When you’re choosing someone to photograph a special time in your family life, such as the arrival of your new baby you’ll want to know that you’ve chosen the best photographer for your family.
As a parent and newborn photographer I completely get this. You’ll want confidence that you can trust the photographer that they’ll handle and pose your baby safely, and that the photographs will be beautiful – after all you can’t get those first days back. But with so many different newborn photographers out there, how do you sort between them and find the best newborn photographer for your family?
In this guide I’ll explain how you can quickly create a short-list of photographers you’d like to find out more about, and the questions you can ask these photographers to help you find the best newborn photographer for your family.
How To Find A Newborn Photographer
Before you get too deep into your research I recommend creating a short-list of photographers you’re interested in working with based purely on their style.
Why style? Because, it doesn’t matter how much it costs, where the studio is or how a photographer works if you don’t like the photographs.
There so many styles of newborn photography out there, but all newborn photographers usually fall somewhere on a spectrum between posed photography in a studio setting, or lifestyle photography at your home. Within these two types of newborn photography, you’ll find a variety of different approaches:
- Some lifestyle photographers take a photojournalistic approach to newborn photography. They’ll document your new baby and the rest of the family at home, as you are – nappy explosions and all! There would usually be very little posing in these photo shoots.
- Other lifestyle photographers will take a natural, but more planned approach. They’ll still photograph you in your home, but will tell you where to stand or sit, and give you guidance on what to do.
- Studio photographers may bring their equipment to your home, or work from their own studio. They will usually specialise in posed photographs of your baby, and the family – with plenty of direction. They may or may not use lots of colour, props and accessories such as hats or headbands when they’re photographing your baby.
All of these variations can add up to big differences in the style of photographs you end up with, so short listing photographers on style is a good way to quickly narrow down your options.
Most photographers have their portfolios online on their websites, so start by searching for local newborn photographers in your area, and then create a list of the photographer’s whose style you like and who you would like to learn more about.
Related Article: Posed vs Lifestyle Newborn Photography. What’s The Difference?
Questions To Ask A Newborn Photographer
Now that you have your shortlist of newborn photographers, what do you need to know about them so that you can make an informed decision about who to book?
Whether you pick up the phone and call each photographer, find the information on their website or send them an email, there are eight things I suggest you ask:
1.What training and experience do you have?
One of the most important things to ask a photographer who may handle and photograph your newborn baby is what training and experience they have had.
This is even more critical in posed newborn photography, where the photographer will spend a considerable amount of time handling and posing your fragile new baby. It’s important for your own peace of mind to know that the person you’re trusting with your baby has had appropriate training in how to handle and safely pose them.
There’s no requirement for having a formal qualification before you can call yourself a newborn photographer, but there are many opportunities for photographers to learn, and to keep up-to-date, including:
- Workshops run by very experienced newborn photographers
- 1-2-1 mentoring with very experienced newborn photographers
- Online courses
- National and International conferences
Ideally, your photographer will have a learned from a combination of these and have experience of photographing a number of newborn babies.
2. How do you create advanced poses?
Some newborn photographers offer advanced posing, such as the ‘froggy pose’ or ‘potato sack pose’, or create photographs of babies inside or on top of objects such as baskets, buckets or more unusual items such as guitars or shelves.
I don’t offer these kinds of photographs, so I’ve purchased the stock photographs below to show you what these poses look like:
These positions are not safe for babies to be left in unsupported. When they’re created correctly a photographer will in fact take two separate photographs where the baby is supported or ‘spotted’ in different places, and merge them together in Photoshop afterwards. The result is called a ‘composite’ image.
If the photographers you have shortlisted do offer these kinds of poses, it’s very important to make sure that they create these photographs as a composite and not by leaving the baby unsupported in these positions.
This article from the National Association of Professional Child Photographers in the USA gives more detailed examples of how composites are created.
3. What age do you photograph newborn babies at?
Depending on the style of photography they offer, many photographers will have a window when they prefer to photograph newborn babies.
