HI there! It’s such a hard thing for parents to know where to go when choosing someone to photograph their precious new little ones. How do you pick someone? I often see new parents, or parents to be, asking about newborn photography in the mum and bubs Facebook groups I belong to, or the buy/swap/sell sites. Budget seems to be quite a driving force and I see a lot of replies, saying such and such is cheap.
As a qualified Neonatal Nurse of more than 2o years and now a trained newborn photographer, and member of the AIPP (Australian Institute of Professional Photography) I’ve written this article to give parents a little more insight into what is one of the MOST IMPORTANT things to ask to help with choosing. AND IT SHOULDN’T BE PRICE!
Don’t get me wrong, I totally understand everyone has a budget. I have a 15 month old so I totally get it! Kids are expensive. But when looking, I want to make sure along with your budget, you have some solid information that helps you as parents, with what to most importantly ask when seeking Newborn Photography or a Baby Photographer.
This biggest thing is safety! THIS should be your No.1 Priority!!!!
You wouldn’t just ask a friend’s friend for someone to deliver your baby, just because they’ve had one themselves, nor would you ask your neighbour’s cousin’s sister to cut your hair because they own a pair of scissors. I don’t mean at all to trivialise this, it’s a huge decision, who will take those amazing, gorgeous pictures of your precious newborn, who will never ever look this way ever again? Nor be this small, or smell this good! Even tomorrow is a new day, and the changes in newborns day by day is DRAMATIC. But I’m sure you get my point. I totally understand every photographer has to start somewhere. We all did. And so newer photographers start either free (portfolio building) or charging very little for lots of photos usually on a disc or USB.
This is an attractive option for mums and dads on budgets, who don’t want to miss capturing this time in photographs, but also don’t want to spend a lot of money. However, I please urge you to do some research and I’m going to help you with what questions you need to ask. I’m saddened to see babies being placed into glass bowls, hung from branches without any safety measures, or being propped into buckets or baskets with noone nearby. All of these scenarios scare me, that new photographers/parents/friends of parents who haven’t been adequately trained are putting babies at risk unnecessarily, simply because they just don’t know!
Newborn Safety has to be the number one priority question for you to ask, and one of the ways to ask about that, is by checking if your Newborn Photographer does “composites”! What is a composite, you may ask? Compositing is a technique used in Photoshop where we “stitch” 2 or more photographs together. My easiest example to show this on, is the very famous newborn pose “Froggy” (the go to for most parents most desired photograph). This is usually top of many parents list of images they “just have to have”. It’s that classic one where the baby is laying on a blanket with their hands under their chin, up on their elbows, with their 2 little feet straddled either side. This one:
This is the magical shot that most newborn photographers long to do well. Gorgeous little hands under chin supporting baby’s head, perfect little feet position, cheeks sitting nicely in hands, lips gently closed and the sweetest little angelic look on bub’s face. How amazing is this baby to balance like this. Well, I’m about to share a little secret with you! In Australia especially, well trained newborn photographers do this photo as one of those secret little composites! You know, the one stitched together of 2 photos. Totally done with the utmost care taken to ensure your newborn’s SAFETY as our NO. 1 priority!
Here’s how its done – SAFELY!
One hand is on the baby’s wrists and elbows – first shot is taken
The second shot is taken where the parent or assistant is instructed to use their other Hand to hold the babies head and slowly the hand holding the wrists is removed and the second shot is taken.
One Half of the baby without hands is then transposed over the top of the other shot hiding the hands of the assistant.
Another great example of this same kind of technique using photoshop to digitally create a complete photograph is the other very famous shot of a newborn hanging in a sack on a branch. This shot is done similarly, with the baby first photographed on a bean bag, safely laying on their back with someone holding the top of the wrap or blanket which is the sack the baby is laying in.
Then the branch is photographed with the blanket tied around it.
And these are again “stitched” or composited together in Photoshop to achieve this very treasured shot of my very own newborn!!!! This is advanced photoshop and a trained Newborn professional photographer doing what they do best and maintaining newborn safety at all times. The baby was always very safely laying on the comfort of a big padded beanbag and never hung or balanced.
Another example to ensure the absolute safety of your newborn is to use a technique called cloning. By this we erase areas of a photograph with another part of the photograph to hide the things we no longer wish to see.
This is the gorgeous “potato sack” pose, many parents just love. It’s a great one to do whilst bub is awake, but of course this means extra safety as babies wiggle more of course when wakeful.
This is the original shot and parents hands have been “cloned” out to just show their gorgeous baby.
And the very gorgeous resulting shot after some clever photoshopping by an advanced, trained newborn photography professional.
As you can see, gorgeous images achieved VERY SAFELY with hands never leaving your baby! It is the absolute priority of trained and professional newborn photographers to keep your baby safe at all times. Never to leave them hanging in positions, holding themselves up unassisted or balancing on small arms and elbows.
Another example of a very requested shot. I think this was inspired from Lion King and many unsuspecting parents and untrained baby photographers believe this baby is being held in the air by a parent. Safely, this pose is achieved laying on a beanbag with hands never lifting or leaving the baby.
and the resulting shot:
One of the other things I really have to highlight is the unpredictability of babies and especially their often, toddler siblings. 2-3 year olds are particularly unpredictable in their behaviour and can quickly move, unaware of their surroundings. Trained newborn photographers such as myself, will often photograph babies and toddlers separately and join these photos again as Photoshop composites. This ensures the absolute safety of your newborn and your toddlers.
I’m also going to briefly give you a bit of an idea of some of the things we as qualified, trained, professional newborn photographers have to pay as legitimate businesses. We pay insurance (public liability of usually around $10-20 Million cover, just in case something god forbid, goes wrong), equipment insurance (our gear costs a lot!), professional association fees, tax, superannuation, sick leave, education (this is huge for good newborn photographers, who constantly want to keep learning), props (don’t get me started!!! hahah), blankets, washing (oh my goodness, so much washing), baby wipes, nappies for the studio, hand sanitiser (we go through bucket loads of it!!!) rent for studios if not at home, electricity (we use heat ALL YEAR ROUND to keep your little precious bundles warm when nude, think 33 Degrees worth of heat for about 4 hours each session plus warming up pre session!).
Newborn or Baby Photography is an expensive thing, but you will never ever get this time back again, your teeny little ones will only be this small once. This is this gift we give you as professional photographers. We run legitimate businesses, and need to charge accordingly to be able to offer you the very best service, quality and education we have to offer. Invest in us and you will not be disappointed, instead you will have genuine heirloom, timeless memories and images for generations to come.
As a new mum myself, I absolutely know BUDGET has a big impact on what you can afford, but I urge you as new parents – INVEST in trained, accredited, professional newborn photographers. Encourage photographers you know to be trained by one, and never, ever attempt to do these poses yourself. New photographers do need to gain practice and charge must less when starting out, but they should do so under the guidance of skilled professionals. Your little ones’ safety depends on it xxxxxxx
I am a qualified neonatal nurse and multi-award winning, accredited newborn and family photographer in Sunbury, Victoria, 30km from the Melbourne CBD! If you are looking for a Baby Photographer to capture beautiful, timeless and exceptionally safe images of your new baby contact me now! I’d love to meet you!!!! I’m passionate about babies and newborn photography.