Things to consider and questions you should ask when looking for a newborn photographer
The first thing I would do is check out a Photographer's page in your area to see if your style and the Photographer's style mesh. After looking through a lot of portfolios and finding some that you are interested in consider asking yourself what you are looking for and what you value. Me for example I refer to my studio as a boutique style photography studio. I value customer service and take only a limited number of clients to ensure I invest all the time to create the relaxing and family like environment I want to give to my clients. My studio bundles digitals and products such as albums, matted prints, canvas' and much more, but there are certainly photographers out there that only provide digital images. Those types of photographers are referred to in the photography community as shoot and burn, because they do the session and provide images via an online gallery. Where as that is a great way for some photographers and some clients that is not the way I work. I prefer the personal touch. So that is one thing to ask yourself as the client. Would you rather do the session and receive your images online with minimum interaction or would you rather have someone there to support you every step of the way?
Once you have thought about what kind of photographer you are looking, for I would consider your budget. Most photographers don't display their prices on their website, but if you love the work get in touch with them and here are some questions you should ask:
Where are you based?
You should think about how far you are willing to travel. When I had my second child I traveled 2 hours to our newborn photographer and now after having worked in the industry for over 6 years I have had my fair share or clients that have traveled 1.5-2hrs to see me. It can be hard with a newborn and especially if you have more than one. You may have found someone who is further away, but you really love their work or if you rather not leave the house there are some photographers that offer in home newborn sessions, but could potentially charge extra.
The most common is the studio session where you travel to the photographer so just be sure to find out where the studio is and what parking is like.
What training have you had?
This is one of the most important questions to ask. Not all photographers are created equal and newborn photography requires special training. Please don't entrust just anyone with a camera when it comes to your just a few day old baby. The newborn photography industry is currently unregulated. That means that there is no specific qualification that a newborn photographer must obtain before they can start offering the service. So, in theory, even a novice photographer, with zero experience of handling babies, could potentially setup shop and market themselves as a newborn photographer! That is worrisome but, unfortunately, happens a lot. You would want to hire someone who has had training with posing newborn babies. Posing a newborn for images is very different than handling a baby in your day-to-day life. There are online workshop as well as in person workshops for photographers to attend. I have attended several workshops over my years as a professional photographer.
Tell me about your fees?
Custom photography is expensive. Time, effort, planning and creativity goes into each of the images created and believe me – you get what you pay for. Choose a professional photographer and someone who is a specialist in newborn photography. If someone is good at their job, and in demand, their prices will reflect that. Custom photography is an investment. Ask your photographer about how they structure their fees. Some photographers are all inclusive and there is one rate that includes everything. Others are a la cart and there will be a session fee plus fees for digital images and printed products. Find out if there is a minimum purchase required. Most photographers will ask for a deposit up front to secure a slot in their schedule. In the majority of cases the deposit will be non-refundable. If you are unsure, just ask.
How many newborn sessions do you schedule a month?
Some photographers run a high volume studio, meaning they take on lots of clients a month. As mentioned above I run a low volume, high end studio so that I can fully commit to each client.
What happens during a newborn session and how long will it take?
It is a very stressful time and not knowing what to expect can increase stress during this time. My studio sessions last about 2-4 hours depending on baby.
What kind of props do you use? Do I need to bring anything?
Most seasoned newborn photographers will have all the props you need, but depending on what you decide on you could ask. I always ask my clients if they have anything specific like a military uniform I ask for them to bring.
When is the best time to book?
Newborn photography is done within the first few days of life but there can be slight variations. I do my newborn sessions between 5-14 days, but avoid day 9-11 because of a growth spurt. Also one thing to note is if you are having a boy or a girl. If you have a boy and get him circumcized the procedure needs to be completely healed before the session.
At the end of the day the photographer you go with should be on the same wave length as you. Finding someone you can trust and feel comfortable with. Keep in mind if you are breastfeeding you will most likely do so in the studio and if you are uncomfortable that is not a good feel and can potentially make the session harder as baby feels tension. So find someone you feeling good about. The birth of a baby in my opinion is a once in a lifetime event and should be celebrated like a wedding. It should make you feel special and like you and your baby are the most important things during that time.