These are the Top 10 Tips For Choosing Your Newborn Photographer and I hope they will make your life easier in narrowing down your search. I know it always sounds like a good idea to go for the cheapest option, but here’s why you shouldn’t entrust this important task to a budget photographer (or even a professional that doesn’t specialize in this niche).
I’d like to start by saying that even though I’d love to be the photographer for all of the newborn babies that I get inquiries for from Mount Washington KY to Louisville, Lexington and Southern Indiana, I also know that’s humanly impossible. Lol. It breaks my heart when mommies-to-be have to be turned away when I’m booked because I hear some of the same repetitive frustrations that they encounter with their continued search for a newborn photographer. How are they supposed to choose? What should they look for? How do they know they are picking someone that is a professional? It can be an overwhelming task if you don’t know what to look for and I thought I’d compose a list of the top 10 tips to help navigate this choice. There’s a newborn photographer out there for everyone and I personally know of several very talented ladies in my own backyard that I often refer clients to when I’m booked! Since newborn photography is a specialized field that is semi-new to the photography industry, let’s get back to the point of this post. Here are some great tips to follow when choosing your newborn photographer (in order of importance according to most)!
1. Skill Level
How long has the photographer been working with newborns? Have they been properly trained on posing safety so they are safely handling your baby? A photographer could be very proficient in general, but what is their skill level and frequency of actually posing newborns? Just because a photographer has a wonderful track record and a beautiful portfolio, it does not make them a newborn photographer. Look at their track record specifically with newborns and not their collective works outside of newborns. There are alot of elements involved in a successful newborn session, so there’s more to it than just throwing a baby in a bucket or laying them on a pretty blanket. I have had several years of training with 2 of the top mentors in the newborn industry and specialize in newborn photography. That is the only thing you will see on my website outside of maternity and baby’s first year images. I chose to specialize in this field because it is important to me to offer a service that I am passionate and highly proficient in. I challenge myself to be continually learning new and different ways of perfecting my skills so my work doesn’t become stagnant.
This is a big one! Go through their newborn portfolio and see if you like how they style their sessions. Every photographer has their own tastes and styles so choose the one that fits your style. This is how they will be styling your session, so expect results of what you are seeing from their portfolio. You can see mine here. I personally describe my styling as “Luxe with a vintage nod and romantic undertones.” I have stocked my studio with a prop collections from the best of the boutique vendors in the newborn industry and each piece specifically purchased to fit my brand. Chances are if you’re looking for anything crocheted or crocheted animal garb, then I’m not the photographer for you. I know what photographs the best and is sized specifically for newborn bodies, so my clients trust my styling and don’t bother with trying to bring in over-sized crocheted outfits that will swallow their baby and ultimately won’t photograph well. The point is, there’s a photographer out there for everyone’s tastes so find the right one that fits yours.
This goes hand in hand with #2. When navigating through a photographer’s portfolio, there should be consistency in their images in regards to styling, lighting, shots in focus and perfect posing. Their portfolio shouldn’t be all over the place and there shouldn’t be only one great image in a sea of mediocre images (unless you are ok with this type of gallery for yourself). What you see is what you should expect from them when delivering your images to you. Hiring a photographer with a specific set of abilities and expecting different results will only leave you unsatisfied with the session results.
What type of products will you get from your photographer to showcase all of the beautiful images they just created for you? Does the photographer offer a design service to help you select the best products to display your new wall art? Or are they just a shoot and burn photographer that just hands you a disc that ends up in a drawer somewhere to be forgotten? What good are all of those new products if you don’t know how to display them in your home? I offer a full design service to help you with selecting and designing all of your wall collections. I am a print and product based photographer and have a boutique collection of products that I offer to beautifully memorialize all of your images in from albums, photo prints on wood, canvases and prints. I have searched the industry over and have found the highest of quality products to offer to my clients to go along with their luxe styled newborn and maternity images. You can see some of these items in this blog post.
5. Price Service
The old adage “You get what you pay for” rings true with newborn photography. Your baby is only a “newborn” once and leaving the task of documenting all of their tiny features should be left up to a professional. With that comes a cost. Professionals aren’t born overnight! They have invested the time to learn and hone their skills through expensive workshops, shoot their sessions with professional-grade camera and lighting equipment, spent ginormous amounts of money on their props (well, at least I have HA!) edit their sessions with professional programs, carry business insurance and have endless marketing expenses just to get their names out there. And if they have assistants or employees, you can add extra costs for that, too, into the expenses we carry. The point is, alot of behind the scenes things that a professional has to have and do in order to produce the gorgeous images they show on their websites come at a price. Expect a professional to charge a session fee that covers their time and talent to shoot the session, use of their exclusive prop collection to style your session and finally the additional time it takes to edit afterwards. Prints, products and digital files will all come at an extra cost. You can see my session fees here. Some professional photographers don’t even sell their digitals, but the ones that do may come at a hefty price. The goal of your photo session should be to put art on your walls. What is the point of getting a disk of images that will live in a drawer never to be seen again, that could be outdated technology in a few years (who remembers beta and VHS tapes?), or possibly even get lost/ broken. Life has a way of getting the best of new parents and more often than not, that is what happens and their beautiful images never see the light of day.
