So you're expecting a baby - congratulations!
If you like the idea of a newborn portrait session, you may have heard that it is best to book your chosen photographer early whilst still pregnant. A newborn photographer will be limited to the amount of bookings they can take per month, as babies are notorious for arriving either earlier or later than expected, and your chosen photographer will want to ensure they can fit you in before baby is past the ideal newborn photography age (typically around two weeks for full term babies)
You might have done a Google search or friends may have referred lots of different photographers to you and so here you are, a list of recommended local newborn photographers in your hand. What's next? How do you choose?
Safety will be your number one priority and a look at a photographer's web site should tell you (for example) if they are members of BANPAS, the UK association that promotes safe working practice and whose members are assessed to be working safely and have the right insurances in place. (You can also search the Banpas website itself here) The photographer might talk in their blog or on their Facebook page about working safely, eg by using composite images, or they might have examples of 'behind the scenes' photos showing how a particular shot is set up using safe practice.
Cost will be another consideration. These days everyone is counting the pennies and looking for a bargain. Running a newborn photography business is not cheap. There is so much to pay for, the training costs, the right equipment, the props, the cost of heating the studio, the travel expenses (if the photographer is mobile), the software and computer, the expenses and time involved in processing and so much more have to be taken into account.
There will always be what we call 'shoot and burn' photographers offering a session plus all images on disc for £50, but the old adage "You get what you pay for!" applies in most cases. There are always exceptions of course for example, a newly trained photographer might be looking to build up their portfolio and offering a cheaper introductory rate, but please be wary of all 'too good to be true' offers. You want to ensure your baby will be safe and that you end up with some beautiful photos, so make sure you do your homework before booking.
You might want to ensure you book an experienced photographer. I'm always careful about this one because its easy to say that of course, a photographer's portfolio will answer that one for you. I myself have a large portfolio, because I've been in business over 6 years and have photographed hundreds of newborns. However, we all have to start somewhere and there are plenty of new photographers just starting out who have done everything right, been trained and know how to work safely with your baby. Its just that due to the newness of their business they will have a limited portfolio.
These days a lot of us seem to have the title 'Award Winning' next to our names. Now don't get me wrong, genuine awards from legitimate professional photographic bodies are hard to come by and well deserved. Its just that there are so many newborn photographers around these days that we are all working hard to try and get your custom and many of us will do similar things to promote ourselves (e.g. join professional photographic bodies and gain awards to demonstrate our ability!)
So - back to your list. You have determined that we are all safe working, award winning, brilliant photographers who have been booked by your different friends, each of whom say their photographs are absolutely the best. So how on earth do you choose?
At this point, I would say it comes down to style - both yours and the photographers.
You may already have in your head an idea of what you are looking for in your newborn photos and, despite there only being a certain number of poses a photographer can do with a newborn, we do all have our own particular style.
For example; some parents love the use of props, baskets, buckets, baby in a hammock, prams etc - is that something you would like?
Other parents prefer natural photographs with the focus being just on baby without all the fuss
Some parents love hats and bows, others detest them!
Some parents want the composite poses; others find them unnatural.
Some parents are looking for arty, black and white images of their newborn
A photographer's portfolio (look at their web site or their Facebook page) will demonstrate whether they have experience in the style you prefer, so having a good look through these will help you decide on a photographer whose work you particularly like.
Finally - do remember to contact your shortlisted photographer to discuss your style requirements before booking. I think most of us would prefer this, because if we have an idea of what props, colours etc you prefer we can plan ahead for your session.
A pre-booking call is also a good opportunity to ask a photographer about their experience of working with newborns and how they ensure they work safely.
All the best with choosing your newborn photographer and thanks for reading.