Newborn portraiture is the new 'must have' for new parents - along with expensive designer prams, those perfect prep machines and fancy medela breast pumps! But, how much thought have you put in to selecting the right photographer for you? Have you really considered who you're booking, or are you guilty of price shopping for the cheapest option?
Good newborn photographers book up in advance, so the earlier you do your research - the better. Don't get caught out, as often waiting until baby arrives means that you will not get an appointment with your photographer of choice. For example, we always recommend booking once you've had your 12 or 20 week scan.
Here are our top tips on what to look for when selecting someone to photograph your newborn.
1. Qualifications and NEWBORN SAFETY.
You're looking at hiring someone to handle your brand new baby. It is absolutely vital that as new parents, you are comfortable and confident that the photographer knows what they are doing. Failure to book a photographer with the correct knowledge, training and experience will mean that you could potentially be putting your newborn at risk. There is no legal requirement to set up as a newborn photographer, which is quite frankly - frightening. This puts more pressure on parents to research who they are booking.
We have heard horror stories of babies getting injured because the photographer wasn't trained!
Ask questions. What qualifications do they hold? What precautions do they take to ensure your baby will be safe? How do they keep the studio environment? Clean, warm? How long have they been working with newborns?
Do they know how and when to use composite techniques?
A baby should NEVER NEVER NEVER, be left to support their own head weight or be left to balance on their own or be suspended in the air!
Does the photographer work alone or have an assistant?
Jordan never photographs a newborn session without a trained assistant. This will either be Sally or Sophie. It's so important that there is someone on hand to safely pose, handle and care for your baby while Jordan focuses on creating the best possible images for you. Your baby is always the priority.
Additionally, hygiene should also be a prority - with all used fabrics being freshly laundered for each session. Not to mention the personal hygiene of the photographer and anyone handling baby. Hand sanitizer should always be available and used.
We recommend contacting the Master Photographers Association for a list of photographers in your area who, at the very least hold the Newborn Certification qualification.
Someone who holds the Licentiate certificate in newborn portraiture has also demonstrated their ability to produce images to a professional standard. An Associate certificate is the next level and much more difficult to achieve, a photographer with this accolade really knows what they are doing from a technical perspective and has a consistent style of their own.
A list of our qualifications and awards can be found on the Awards page of our website.
Above: Jordan after receiving his Associate Qualification with the MPA.
2. Studio or mobile?
Does your chosen photographer have a professional studio that you can arrange to visit in advance? Do they work from their home? Or, perhaps they come to you?
There are advantages and disadvantages to both.
We personally prefer to have a shop front, as we can maintain a professional image and constantly have our space set up specifically for newborns and babies.
This is absolutely vital, although something we hope that we'll never need to use. At very minimum photographers should hold public liability and professional indemnity insurance.
4. Style of work/Portfolio
Is their standard of work consistent? Do the images look professional?
If you fall in love with a particular photographers style of work, then do as much research in to them as possible and book with them. DO NOT make the mistake of booking a cheaper photographer and expect them to be able to produce the same style and standard of work as your preferred photographer.
5. What does the photographer provide?
Do they have a studio full of props and accessories - or are you expected to provide your own? A specialist photographer will have everything needed to hand, as they will have a certain style and will know what works well to create gorgeous images for you. If they are a generalist photographer, chances are you will have to purchase items specifically for your session which does run the risk of looking 'tacky'. All of our newborn props are sourced specifically for their purpose.
6. Studio Experience
What do you want from your newborn session? Just a couple of images? Or do you want more of an experience? How long is set aside for your session? Do you have privacy within the studio? Can you put your feet up and relax? Are there refreshments available?
We want our clients to enjoy their day with us, feeling relaxed and at ease. Our studio is your home while you're with us. There's no rushing, no pressure and the sessions are completely baby led. We limit the number of bookings we take per month to ensure that each of our clients get the full attention they deserve.
To us, newborn photography isn't just a few pictures of a baby. Newborn portraiture is freezing the memory of one of the most important times of your life, and in the height of tiredness one that is so easy to forget.
How do you want your images to be displayed? Everyone thinks that digital files are the epitome of importance - when in reality the digital medium is not even archival. Realistically, what will you do with a USB of a load of images? If you are paying for a professional photographer, then you should walk away with a professional product that can be treasured forever. Something that you can view, and hold, because what happens if your USB corrupts (which it will)?
Have a look at what different photographers offer, and really think about what you want.
Are they bespoke, high quality products? Or are they run of the mill loose prints?
There are so many options available, so take the time to think about what is right for you.
Finally, pricing should play a part in your decision making - and there are photographers for all budgets. A specialist newborn photographer, offering quality products will set you back at least a few hundred pounds. Remember - you really do get what you pay for.
A photographer who offers the session and all images digitally for a small fixed sum is not spending the amount of time creating your images that a true professional will. We also question their safety, because composite images (which are necessary for many poses) take time and attention to detail to create.
So many times we've had phone calls and emails asking us about last minute availability because someone has booked the cheap option, and has been left really disappointed.
Whats more, is we offer interest free finance at the studio so our products and services really are made affordable - and for products that will last, they really are worth the investment.
Unfortunately, we can't help everyone who calls us last minute - but we can help educate on what expectant parents should be looking for. These images are a one off opportunity - you will not get another chance to create them.
Book wisely, do your research and ASK QUESTIONS!