If you are currently pregnant and thinking of booking a newborn photographer to photograph your new addition, this blog post is for you!
Booking a photographer for your newborn session is often the first time you will have hired a professional photographer so it can be a minefield of uncertainty. How do you pick? How do you know you are choosing the right person? How do you know what to look for and what to ask?
Some parents to be will base their decision purely on liking the images on a website or based on their budget. These are of course important factors but I believe it is important to ask these questions ahead of booking your newborn baby photoshoot so that you can be confident that you have chosen the right newborn photographer for you and your family. They are only newborns for such a little while you want to be sure you look back on your experience as a wonderful one and love the photos for years to come.
CHOOSING YOUR NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER
Selecting a newborn photographer is something you should try to do fairly early in your pregnancy to ensure that your preferred person is still available to book you in around your due date. Most of the established newborn photographers including myself book up well in advance with some families booking me as soon as they have had their 12 week scan.
I recommend making a booking around the time of your 20 week scan if not before. If you leave it too late I may not have space in my diary to book you in as I only take a limited number of newborn bookings per month (as of 2017 this will be extremely limited to 4 each month so it will be essential to book in advance!) As babies rarely arrive on time this ensures I will be able to book you in within the first few weeks after your baby is born regardless if they arrive early or late.
With five years experience photographing newborn babies I understand it is an overwhelming time so I aim to make the entire process as simple, enjoyable and stress free as possible for you and welcome any questions in advance of booking. Please never be afraid to ask your photographer any questions, there is no such thing as a silly question when it comes to your precious newborn baby!
TEN QUESTIONS TO ASK NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHERS
I advise that before you book a newborn photographer you ask these important questions much like you would interview prospective wedding photographers before committing to booking them. You will be handing your precious days old baby to a stranger and allowing them to hold, comfort and pose your baby so you must be confident in their skills and ability to work safely.
1. Are they professionally trained and experienced?
Don’t be afraid to ask a photographer about the professional newborn training that they have had. While the photography industry is currently unregulated in the UK with no need for formal qualifications a professional newborn photographer should have invested in professional training and must always hold professional insurance. If they haven’t invested safety training do you really want to hand your brand new baby over to them? Being a parent and having many years experience of babies myself was nowhere near enough and I have trained with several of the top newborn photographers in the UK.
A newborn photographer should be able to tell you about the specific training they have completed and the safe practices that they adhere to in order to ensure a baby’s safety during photoshoots. For example are they aware of how to pose a baby to ensure their circulation is not compromised? Are they aware of signs to look for in certain poses that would indicate a baby is uncomfortable?
Equally important is experience. An experienced newborn photographer will be very comfortable handling babies of all ages. They will have worked with dozens if not hundreds of babies, and so will know how to safely and comfortably pose your baby. They should know how to soothe even the most unsettled newborn and hopefully even show you a few tricks that you can use at home!
2. Are they a member of any newborn specific photography associations such as BANPAS?
The best newborn photographers are also likely to be members of professional industry associations like BANPAS (the Baby and Newborn Photography Association). Photographers who are members will proudly show logos of such organisations on their websites and talk about their passion for working in a baby safe manner.
To become a member they will have needed to prove that they have professional insurance as a very minimum. Being a member will demonstrate that they are committed to following a code of professional conduct, set out by the organisation, which has the best interests of your baby in mind.
I myself am not only a member but have also been named as an Ambassador for Scotland with BANPAS, a title I am incredibly proud of! As well as working in a baby centred manner with safety as my absolute priority I am also proud to mentor newer photographers to ensure they receive adequate training before working as a newborn photographer. I have also been asked to give talks at local colleges and art schools to photography students interested in this field of photography.
3. Are they a newborn specialist or a “jack of all trades” photographer?
You should get a sense of this from looking at the body of work demonstrated on a photographers website. Do they mainly focus on weddings but do the odd newborn to keep finances ticking over during the down season? Do they seem to mostly work with older children with little evidence of newborn work? Or are newborns front and centre of their business with their studio specifically geared towards accommodating newborn babies and their families?
Personally I wouldn’t book a mechanic to fit my bathroom and to me photography is no different! The skills required to be a great newborn photographer vary vastly from those required to ace weddings. Just because someone can take great photos of animals or landscapes does not mean they have any of the skills required to safely and beautifully pose a brand new sleeping baby.
