How to Choose a Newborn Photographer
Newborn Photography has really become the “in vogue” genre of photography in recent years. When I opened the business in 2002 with my first ever newborn shoot, it was just not very common at all to get your newborn photographed. Now a days though so many photographers are popping up all over the internet and Facebook having a go at photographing new babies. All too often lately, I have enquiries about a Newborn Photo Shoot but once I send out my very transparent shoot costs and price list, I either hear nothing further or have a response back saying that I am too expensive!
For a while now, as a result, I have had these article brewing inside me. So how should you go choosing a Newborn Photographer? And indeed why choose a professional newborn photographer to do it at all? Surely a good DSLR camera is all you need to photograph a sleepy newborn? Then burn all the images to disc and…hey presto….job done!
If only it was that easy……
So before you rush out and grab the best deal you can find with all your images on disc for the cheapest price you can get, here are a few things to consider.
1. Best Time
Firstly newborn photographs are best taken within the first couple of weeks of baby’s life in order to get the best results. This time frame is so short and passes so quickly with all the flurry of visitors wanting to meet the new arrival and trying to settle into a new routine. If you make the wrong decision and are disappointed with your images, the ideal window may be over. Very much like wedding photography there is one opportunity to get this right.
2. Safety of your Baby
Then very important to consider is that this is your very precious tiny helpless newborn baby. You need to feel secure in the knowledge that the photographer you are handing your baby over to will handle your baby with the utmost care and consideration of your baby’s safety. Have they had training in Newborn Photography or caring for newborns? Do they have insurance should God forbid anything happen to your baby during the shoot? Can you go in and chat with them before the shoot and see the studio. Do they make you feel secure and confident that they will work safely with your baby? Have they been recommended?
Photography is an Art Form and each photographer has their own unique style. This includes both in the way they pose baby and capture the images and the way they are edited. Do you like the style of the photographs in their portfolio? Can you imagine these hanging images on your walls? Look carefully at the images on their website, blog and Facebook pages. These are likely to be the photographer’s favourite images and therefore a good representation of what they consider to be their best work. How flexible is the photographer and how receptive are they to your ideas? Will they personalize your shoot to suit your vision? You really need to LOVE what they do and wish and hope for the same for your baby.
How long has the photographer been photographing newborns and how many newborns have they photographed? Will they have the experience to soothe and comfort a cranky newborn and then pose them to get the best out of your photo shoot. Newborn photography is not as easy as it looks! From photographs it may appear as if all the photographer has merely laid the sleeping baby down and snapped a few shots. But in fact it is not like that at all. Newborns don’t all just sleep! Undressing baby will most likely wake them and an awake newborn squirms and wriggles. It pulls faces and cries. It kicks and flails it’s arms constantly…….and not to mention the pee and poop! And just because you can soothe baby to sleep in your arms, this does not mean that when you put baby down in a prop or on a blanket that baby stays asleep and allows you to pose it.
It takes years of experience to master the art of posing a newborn, and I don’t say that lightly. I look back on my images from 2, 5 or 10 years ago and can see just how much I have improved in so many ways. I have been photographing newborns for over 12 years now. For the last 4 years, I have photographed between 60 – 100 newborns per year!! That is a lot of newborns and many, many hours of rocking, soothing and posing babies. Newborns are not all the same either. Babies vary greatly in how they like to be positioned, how they like to be held, how they feed and how easily they bring up their wind, how they fall asleep and how deeply they sleep. An experienced newborn photographer will know how to judge the temperament of your newborn and how to work with them to achieve the best poses and images possible.
I am often referred to as a Baby Whisperer. Parents often comment at my patience and ability to comfort their baby. Recently a grandmother commented that she thought all new parents should have a “Tracey-Anne” stashed in a cupboard to bring out when they were battling to settle their baby…..particularly in the middle of the night!
A Newborn Photographer above all needs to be good with babies. This is vital if you want good images!
How proficient is the photographer at editing your images after the shoot? Do you like their editing style? And while you may think this is not important…..let me tell you it is critical. Too many parents just think …..I just want the photos to be “natural”…..editing isn’t something I want. Well let me tell you that ALL newborns need a fair amount of editing. Newborn skin is does not have the creamy peaches and cream complexion that we see on the best newborn photos. Newborn skin is firstly very red in comparison to our skin tone. Red is always a colour which is over exaggerated when photos are printed and if not dealt with baby can just look like they have been boiled! Then on top of that baby may be jaundiced with a yellow tinge to the skin. There may be areas which are bruised. Their skin is often flaky and peeling off and most often they have spots and blemishes. All of these need editing to give you the best images to display in your home.
Beware of the photographer who just turns all their photos into a black and white format. Are they hiding all these skin issues because they can’t deal with them?
Then there are those interesting poses that you see. The ones where it appears as if the baby is holding their own head up. Or the ones where they are hanging from a branch etc. Well these are done by editing for the most part by using composites where more than one photo is used to make up the image. Or parents/assistants hands holding baby are magically made to disappear. Please don’t ever think that these can be achieved without editing. It would just not be safe!
Now this is probably a very controversial subject! While we all need to consider our budget when buying anything these days when money is so tight. One does also need to get value for money and the very best we can afford. An old adage………You get what you pay for! …..has never been truer than in this situation.
Consider how much thought and money you spend on buying all those new items for baby,….the buggy/pram, car seat, the cot and nursery furniture and all those cute little outfits and toys you just can’t resist. How long will baby wear those clothes. Will you still be using the buggy/pram in 5 years time?
Well your Newborn Photographs are just such a big investment……..if not bigger. The difference being that those images will last a lifetime. They will be a constant reminder of how tiny and fragile your new baby was. A reminder of just how much or how little hair they had or who they looked like in those first few weeks. Your baby will change so quickly it will be impossible to remember all the tiny details of what they looked like. Your Newborn photographs will be there long after your baby has outgrown those outfits and no longer needs that car seat or pram. Your newborn images should be a beautiful heirloom to pass down to your child in years to come. Should you therefore not invest in getting the very best quality that you can afford.
If the photographer whose images you LOVE is a little out of the price range you feel you can afford…….can you pay off your order in installments? Certainly worth considering before you run out and book what looks like a good deal only to be disappointed later. The photographer who offers you the shoot and all the images on disc for only £50 clearly doesn’t value their work. Should you? Is this the kind of investment you want to risk when capturing something as important as those first professional images of your precious baby which you hope to treasure for a lifetime.