Tips for Choosing a Newborn Photographer {Newborn Photography Raleigh NC}

March 06, 2015  •  1 Comment

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This topic has been on my mind for a while.  There are so many photographers in my area, and I'm sure this is the case just about everywhere in the country where there is an abundance of young families.  Hiring a newborn photographer can be a little overwhelming.  There are so many styles.  There are so many packages.  And there are definitely a wide variety of prices!  I get a lot of emails every week from expecting mothers, asking questions about how sessions work, what the pricing looks like, and other questions.  I've compiled some tips on what to look for, what to consider, and what to ask any photographer you are considering hiring.  

1.  First, decide what is important to you.  Do you absolutely have to have the digital files?  Some families have relatives overseas and emailing pictures from a session is easier.  Other families want to be able to create albums or greeting cards. Still for other families, they don't have time to make their own prints and they want a photographer who has access to a professional quality print lab to provide beautiful prints, canvases, and other products.  Many photographers include either prints or digital files, but not both.  I feel that both are important so my packages include both.

2.  Decide what style you like.  One way to do this is to search Pinterest, your friends' newborn portraits, or other places to see what you are drawn to.  Some newborn photographers dress up your baby in little outfits or costumes.  Others keep it minimal and photograph newborn babies mostly naked.  One thing I tell people to consider when looking at the props is how their images will look in a few years.  Will cute little animal hats still be in style or will they look silly?  Will you still enjoy your images or will you cringe at the props that were so trendy when your baby was born?  A simple portrait of a baby will always look beautiful.

Now it's time to look at individual photographers in your area that match your style and fit your needs.

3.  Look at each photographer's website.  There should be a portfolio with a variety of babies in the images.  Take a look at the consistency of skills.  Everyone with a camera can get a good picture once in a while.  You need to hire someone who consistently takes good pictures.  Look at every picture and evaluate....are the eyes of the baby in focus?  If they are blurry, move on.  Every photographer should have images that are in focus.  Period.  Is the color correct?  If the baby's skin looks orange or some other unnatural skin color, move along.  Color balance is a learned skill and orange, gray, or purple skin tones are a sign of someone who needs more experience.  Check the exposure.  Are the images too dark?  Are they overexposed, with white areas that look so bright that they are glowing?  Look at the posing and composition.  Do the babies in the portfolio look safe, happy, and comfortable?  

Once you've found a few photographer websites that you like, it's time to get in touch and ask the photographer a few questions.  Here are a few things you may want to ask.  

1.  Is the photographer vaccinated?  Anyone who works with newborn babies should have an up to date flu shot (in flu season, of course) and a Pertusis vaccine (whooping cough).   These two illnesses can cause serious problems for babies.  Other vaccines are also important, so ask about any that you are concerned about.  A photographer should never agree to do a session for you while they are sick.  A few other safety rules your photographer should follow:  washing hands before handling your baby and washing every blanket or prop the baby touches.  

3.  Is the photographer insured?  Is safety important to the photographer?  Insurance is important for obvious reasons.  Accidents can happen, although being informed on newborn safety is the best way to prevent problems.  Ask the photographer how they keep baby safe.  Is she trained to pose babies safely?  Does she know how to do a composite?  If she does posed newborn sessions and doesn't know what a composite is, that's a red flag.  A composite is an editing technique to remove hands that are supporting and spotting the baby.  

4.  What is the turn around time for your images?  It makes me so sad and angry when I hear stories about families paying photographers and having to wait a year to get any images.  Like everything else, you get what you pay for.  If you are only paying $100 for your newborn photographer, that's not enough motivation for them to finish your images in a timely manner.  If your images can't be ready in 2-4 weeks, choose someone else.  The exception to this is if you need to order a custom item, like an album that takes extra time to design and print.

5.  How much does the newborn session cost?  This, of course, is the biggest question on many families' minds.  Just be careful, because cheaper isn't always the best option.  In fact, when it comes to photography, a cheap price can be a red flag.  If the price sounds to good to be true, there's a good chance that the photographer is not a professional and is not set up as a legal business.  Yikes!  Do you really want to hand over your baby to a stranger who hasn't even bothered to get a business license or pay sales taxes?  You only get one chance at capturing your baby while he or she is brand new.  Don't trust just anyone just because they're "affordable."

6.  What do the packages look like?  Photography pricing shouldn't be too complicated, although there are many ways of structuring prices.  Two common models are "all inclusive" and "session+package."  An all inclusive photographer will charge you a single price up front and give you a CD, flash drive, or download of all your edited images on a disk.  I used to offer this and included 4x6" prints too.  This is a nice, simple way to price, but I've found that it has its drawbacks.  Last time I checked, having a baby keeps you pretty busy.  You might not have time to get your images printed.  I once had someone tell me that the CD her photographer gave her was still in the same drawer a whole year later.  Her baby was a year old and she still never printed the images.  That made me really sad.  What a waste of money and memories if you don't have time to make prints.  Other photographers will break up payment into a session fee (used to secure your date) and then a package fee.  I switched to this model this year for a few reasons.  First, it lets people see their images before purchasing them.  They can decide how many they want to keep and choose the package that fits.  All my packages include some digital files and some prints, because I think families should walk away with both. I like to give families at least a few prints in case they do get busy and can't do it themselves.  Likewise, I also include birth announcements.  I feel that birth announcements are something that all families want but most don't ever find the time to order and send out.  I do it for them.  Other photographers build their packages to include other products.  There is no right or wrong way.  Find a photographer who fits your needs.

Good luck in your search for your newborn's first portraits!  This is an exciting time and I hope that these tips will help you choose the best photographer for you.  If you are expecting and have any questions about newborn photography, I am always happy to answer questions, give advice, or help in any way I can.  We have some amazing talent in our area, and I'm sure you'll find just the photographer you are looking for!



Callum Palmer(non-registered)
Capturing your newborn child with a photo is an incredibly important event for many families. Because of that I really like a lot of the advice you give in the article about what you should look for when choosing a photographer. I particularly agree with what you've said about looking at the photographer's website in order to get an idea of the kinds of baby photos they take.
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