4. Beware of cut price photographers
PLEASE don’t be tempted to cut corners by taking on anyone who doesn’t do photography professionally, as their main job, or who offers incredibly cheap prices. Photography is an expensive business to run and newborn photographers in particular spend hundreds if not thousands each year on props alone (just ask my accountant!)
I believe that you get what you pay for in this life. If someone proclaims to offer a newborn session including photos for as little as £50, alarm bells should start ringing in your head! Anyone running a full time business simply couldn’t survive on that even if shooting five newborns a week as once you factor in overheads, tax etc they would end up with next to nothing.
Choose a professional photographer and someone who is a specialist in newborn photography. If someone is good at their job, and in demand, their prices will reflect that. Cut-price photographers are likely to offer a second-grade service. Would you want to settle for that?
5. How do they create the more advanced complex baby poses?
Experienced and professional newborn photographers will be able to discuss and show examples of how they achieve the ore advanced newborn poses such as “potato sack” shown below. These generally involve the use of an assistant or spotter and some digital photoshop magic to composite images together. This ensures baby is safe at all times and never expected to hold positions they would not naturally be able to hold on their own.
Another example would be prop images which should only ever be done with an assistant or spotter within arms reach of baby. Newborn babies easily startle so an experienced photographer will ensure their are hands on baby until the very last second and only removed for a second or two so that the image can be taken. For some prop shots the baby will require hands on at all times and for multiple images to be taken to composite together afterwards in photoshop. Never allow your baby to be placed in or on a prop if you have any concerns about their safety. An experienced photographer will never be upset with you questioning the safety of a shot, they should be completely happy and able to put you at ease explaining how the shot will be achieved safely.
Please be aware:
- No photographer should ever force your baby into positions which make them uncomfortable or put them in danger.
- No baby should ever be expected to support the weight of its own head or body, be suspended from a height or put in a basket or box which could potentially topple over.
- The baby should be relaxed and comfortable at all times, and 100% safe.
6. What age of baby will they work with?
An incredibly important question to ask in advance of booking is if the photographer you are considering has a preference in regards to the age of the baby.
Many newborn photographers prefer babies to be aged under two weeks old in order to get the curled up baby poses that are so popular. Others will happily have babies in much older than this, but may not be able to offer the same range of poses as you see on their website.
Is your photographer also comfortable working with premature babies, who may be significantly smaller than the average newborn? You won’t necessarily know if this is going to be important in your case until after the birth, but it’s a good question to ask just in case.
Personally I have experience of working with premature babies and also posing newborns up to 8 weeks of age successfully. Each baby is unique and your session will always be scheduled once you are home from hospital and have had a few days at home to settle in. I personally prefer not to work with newborns under 6 days of age as I prefer mum and baby to be able to spend the first few days bonding, establishing feeding and getting to know one another! The last thing I want to do is add any pressure that you must come to the studio before a certain date.
7. Will they be able to meet your expectations?
You may have seen examples of newborn photos that you would love a photographer to create with your baby. Make sure you discuss this ahead of the shoot to make sure that your photographer is able to meet your expectations. Will your photographer be able to create that specific pose, or not? If you have seen a particular image on social media that you have your heart set on but your chosen photographer cannot recreate will you be left unhappy?
Also ask about whether you need to buy and bring any of your own props, or whether this is included in the shoot. Most newborn photographers will have an extensive selection of props, blankets, hats, headbands etc and you should not have to bring any of your own along unless you want to.
Are you also welcome to bring in your own props? You may have a family heirloom or sentimental item that you want included in your photos. Is your photographer happy to incorporate this into the photos? Similarly, if you would rather the photos did not make use of props, do say in advance.
Most photographers will likely aim to create a number of different setups throughout the shoot so there will be plenty of images for you to choose from afterwards, but if you have a preference in regards to styling and colours, do make this known ahead of the session to make sure they will deliver what you. I consult with my clients prior to the day of their session to discuss their preferences with regards to colours, props etc to ensure I have everything on hand on the day and they are not left disappointed that a particular hat they loved cant be used as it is in the wash!
8. Does your photographer have a good reputation and happy clients?
It is potentially quite easy for parents to be fooled into thinking that all newborn photographers are created equal. Let me assure you, they are not! The newborn photography industry here in the UK is currently unregulated. That means that there is no specific qualification that a newborn photographer must obtain before they can start offering the service.
