The value of a reputable, professional and trained Newborn Photographer....
Having a baby is one of the most exciting times for any new parent. Whether its' your first or your fifth, each of them is special in their own way and the first few weeks are the most precious of your babies life. Not surprising therefore that so many parents are choosing to have those moments captured. With so many photographers on the market, how to do you choose? What are the most important things to know and look out for?
I am constantly asked the same questions (understandably so) so I thought it may be useful to write a little blog that might help you feel a little bit more at ease and confident about selecting a photographer. After all, whilst this time is exciting and precious, the safety of your Newborn is the most important - right?!
Q: Lots of photographers offer Newborn Photography. If they can photograph a wedding, then they must be good surely?
A: This isn't necessarily the case no. Newborn photography requires a completely different skill set that isn't just about the camera. Newborn babies need special care and attention and it is important that the photographer knows how to read the signs of your baby, understand their cues and know how to react to their situation to ensure that they are at their most comfortable during their session time. A baby will not be happy being posed if he/she isn't warm enough, is too hot, hungry, over tired or just seeking a cuddle. Knowing those signs comes with training and experience.
The art of posing a baby is specialised in itself. There are common industry recognised poses that take practise and experience to master and any Newborn photographer that has received training will know this. BUT just knowing these poses is the first part, the second is about knowing how to do them safely. Some of the poses that you will see, will require the babies limbs to be supported by an assistant or a parent. This is called a composite. Babies feet and hands also need care and attention when they are posed so as to not harm them or their circulation Be sure to ask the photographer you are thinking of choosing, what training they have had and what poses they will carry out. There are common poses in the industry so the answer should be quite specific. For more information on this, check out the BANPAS (Baby and Newborn Photography Association) website which will give more detailed demonstrations and a guide to all parents considering Newborn Photography. I trained with the two Founders of BANPAS so my training has been with the best. I am an official member of the Association too so i am constantly updating my knowledge and skills.
Q: Surely with a decent camera anyone can take a Newborn picture?
A: This is not the case with any photography BUT even less so with Newborns. As well as all the safety issues mentioned above and the specialist training required to handle a baby, the actual skill of taking a photo is completely different to any other form of photography subject. Angles play a huge part in how an image looks. Take it from the wrong angle and a baby can look twice its size. Taking a normal straight on photograph of a Newborn will result in you seeing lots of nostril- this doesn't show your baby off in the best light. For those squidgy, curly, dream like poses, the angles and way the camera and lighting is set up is vital! Editing also plays an important part too. In those first few weeks, it can be common for babies skin to be less than perfect in that camera. Babies can be very red, jaundice, purple, grey and will also be prone to flakes and acne as their skin gets used to their new environment. Whilst to parents, they are still perfect in every way, you will want these skin tones to be perfect for your images so that your images remain classic and timeless. The camera will also pick up on flaws that the natural eye may not see because a photographer will be aiming for sharpness. This can all be achieved will some clever editing BUT your photographer must be skilled in editing to do this.
So, my advice, is to really look through the portfolio of the photographer and look out for the above points. Does the babies look posed or just placed on a blanket, do they have evidence of different types of poses, does the lighting look natural or are their pictures dark and full of shadows, what are the babies skin tones like? All of these things will make a huge difference.
Also be sure to ask if they are insured and if in doubt, ask to see evidence that they are.
Q: Does my newborn have to be photographed with lots of props?
A: In my opinion no. When you look at an image, you should be drawn into your baby and not the objects and props around them. I believe that props should enhance an image and not detract from your gorgeous Newborn. I like to ensure that you can look back on your images over time and still be in love with them no matter how old they are. I therefore like to use simple, soft and timeless colours and props. I am always open to parents who have a specific theme, prop or colour in mind and will definitely try and incorporate any ideas into my shoots. Please always ask me if you have something specific in mind.
Q: How long does a session last for? Why do some photographers say 1 hour and others 3-4?
A: My sessions will last up to 3-4 hours and this is the industry recomendation. There are various reasons as to why sessions are so long but the common factor, is that I am working to your babies time. In order to get your baby is those curly poses, my aim is to get your baby to sleep. For some babies this happens as soon as they've been fed and for others this can take longer and more patience is required. There are always some babies that don't want to sleep and I will work around this but in most cases we just need a bit of time and patience. Every pose also takes time so as to not disturb baby once they are asleep and also to perfect the image. Once posed, I will then take several pictures at different angles before moving on to the next. In between all of this, your baby may need an extra feed or simply a cuddle. This can all take time. So, if you see a photographer advertising a session time of less than 2-3 hours, I would question how many images they are looking to take in that time and how much variety will be in your gallery. I always aim to produce up to 20 different images for my all my clients and all images will be carefully posed and involve a prop or accessory/outfit.
Q: A photographer is a photographer, what more do I need to know?
A: No you don't really but this is about preference. There will be many photographers who take amazing pictures and are great in this area but if you don't like them, do you want to be in their company for several hours and will your siblings be comfortable in their presence. It can be useful to at least put a face to a name before your session so look our for personal profiles, what do you know about them , do they make you feel welcome when you communicate with them and so they seem to be understanding. For me this is key. I want people to know that I am warm, approachable, patient, friendly. I want them to know that I have a family and I am a Mummy so I am used to dealing with children. This helps to reassure my clients that I am used to children, i have been in their shoes and I get it!
Q: Why do costs vary so much. £50 for all my images is a good deal right?
A: This is one of the biggest questions and hottest topics for many photographers and one i find myself explaining regularly. In a day of Social Media, Smart Phones and cheaper DSLR cameras, the market is saturated with people offering their services. There are a lot of people who are devaluing the services of photographers by offering all images deals for minimal money. My opinions aside, it is worth considering the real hard facts in this situation. A photography session, particularly a Newborn Session, starts way before the session day. I spend up to an hour or two dealing with a clients initial enquiry and consulting with them. I spend this time because i want my clients to feel reassured, safe and I want them to be able to trust me with their most precious things - their children.
Prior to the session, I will spend time arranging props, which for Newborn photographs can take up to 30 minutes. The session time can then take up to 3-4 hours as I have already explained. After the session, all the props used will then be hand washed to ensure they are clean for the next session. As most props and outfits are made out of delicate, organic fibres, they will not cope with machine washes.
I will then spend time viewing all the images, selecting up to 20-25 images and I will then carefully edit them. This process can take up to 3-4 hours. All images are then placed on a viewing gallery and I will process the order which can take up to one hour to complete.
Thats a lot of hours - an average of 10 hours for one Newborn Session from start to finish. What is 10 hours of time worth in your business or work?
The other factor to consider is quality. You will always get what you pay for and I am a firm believer that if something seems to good to be true, it usually is. Quality photographs take skill and time and this is reflected in the price. The same as a hairdresser. Good hairdressers will charge good prices because cutting or colouring hair is a skill. Just because you can buy a cheap pair of scissors, doesn't mean you would allow just anyone to cut your hair. You would want someone who is trained, can cut your hair safely and give you a cut or colour that you won't end up regretting just because it was cheap. The same as choosing a nursery for your child. Just because it is cheaper, doesn't mean to say your child is being looked after by a professional or in a safe place with trained staff.
My last piece of advice is look at the photographers reviews and ask for recommendations. What do other people say about them. Look at the overall experience and not just the photographs. Remember, this is an experience you won't get back and you won't be able to have the photographs done again! This small window of your Newborn will go in a flash so choose wisely.
If you would like to know more about my sessions or me, then please do not hesitate to contact me. I am always happy to help.