You’ve made the decision to hire a professional photographer to capture your newest family member in his/her earliest days. But now you’re stuck questioning how you’re ever going to choose WHICH photographer will get that special role of snuggling your precious child. There are literally hundreds of photographers in the “sea” of your city all advertising various newborn session options. You may be wondering what those options all mean, and which ones fit best with your vision. I’m going to break down some of the most important aspects of a newborn portrait session to help with that decision. Here are 8 things to consider when choosing a newborn photographer:
This is number one when choosing a newborn photographer. Your most important job as a parent is to keep your child safe. Therefore, you really need to make sure that your photographer is trained and experienced with newborn sessions (and it requires more than just being a mom/dad).
Professional newborn photographers should be educated in safe posing practices. This involves making sure airways aren’t constricted, watching for signs of reduced oxygen, knowing how to avoid overheating, preventing fall injuries, and creating composites for more complicated poses.
You should also ask about their sick policy. Your new baby has a fragile immune system. So it’s important that the studio does all it can to keep the environment sanitized by cleaning props between sessions and requiring reschedules for sessions involving clients with contagious illnesses.
It’s also important to choose a professional photographer who is fully licensed and insured. Each state and city requires differing permits and licenses, and those can vary based on the business structure being used by the photographer (sole proprietor, LLC, etc). You don’t need to analyze their business documents, but you should ask if the photographer is legally approved to conduct business in their location. The photographer should also carry liability insurance in the rare case that something unexpected should happen.
Once you narrow your list down to safe and legal photographers, the next thing to consider is whether their style matches your vision. Professional photographers work hard to develop their own style. So it’s best to find one that consistently creates images you love. When you look at his/her portfolio, do you emotionally connect to the images? Can you imagine your family members in those images hanging on your walls? If yes, it’s likely you’ll be a good fit. As you look at your own personal favorite photos and browse studio portfolios, watch for patterns that will help you pinpoint your preferred style. Here are some specific style categories to help with choosing a newborn photographer:
- Posed vs Lifestyle– Posed sessions often occur in a studio where baby is carefully posed with props or on a beanbag. Lifestyle sessions often occur in the client’s home where baby is photographed in more natural settings.
- Bright/Airy vs Dark/Moody– “Bright and airy” images utilize a lot of light to reduce the shadows. Generally they are associated more with lighter, brighter color schemes. “Dark and moody” images utilize more contrast to incorporate deeper shadows. They often contain richer, darker color schemes.
- Color vs neutral– Though I think most photographers have a style that blends both colors and neutrals, there are definitely some who polarize themselves to one end of the spectrum. Some newborn photographers specialize in very bold colors, while others have all white studios. If either of those are important to you, make sure you find someone who can accommodate your preferences.
- Prop vs Beanbag– Many newborn photo sessions include both prop and beanbag setups. Though some smaller packages may require you to choose. Or some studios may only offer one or the other depending on their style. Prop posing has baby placed in some sort of bed/bucket/basket/bowl/etc with multiple supportive layers to keep him/her safe and comfortable. Beanbag posing is visually more simple. Baby is posed in various curled up positions on one blanket with the supports hidden underneath. Both are very popular and create amazing images. But if you have a preference, make sure your photographer knows that.
You’ll want to look at this two ways. First, will the session take place at the photographer’s studio or your house? As mentioned before, that decision might be based on whether the photographer specializes in posed or lifestyle sessions. Both have pros and cons. With a studio session, you will have to do the traveling but by leaving the house you’ll be able to remove extra distractions, relax and focus just on your baby (or sleep and chat on your phone while the photographer focuses on your baby). You’ll also have the studio’s full collection of props to choose from. With a lifestyle session, you won’t have to leave the house but your home will act as another “member” of the family. It will be featured in your photos, so that may require some extra tidying up. You’ll also be limited to the props that the photographer is able to travel with.
Second, you’ll need to consider the distance between your home and the photographer’s studio. If you’re having a studio session, how far are you willing to drive with a newborn? How early will you need to leave to arrive on time? Remember it will take longer to get out the door with a new baby (and possibly siblings!). On the other hand, if the photographer is coming to you, there might be a travel fee for longer distances or in-home sessions. So be sure to ask about that.
If possible, newborn sessions are best scheduled within the first 14 days. Obviously, special considerations can be made for babies who spend extended time in the NICU, have medical complications, or some other reason that delays the sessions. But in general, babies are often sleepier and more squishy in the first couple weeks, which helps with some of the posing. Certain poses require a very calm and comfortable baby to be executed safely. Older newborns are still adorable, but often more alert and not as flexible. So be sure to check the photographer’s availability to accommodate your due date if those squishy poses are important to you.
6. FUTURE RELATIONSHIP
Although you are looking for a newborn photographer right now, what are your plans for future photo sessions? Are you hoping to build a relationship with one specific person who can photograph your family as it grows? Or are you ok with finding a new photographer for each stage? Some studios focus solely on newborns. Some will accommodate babies up to 1 year with their “grow with me” packages. Others have sessions for newborns, older children and families. There’s no right choice. It’s based on your aspirations and what your preferred photographer offers.
Think about what you want to do with your photos after the session is over. Do you only want the digital images so that you can print and make albums yourself at any time? Or do you want a full service photographer who provides prints, wall art and specialty products through professional labs? Again, it’s a spectrum and many photographers will offer both. But there are some polarized on both ends. Make sure your chosen photographer offers the final products you want to receive.
Lastly, consider pricing when choosing a newborn photographer. There are so many photographers saturating the market right now, that you’re sure to find one for every budget. Each one charges differently based on their own cost of doing business and pricing themselves to make a livable wage. No matter what the price point, be sure to understand all your costs. Some photographers charge a higher all-inclusive fee upfront that includes the session and package together. Others charge a smaller initial session/sitting fee to book, and then you choose from package options later. Many offer upgrade options or have additional charges for travel, weekends, and sales tax. Be informed about your options so there aren’t any surprise costs later on.
As always, don’t hesitate to send me a message with any questions about my newborn sessions.
Also, if you’re thinking about booking a hospital Fresh 48 session, read this blog post about why you most definitely SHOULD! https://www.erinmassiephotography.com/fresh-48-hospital/