I wanted to write a little bit today about what you should look for in a newborn photographer. This market, especially Northern Virginia, is saturated with photographers, so how do you make a decision?? Many people are tempted to go with the cheapest photographer they can find because they only want a few pictures or because they feel that most photographers are too expensive in general. But picking the photographer with the lowest rates won't always guarantee the most beautiful results. Don't get me wrong, everyone starts somewhere! I fully support new photographers and encourage them to build their client base in the best way possible, but I want clients to consider a few things as they choose who will be handling and photographing their precious new addition:
Becoming a newborn photographer is not as easy as picking up a camera and buying props. Working with newborns there is a primary rule that every one of us should follow: Safety first! Our littlest clients are so fragile and need to be handled with the utmost care. In order to do this, we need to learn about how to do sessions in the safest manner possible. We all learn in different ways, such as in-person workshops, learning through a one-on-one mentor, practice with amazing new technology like a StandInBaby (which I'll talk about later) or through online workshops and classes. These methods of learning can cost anywhere from $200 to $2,000 or more each time, and we never stop learning!
(Above images taken by me at an in-person workshop with Winnie Bruce Photography.)
Due to the high need for safety when it comes to newborn photography, we also need to have insurance, in case things don't go as planned. This is every newborn photographers worst nightmare! We plan and practice and educate ourselves as much as possible, but there is always a chance that something could go wrong. Being a responsible business owner means having insurance to protect ourselves and our clients in case the unthinkable happens. We have to protect these infants in every way, down to their teeny tiny toes.
Is this their first newborn or their 50th? Photographers all start somewhere and it's important that you know where your photographer stands in terms of experience. How many newborns a photographer has worked with will tell you where they are in the learning process. Photographing newborns is an entirely different session than photographing weddings or families. Typically, the more experience a photographer has photographing newborns, the smoother the session will go. I mentioned the StandInBaby (or SIB) earlier. This is a training baby (or stunt baby, as we call them) that has working, movable joints and is being used in the newborn photography world as a HUGE help in promoting safety while practicing new techniques and teaching others how to be safe.
While scrolling through a massive amount of photographers in your area, it's important to pay attention to whose work catches your eye. Who has images that you wish you could have on your walls? Picking a photographer that matches your style will make the session so much easier!
You need to make sure that the photographer that you love will be available to photograph your newest addition. For a photographer, it's so hard to turn away sessions especially after you have gone through the trouble of finding us and telling us that you CHOOSE to work with us. I always recommend booking a newborn session while you are still pregnant so that we have time to prepare and plan for you. Personally, I like to photograph babies before they are 14 days old, but this varies from photographer to photographer.
I'm listing this one last, because I truly think that it should be the last thing to be considered when choosing a newborn photographer. There are so many things that are taken into consideration when photographers set their pricing, but here are a few things that come into play: education, training, equipment, equipment insurance, liability insurance, business licenses, taxes, cost of goods, travel expenses, editing time, software, hardware, etc., etc. All of these things add up to our cost of doing business. That helps us to determine what our pricing needs to be in order to be a successful business. This makes newborn photography an investment not only financially, but personally. When you choose a newborn photographer, you are trusting them with your newborn. You are trusting them to provide you with a positive experience and beautiful images of your baby. You are investing in THEM. That's not to say that expensive photographers are the best photographers, because I've seen so many photographers who are priced WAY below what they could be charging and are phenomenal at what they do. I've also seen photographers who charge a large amount of money without having the education, experience or insurance that they should have.
Investing in newborn photography (and in the newborn photographer) is something that you should decide on after you do some research and find someone who fits with what you are looking for. As a newborn photographer myself, this is strange to write, but true: If you don't pick me, I truly hope that you find someone who is a good fit for YOU. Of course, I hope that that's me, but I understand if it's not ;)