So you are expecting and are so excited to begin your journey as parents. It's such an amazing and intimidating time all at once. Nine months seems like a long time. But somehow between doctors appointments, morning sickness, registering for and having baby showers and getting the nursery ready time seems to fly by. There are so many things to do from a planning standpoint as well. Like booking prenatal classes, parenting classes, checking insurance, registering at a hospital and booking a newborn session of course!
For many parents this will be their first newborn shoot. Here are a few guidelines to help you find the perfect photographer to capture one of the most important moments in your journey becoming a family.
WHEN TO BOOK
Each week I get emails from parents who have either had their baby already or who are due in a few weeks or days. It breaks my heart because I am typically already booked. There are exceptions if it just happens to be a slower month for me or if other clients delivered early. But generally, I'm booked up. Most professional newborn photographers book about 2-4 months in advance and often have a limited number of newborns each month. So if you do have your heart set on getting portraits of your baby, make sure to start researching and contacting photographers a few months prior to your delivery date so you can make your decision and officially book with the photographer of your choice.
When choosing a photographer there are several things to consider. First, budget. How much are you planning to invest in these portraits. For me, there are 3 times in one's life that you should invest in portraits - newborn, high school senior portraits and wedding portraits. Obviously there are other moments and milestones along the way. But these three are ones where your budget should be the largest. You can find photographers ranging in price from $250-$2500 and up depending on where you are located. But remember, not all photographers are created equal. Newborn portraits are just like anything else - you get what you pay for. But if you have a smaller budget that is okay. Just don't go in knowing that you might be going with a less experienced photographer who is just starting out. Hey, I was there once and wouldn't be where I am now without all of the clients who hired me then. Once you have decided on your budget do some research and contact your top 3-4 photographers for their rates. Then compare and go from there. You might end up spending a little more than you budgeted, but then again, this is a once in a lifetime kind of shoot so it's worth it!
After establishing a budget you should begin searching for the perfect photographer for you. One thing to keep in mind is that there are several styles of newborn sessions. I refer to them as "posed" sessions and "lifestyle" sessions. Posed sessions are the ones you see of babies and all of those perfect poses laying on blankets with hats, headbands and other props. Posed sessions are often done in a studio setting, although many photographers do travel to homes and bring all the necessary props and equipment to achieve this look. Lifestyle sessions are more about the family and are designed to capture the baby and family members in a more natural, less posed atmosphere. They are often done in-home but you also can find photographers who design their studio space to accommodate lifestyle sessions. So take a look at both types of sessions and decide which works best for you.
One of the most important things to consider when booking your session is the safety of your precious new baby. Sometimes people get so excited over images they've seen of babies in certain poses or hanging from objects, they forget to consider the safety measurements, or lack of, involved. The very first thing you should ask a potential photographer is if they carry insurance, specifically liability insurance. Your baby, only days old, will be in the care of this person for several hours. It is important to make sure that if something happens in the care of the photographer, they have insurance to cover any damages both to your property and to your child. Other things to consider are best practices. For example, I have taken multiple posing safety classes to help ensure I am not harming your child when putting them into specific poses. Not all newborns will go into the same positions and I would never force a newborn into a pose just to please myself or parents. I know how to properly pose their arms, legs and head to ensure they are not losing circulation among other things. And also, I NEVER hang babies in props. I have images where it looks like a child is hanging, but they are composites of 2 images taken - one with the baby in the prop on the floor and the other of the prop hanging empty. Then using photoshop I compose the image together. So just make sure to ask some questions about safety practices when contacting potential photographers. No image is more important than the safety of your child.
Most newborn photographers have a collection of props available for your use. If there are specific props you are hoping for, just ask and they can let you know if they can provide what you have in mind. Some might even purchase it for you. I like to provide a nice collection of wraps, hats, headbands, outfits, baskets and bowls for use so parents don't have to worry about bringing or buying anything for their session. Also, take notice of the images in a photographers portfolio. Are they mostly neutral colors or do they use bright colors? Do they seem to use a lot of props, or are most of their images of babies on blankets or furry rugs. This is important because if you show up to a photographer's studio that displays mostly neutral colors and set ups, but you're hoping for some bright colors and props - you may be disappointed. This used to happen to me all the time. I now do my best to communicate my style and the types of props I have available to avoid any confusion during our session. I also offer studio tours so parents can come and see what I have available to them.
Most photographers who specialize in "posed" sessions try to schedule newborn sessions within the first 2 weeks of baby's arrival. Newborns are typically the most sleepy, flexible and cooperative during that time. So make sure to contact them within a few days after your baby's birth to set up your shoot. Now, things happen and there are circumstances when a session is not able to be booked within that time. That is certainly okay, just know that if your baby is 3, 4, 5 weeks or older, you may not get those sleepy, squishy poses you were hoping for. If you have booked with a lifestyle photographer, the age of the baby is not as crucial to a successful shoot.
So now you have done your research and have officially booked your session - you're so excited and can't wait for your little one to arrive. Make sure to ask if there are any instructions you will need to prepare for your shoot and go over them ahead of time. After your baby arrives things can be very crazy so knowing ahead of time is always helpful. I have an entire guide I send to clients so they can do their best to prepare their baby for a smooth session. Not every baby sleeps the entire time, but if you follow some simple instructions from your photographer, you will have a much better shot at having a successful shoot.
Congratulations on your little one on the way. I hope you have found this information helpful. If you have any questions about booking a newborn session with me or if you have any questions about this blog post feel free to contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.