Questions to ask or consider when choosing a newborn photographer
A Professional Photographer should not be photographing anyone without insurance - ESPECIALLY newborns. I highly advise against allowing someone to photograph your newborn if they are not insured.
On the same note, are they a licensed business? While this may not matter to you personally, if they are not a licensed business, they are operating illegally. Many newer photographers are not legal businesses and therefore are not reporting their income and paying taxes. To me, it's unethical and an indication of a hobbyist, not a true professional. I don't want someone unlicensed to work on my house, and I certainly wouldn't want them handling my newborn.
A professional photographer should also provide a contract for you both to sign that documents all of the key terms and conditions for the session.
- How long have you been photographing newborns?
In today's digital world with the availability of low cost cameras, anyone can immediately begin advertising themselves as a professional photographer. It can often be difficult to tell the difference between a hobbyist and a true professional. It's incredibly disheartening to the professional industry where we pride ourselves on our experience, knowledge and education. I would not want someone who doesn't have experience safely posing a newborn handling my baby.
Many people who have had children feel like they are qualified to do newborn portraiture - however having babies of your own cannot qualify you to pose babies safely. It takes time and experience to understand safe posing; when I'm posing a newborn, I can tell when a baby is not able to go into a certain pose. Someone who isn't experienced in newborn portraiture may not be able to tell and therefore may put your baby in a pose that may strain his or her joints or muscles. Some babies can do certain poses - others cannot. I will never, ever force a baby into a pose, even if I'm disappointing a parent. Your baby's well being and safety should 100% be the priority going into every single session.
- What age should baby be for the session?
For a Posed Studio Style Session, most will want to see baby between 5-14 days old. This is the best time window for a successful session. Baby will curl into poses easier, sleep better, and have better skin. Once baby his approximately 14 days, baby may start developing baby acne, will be less able to curl into poses. Baby will also to eat more during the session instead of sleeping.
If the photographer accepts babies older than 14 days, they should be advising you that you may not get the sleepy and curled up baby poses you desire. There are many poses that should not be attempted after this age for their safety.
For a Lifestyle Newborn Session, there really is no age that's suggested. I suggest within 4 weeks to capture baby at his or her smallest, but I usually photograph them within 2 weeks as well. As baby is not being put into curled up poses, the age is not as important.
- What is your editing style/what is included?
Each newborn photographer has their own editing style. Some do basic color correction only. Others may remove baby acne, reduce redness and soften the skin. If you want storkbites removed, is that an option? Is there a charge? Be sure to know what editing is included so you're not taken by surprise when you see your final gallery and its different than you envisioned. If baby has birthmarks, storkbites, or other skin markings, many photographers prefer to leave baby's skin as is to reflect the newness of your sweetie.
- How do they create creative poses like "froggy" (where baby's hands are under chin) or hanging from a branch?
If the answer is anything besides by "composite" - RUN!! Poses like "Froggy" as well as images where they're hanging from branches are multiple images combined into one. These poses should NEVER be attempted otherwise, and I've sadly seen some photographers remark proudly they can do many of these poses without compositing them. This is NOT safe, or acceptable Professional Practices. I personally am not a huge fan of these poses because they're incredibly unnatural, but if that's your aesthetic, please be sure the person attempting them is knowledgeable about how to do them safely. Please.
Some photographers, including myself, have a limited number of newborn spots we accept every month. Some may have more flexible schedules. If a client waits until baby is born to contact me, I cannot guarantee I will be able to accommodate them. I always suggest booking as soon as possible into the second trimester. This guarantees availability and allows you to relax, knowing the session is booked. I would hate to know a client is stressing about finding a newborn photographer knowing their baby is growing older by the day.
- Where will session be held?
In photographer's studio? In your home? All of my posed studio sessions are done in my Breinigsville studio. I have everything I need on hand between lighting, props, and accessories. Some photographers will travel to your home for a travel fee. My Lifestyle sessions are done in the comfort of the client's home.
- Are parents and siblings included in the newborn session?
Some sessions include parents and siblings; others charge extra to add them on, as they take extra time. Toddlers especially take longer to sit still with their new sibling! Make sure you're aware going into your session so there are no surprises. If you are included in the session, ask your photographer for clothing guidelines and suggestions.
There is no right or wrong way for a professional to structure their session pricing. Just be sure you understand fully what is and what is not included. On this note, there is no "set" standard for newborn pricing - it truly varies market to market. However, a photographer's pricing is usually set by the photographer reflecting their experience and the quality of their work. These sessions are priced higher than family sessions as they are a tremendous amount of work - the sessions are longer, there is more complex and detailed editing, and for posed sessions, the props are very expensive. (I can easily pay $40-$50 for a newborn outfit). Newer and less experienced photographers are more likely to be priced lower than someone who is more experienced. These are very important memories for you to capture, of a very special important person at that; I would advise against price shopping for the lowest priced photographer. Many professionals, like myself, offer payment plans. We want you to be able to have beautiful, professional images of your little one to remember forever.