There are 2 types of studios; in-home and a free-standing studio like in a strip mall or some other building outside of the home. What type of studio does your photographer have and does it really matter to you? I personally have an in-home studio and believe it affords the opportunity to offer an extra sense of coziness and able to form a quick rapport with my clients. My sessions always feel like I’m just having friends over for a few hours of some baby fun! They’ll enjoy a wide array of drinks and snacks to satisfy any cravings during the session as well. Since I also have a full-time day job, the overhead on a studio outside of the home just isn’t sensible for me, which is what you will find quite common across your search. It is accepted among the newborn industry to operate out of your home. For those clients out there that prefer the opposite, there are several choices available to you as well. Just be sure to check the type of studio you will be bringing your baby to if this is of any consequence to you.
7. Overall Experience
What does your photographer offer as part of their overall experience that sets them apart from other photographers. What makes them so special? I’d like to think that my service, skill set and persona in general is unique and sets me apart from my competition. I’m a full service studio that offers a free no-obligation consultation to explain the newborn process and what to expect from the moment a client books until the day I deliver their products. I find that my clients end up becoming friends because we’re always in constant contact that it’s hard not to form rapports that don’t just end after the session. I fall in love with each of their stories and truly enjoy watching their babies grow; my clients are more to me than just a photo shoot or a profit! This is my passion and it shines through in everything that I do from styling a session, shooting, editing or designing their products!
When I say sanitary, I’m talking about what are they actually cleaning with? I should hope that all newborn photographer’s studios are clean and germ free, but how are they getting to that result? Not only do I take your baby’s safety very seriously while posing, I also consider this a great concern with what I choose to clean my studio with. My studio is in my home and only use the safest of Eco-friendly and Non-toxic cleaners and disinfectants while making sure my studio is germ-free. All of the products I use are from an Eco-Based company named Melaleuca and take great pride that I am able to offer a safe session for you and your baby both with my abilities and the baby friendly cleaners that I use to sanitize my home studio. These cleaners are not made with harsh chemicals, so they are not harsh on a delicate baby’s skin, and even if these were directly ingested they are perfectly safe for children and pets.
How far will you travel to your newborn photographer? I’ve had people travel over 2 hours to get to me, but on average most people travel 20-40 minutes to get to my studio. I have found with my clients that distance wasn’t a factor since they were in love with the styling and products that I offer. However, it’s something to think about if you aren’t able to travel for whatever reason. Some photographers even offer an in-home service and will travel to you if they don’t have a studio, but it could limit what they’re able to offer to you since you can only fit so much into a vehicle! 🙂
10. Booking & Referral Discounts
A lot of photographers will offer a discount if you book additional sessions with the newborn session. Maternity, Fresh 48 and Baby’s First Year Plans are all bundling opportunities to get discount on session fees so don’t hesitate to ask. Word of mouth is a photographer’s best friend. Ask about their referral bonus opportunities to earn credit toward your print purchases and otherwise.
Just a few final words to recap. I urge you to select a photographer based on what they can offer you and the experience you will receive while visiting their studio. Remember, your memories of your tiny baby are being left up to who you’re choosing to capture these fleeting moments that you can never get back. If you select a photographer that you end up being unhappy with their results, chances are that you may not be able to get into another newborn photographer in time for a reshoot. The “newborn window” is short 2 weeks to still be able to get the super sleepy and curly poses. That is not a solid concrete window for every baby though; if a baby is born premature then an adjusted window comes into play. I’ve photographed a 10 week old micro preemie that was still 2 weeks away from here actual due date, so there are always exceptions to that rule. My best advice is to book your newborn photographer early on in the pregnancy to ensure a slot on their schedule; I usually recommend booking as soon as you get out of the first trimester to make sure there are no complications with the pregnancy.
If you are expecting and would like more info on booking your newborn session, you can do so here or email me at Hello@JLRitt.com.
Fellow Photographers! IF you found this article helping in conveying your natural concerns in this area, then please feel free to share these tips for choosing your newborn photographer as a link to this blog post on your Facebook page!
Jennifer Rittenberry Photography specializes in newborn & maternity photography in Louisville, Kentucky and surrounding areas including but not limited to Mount Washington.