Updated: Apr 17, 2020
You are pregnant or just had your baby and would like to find a photographer to capture their tiny toes, their little nose, their squishy little features. But how do you choose the right photographer for you?? There are so many photographers out there. Some are excellent and will provide you with stunning images. Some are not quite there and some will leave you with a bitter experience. But how do you know which is which? There are some questions you should definitely ask any newborn photographer you are considering.
1. Are you trained in newborn posing and safety?
I see so many photographers pop up on local selling pages who clearly do not have newborn training, or maybe attended one workshop or watched some youtube videos on how to pose a baby. Your baby. Posing newborn babies has to be done with all safety concerns in mind. Newborn baby cannot be left unattended. A well trained photographer will be able to move your baby between poses without disturbing them much and very gently. Baby should always be supervised and posed safely. Some images I post are composites (two separate images combined together) as that is the only way to safely achieve an image like a 'Froggy' yet I have seen videos of photographers balancing baby :(
I train a lot. I attend several training sessions a year, I work with a mentor from the Guild of Photographers whom I have worked with for years. There is always something new to learn...
2. Do you have insurance in place?
You never want to think of the worst, you don't want to think of accidents that could happen. BUT any good photographer will have insurance. They will have public liability and professional indemnity insurance. If they don't, I would not let them touch my baby.
3. Are you a member of any professional bodies?
Newborn photography sector is not regulated in any shape or form. However, there are several professional bodies and being a member or even qualified with one of them should offer some reassurance that your chosen photographer will deliver images of great quality.
4. What is your pricing structure?
Some photographers charge a session fee (a fee for their time, creative ability, use of props...) and then you select a package on top of this fee, prints or digitals and so on.
Some photographers charge a booking fee (to secure your session, usually deductible from your package price) and then offer packages to select from (I fall into this group as I like things simple and straight forward.)
5. Will you include parent/ sibling shots?
It is lovely to get a couple of images with your baby. If this is not your first baby you might want to include their sibling in the session too. Some photographers will only take images of your baby so it is best to check first.
6. How long is the session?
A newborn session takes a while :) Babies need a lot of cuddles, feeding, changing, winding, you name it. There should be sufficient time so the session does not feel rushed and you don't feel nervous if your little one has a touch of wind and won't settle for a while. 2 hours would be the minimum a photographer should allow for a newborn session.
7. What would happen if you are sick on the day of the session?
This is quite an important one in a way. As newborn photographers we deal with tiny humans who are vulnerable to viruses and illnesses. If I was ill I would always contact my customer and reschedule. I only ever had to do this a handful of times but I would rather wait a few days to a week as I know I can achieve gorgeous images even with a baby who is 3/4 weeks old. This is preferable to making a baby poorly. Any good photographer would offer to reschedule as soon as they realise they are unwell. I once had to ask a colleague to step in and carry a session out on my behalf as my own little one had impetigo combined with hand,foot and mouth. There was no way I would go near a newborn baby if I could be carrying a virus like this. I am extremely lucky as I have a couple close photographer friends I can call on in such a situation.
8. Should I delay my session as my baby has jaundice/ dry skin?
Dry skin is not a problem at all as this can be edited out and pretty much all babies will peel. Some more, some less. I recommend that you don't put any oils and creams on baby prior to session as dry skin is much easier to edit than a shiny baby :) Jaundice is not an issue either, unless it is making your baby unwell and too sleepy and not eating properly, in which case you do need to see your midwife/health visitor instead of your newborn session. Any newborn photographer will understand as we always put well being of our tiny customers first. But jaundice can be edited out and skin tone evened out in post production.
If your baby suffers with tongue tie and has a procedure to loosen this I would recommend waiting a couple of days before your session as they could be a bit unsettled after the procedure (some babies are not bothered at all and are fine).
9. How old should baby be for their newborn session?
Personally I recommend between 2-3 weeks. I have had babies much younger, my youngest baby was 3 days old but as he was a really good size baby and very sleepy the session went fantastically well. Not all mums are quite ready for a photo session a couple of days after giving birth so 2-3 weeks gives you a bit of time to bond with your baby, get used to reading their cues and establish feeding. It also means that the umbilical cord has often fallen off by this time.
If you are reading this and panicking as your baby is now here and is 2 weeks old and you have not booked a newborn photographer yet, don't panic. I have photographed babies older than 3 weeks. I have had babies in who were even 6-7 weeks. As babies are much more alert and less squishy the session can take longer and some of the poses might not be achievable but any good newborn photographer should still be able to create a stunning gallery for you and your baby.
10. What if my baby does not 'behave' on the day?
I see it so often with new mums coming to me worried that their baby will cry through the session, that they will not play ball. I often get told that baby hates being naked.... And as we go through the session I see mums relax while their watch their little squishy angel gently handled in a warm environment by a very patient photographer (and a mum of 3 :) ).
However it is a good question to ask. If for any reason the session really does not go well, little one is unsettled and photographer does not manage to get enough images for a gallery they often offer a free reschedule. I have never had to do this yet (apart from a couple cake smash sessions) but should the situation ever arise that is what I would do.
Other things to consider:
Do your chosen photographer's prices seem too good to be true? As with anything in the world, they probably are. Unless you came across someone who is relatively new in the business and building up their portfolio. Any good photographer will need to take into consideration their training, insurance, equipment, time and any overheads they have to create stunning memories for you and your little one when deciding on their package cost.
Read reviews on their website, Facebook or Google Business. Word of mouth recommendations are great too. Have a look at your photographers website and Facebook page to see if you like their style. If you have an idea of the style of images you want to achieve and they don't match the given photographer's portfolio it might not be the right photographer for you. If there is just one image you love on their site, it might be worth looking around for someone whose work speaks to you. Recently I came across a local photographer who uses stunning images for their adverts. Checking their portfolio something just did not add up. Reverse image search (right click image and select "search google for image") proved my feeling right when I found the said photographer is using stock images someone else took to advertise their sessions :(
Tell your photographer about any issues during baby's birth or any conditions that should be considered when posing your little one. There are poses that should not be done with breech babies for example. A good photographer will be aware and avoid these poses. There are a few restrictions for babies with club foot and so on. An experienced newborn photographer will always ask for anything they need to be aware of and tailor the session accordingly.
Most photographers will provide you with a gallery of images to select your package from. Some will offer very large galleries, some might go for quality over quantity. Especially with newborn galleries I have found over the years that 20-25 amazing images is so much more beautiful then 40-50 images where you have several images of the same pose and so on. I try to create beautifully crafted images that would look amazing as a piece of art on your wall. Each image is hand edited to remove flaky skin, even skin tone, reduce wrinkles on materials and so on... The finished image looks exactly as I would love for it to look on a large acrylic or a framed wall art on your wall.
Most importantly of all, sit down and enjoy the experience of watching your little one having their photos taken and some priceless memories being created. You made this new person and you are starting together on a beautiful journey. You are the story writer for them for now and by having a newborn session you will have a stunning illustration of what they looked like when they would still fit into your hands.
Images taken by me and behind the scenes provided by my amazing customers.