Updated: Mar 11, 2021
A bI always recommend looking for your newborn photographer and booking in a newborn photoshoot whilst you are still pregnant. This is partly because most of the best photographers get booked up several months in advance. Although as expectant Mothers we count down to our due dates and hold that date in our heads from the moment we are given it, newborns are on their own schedule, they arrive whenever they feel like it! Because of this, most newborn photographers can only accept a limited number of bookings each month for newborn photoshoots. It also gives you time to get an idea of cost, and save up for your newborn photos whilst you are still working. Photoshoots can be an investment, and it always hurts less if you know the cost in advance of the session and have time to budget for it. As much as you think you will might be able to walk away with only a few images of your baby, most of my clients, once they've viewed their images find it very hard to narrow down their selections.
The main reason though is because it gives you the luxury of TIME. Time to research your photographer, study their portfolio, ask them questions about their safety practices. Safety is and should always be THE MOST IMPORTANT factor when booking your newborn photographer. Of course, price, location and loving the photographer's work are all important factors. But safety is paramount.
Posed newborn photography is a specialism that only those who have been fully trained should be practicing. Putting your babies into all these cute positions doesn't happen by accident, it's an art form and should only be executed by those who know exactly what they are doing.
So what does it mean to be a "qualified" newborn photographer? Well in truth, there is no such thing. This industry does not have a governing body, a union, an organisation who oversees the practices of those within it. In truth there is nobody regulating this industry. Anyone can pick up a camera and call themselves a photographer, I know because I did it 6 years ago! What is scary is when people pick up a camera buy a blanket and instantly call themselves a newborn photographer. Newborn photography is so different to capturing images of older children, it's completely different to weddings, or taking photos of landscapes or peoples pets. These are tiny fragile human beings we are dealing with, they can't advocate for themselves so we have to advocate for them.
There are so many things to look out for during a newborn session, you might have noticed I'll always ask about your birth story and delivery. This isn't because I'm nosey (although I am!) or because I love hearing all the gory details of labour (although I do!) but it's because there are certain poses that should be adapted for babies born with breathing difficulties, or in the breach position. I want to know if your baby is constipated not because I love poo chat (again, I actually do!) but because knowing if their tummy is sore in advance helps me to ensure they are comfortable throughout their session. I always allow plenty of time for my newborn sessions so that I don't need to clock watch and can take extra care and attention where needed. The session always flows at the pace of your baby, that is paramount. If your baby is taking a while to settle we will stop as many times as we need to for feeds, burps, nappy changes and even cuddles! That is all part of being a newborn photographer, it comes with the territory.
Throughout your session I constantly check that your baby's breathing is not restricted in anyway, keep a close eye on their temperature. Babies under 6 weeks old are unable to regulate their own temperatures so it's really important we do this for them by making sure the room is nice and warm, but that baby also doesn't get too hot.
I am Paediatric first aid trained and updated this every year with a refresher course. This is something I recommend not just as a newborn photographer but as a parent. Even if you think you know what to do and feel confident, it's completely different when it's your own child who needs help but having regular reminders of what to do should a situation arises enables me to stay calm and take swift action should I ever need to.
It's important to check baby's circulation throughout the session, this is something I have been doing since I was first trained and is second nature to me, but I'm often surprised how few people realise this is a part of being a newborn photographer. There really is so much to the "job" than what you see on the tin.
There are certain poses, the "froggy" pose for example in which baby should be supported at all times. These are created using composite images (two or more images edited together in post production) to make it appear that the baby was supporting themselves unaided, there are no circumstances in which a baby should ever be left in this position unsupported. A baby of this age should not be able to support it's own weight on his/her arms, and if they were to slip it could cause irreversible damage if they were to slip. When carrying out this pose my hands are on baby the entire time, sometimes I will even ask Mum or Dad to help me support baby's head while I take the image. There is very little that cannot be done in Photoshop these days and it really isn't worth taking the risk.
Most newborn photographers use a beanbag or posing table to position baby on. Personally I use a purpose-designed beanbag from newbornbabyposing.com - it's made of leather so that it can be disinfected and wiped down between sessions and is big enough to safely support twins or even triplets if needed.
I never leave the beanbag unattended when baby is on it, I will always be within arms reach. If I need to move away for any reason I will always ask Mum or Dad to supervise baby for a moment while I do so, this might seem extreme as babies of this age can rarely roll - but you can never be too careful where newborns are concerned, and they often surprise us with their strength!
The type of poses you see on my website and my social media pages require training and experience to be able to execute, whilst it might be tempting to go to a brand new photographer offering a bargain basement deal, there's usually a reason for this. If there is one photoshoot you shouldn't scrimp on, it's your newborn session. But expensive doesn't automatically mean safe, so make sure you do your research as well as just looking at pricing and who has the cutest props!
I always welcome questions on safety and my training history and am happy to talk through any concerns or questions you might have prior to your session - please pop me a message anytime, I'm always happy to chat!