While I’d love to be able to photograph all of the newborn babies that I get inquiries for from Paso Robles, San Luis Obispo, Arroyo Grande, CA and the Central Coast, I know that’s not possible. It's never easy to turn away clients when I’m booked because I know the frustration they can encounter searching for another newborn photographer. Choosing a professional newborn photographer can be an overwhelming task if you don’t know what to look for and so I thought I’d share a list of the top 8 tips that the amazing Jennifer Rittenberry Photography created to help navigate this choice. 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 a lot 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 4 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 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.
2. Styling 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 “Natural, Organic, and Timeless.” I have stocked my studio with prop collections from some of the best vendors in the newborn industry and each piece has been 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.
3. Consistency 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.
4. Products Does the photographer offer a selection of heirloom products to showcase all of the beautiful images they just created for you? 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? From albums and canvases, to prints and custom collages, our studio has something for everyone.
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, a lot 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 in the way with even the best of new parents. More often than not, that is what happens and their beautiful images never see the light of day.
6. Studio 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 a storefront studio and believe it affords the opportunity to offer an extra sense of professionalism and comfort for my clients. Be sure to check the type of studio you will be bringing your baby to if this is of any consequence to you.
7. Location How far will you travel to your newborn photographer? I’ve had people travel over 3 hours to get to me, but on average most people travel 20-45 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!
8. Booking & Referral Discounts A lot of photographers will offer a discount if you book additional sessions with the newborn session. Maternity, Milestone, 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 a 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 inquire here* or call the studio at 805-610-9440. Marseilles Photography specializes in newborn & maternity photography on the Central Coast of California and surrounding areas including but not limited to San Luis Obispo.
Excerpts of "Tips on Choosing Your Newborn Photographer" Article provided by the uber talented Jennifer Rittenberry Photography who is located in Mount Washington, KY.