Choosing a photographer to capture those early moments with your tiny baby is such an important consideration - the images you receive from this session will last forever, being shown to your child as they grow, and then, perhaps, to their own children in time! This guide aims to make the process of choosing the right photographer for YOU a simpler one.
Those of you reading this blog post are likely to be either expecting a baby or in the crazy-beautiful early days of welcoming a new bundle into your family. Many congratulations to you all! So, you'd like to have some beautiful images of your baby to show to your friends and family, and to remember this amazing point in your lives? Let me help. Here's everything you need to know when choosing the right photographer for you:
1) What style of photographs would you like?
This may sound like a strange question, but photographers' styles all vary massively. These are images which you want to treasure, so it's vital that you choose a photographer whose style you LOVE. Do you want posed, sleepy shots of your baby? Do you like a lot of colour or more neutral, organic tones? Are you a fan of props or does a more natural style pf photography suit your family better? The first step in finding a photographer who will create photographs you adore is defining the style of photography you would like.
2) Find your local photographers
Do an internet search for photographers in your area. Photographers can be found via a web search, and often have Facebook pages as well. Take a look to see whose work most resonates with the style you would like.
3) Would you like an at home session, or a studio-based session?
Some photographers, like myself, are mobile, meaning that the session can take place in the comfort of your own home, with the photographer bringing everything needed for the session, and, of course, clearing away afterwards. This is particularly reassuring to a lot of new parents who may be feeling sleep-deprived and a little fragile after birth. Newborn sessions can be long, so knowing that you can relax with all your home comforts may be important to you. On the other hand, some people prefer to get out of the house - in which case you may be looking for a photographer with a studio location. With this in mind, how far are you prepared to travel for your session? Do you have a family member who could drive you in the event of you being unable to drive after birth (for instance after a c-section)? Parents with other children will want to think about who will be caring for their other child/children during the session - at home sessions can often be more convenient for families where the newborn isn't the first child.
You should now have a handful of photographers who are local to you and whose style you love.... Now, look to see how well recommended they are - Nothing tells you more about the photography experience itself than hearing all about it from previous clients. If you have friends who have used the photographer, their word is so important. Ask them all about the experience as a whole - from first contact, through the session itself, to the delivery of images at the end. Above all else, ask how your friends felt about the photographer handling their baby - this little being is the most precious thing in your lives, it's vital that your photographer handles them as though they were their own child - with love, care and attention. If you're not in a position to ask a friend about a particular photographer, jump online to find reviews about them. The easiest way to do this is to visit their business Facebook page and check the 'reviews' tab - here you should be able to read reviews left by families, along with viewing the 'star ratings' for the photographer.
Of course. This should be Number One. NOTHING is more important than the safety of your baby. I've put this at Number Five though as it would be overwhelming to find out about how safely all the photographers around your local area are operating - now that you've narrowed your search down to just a couple of photographers it's time to check them out. Your newborn photographer will be handling your baby for at least a couple of hours, up to around four hours for a full, posed newborn shoot. What do they know about safe handling of a baby? And how do you know if they are using best practice? Here are a few things to find out, either on their website, or, even better, by speaking to your potential photographer directly (more about that in a minute!):
- What training have they undertaken? Whilst photography training in general will of course help with the quality of images being produced, newborn photography is a very specific genre, and photographers working in this field should have undertaken specific training in how to handle, settle and pose a newborn safely. (The exception to this rule is if you have identified the style of shoot you are looking for as 'lifestyle' - in this type of shoot your photographer will not be handling your newborn, rather, they will be capturing your family as you are in your home, with the photographs featuring you and your family naturally in 'everyday life'.) Find out what specific courses your photographer has undertaken, along with any qualifications they may have. Ask how u-to-date their training is.
- Is your photographer insured? Aside from the obvious, a fully insured photographer is more likely to be putting their clients first. It also follows that a photographer who is investing in essentials like insurance will also be investing in their business by undertaking regular training and skills-enhancement.
- What poses do they put babies into? This follows on from the training point above, but it's important to know that your photographer is posing your baby safely - many photographs you may have seen online of newborn babies are, in fact, two or more photos put together to create the finished image (a composite). This is so that your baby is safely supported at all times during the photographic process. Sadly, not all photographers understand the safety elements that go into these shots, and, as a result, leave babies in an unsupported position in order to get the photograph. If you see images on a photographer's website of babies in poses which they would not be able to support themselves, ask them about how they create the finished photograph. Well-trained photographers will be more than happy to talk you through the process of creating their artwork.
- Life experience: Although this isn't essential, it's sometimes nice to find out a bit more about your photographer as a person. Most websites have an About Me section where you can find out a bit more. I find that my past career as a Special Care Baby Nurse is hugely helpful when working with new babies and their parents - we often end up discussing details of feeding, winding, sleeping and much more during the sessions!
- Professional Membership: Whilst not a direct indication of how safely a photographer is operating, membership to professional bodies can show that your photographer is serious about their business, and is keen to stay up-to-date and continue their learning. Some of the relevant organisations to look out for in the UK are SWPP, Guild of Photographers, BANPAS, BIPP and MPA. A photographer's website should mention which bodies they are involved with. Many photographic organisations also run competitions, so a photographer may mention that they have won awards - a good thing to look out for!
This is, quite rightly, far down your list of things to look for. There is no doubt that price is a key factor when choosing the right photographer for you, but it should never be the first thing you look at. As you can see above, there are many important factors to think about, but now you've narrowed your search down to a couple of photographers, you need to know that their pricing suits your family's budget. Take a look at their pricing and packages - do they offer wall art, digitals, prints, or a combination of these? Think about the photos you're having taken - what would you like to do with these photos? Do you want a beautiful framed print of canvas hanging in your living room? Would you like gift prints to give out to all the relatives? You're investing in a professional photographer to take stunning images of your precious little baby - think in advance about how you would like to show off those images, and what products you would like so that the memories are preserved forever.
If you haven't already, it's definitely time to chat with the photographers you think would suit your family. If all your research up until this point has been through their website/social media pages and through word of mouth, it's time you spoke! I would always recommend a phone conversation (or in person meeting) over email or messenger - this is your chance to see whether you connect with the photographer. You will be spending several hours with this person whilst they handle your baby - you need to feel comfortable with them.... And know that you can have a chat whilst the photos are taking place, it's a long time to sit in silence!!
I hope the above guide really helps you in choosing the perfect photographer for your newborn baby session. There is such a small window of opportunity to capture those sleepy newborn photos, making this an important decision of yours during your pregnancy. To me, the most important element is making sure that your baby is in safe, experienced hands. Sadly, not all photographers are trained in newborn photography and do not understand how to safely pose babies - your baby is so precious, make sure you choose a photographer who will handle them with love, care and attention.... and get you the beautiful images you deserve.
About the Author:
Hannah Merrett Photography, based in South Wales, specialises in newborn and baby portraiture. Hannah, a mum of three and ex paediatric nurse, is qualified with the Guild of Photographers, and has been awarded Top Ten positions for Baby and Toddler Photograph of the Year nationally for the last two years running. Hannah has a passion for creating natural, organic baby portraits, focussing on the gorgeous little details - the little chubby rolls, the pouty lips, wispy hair, and sweet sleepy innocence of babies just entering this world. Hannah's sessions take place in the newborn family's home, allowing parents to sit back, relax, and watch as their beautiful images are created. To find out more about Hannah, or to book, please take a look at her online newborn brochure.