Choosing a photographer is a difficult decision these days, you only have to do a quick search on Google to see how many of us are out there! But how do you find the right one for you and your family? There are a number of considerations to bear in mind…
When researching your choice of photographer don't be fooled into thinking that all photographers were created equal. Sadly the photographic industry is totally unregulated, you don't need any qualifications to call yourself a photographer. Anyone can buy themselves an DSLR, build a website and hey presto they've set up a business, in fact these days with social media you don't even need a website.
As a new parent you need to be confident in the skills and experience of the person you are entrusting to take images of your little one.
I appreciate that for a lot of people the deciding factor in choosing their photographer will probably boil down to cost. But don't let this be the ONLY factor. Most photographers offer varying packages to suit different budgets.
Over the years I've hired numerous professional photographers to take photos of my own family. How odd I hear you say, when I'm a photographer myself... I mainly booked them because I wanted to be in the pictures with my children too! Like you I did my research, I visualised those images hanging on the walls of my home, I asked to see galleries, I picked the photographers for their use of colour and the style of their images. I picked them because they were good at their job. I didn't want to compromise on the photographer, but I did compromise on the number of images I could afford. After all at the end of the day I wasn't going to hang 30 images on the walls of my home, I didn't have room! It's honestly not a bargain if you don't like your images.
WHAT SORT OF NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHY DO YOU RECOMMEND?
There are two different types of newborn photography, lifestyle and posed - I offer both.
Lifestyle photography captures families in their own homes, and tells a story about their everyday life. With lifestyle sessions you will have a larger window of opportunity, I recommend between 1 and 4 weeks as the best time, this way you'll get some lovely awake images too. The whole family are encouraged to get in the photo and I'll use the natural available light in your home or depending on the time of year I have studio lights that I can bring with me.
Posed newborn photography, with sleepy curled-up babies in hats and posed in baskets – should ideally take place in the first two weeks of your baby’s life. Most babies at this age are oblivious, and often sleep through the entire session. After this time baby acne may be an issue, and babies tend to sleep less deeply so it is less likely that all those cute newborn poses will be achieved. However, don't forget that all babies are different so there's no hard and fast rule, it may still be possible to achieve this kind of newborn pose after this time. Besides, even if the newborn poses aren’t possible, you’ll still be able to capture some amazing memories!
So whether you choose posed images or a more lifestyle approach in your own home is totally up to you.
When you book is totally dependent on you, and how organised you are. I would however say that if you leave it too late you may not have as much choice, as some photographers get booked up months in advance. If you’d like to find out more about booking a newborn shoot with me, please click here.
So where do I start looking?
Obviously the internet is a great place to start, and my advice would be to find a photographer in your geographical area. After all, you’ll have just had a baby, so you won’t want to travel too far. To narrow down your search engine results it’s best to add a location to your search terms – perhaps your nearest big town or city, or your county. Make a shortlist of three or four if you are lucky enough to have that many in your area.
Whilst Google is a great source of information, I would say that word of mouth is an even better way to find a great newborn photographer; talking to a friend who has already can recommend a photographer after a positive personal experience is even better!
Once you have a shortlist of photographers there are a few more things that you should consider when making your final choice:
Do they have availability around your due date? Remember that the sooner you start your search, the more choice you will have. Babies are rarely born on their due date, so this means that photographers allow lots of wiggle room in their diaries, which is why their diaries fill up so fast! Most newborn photographers recommend mummies-to-be book their session when they are between three and five months pregnant (so between their 12 and 20 week scans).
Do they have a studio, or would they come to your home? Both have benefits, it’s up to you to decide what’s best for you.
Do you love their images, and are they the sort of photographs that you would like to have hanging on the walls of your home? Do they have a varied portfolio of different images and poses, and do the babies look comfortable?
Most photographers have a website, a blog or a Facebook page (some have all three), but do they have client reviews you can read?
It’s always a good idea to ask about how the photographer will approach the safety of your newborn, and find out what training and experience they have had. Bear in mind that some of the images that you see on photographers’ websites are actually two shots that have been merged together – these are called composite images, and they are done this way so that the baby is properly supported at all times (the supporting hands are edited out using software such as Photoshop).
Most photographers are happy to organise a pre-booking consultation, so do ask if you can find out more about their service in this way – newborn photography is so hands-on, that it’s essential to feel confident and comfortable with your choice of photographer. I love to meet clients before they book, and I am always happy to show them my studio and the products that I offer.
Do they offer the right products for your taste?
I always think that until you see your gallery of images it's difficult to envisage what kind of products you would like. But most photographers would be able to supply you with a myriad of options for wall art, and will also be able to advise you on styles and sizes to suit your home.
Please remember that if you are looking to purchase digital files, you aren't paying for the USB, you are purchasing the files that can be used to create bespoke wall art that is unique to you and your family (on most occasions the photographer will retain the copyright, but you would be granted ‘printing rights’). However, it’s worth considering whether this is indeed the best option for you. Most professional labs will only deal directly with professional photographers, and high street developers do not recreate accurate colours, nor do they guarantee archival quality prints.
WHAT WILL IT COST?
I am a great believer in ‘you get what you pay for’, so if a fee seems expensive at first glance, it might be useful to ask yourself, what exactly are you getting? A legitimate photographer, running a proper business, has invested in expensive equipment and pays insurance and tax. Professional photographers’ prices are backed up by careful calculations based on sound business analysis, and don’t forget they purchase their products (prints, frames and more) from professional quality suppliers and not from the high street.
It’s worthwhile considering what goes into the overall cost, and what factors might make a photographer’s work cheaper or more expensive, so you can have a more useful conversation with your photographer about your budget:
A session could last up to four hours, to maximise the chance of catching those perfect images, after ensuring that your baby is at ease in their new surroundings.
Your photographer will have spent time before the shoot preparing the environment, and also limiting other shoot bookings to accommodate date changes.
Newborns can sometimes be a little jaundiced or require careful editing so they look their best; this takes time, skill and specialist training.
Your photographer requires specialist equipment and props to capture your newborn in a comfortable, safe and yet individual environment (not to mention the laundry that will need to be done after the shoot!)
Training and experience will have an impact on cost – because they have a significant impact on the quality of the resulting pictures. How long have they been working as a photographer, and what training and experience have they had?
If you spot a special offer, do think about whether it really represents good value – there’s no point in taking up a cut-price deal if you’re not going to be happy with the resulting pictures. However, if a photographer you love is running a promotion, I say go for it!
Bear in mind that whether you purchase framed prints or digital files, you are not paying for the physical print and frame, or disc/USB, you are investing a unique artwork that has been created especially for you – images that you and your family will love and cherish for many years to come.
All photographers have their particular niches, characteristics and styles – so choosing one can be overwhelming! Hopefully this page will help you navigate through your decision, and ensure you have a rewarding time that results in capturing images that you’ll love.
I hope you've found this information useful and informative. If you have any thoughts or questions please do drop me a line, by calling 07887 524683 or emailing me via my contact form.