Q. Isn’t newborn photography a relatively new concept? Is it just a fad that will go away in time?
A. Yes, newborn portraiture is a relatively new art form (within the past 6-7 years or so) in the photography world. In the past, parents would most often choose to have their baby’s first portrait session take place around 2-3 months of age. Now, newborn photographers like myself prefer to photograph newborns under 2 weeks of age.
Although having a newborn session done just days after birth is a fairly new concept for many people, I strongly believe it isn’t just a fad. Fads are things that come and go because people get tired of them and move on to something else. The concept of newborn photography is similar to the concept of wedding photography. Your newborn baby will only be this tiny once in their life, and only for a matter of days. You have one chance to capture that moment before it passes you by.
Q. The first week or two after birth is such a hard adjustment time for parents. Why does newborn photography have to be in these first two weeks?
A. With five young children of my own, I know how difficult those first few weeks can be! Ironically, it’s because that time is so difficult that newborn portraits are so important to many people. As families are struggling to adjust, that fleeting newborn stage is so easily forgotten.
Newborns change dramatically in the first weeks of life. When they are first born, they are able to bend and curl into sweet little poses that mimic how they lived inside the womb. They sleep in such a deep sleep that sometimes it is impossible to wake them up. And, they have that precious “newborn look” that reminds us of the miracle of birth. All these amazing characteristics will begin to disappear forever after just a few short weeks. The goal of newborn photography is to capture this extremely fleeting stage in your baby’s life. It is a session centered around capturing the beauty and newness of this tiny little miracle that you have brought into the world.
Q. My friend just had some great Christmas pictures taken of her family. She said the photographer does newborn photography as well. Would she be a good choice?
A. Maybe; maybe not. The fact that your friend had a positive experience with this photographer is definitely a plus! However, newborn photography is its own special type of photography, and it’s not something that comes naturally to every photographer. I’ve done most types of portraiture – kids, families, seniors, weddings – and I can say that, in comparison, newborn photography requires a completely different learning curve and skill set than the other types. The most important thing that you, as a consumer, can do is to look specifically at their newborn portfolio. Just because someone is an awesome photographer, doesn’t mean they are an awesome newborn photographer.
Q. There are many photographers who say they “specialize” in newborns. Should I just look for the one with the best prices?
A. Price is always at the forefront of any consumer’s mind, but you have to remember the old saying, “You get what you pay for.” Choosing the least expensive photographer is not a good way to determine who will take your baby’s portraits. Often, the least expensive photographer is also the least experienced photographer. Remember, this photographer will be handling, posing, and soothing your baby. It’s not just about taking the pictures; it’s making sure you are working with someone who a) knows how to appropriately handle newborns in general, b) considers the safety of your baby first and c) will provide you with a beautiful final product.
Usually inexperienced and inexpensive photographers do not meet the above criteria.
Q. What should I look for in a newborn photographer?
A. Look through their portfolio for the following criteria.
1. The pictures should be classic and timeless.
These portraits will hopefully be an heirloom you will pass on to future generations. Pictures that show off the latest fads such as vignetting, textured backgrounds, and selective coloring (when the picture is black and white except for one small colored part) will look dated in a few years.
2. The baby should be the focus of the portraits.
When you look through the pictures, ask yourself “What is the first thing I notice?” Are you marveling at how precious the baby is, or finding yourself distracted amidst scenes of fake flowers, huge headbands, tutus and stuffed animals?
Often, fewer props that are in the pictures, the better the photographer is. They have the ability to skillfully pose your baby so that he is the sole focus of your portraits.
3. The baby should look comfortable, relaxed, and peaceful in the portraits.
As in all portraits, the facial expression is very important. Newborns are pliable and can be maneuvered into all kinds of amazing positions in their first couple weeks of life. These are positions that might look uncomfortable to us, but actually are quite comfortable to the baby since they mimic how he was positioned in the womb. A skilled photographer will be able to pose the baby tucked with their feet up by their chin, accompanied by a peaceful, sleepy and sometimes smiling face.
Q. I’m pregnant now. When should I schedule my newborn session?
A. Most photographers will tell you it is best to schedule your newborn session while you are still pregnant. The more notice they have, the better for both of you. Because your baby’s due date is generally unpredictable, photographers will reserve a time-frame for you. They know then that they can only schedule a limited number of sessions around that time. If you wait until after the baby is born to contact a photographer, she might not have room in her schedule on such short notice. Additionally, when you contact a photographer when you are still pregnant, it is one less thing you have to worry about doing after your baby is born. Also, you have the ability to get to know the photographer more and share any ideas you have for your portrait session.
**Newborn Photographers – you are welcome to post this information to your website. As always, please link credit back to me (Bonnie Ingraham / www.cbportraits.com)**
**Special thanks to newborn photographer Alecia Silva (The Portrait Place), for giving her insight on this article. **