Newborn baby twins swaddled and sleeping together, taken by Christin of ooh ooh darling, a newborn photographer in Victoria, BC for bookfocal.com

How to choose a newborn photographer

February 24, 2020

Going about choosing a newborn photographer can take time. It's a big investment — doing your research and asking the right questions will pay dividends. You want to make sure the fit is right for you and your family — especially when you're going to be trusting someone with your little one!

At Focal, we believe the biggest mistake you can make when hiring a photographer is thinking that you are just buying photos. That's why, to help, we've partnered with experienced newborn photographer Christin Carruthers (Ooh Ooh Darling Photography) to bring you the Focal guide to choosing a great newborn photographer.

Here are 10 things you can ask potential newborn photographers, and the types of answers you should look for:

1. How many newborns have you photographed? How long have you been a newborn photographer?

Experience is always a great indicator. Someone who has photographed hundreds of newborns should be valued higher than someone just starting out. This is a big factor, because the photographer with more experience will know how to handle those extraordinary situations — like when your baby isn’t staying asleep, is crying, or is trying to break out of their swaddle.

Something we’ve noticed at Focal is how more experienced newborn photographers are able to handle sessions with babies that are outside of the usual age range for photography. As your baby gets beyond two weeks old, they have a harder time staying asleep throughout a whole session, wake up frequently, and often cry. (It's just natural!) Experienced photographers handle these situations with ease and never get flustered, because they’re used to it. Experience always shines when things don’t go according to plan.

2. What sort of training have you had in newborn safety? What precautions do you take during the shoot to ensure my baby is safe?

Another great question to ask potential newborn photographers is about the safety precautions they take with your baby. There is no official safety standard in newborn photography, but it’s good to see how the photographer responds to the question. You want to make sure the photographer makes safety a top priority and takes measures to ensure that in your session.

Certain poses (such as the “froggy pose” or “baby in bucket”) actually pose certain risks if done incorrectly. For example, “froggy pose” is achieved by taking two photos of the baby and photoshopping them together so that the photographer is always supporting the baby’s head. Sometimes amateur photographers don’t know the proper technique for this pose and instead attempt to balance the baby’s head on their hands and take the shot without supporting the baby’s head.

We recommend asking your photographer about newborn safety to ensure they consider it a priority and take steps to mitigate risk. If the photographer were to brush off this question, we at Focal would see this as a red flag.

3. How do you help my baby sleep throughout the session?

One of the great talents of experienced newborn photographers is the knack they have for getting babies to sleep. (At Focal, we refer to this as “baby whispering.”) They achieve this through a couple means. Usually, experienced newborn photographers will keep their studio very warm with space heaters to help lull your baby to sleep. They also, by virtue of handling so many babies, have a way of shushing them, rocking them, and soothing them back to sleep.

4. What sort of preparation do we need to do with our baby for the shoot?

A good photographer will usually provide you a pre-shoot plan to help the baby sleep through their session. Some common recommendations include feeding your baby right before the session, or playing with them a couple hours before to make sure they are extra sleepy for their session.

5. What poses do you offer? Do you take photos of us (parents) with our baby or just the baby in the session?

Some newborn photographers offer a mini family session as a part of their newborn packages. This usually includes some great shots of you and your loved one holding your baby.

6. Are you strict about how long the shoot goes? Will you stop right after two hours?

Newborn session times can vary. While many photographers budget around two hours, if your baby is having trouble sleeping, it can sometimes slow down the pace of the session. Look for photographers that don’t have a strict time cut-off for the session and are willing to take a bit more time if necessary to make sure you get all the adorable shots you are hoping for.

7. Do you shoot with lights or use natural light?

This is mostly a personal preference; however, at Focal we generally recommend choosing a photographer that shoots with lights in their studio, as it results in the most consistent photography. Photographers that shoot only natural light are at the mercy of nature, and if you happen to get a really dark day or a really bright day, it can sometimes limit or impact your session.

8. What’s your studio setup like?

Depending on their studio, some newborn photographers have certain added bonuses such as a viewing area for the parents, coffee/tea, pastries, and snacks. (Because who doesn't like snacks?!) At Focal, our newborn photographers have told us stories about finding parents fast asleep in the waiting area because it's the first opportunity they’ve had to relax since the baby was born!

9. What cute props do you have?

Some newborn photographers have a very impressive array of blankets, swaddles, little toques, and all kinds of assortments. Be sure to ask what you have to choose from and begin planning the style and colour that you want for your baby in their shoot.

10. What sort of editing do you do?

This really depends on the sort of newborn photos you’re looking for, but it’s an important question to ask as photographers each have a unique editing style. Some photographers may not do much editing to your newborn’s skin, while others will touch up and remove all that flaky skin. This comes down to personal preference.

11. What can I expect from the time I book with you to the time my photos are delivered? And beyond?

At Focal, we believe this is always a great question to ask any photographer. It gives you a roadmap of what to expect and how to prepare. Nobody likes uncertainty, and so knowing what the whole process for your newborn photography looks like will help give you a clear idea of what you are buying. (Remember: it’s not just the photos!)

If you’re expecting and are thinking about newborn photos, be sure to check out bookfocal.com/newborn to browse the top verified newborn photographers in Victoria, BC. Our photographers answer all of our recommended questions in their detailed packages, so you don’t even have to ask! Browse prices, compare portfolios, and find the perfect newborn photographer all in one place.

Special thanks to Christin from Ooh Ooh Darling Photography for help with our guide. Be sure to check her out on the Focal Marketplace here: https://app.bookfocal.com/portfolio/c31203e8-8edf-46eb-b8e7-63a23977c3b9/featured

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