Considering newborn photography for your upcoming little one? Here are my top five priorities that I recommend researching when choosing your photographer.
1. First and foremost your main concern should be the safety of your baby! The first thing to take note in your photographer of choice is their experience with newborns, their background, and if they know how to properly handle babies. Babies are not as fragile as you think, but you MUST KNOW how to properly handle them. Sure, the photographer might just be starting out and that's fine! But make sure they've had experience in handling newborns elsewhere, whether in another job, their own, etc.
As a former labor nurse, I am super comfortable handling babies. In fact, I might unintentionally make someone a little nervous as I am not "extra gentle" if you will when handling them (don't worry, I'd never hurt or even risk hurting your baby). I have handled thousands of newborns for almost a decade. I am comfortable with it, I know how to do it, and you can see that from the moment your sweet baby enters my studio. They are safe in my hands. I promise you that. The safety of your sweet bundle is my number one priority!
Handling them is just the beginning of the safety. By handle them, I mean knowing how to transfer them back and forth between being held and being posed, how to reposition them, change their diaper, take their clothes on and off properly, etc.
Another factor is cleanliness. Does your photographer care to wash their hands in between transferring back and forth, touching their cell phone, etc.? NO? Run!!! Babies immune systems are SO FRAGILE. Proper hand washing (hand sanitizer is fine) is super important! Do they wash their back drops/blankets/burp rags/outfits between sessions? What are they washing them in? Non-scented detergent? They should be! Babies are very sensitive to perfumes this new in life. There is no sense in risking an outbreak on their skin from irritation. Now, don't get me wrong. With my own newborns I used my regular detergent right away. I knew it was something I would be using and wanted to introduce it to them immediately, so they did not develop a sensitivity. My studio babes though? I have no idea what mom and dad have exposed them to, so I play it safe, even with detergent!
Posing your sweet baby is probably the most important safety factor. Let's be honest, the first two are pretty big givens when it comes to handling any sweet newborn. If they don't have that down, they don’t have posing safety down and you need to look elsewhere! I know us photographers all start somewhere, but I don't care if you are beginner or an expert, if you aren't putting the safety of the baby first, you have no business handling them. Posing takes time and practice and lots of patience, but most importantly, no matter where a photographer is in his or her career, safety must still come first. Getting a great shot might only take a second to snap, but a baby can fall/flop/or roll that fast too! Be sure you are putting your child into the hands of someone who knows what they are doing to ensure the safety of your baby.
2. Studio. Consider the place you are taking your child to. Is it a studio in a safe location of town? Is it an in-home studio? Is it clean? Is it warm and inviting? Will you be comfortable? You will be in this place (after just having gone through labor mind you) for at least 2.5 hours from start to finish! Be sure it's somewhere you want to be. Don't be afraid to ask about the studio!
3. Experience of your photographer. Like I said, we all start somewhere, and I will forever be grateful to those mommies and daddies who trusted me to capture once-in-a-lifetime images of their newborn! However, please keep in mind, you will get what you pay for. This could be good or very bad. Not looking to spend very much or can't? This is OKAY! However, don't just give your money to the first affordable photographer you find. Make sure you like their work. Make sure that you will be happy with the kind of images that you get! Make sure they know how to handle/pose your newborn!!! Here is a direct review from a client of mine that went to a department store because she found a good deal on Groupon:
"It is so worth going to BennyAni Photography. When Violet (my baby) was about two weeks old, I got a Groupon from a big chain retail store to get newborn photos. I went in during a hectic time due to the holidays approaching, but I had an appointment. We waited for 45 minutes to get into the photo studio. By this time Violet was getting fussy. The woman had me undress Violet and got started right away. Violet was just not cooperating, but the women began taking photos anyways. She had me feed her and pull the bottle out of her mouth right before she would take the picture, so her lips looked pursed for most of the photos. Also, I brought several outfits and items to get pictures with, but they told me only two (which was fine it was a Groupon). One of the things was a purple mesh wrap. When I pulled it out the woman said she didn’t know how to use it but would try. She lightly wrapped Violet up and called it good, and again just started taking pics. We were in the photo area for about 20 minutes. When we were undressing Violet to get her ready, a woman came in and asked if we were done. Then while we were getting her dressed to leave (Violet was crying and upset), the woman came back and again asked if we were done yet. We felt extremely rushed and could tell they were done with us. When we went to look at the photos, there was only about 8 to choose from, and the selection was poor. Again we felt rushed and picked a few we liked and waited two weeks to pick up our photos.