So, in theory, even a novice photographer, with zero experience of handling babies, could potentially setup shop and market themselves as a newborn photographer! This is very worrying but, unfortunately, happens a lot. I’ve heard horror stories of things that have gone wrong in newborn sessions, when babies are put in the hands of inexperienced and untrained photographers.
Without the right professional training, a photographer could put your baby at risk. So I urge you to be vigilant and only use a reputable, experienced and professionally trained photographer.
If you don’t have a personal recommendation from someone you trust, do your own extensive research before you commit to a booking. Read their reviews on Facebook, google, net mums etc. And ask in social media groups for opinions form people who have used them in the past.
Spend the time exploring the market to find a photographer who can demonstrate a track record of satisfied customers and high standards of professionalism. Some examples of how you can do this include:
- Review their website and social media presence
- Look for comments and feedback from recent customers and see how they interact online.
- Do they seem positive, passionate about what they do, and good with people?
- Contact them directly and ask questions.
All this will give you some idea of the kind of person they are and give you an impression of how they conduct themselves and their business. You should feel confident that you are selecting someone who knows what they are doing, will handle your baby safely and produce the kinds of images you want. You also want to make sure you are booking someone you will feel comfortable with and be able to relax and enjoy the experience.
9. What happens if something goes wrong?!
As most of us knows babies are a law unto themselves and some days no matter what you do they just wont settle or sleep. Sometimes they have a growth spurt so want to spend all day feeding. Or they have an upset tummy so spend all day pooping! Perhaps colic is rearing its dreaded head? Will your photographer be understanding of this and be able to rearrange your session? Will there be a cost for this? These are all perfectly understandable circumstances when it comes to working with newborns and an experienced newborn specialist should never make you feel guilty if your baby is unable to “perform” on the day.
There are also a number of reasons why mum and baby do not get home from hospital until later on. Again a newborn specialist will be completely understanding of this and should be able to offer reassurance of what can still be achieved.
10. What about the boring details?
Will the photographer come to your home or will you need to visit their photography studio? If the photographer works from a studio is the location convenient for you? Are you able to visit in advance for a look around? Will travelling there with a brand new baby be difficult? Similarly if the photographer comes to you how much space do you need to clear? Is there sufficient space in your lounge or will they need to set up in your bedroom? Do you want someone coming into your home days after giving birth when it probably isn’t as tidy and presentable as you like?! Will you have to provide them with snacks etc?
Photographers understand that the setting for a newborn shoot is very important. It should be relaxed, warm (the baby will be naked a lot of time) and welcoming. Will you and the baby be comfortable there? You’ll likely be there for several hours or more. Most often the pressure and stress involved with having someone come to your home is much more than people expect. You may be tired and in pain and the last thing you want to do is clean and tidy your home and rearrange furniture to make space for their equipment.
here are some logistical things to consider:
- Where is the studio based and what distance will you need to travel?
- Do you know the way and how long it will take to get there? Always factor in extra time to allow for traffic – it’s far better to arrive early rather than late.
- Is there parking on site or nearby?
- How easy is the studio to access (you’ll be carrying baby in a car seat or will have a pushchair, no doubt)? Is there space in the studio for your pushchair once you arrive?
- If it’s not the ground floor, is there a lift you can use?
- And inside, is it clean and organised?
- Is there comfy seating for parents and any other family members who are coming along?
- Are siblings welcome and, if so, are there any child-friendly facilities available?
- Are refreshments included?
- What baby changing and feeding facilities are there?
My final thoughts……
This is a lot to take in and a huge amount of information! But hopefully it highlights to you the importance of doing your research when looking for a newborn photographer. In Edinburgh alone there are now dozens of photographers popping up each month offering newborn photo shoots. When I started Beautiful Bairns there was only one other newborn specialist photographer! In the five years since Beautiful Bairns was launched the newborn photography market has exploded which is great for everyone, I can’t possibly photograph all of the thousands of babies born in Edinburgh each year, never mind those who travel from Fife, the Lothians etc! But it also makes choosing that bit trickier for parents to be so hopefully this has helped you to think about the factors that matter to you when choosing who to use to capture this beautiful milestone in your family history.
Hopefully after considering all of the points made above you will feel confident in choosing a photographer whose style you love, who will deliver the quality of experience that you desire and that your new baby deserves, and photos that you will treasure for a lifetime.
Should you wish to choose Beautiful Bairns to photograph your newborn baby I look forward to hearing from you. Contact me at any time on 07843 912 692, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or complete the form on my contact page: www.beautifulbairns.com/contact