For photographers who offer posed photography, the first 2 weeks of baby’s life are usually the optimum time for a photo shoot – babies are most sleepy and enjoy being curled up in the womb-like position they’ve been in for the last nine months.
For lifestyle photographers, where less posing is involved the window may be larger.
Each photographer will have their own preferences – for example some photographers will offer posed photography for babies over 2 weeks old. This can be useful to know if you decide to book a newborn shoot after your baby has arrived or have an extended stay in hospital.
Related article: What’s The Best Age For Baby Photos?
4. Where Does The Shoot Take Place?
Where the shoot takes place is a particularly important consideration when you have just had a baby. Some photographers will only offer sessions at your home, some only in a studio, and some photographers offer both.
Where you would prefer to have the shoot will be very personal to you. Think about whether you want a photographer to come to your home after baby has arrived – it’s certainly more convenient, but you will also have to make sure your house is tidy and has enough space for the shoot.
Alternatively a studio can be appealing if there is somewhere for you to relax and rest whilst baby is being photographed without all the distractions of home. If your have decided on posed newborn photography, you’ll probably find that the majority of photographers only offer studio based shoots.
Related article: Natural Light vs Studio Light Photography. Which is better?
5. What’s your availability?
After doing all of this research, you don’t want to find that your chosen photographer has no availability when you go to book your session.
Each photographer will likely have a limit on the number of babies they can photograph each week or month, so asking this early on will help you to narrow down which photographers are available for you to choose from.
Related article: When to book newborn photos
6. Do you edit images and offer retouching?
Taking a picture is only part of creating beautiful newborn photographs – colour correction, editing and retouching are what completes them.
Editing photographs involves correcting the photograph for exposure, colour, cropping, and adding any other touches that give the photographer’s signature look.
Retouching photographs usually takes more time, and can include things like: correcting uneven skin tone, fixing flaky skin or baby acne, softening bags under the eyes or lines, whitening teeth, and creating composite images (such as for the advanced poses.)
In newborn photography retouching can make a significant difference to the final photograph – most newborn babies have uneven skin tone, flaky skin and / or acne.
Not every photographer will offer the same level of editing, or retouching – some won’t offer retouching at all. So it is helpful to find out what you can expect before booking your shoot, and whether you have the opportunity to discuss which features you’d like to be retouched and which you would like to keep.
7. How soon can we expect to see the photographs after the shoot?
Once you’ve had your shoot you’ll no doubt be excited to see the photos! How long will you need to wait for this?
If you are investing in the photographs for a special occasion – for example to give the photographs as a gift, or if you’d like to use the photographs for birth announcements this timeline will be very important.
You’ll probably find that the timescale from shoot to seeing your photographs can be anything from one week to six weeks depending on the photographer.
8. How much does it cost, and what do I get for my investment?
By now you should have an idea of how experienced your photographer is, and the kind of service you can expect from them. But how much does it all cost?
What you’ll find is that photographers have different ways for charging for their services, and offer different products after your shoot. You’ll probably also find that the photographer’s experience and the kind of service they offer is reflected in the price.
This guide, about how much newborn photography costs explains the different factors that will affect the price in more detail.
Related article: Why is newborn photography so expensive?
Related article: How to find the funds for a newborn photo shoot
In summary, the fastest way to narrow down your choice of newborn photographers is by looking at each photographer’s portfolio, and making a shortlist of the photographers who’s style you like.
Once you’ve made the shortlist, asking these eight questions will help you to make an informed decision about who the right newborn photographer for your family is:
- What training and experience do you have?
- How do you create advanced poses?
- What age do you photograph new babies at?
- Where does the shoot take place?
- What’s your availability?
- Do you offer editing and retouching?
- How soon can we see the photographs after the shoot?
- How much does it cost, and what do I get for my investment?
Over To You
I hope that this guide helps you to compare different newborn photographers and make an informed decision about who the right photographer is for your family. If you have any other questions about finding a good newborn photographer do let me know in the comments below.