigh when I think back to the first few days of my children’s life. My daughter is about to turn nine, and her first photo session was at 6 weeks old. She was not sleepy, or curly, nor she had a flaky peeling skin anymore. I wish I had those captures to look at! Your baby will NEVER be this tiny, this sleepy, this curly, this magical and perfect again, so make sure you are hiring the right person to capture all the beauty. Here are a few tips to help you find the right professional while looking through their portfolio:
Isn’t newborn photography a relatively new concept? Is it just a fad that will go away in time?
Yes, newborn portraiture is a fairly new art form (within the past 5 years) in the photography world. In the past, parents would most often choose to have their baby’s first portrait session take place around 2-3 months of age. Now, newborn photographers like myself photograph newborns under 2 weeks of age.
Although having a newborn session done just days after birth is a fairly new concept for many people, I strongly believe it isn’t just a fad. Fads are things that come and go because people get tired of them and move on to something else. The concept of newborn photography is similar to the concept of wedding photography. Your newborn baby will only be this tiny once in their life, and only for a matter of days. You have one chance to capture that moment before it passes you by. I can not image getting tired of looking at fresh flaky skin and chubby cheeks, even if it’s not my baby
The first week or two after birth is such a hard adjustment time for parents. Why does newborn photography have to be in these 1st two weeks?
With couple young children of my own, I absolutely know how difficult those first few weeks can be! As families are struggling to adjust, that fleeting newborn stage is so easily forgotten. But newborns change dramatically in the first weeks of life. When they are first born, they are able to bend and curl into these sweet little poses, mimicking how they lived inside the womb. They sleep in such a deep sleep that sometimes it is impossible to wake them up. And they have that precious, brand-new “newborn look” that reminds us of the miracle of birth. All these amazing characteristics will begin to disappear forever after just a couple of short weeks. The goal of newborn photography is to capture this extremely short stage in your baby’s life. It is a session centered around capturing the beauty and newness of this tiny little miracle that you have brought into the world.
My friend just has some great Christmas pictures done of her family. She said the photographer does newborns too. Would she be a good choice?
Maybe. Maybe not. The fact that your friend had a positive experience with this photographer is definitely a plus! However, newborn photography is its own special breed. And it’s not for every photographer. I’ve done every other kind of portraits – kids, families, seniors, weddings – and I can say that, in comparison, newborn photography requires a completely different learning curve and skill set than the other types of photography. The most important thing you can do as a consumer is to look specifically at their newborn portfolio. Just because someone is an awesome photographer, doesn’t mean they are an awesome newborn photographer.
There seem to be a lot of photographers who say they “specialize” in newborns. Should I just look for the one with the best prices?
Price is always at the forefront of any consumers mind, but you have to remember the old saying, “You get what you pay for.” Going with the least expensive photographer is not a good way to determine who will take your baby’s portraits. Most often the least expensive photographer is also the least experienced photographer. You have to remember, this photographer will be handling, posing, and soothing your baby – you didn’t go to just ANY obgyn, or chose just ANY pediatrician. It’s not just about taking the pictures, it’s making sure you are working with someone who
a) knows how to appropriately handle newborns in general,
b) considers the safety of your baby first and
c) will provide you with a beautiful and technically correct final product.
Pricing is a touchy subject, but it’s important. Real professional photographers aren’t charging an arm and a leg because they are greedy. They are running a legitimate business. Charging $10 for an 8×10 and $200 for a CD of all of the edited images is not ever going to make a business profitable, it’s just not possible. In fact, I’m going to say that once taxes (if they are even paying them) and business expenses (taxes-federal and state, that’s about 30-40% of our sales right there; liability insurance; equipment; accounting fees; software; marketing; training; professional organizations; daycare/babysitter etc etc etc.) are taken out, they are not even going to make minimum wage or even cover the gas getting to the session. Each number in my – and most professional newborn photographers – pricing list is backed up by careful calculations based on a business analysis.
What should I look for in a newborn photographer?
The most important thing is for you to look through their portfolio for certain criteria. You will get images similar to the ones you see in their portfolio.
1. The pictures should be classic and timeless in nature.
These portraits will hopefully be an heirloom you will pass on to future generations. Colors of used props should make the baby look peaceful and compliment him. Five years from now that huge moose hat will look wild
When you look through the pictures, ask yourself “What is the first thing I notice?” Are you marveling at how precious the baby is and what cute toes he has, or finding yourself distracted amidst scenes of fake flowers, huge headbands, tutus, stuffed animals etc.? Often, the less “stuff” or props that are in the pictures, the better the photographer is. They have the ability to skillfully pose your baby so that he is the sole focus of your portraits.
2. Photos MUST be technically correct and consistent throughout photographer’s portfolio (website and blog).
Many many people think that getting a fancy camera makes them a photographer. Not so fast! Putting a new dslr on a green box setting is not making one a photographer. Manually controlling a camera, photographer makes all the decisions about the final image. It’s like making a cake from scratch vs store baked. So while looking for a newborn photographer, please, make sure all the images are:
~ in focus – you want to be able to see every detail of that perfect little face
~ not too bright/overexposed or too dark/almost black/underexposed – you want the images to be bright and airy, but you also want to see every detail and texture in printed images
~ not over-processed. That is the first sign of inexperience. I see this a lot – neon colors, “antique” actions thrown on the images, too much contrast, details of textures are lost and look like color blobs etc. You want the beautiful baby to look like himself, not the crazy photoshopping that was done to him.
~ consistent quality. It’s been known how photographers use (or I should say steal) other photographers’ images to create their portfolio, or fill their websites with images from workshops they attended. Obviously, you will not get the quality you expected. While looking at portfolio, make sure all images look similar, fit one style, are consistent in flawless posing and beautiful color.
3. The baby should look comfortable, relaxed, peaceful, and safe in the portraits.
As in all portraits, the facial expression is very important. Newborns are so pliable and can be put into all kinds of amazing positions in their first couple weeks of life. The positions might look uncomfortable to us, but actually are quite comfortable to the baby as they mimic their positions in the womb. A skilled photographer will be able to pose the baby tucked with their feet up by their chin, accompanied by a peaceful, sleepy – sometimes even a smiling face.
A lot of the popular poses are achieved through the magic of Photoshop. I’ve seen some scary set ups/newborn images and videos around the interwebs that made me shake my head. If the baby looks unhappy & uncomfortable, he probably is. Posing a baby correctly and safely takes years of training and experience, and chances are the person who just picked up their camera last week probably won’t know how to do it correctly.
Is there anything else that is helpful for me to know?
Some photographers do sessions at your home, while some have you come to their studio. These things are usually just a personal preference of the photographer, and if the photographer is good at what she does, one of these isn’t better than another.
I’m pregnant now – when should I schedule my newborn session?
Most photographers will tell you it’s best to schedule your newborn session while you are still pregnant. The more notice they have, the better for both of you. Because your baby’s due date is generally unpredictable, photographers will reserve a time-frame for you. They know they can then only schedule a limited number of sessions around that time. If you wait until after the baby is born to contact a photographer, they might not have room in their schedules on such short notice. Additionally, when you contact a photographer when you are still pregnant, it is one less thing you have to worry about doing after your baby is born. And you have the ability to get to know the photographer more, and share any ideas you have for your portrait session.
You have created a special miracle, a beautiful baby unlike any other. Contact me at 919-341-9294 or firstname.lastname@example.org to capture this precious stage in your baby’s life so that you will never forget it. They will be pictures you will cherish forever; portraits that will become heirlooms.