So you want to become a Newborn Photographer? Here's what you need to know!

April 22, 2024

You’ve seen all those adorable, squishy bundles of joy on your social media, you love photography, and you’ve decided that you want to make a career out of being the one behind the lens, capturing those precious moments for new families.

_DSC5667-Recovered bw_DSC5667-Recovered bw Hang onto your cameras straps because I’m going to give you a no-holds barred lowdown on what it takes to become a professional newborn photographer!

Before I try and inject my questionable sense of humour into this blog, let's be serious for one minute with the most important thing you need to know; SAFETY. As a newborn photographer, you’ll be handling some of the most precious and delicate subjects imaginable. It is absolutely essential therefore that you prioritise health and safety above all else and undertake relevant training to ensure you have the knowledge to safely handle and pose a newborn. You should stay up to date with the latest safety guidelines, invest in high quality props and equipment, learn how to use composite imagery and spotters, ensure you maintain strict levels of hygiene in your workspace and never put your tiny subject in any sort of danger just to get the perfect shot. No photo is ever worth risking a child’s safety.

Secondly - lets talk about patience.

Patience is not just a virtue when it comes to newborn photography; it is an absolute, no negotiations, ‘final answer Jeremy’, MUST have quality. You see, babies and children have a mind of their own. They don’t always want to cooperate with your plans for the perfect, harmonious session (you know, the classic storybook session where the newborn sleeps peacefully, smiles in their sleep and poses effortlessly as their calm older sibling cooperates without question, all while the delighted parents watch on with happy tears in their eyes). Yes, those plans.

Time for a reality check. If you tend to get easily flustered when things don’t go according to plan, this might not be the career for you. If, however, you can handle your little model having a crying fit, wanting to cluster feed or waking every time you move them; If you can handle their older sibling either not wanting to cooperate or being so over excited they can’t sit still and prefer to run around your studio knocking things over and loudly singing ‘Baby Shark’ while you’re trying to calm baby; If you can do this with grace, humour and the ability to reassure a possibly very stressed mum and dad that you will definitely get beautiful images for them, you may just have what it takes to succeed. eggegg

Now lets look at the technical side of your chosen career path. You will need to get to know your camera inside and out, master the art of lighting and composition and, possibly the most difficult bit, you'll need to develop your own, unique style that sets you apart from the competition. Trust me, there is plenty of competition out there! Don’t let that intimidate you, and don’t compare yourself to others. As the saying goes, “you do you”. When you are checking out other newborn photographers social media posts and websites, let them inspire you to push yourself to new heights and constantly seek self improvement.

Now on to the joyous subject of bodily fluids. If your clients have set their heart on photos of their darling little baby in the buff, you will have to prepare yourself for the possibility of having to deal with newborn poo. Breast-fed newborn poo is particularly joyful (what are those little mustard seeds?). Then there is wee. And puke. Even if you photograph newborns with their nappy on, you will still need to cope with the delightful aromas that come with a nappy change and understand that you could find yourself covered in regurgitated breast milk at any moment. If you are squeamish about such things therefore, you might want to steer clear of  a career in newborn photography! If, however, you can laugh off a little mess and carry on with the shoot like a pro – then you’re in the right place! Fun fact, once when I was photographing a little lad he surprised me with a jet of wee that hit my cheek, just missing my mouth. I tend to photograph babies with their nappies on these days, but boy have I got a lot of wonderful out-takes featuring bodily fluids that made an appearance just as I pressed the shutter!

15bw15bw Yes, the work of a newborn photographer, while wonderful and rewarding, can certainly be challenging. And it’s not just session time you need to be prepared for. In addition to the above, you should remember that actually photographing baby is just a teeny, tiny part of the story. To make your business a success your hours will be long (I regularly play catch up with my processing into the early hours). You constantly have to think about how you’re going to get people to see your work in order that they might book you; You’ll need to learn about marketing and social media. The pay won’t always be what you would like it to be and there will be times, particularly at the start, when you wonder whether you’ll actually ever get another booking in the diary. You may have people contact you, asking questions and excited to book in, who then never contact you again. You may have some people who don't buy any pictures, or who promise to leave a review but don't. You must learn to develop a tough skin and not worry about these things. Oh, and you will also need to learn how to use processing software, manage your accounts and deal with the taxman.

If, after reading up to here, you are sadly logging onto EBay to advertise your camera please stop! Believe me, the positives of a career in newborn photography do aboslutely outweigh the negatives. When you do capture that perfect shot, the one that makes a new mum cry or brings you praise from clients and other photographer friends, when you get those great reviews or when a new client tells you that you were recommended to them by a past happy customer; all the hard work suddenly becomes worth it. 

To conclude, if you have the patience of a saint, a stomach of steel, the technical knowledge of a master photographer, an in-depth understanding of Photoshop plus marketing and accounting skills, then the role of Newborn Photographer is for you!

In all seriousness, if you have a passion for capturing life’s most precious moments and a willingness to learn then you’re already on the right path. Now go forth, camera in hand, and start capturing those adorable little bundles of joy! Oh and check out my earlier blog on the basic equipment you'll need.

Thanks for reading!

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