HOW DO I FIND THE BEST NEWBORN PHOTOGRAPHER IN MY AREA?
So you’ve decided to find a newborn photographer to capture your new arrival’s precious first few days in the world. But where do you start? There are certainly plenty of photographers out there, as a quick online search will prove – but how do you make sure you’re choosing the right one, who will create the most beautiful images while all the time keeping your tiny bundle safe and comfortable?
Here are my tips for checking out a newborn photographer’s creds, to help you decide which one to choose:
Can you ask friends and family for recommendations?
A testimonial from a trusted friend or relative, who has already experienced a particular newborn photographer’s service, is always the best way to start your shortlist. If you keep forgetting to ask when you see people, why not use Facebook’s ‘recommendation’ feature? Alternatively, you can check your friends’ social media profiles for professional pics of their newborns, and ask those friends specifically about their experiences.
Of course, you might not know anyone to ask, in which case an online search – including your town or county name, and the words ‘best newborn photographer’ – could provide you with a few options to investigate further. However, I’d really recommend the Baby and Newborn Photography Association (BANPAS) newborn photographer search facility, over a general search engine, since all the photographers in its database are members (not only do members have access to all the organisation’s training and best practice guidance, but they adhere to its code of conduct, too – for added peace of mind).
Does the photographer’s website look reassuringly professional?
It’s pretty difficult to take a serene, peaceful photo of a new baby if they’re uncomfortable, so a sizeable portfolio of beautifully calm, tranquil little people suggests that the newborn photographer is experienced in properly handling their tiny subjects. Also look out for the colour and lighting of the shots – there should be no harsh shadows, or sickly skin tones, if the photographer really knows their craft (and this is critical; you don’t want a photographer who gets lucky, you want one who can take plenty of great shots of every baby and child who comes through their studio).
Give the rest of the website a once-over too. Are there testimonials from happy clients? Does the site explain the process and everything you need to know about booking? Can you get in touch with the photographer easily, by email, post and phone?
What qualifications does the photographer have?
Professional qualifications prove knowledge and skills in the most reassuring way. Some kind of childcare qualification is a really great indicator that the newborn photographer you’re considering will understand the needs of your baby, and have the expertise and awareness to keep them safe and happy during the shoot – I really feel my NNEB qualification gave me a fantastic grounding in this most important part of being a newborn photographer, and helps to reassure even the most nervous parent that their tiny new family addition is in the safest hands possible.
There are all sorts of photography qualifications out there, but do remember that most indicate technical ability – which is of course really important – rather than the particularly specialist skills required by someone who is taking portraits of newborns and very young babies. Again I’d like to flag up BANPAS, and their ‘Commended Member’ endorsement – awarded to BANPAS members who have submitted a portfolio of images to a judging panel, and demonstrate a consistently high standard of work; Commended Members really are at the top of their game in this very specialised field.
Can you visit the photographer before the shoot?
Not everyone wants to meet their newborn photographer before their shoot, but I always offer this as a choice to my clients – I think it’s a great opportunity to start building the sort of professional relationship that leads to the best newborn photography shoot experience. It’s also an indication that the photographer is happy for you to check out their studio and equipment ahead of your baby’s arrival.
Some newborn photographers have a separate studio, while others have a dedicated room in their own home that’s only used for photo shoots – either is fine (and both have their virtues), but you might want to think twice about a ‘professional’ photographer who doesn’t have a permanent space for their business activity. Similarly, you’ll notice that genuine pro photographers will have a wealth of kit, including camera bodies, different lenses, lighting, backdrop rigs, and a bunch of different props.
Is the pricing structure clear and transparent?
You’ll notice that many newborn photographers don’t publish costs on their websites – they do this so as not to get into a price war with their local competition, who might undercut on price by delivering a lower quality offering – but all professional photographers will happily give you a clear outline of their prices at your initial enquiry. If they’re at all vague, or name an ‘offer price’ that’s too good to be true, it might be best to steer clear.
You might come across photographers offering cut-price shoots to ‘build their portfolio’ – just bear in mind these are probably the least experienced newborn photographers out there, so do make sure you’re happy with the quality and consistency of their work, and their ability to keep your baby safe, before you decide to take them up on their offer.