After getting the photos back, I was very disappointed with them but kept telling myself I got what I paid for. When Violet was a month old, I contacted Marggie at BennyAni Photography. She was kind enough to get us in within a few days, and the experience was completely different. Marggie sent me instructions on what to do with Violet before the shoot to get the best photos. When we got there, we were not rushed, and she asked me to sit down, relax, and feed her. Violet fell in and out of sleep, but Marggie was great and said we could get good pictures awake or asleep. When she started working with Violet, she took the time to relax her for a good 10 minutes before taking pictures. To make Violet comfortable, Marggie had a heater underneath the cushion she was lying on and a heater next to her. She was very patient with Violet and got her to take several great poses during the photo session. We were there for about 2 hours getting the best photos of our daughter Violet. We also got family photos and they turned out to be outstanding. Marggie's photography is absolutely fantastic and is well worth every penny."
Here are some of her images from the retail store:
Here are some of the images from her make up shoot with me:
These are images you and generations to come will look back on for a lifetime! They are worth the investment and the time. Many newborn photographers that can produce great, high quality images for you also offer a mini session or maybe even a payment plan! Don't be afraid to ask!
Posing is part of what you want to consider when looking at a photographer's work. But also consider lighting, clarity, backdrops (nothing bothers me more than a wrinkled sheet for a back drop). Here's a side by side to consider. My image in the black and white. I found the other online and I did not ask for permission to use it. So if this photographer sees their images being used as a bad example and wants me to take it down, I sure will...but I hope they also read my blog ;) Is mine perfect? Nope! But look at the difference. Lighting, shadows, positioning of the baby (this one brings me back to safety, look at that poor baby's neck!). You want your baby to be safe and comfortable at all times!
Here’s a second set of images to compare (these are both mine). The first is from when I very first started (like I said, we all start somewhere) and the second is a more recent. Notice just how much of a difference just posing and lighting can do!!! These are all things to consider when making your decision!
4. What do they provide? When considering your photographer and the costs of their images, consider what they have to offer. Will you have to bring everything you wish to use for your newborn? Swaddles? Head bands? Wraps? Outfits? If so, you shouldn't be paying your photographer top dollar! The wraps, headbands, outfits you see in most good newborn photographers work belong to their studio. There's a reason for this! See, there's a whole "newborn photographer world" out there and use newborn photographers live, thrive, and SPEND money in it daily! The things you see us use are specifically for photographing newborn babies. They are not chain store bought items. They handmade, uniquely crafted, and probably expensive items! We get to use them over and over, so the money evens out for us.
But if you are having to bring your own stuff...how do you know where to begin? Will the outfits you are bringing for your baby to wear drown them out in the photo? Will it age your photos faster? Looking for a photographer that can provide you with everything you need is a key factor in the quality of your images.
5. Last, but not least, is investment! Obviously, you have to look at photographers that you can afford. I've touched on this a little bit. You will get what you pay for. Keep that in mind when you see those retail store images above! Would it even be worth giving your money or your time for that matter? You could take those images at home with your cell phone! I'd be willing to bet you have as much experience in newborn photography as the person at the retail store does. Save your money and your time and whip out that cell phone at home and add a filter, you'd be better off ;)
When considering your photographer though, do not let price alone deter you. Again, these are once in a lifetime images. They grow SO FAST and looking back on that tiny, sweet, fresh little face is a luxury you will never regret spending money on! You can make more money, you can't freeze time! ...but I can! ;) I hope to see you and your sweet baby in my studio soon!
I hope these tips help you as you navigate the world of newborn photography. There are many photographers to choose from, but using the advice above can help you save time, money, and heartache.
Until next time,
P.S. I highly recommend booking your session while you are still pregnant - newborns photograph best in their first 14 days of life. So sleepy and sweet!!!