What to look for in a newborn or maternity photographer

October 17, 2021

The time between your pregnancy to the arrival of your newborn is a magical journey; however, it will fly by quicker than you anticipated. Entrusting a photographer to understand and capture those incredible fleeting moments that you want to cherish is very important. 

We partnered with Calgary maternity and newborn photographer Nadine McKenney to narrow down key points you should consider when looking for your next maternity or newborn photographer. 

Read more: Why you should hire a newborn and maternity photographer

1. Experience and Education

Entrusting your little one to a photographer is a big step. Having someone who knows how to handle a baby is very important. Your newborn photographer should have experience posing babies, calming them, and making sure they’re cared for responsibly. Newborns are delicate, you should be able to relax knowing that you trust your photographer and that your baby will be handled safely.  

Photo: Dan Gradinaru (Misfits Photography)

One example of this, says McKenney, is the popular “froggy pose”: a composition image where the baby is staged to look like their arms are holding up their chin.

“They have to have the education and the experience to know how to actually safely take those types of photos, because the baby's not just balancing there on their own,” she says. “You're taking multiple photos, holding the baby in that position and then later, you're combining those photos to take away the hands that were holding that baby in place. You don't want to get somebody who's not educated or experienced [making mistakes].”

Photo: Nadine McKenney Photography

Discover Nadine on the Focal Marketplace

Knowing how to handle a baby and how to get the most out of a shoot is important, not only for amazing shots but also to help ease your mind as parents. A good newborn photographer will guide you through every stage -- even before the shoot begins.

“I tell my clients, keep the baby awake for a good solid chunk of time. You're going to feed them as soon as I get there, have the heat turned up in the house and a sound machine on,” says McKenney. “So then that way, as soon as I show up, I set everything up and then the baby is most likely going to crash and there'll be a nice deep sleep from there.”

2. Understanding is so important

Not everyone has the same experience surrounding pregnancy. For some, it’s an amazing experience through and through; for others, it can be challenging at times.

“I found pregnancy a little bit difficult,” says McKenney. “I was constantly in pain in my feet. I had morning sickness for months on end. I just wasn't feeling the best that I could feel, and for that, I think it would be pretty important to have somebody who makes you feel comfortable in front of the camera.”

Knowing that your maternity photographer understands that pregnancy is a rollercoaster with tons of ups and down will help ease your mind throughout the shoot.  

Photo: Haley Skof Photography

3. Personality

Your photographer helping you to be comfortable in front of the camera can come in many forms. For some clients it’s humour; for others it’s when your photographer has a grasp on what pregnancy is like. 

Read more: What to expect when you're expecting

Many maternity photographers suggest coming in the last month to two months of your pregnancy to get your photos done. As a mother, McKenney has a lot of experience stemming from her own pregnancy and maternity shoots:

“I tell my clients, ‘let's go a little bit earlier.’ For one, when I had mine done, oh my gosh, my feet were so sore. Like I wouldn't want to wait longer into my pregnancy to go. I just didn't have the energy and all that for it. [I’d recommend] somebody who's understanding of that and more like a friend, showing up to a session and having somebody who can listen to you and just make you feel comfortable that way.”

These little but important characteristics and moments of understanding will help the shoot to go smoothly. You should be able to trust that your maternity or newborn photographer will bring the best out of you and your baby. 

“Ultimately, the photographer's job is to make you look and feel good in front of the camera, and the photo should reflect that,” says McKenney. 


Explore newborn and maternity photographers on Focal

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