Choosing which photographer to use to photograph your brand new baby is difficult. For many first time parents you have never even had to think about what is involved or know what to expect so here are some tips:
Safety is everything
Check your photographer talks about safety on their web page. It should be listed as a key point on their home page.
Many poses you see are done by special photography techniques that require someone supporting the baby or specialist editing. The baby hanging from a branch photo – baby isn’t hanging but safely resting on a beanbag. Baby with hands propping up his chin pose? Your baby’s head is a very large proportion of his body size – his arms do not have the strength to hold that weight. Professional photographers will do that pose without the baby putting any weight on his delicate arms.
Brand new babies are used to warm temperatures, a professional will have lots of heat in the studio so your near naked baby isn’t unsettled.
There is a lot to learn about baby safety and anyone who has only just started in photography will be using all his/ her time understanding the camera rather than studying safety.
Do they have professional equipment? Industry standard is Nikon or Canon and prime lenses or lenses that can shoot at f1.4-2.8. You would expect them to have an array of lenses.
They should have a spare professional camera body in case the main one fails during your session.
Do they have professional studio lighting? Many new photographers claim to use “Natural light” – now there are many exceptional natural light photographers and it should show in their work. If not then they simply cant afford or don’t understand studio lighting. The thing about natural light is that if it is a cloudy or rainy day the images will be grainy and not really sharp.
Newborn photographer’s should have a special newborn beanbag (this is a specialty item not a normal beanbag – with safety features for the baby to avoid suffocation). Baby shouldn’t be shot just laying on the floor.
They should have pull-down, mounted backdrops.
They should have an array of props, baskets, backdrops, outfits, wraps, headbands and bonnets – again check the website gallery for diversity of items.
Newborn babies shouldn’t be outside having their picture taken in the first two weeks. Look for someone with a studio. Putting babies on grass or in the sun is simply not healthy until they are more robust. Make sure your photographer has an indoor studio.
Custom studios where the space is only used for photography is best (not someone’s dining or living room).
The studio must be warm and safe – be wary of photographers using their garage as these are hard to heat and, unless is a custom fitted studio, not the cleanest most sanitary spaces for new babies.
Check they have a bathroom that you can use – newborn sessions are long!
Shopping centre studios will not give you the best results – they have maybe 10-15 minutes to pose a baby. Newborns require patience to get a beautiful result.
There should be comfortable chairs in the studio from where parents can watch the photographer and baby.
You should have access to boiled water / microwave (again reasons not to do an outdoor shoot for newborns)
There should be photographs on the website of the studio so you know what you are going into – most newborn photographers love their dedicated studio and are proud to show it clearly on their website.
How long have they been in business?
Are they a registered business (i.e have an ABN and pay those dreaded taxes!) and do they have insurance?
Do they have current vaccinations including whooping cough?
Professional photographers have websites not just Facebook or Instagram pages.
Check they have a gallery / portfolio on their website with an array of babies (not just one baby or just their own baby).
How were they trained (formal training or have they just taught themselves? Photography is a very complex profession, if someone has taught themselves they should have been in the business for many years to have learnt everything.
Is photography their main occupation or a weekend hobby?
The photographer should specialize in babies – if looking at their official website you see all sorts of images – landscapes, beach shots, sunsets, travel images etc then they are probably not a dedicated professional. Yes Photographers should be able to take beautiful images of everything but they generally don’t put them on their professional website as it confuses and distracts clients.
Check the Photographer has Google reviews, that real people have used them and liked their service enough to review it.
Lastly – are their images just of their own children? Have they photographed anyone who has paid and not just friends and relatives babies?
Beware of claims of “Awards” – these are ten-a-penny and generally of little value. Anyone can claim “award winning” on a website.
There is a industry association but it is not regulated and again it is a money making enterprise – there is development underway for a proper regulating industry body with a focus on professional standards and safety.
Quality of Photographs
Check the photographer’s gallery on their website and Facebook page. These will be their BEST images so if you don’t like their style then don’t choose that photographer. Style is like a signature - it doesn’t change.
If you want family photos ask to see a gallery of their family images not just the one best one they have taken. The mum images should be flattering, we know how to make you look your best (flattering lighting and poses).
Ask to see a full gallery of their latest session (remember we generally only showcase one or two images per session but you are probably paying for 20+).
Look at the quality of the photographs displayed on their site. What you should look at:
Skin colour – babies have a lovely creamy look to their skin – beware very red or grey babies.
Their skin should be smooth
Position of baby – they should look relaxed and comfortable – beware of babies that look like they have just been put in a basket.
Can you clearly see the baby’s face? Often new photograhers have the baby’s face nestled in fur.
Look at the babies fingers – they should generally be relaxed and not curled into fists. Look in their gallery for many photos where you can see all 5 fingers – remember they are showcasing their best images.
Look for a variety of babies and examples of your ethnicity as different skin types need different approaches.
Look for quality editing – backdrop / blankets should be smooth, Photographs should be properly exposed, focus should be sharp, distracting elements should be removed from the background.
You should be offered quality products to be able to buy – canvases and prints that are of archive quality and from professional printing houses.
Unfortunately newborn photography is expensive, if you are being offered a bargain be wary, again baby’s safety is number 1.
Best of luck choosing a suitable newborn photographer for your little bundle. It is recommended that you do your session before baby is 2 weeks old. This is because the baby is much sleepier at that age and so the session is more comfortable for them. They are also still very flexible and “curly” from having been squashed up in the womb and those photos look so much nicer than babies after 2 weeks who just want to stretch their body out.
The Chapter One Photography newborn studio is in Waverton, near North Sydney. We offer newborn, Maternity and baby Photography services. We take your business and the safety of your newborn baby seriously and would love to provide you with beautiful memories of the early days, so you never forget.
Feel free to call if you have questions: Wendy 0425 293 639 or email firstname.lastname@example.org