Parents Guide. How to choose the right newborn photographer for you.
Every day, I receive several newborn photography enquiries, and they almost always consist of only one question: “How much will the photos cost?” This typically happens because people don’t know what else to ask. Of course, price will be a big part of your decision when it comes to choosing a newborn photographer! But there are many other things you also need to think about, such as a photographer’s level of experience, whether a package offers value for money, the type of session you will be getting, and so on. To help you in your search for your best newborn photographer, I have put together a little guide discussing a few points you should consider.
Watch Newborn photo session video.
#1 Safety during the newborn photo session is paramount
Newborn photography isn’t as easy as it looks. It requires a lot of patience and skill. A good newborn photographer will normally have quite a few training sessions under their belt and a very strong portfolio to show off their artwork. You have to remember that you will be entrusting your precious new-to-this-world baby to the photographer, so it’s critical to find someone who knows what they’re doing. If a photographer lacks the necessary experience, it might create unnecessary stress for you during the photo session and photo quality might not be what you expected.
I have photographed newborns for almost five years now, and was one of the first baby photographers in Edinburgh to offer newborn photography. You can read about my first newborn session here. I’m not sure what the exact count is, but I have photographed over 300 newborns to date. Over time, I have established a great working relationship with my assistants, and the families with whom we work always feel secure in the knowledge that their babies are in the best possible hands.
“On the day of the session we seemed to have a different little boy from the one we had had for the 2 weeks previous. He was grumpy, didn’t want to chill out and sleep regardless of how much he was fed. At one point about an hour in to the session I was beginning to think we weren’t going to get any pictures at all, but both Armands and Abi (his lovely assistant) were so relaxed with Harris, and Armands was able to recognise the point when we could begin. Our session was quite a challenging one from the outset with Harris’s 2 teenage big brothers (now lovingly referred to as “the giggle brothers”) and our 2 large dogs included. The whole way through Armands was completely calm and in control despite all the extra variables. He had a clear plan and vision for the images however was adaptable when Harris or the dogs decided they didn’t agree with the plan. We all felt at ease throughout the session and we got all the images we hoped for.” Lisa Towers, Edinburgh
#2 Length of the newborn session and variety of poses used
This is probably the last thing you would think about when enquiring about newborn photos, but it is quite important to know how much time a photographer is prepared to invest in your photo session. Some photographers spend as little as an hour on a session, while others are willing to take as long as is needed to create a beautiful set of newborn photos. How long a session takes tends to be related to the variety of poses. Some photographers will prop baby into one pose, take several shots with a slight change in angle, and consider these to be a full collection of different images. Alternatively, they might simply duplicate some of the images in black-and-white to increase the number of pictures you end up with. As a result, you might think you are getting a lot of unique photos, when the reality is that they are actually all pictures of the same two or three poses. Ultimately, the type of photo session you should go for depends on what you would like to achieve from it. I have made entire page talking about length of session and variety of photos here.
Our newborn sessions normally involve around 10 different poses/sets, though this does depend on how cooperative the newborn is and whether I am working on my own or with my assistant. Sessions last approximately 4 hours and result in about 20-30 unique photos that are shown to the client a week later, during the ordering stage. I don’t believe in overwhelming my clients with 50+ photos when half of them look almost identical. You don’t want to sit through the ordering session and pull your hair out; you want this process to be enjoyable. Rather, I employ the philosophy less is more.
As you can see, this session was with siblings. The family wanted some lovely images of their newborn, as well as images with baby’s siblings. This session was the second newborn shoot for the family, so Mum definitely knew exactly what she was after. I actually get more and more families whose focus is aimed at simple, uncluttered baby photos that capture their delicate features.
#3 Digital files on USB
Let’s be honest, everyone wants them. These days, customers very often make a judgment on choosing a photographer based on the cost of files on USB–just like in old days when you were asking the cost of the ever popular 10×8 print. I want you to have these files to print keepsake photos and give it to your parents, but I also want to make sure that you have a visually beautiful, touchable record of the session to take home too.
