So, you think you’d like some photos of your new baby – here are 10 things to consider when choosing a newborn photographer
You’re expecting a baby – congratulations! That is wonderful and exciting news – and you think you’d like to have some photographs taken once little one has arrived. You’ve probably got a few questions about this so I’m going to try to answer some of them for you.
1] How should you choose a newborn photographer?
Cost is going to be a major consideration for most people when choosing a newborn photographer, finding someone within your budget is key. But also consider the photographer’s way of working. Each has their own individual style and you should choose someone whose work you are drawn to. Look at their website for ideas of the kind of images they produce. Better still, have you seen a photograph at a friend’s house that you really love? Who was the photographer? A personal recommendation is great way to help find a photographer to capture those precious few weeks after your baby is born.
Equally important, check if they are a member of any newborn photography associations such as BANPAS. Your baby is the most precious thing and you need peace of mind that when you are choosing a newborn photographer they need to be experienced, and fully trained in baby safety. The newborn photography industry here in the UK is currently unregulated. If you don’t have a personal recommendation from someone you trust, do your own extensive research before you commit to a booking.
2] What is the ideal age for a newborn studio session?
Sessions ideally take place when the baby is up to 14 days old (5-10 days is the perfect age) which is when they curl up in deep, newborn, sleepy poses. They also don’t have too many baby spots yet. However, don’t worry if your baby falls outside of this age range. Lots of photographers, myself included, work with babies that are slightly older, although do bear in mind that the older your little one is, the more awake they may be and therefore some of the poses may be more difficult to achieve.
3] When do I book? What if babies don’t arrive on their due dates?
Every baby has their own schedule and there is no telling when they will be born until that day arrives. Only 5% of babies arrive on their actual due date. A newborn photographer is well aware of this and needs to be flexible, and will only book in a limited number of newborns in a given month to accommodate for rescheduling around babies’ arrivals.
Therefore, it’s best to book your session as early as possible due to limited session spaces, and then contact your photographer as soon as possible after the birth to confirm the exact time and date for the session.
4] Babies are so precious, how do they create those complex poses? Are they safe? Are they comfortable? Is the flash harmful to baby’s eyes?
Newborn photography should ALWAYS be carried out with the baby’s welfare as priority. Posing is often done with the help of additional support (eg another pair of adult hands) to ensure that the baby is never put at risk. This is especially the case with more complicated posing and it is not uncommon for photographers to composite two images together so that the support is always there, but invisibly edited out for the final image. Baby’s comfort is essential to achieve a relaxed, contented pose.
The baby’s temperature is also paramount during the session. Studios are kept very warm to ensure that your little one’s body temperature remains constant when they are naked and your newborn photographer will be checking your baby throughout the session to make sure that they are not too cold or too hot.
The flash used to light the images is not harmful to a baby’s eyes because it is not focussed and of low-intensity. Baby safety comes first at all times.
5] How long does a session take? What should I expect from this session? What do I do during the session?
Newborn sessions typically last between 2-4 hours. That may seem like a long stint but it gives plenty of time for settling your baby, top-up feeds, nappy changes and cuddles, all of which helps ensure both mother and baby are relaxed and content.
You may have a specific image in mind that you would like your photographer to create with your baby. Make sure you discuss this ahead of the session, to see if they will be able to do so. Most photographers will aim to create a number of different set-ups and poses to give you a variety of images to choose from.
Don’t be worried, don’t be fretful, if your baby is crying trust your photographer to comfort them. They are experienced at this. Babies can sense anxious parents and in turn will become even more distressed. Try to take a deep breath, sip your tea, and relax. Use this chance to catch up on emails, listen to music or even take a snooze.
At some point during the session it is highly likely that the photographer will need an extra pair of hands, especially with some of the more complex poses. Are you happy to help out? If not, check whether they have an assistant. You might want to get ‘hands on’ or you might prefer to relax and watch, rather than play an active part.
6] What happens if my baby wees and/or poos without their nappy on?
It happens. Don’t worry. If your baby has an accident on the props, blankets or photographer (yes, I have been poo’d on. More than once!) it’s no big deal, and it’s why we have washing machines, right? You just keep going with the photo shoot and throw it in the wash afterwards. I also advise a change of clothing for parents, just in case, especially if you’re going to be in the pictures. Bear the poo in mind before you wear your most expensive shirt.
7] What should my baby wear to the photographic session? Do I need to provide all the outfits and accessories? What about props?
A lot of newborn studio photography is often done when the baby is unclothed, to capture their beautiful newness, so dress them in something that is easy to put on and take off. However, if you’d rather your little one was dressed, and in a particular outfit, make sure it fits them really well. Your photographer is most likely to have a wide variety of wraps, headbands, outfits etc, but do check beforehand and do not assume. If you have a preference with regard to certain colours or styling – things you do like as well as things you don’t like – make sure you discuss this with them ahead of the session, to avoid being disappointed.
If you have an item of sentimental value that you would like included in some of the photographs, again, check beforehand if this is ok.
8] What else do I need to bring?
Plenty of nappies and wipes, and food for baby. Also consider that the session could take up to four hours so it might be worth packing a snack for yourself, in case your photographer does not provide them. The studio should be at a fairly cosy temperature, to keep naked baby comfortably warm and sleepy. Bear this in mind when getting yourself dressed, as you don’t want to sit there and cook for hours.
9] Availability, location and fees
Book as early into your pregnancy as you can, to reserve your time with your chosen photographer. If they are popular they will get booked up.
Think about the logistics. Consider where they are based, how long it’s going to take you to get there – do you know how to get there? – and how early in the day you will need to be leaving the house with a very new baby and all the paraphernalia they require. Check whether there is parking close by. Is the studio on the ground floor? How easy is access?
Do also check their fees, check what you get for your money. Most photographers will charge a session fee, which is when they take the photographs. There will then most likely be a further charge for any images that you wish to purchase. Think it through. Check you can afford both the session and the images, there’s not a lot of point knowing there are gorgeous images of your child but not being able to afford any of them. Look at their price list before you book.
10] Do your homework
Everybody needs to start somewhere in their profession, and there will be photographers out there offering newborn sessions to suit all budgets. But please bear in mind that when choosing a newborn photographer, photographic businesses are not cheap to run; they have a huge amount of financial investment, in equipment, insurances, training etc. Also, if someone is good at their job, and in demand, chances are their prices will reflect that. Don’t choose your newborn photographer based on budget alone.
So please check out their recent sessions, any testimonials, and make sure you are confident that whoever you book with, you can say you are 100% sure your baby is in safe hands.
Have fun choosing a newborn photographer. xx