After the nearly nine month wait since you first witnessed two magical lines forming on a pee stick, you are ready to hold your infant and gaze lovingly at his perfect baby face. What a whirlwind it has been! You know it in your gut…. your life is about to change in a big way and it is approaching quickly, a tsunami that will wash over every aspect of your life and transform you into a completely different version of the person you are today, a super-hero version of yourself– you will become a Mother. There will be another human being in your life that you love more than you can even imagine. As you look down at your rapidly expanding belly, you go over the never ending to-do list before your baby arrives… finish painting the nursery, follow up with your doctor or midwife, add an Ergo to your baby registry. Oh, and find a newborn photographer.
Having a photographer create portraits of your baby while they are tiny will give you something to treasure forever. Where do you start? There are so many newborn photographers to choose from that it’s hard to know where to start. Here is a list of things to think about when narrowing down your picks.
1. What Kind of Style Speaks to You?
Do sweetly posed newborns propped up on their hands appeal to you, or do natural, organic moments that tell a story? Basically, newborn and baby photography can be broken down into two genres– lifestyle and posed. It is a good idea to go through various photographers’ portfolio websites in your area to see what speaks to your heart.
Lifestyle photography is documentary style photography that captures the emotion and candid gesture of an event… think of it like “a day in the life”. Your photographer will give you some direction in order to help you feel more comfortable and also to control the setting, composition and light to a degree, and then you will be given cues to interact with each other. Your photographer uses her or his creative vision and skill to create portraits that tell a story about your baby that are as unique as your family.
Posed baby photography is also lovely and requires much artistry as well. The posed shots can vary from very minimally posed natural portraits to very elaborately posed portraits involving lots of props. Often, the more elaborate posed portraits are a Photoshopped composite image of several frames. An example of this is the shot that you may be familiar with where a baby appears to be propping herself up on her own hands. There are actually an assistant’s hands supporting the baby which are later edited out in order help the baby achieve the more theatrical poses as well as to keep the baby safe.
2. Location, Location, Location…
The location of where your portraits are made is also tied into your photographer’s style.
Newborn photographers that have a more lifestyle or documentary approach to their work will normally want to work in your own home and use the home environment in your portraits. There are advantages of this as you and your baby will be more comfortable in your own home and getting out of the house with a week old baby can be a hassle. If you forget something, need to retouch your lip gloss or change shirts because of a spit up mishap, you have access to it. Your photographer may move things around in your home in order to keep the background clean in your portraits. Another nice thing about working in your home is that many parents spend a lot of time and effort perfecting their baby’s nursery, and those beautiful details will be featured in their newborn pictures.
Some photographers like to photograph newborn babies and families in their studios. This works well for photographers that like to have more control over the lighting and setting. These photographers will normally have several background and lots of interesting prop choices to choose from in order to customize your photo session. As these photographers are used to working with newborn babies and their familes, they normally have their studio set up so that it is inviting and comfortable.
3. Who Is Included in the Photos?
While your photographer will obviously be capturing your newborn baby in portraits, who else will be included? Some photographers work exclusively with newborns and specialize in creating pieces of art that only feature the babies. Some photographers prefer to incorporate parents and siblings into some of their shots as well. To some families, it is even important to include beloved pets with their new baby!
Another note about this… After giving birth, many new mothers feel that they don’t look their best and shy away from being in family photos. When you look back on your portraits years from now you are not going to notice how tired that you looked or that you may have some extra baby padding. You will see how tiny your baby is cradled in your arms and see the expression of radiant joy on your face. Down the road, it will put perspective on how little your baby was compared to their 8 year old self! These may end up being your favorite photographs by far!
4. Price and Products
With the abundance of inexpensive digital cameras on the market and mom-o-grapher hobbyists, you will see a wide range of pricing options when searching for a newborn photographer. A trained professional photographer is going to be an investment that not everyone is willing to make. You are hiring an artist for their creativity, their skill and their vision to create custom photographs that feature your newborn.
How important is having quality art of your newborn baby to you? You have a small window to have newborn portraits made (normally the first two weeks after your baby’s arrival). These portraits will be something that not only will be treasured through the course of your lifetime, but handed down to following generations. Most people count photographs as their most prized possessions. When a fire takes a family’s home, it is often their photographs that are missed the most. They are irreplaceable. These are our stories, our lives, our memories. Consider this before going with the cheapest photographer on the market or your cousin that has a digital SLR camera.
Also, think about the way your portrait will be presented to you. If you are going to commission a professional photographer to photograph your newborn, chances are, you are going to want the result to be a beautiful piece of art such as a high quality album to cherish, or a framed piece to hang in your home. This is a very special occasion and needs to be commemorated as such! With the digital age upon us, many people overlook this part of professional photography and think that a disk with their images is all they need. Most of the time, with the chaos of adding a baby to a family and change in routine, having prints made from your photo shoot get put on the bottom of your to-do list and the disk gets put away in a drawer and the images forgotten about. Many photographers offer both digital and print products to the families that they work with. This is the best of both worlds as it gives families the digital images to archive and also prints to cherish.
5. Do you “click”?
This is the last because it is perhaps the most important. How do you click with your photographer? Do you feel good when you talk to her or him? Do you generally like her or him? This is going to be the person that spends a good amount of time with you and your family while creating your photos. Do they “get” how emotionally intense it is to be a new mother and do you think they can they put you at ease when your baby decides to cluster feed and test out her lungs with wailing cries during her newborn session instead of sleeping peacefully? Do you feel connected with your photographer? Can you trust her/ him to handle your new baby safely? How many years experience do they have and what types of training?
This one goes under “gut feeling” and it is something that you will know immediately! So be sure you get to speak with potential photographers or better yet, meet with them before you book them!