A very important note about digital files: It is NOT an archival product. Digital files WILL get corrupted with age, and I’m not even sure how we will be able to look at these in 10 years time. I always ask my clients to think about how you will present these images 10, 20 or even 30 years down the line. Will you give your children a USB stick as an heirloom? Remember those VHS tapes filled with family movies collecting dust on your shelf? Yup, with the speed of technology, that flash drive could wind up in that same dusty shelf.
#4 Full service photo studio
Ask your newborn photographer if they can show you samples of printed products. Your life will be very busy and most likely the last thing you want to think about is to what to do with your lovely newborn photos. We offer you a full service process. That means we love producing not only gorgeous newborn photos, but also providing you with a beautiful range of archival products. At the studio, you will see the wide range of various products available to you.
We will guide you through the variety of products, and together we will choose the right product for your budget.
#5 Sales and Pricing
I always recommend arranging a meeting with your photographer to have an informal chat. During this meeting, you might ask various sales related questions like:
– can you bring siblings and other family members for the session?
– what are the studio policies for you making prints out of digital files?
– what is the digital file resolution and will there be a watermark on images?
– when you will see photos?
– how does the sales process work?
At our studio, all questions about pricing are answered before we move on to the actual photography. This ensures that we are on the same page and all expectations are met. Families normally have a good idea of what to expect once they have had a pre-session consultation with us. It is very important for me to educate you and offer the best options for your given budget. We will simply talk and make decisions about the options available to you as we go along. By the time you come in to order your photos, you will most likely have a clear idea regard the products you are after.
” We were invited back to the studio within one week to view the full gallery of our photos. Armands is a very nice gentleman and at no point did he try to pressure us to buy anything out with our pre-explained budget. He was also a great help in selecting our favourite photos and seemed genuinely happy that we were so happy with the final outcome.
A-Fotografy is excellent value for money. We spent a number of hours looking at various companies and A-Fotografy was not only one of the most affordable, but we believe the final picture standard is far superior to others.”
#6 Turnaround times
This is something that is often overlooked. Please ask your potential photographer when you can expect to see your photos. I have heard stories of families having to wait 2-3 months after having a photo session before being shown their baby photos. That, in my opinion, is way too long.
With our studio, you will see photos a week after photo session (natural disasters notwithstanding), depending on the family’s availability. All of the photos that are shown during the ordering session are final edits with any flaky skin fixed and blemishes retouched. This includes any family portraits taken as well.
#7 What happens if you can’t make it for the session, or if baby refuses to settle down for the photos?
This isn’t something that happens very often, but you should still ask your photographer what to do if you can’t make it for your newborn photo session. Sometimes mums are rushed back to the hospital or they find themselves far too busy to manage the session. Babies may also occasionally refuse to cooperate. In such cases, we simply offer our clients the option of coming back later to have the photos taken. We let the client decide on the most suitable time to resume the photo shoot and we try our best to accommodate them. The same rules apply when you can’t make it for your session.
#8 Is the photographer insured?
It is unlikely that you will ever need to make a claim, but it is always good to check whether your newborn photographer is fully insured. A reliable photographer will always do everything they can to avoid accidents and make sure everything goes smoothly, but you never know what could happen, so it is best to be prepared. Being insured is also a sign that a photographer is legitimate and has a professional mindset.
What else to think about
– Where will the photo session will take place? Do you have a choice of the studio or a home lifestyle shoot?
– Are the photos on photographers website actually theirs? Yes, sometimes photographers like to use other
photographers work and claim it as their own.
– Are the photos you will see during ordering session the final edits? Or will there be an additional fee for editing?
– Does photographer provide props?
– When should you be doing newborn photos?
– Is the photographer working with assistant?
– Is photographer doing composite images of difficult poses?
Finally, please arrange to meet your potential newborn photographer. Have a chat, see how well you connect, and follow your gut feeling. It is always best to meet face-to-face and to talk through all the details before you commit to anything. You will see the space they work in and will be able to ask any of your burning questions.
Thank you all for reading through this. It has turned out to be a bit of an essay, but I really wanted to make sure you feel confident when choosing a photographer and that you all end up with someone you are truly happy with. The photographer you decide on might well become your photographer for life, and this can be such a great relationship to have down the line.