How do you choose a baby photographer?
. “Can anyone recommend a baby photographer?”How many times have you seen this post on Facebook? Have you seen how many comments they get?!
On average I’d say each of these posts gets around 60-70 different recommendations. All with mums swearing that their recommendation is amazing, great value for money, and they’d never use anyone else. You’ll also get dozens and dozens of photographers all saying “Me! I can help!” So how on earth do you choose? For today’s blog I’ve put together the 5 things I think are the most important for anyone when it comes to choosing a baby photographer.
1. Experience. All photographers have to start somewhere (you don’t even want to see my very first images, some 6 years ago now). But do your research and think very carefully before trusting your once-in-a-lifetime newborn pictures to someone who is very early on their photography career. For one thing, you might not get very good images, but also – and this is much more important – you cannot be completely sure that they understand enough about newborns to ensure a safe shoot. We spend a long time training and learning about airways, circulation, support, posing safely and so on to ensure that your fragile newborn is in completely safe hands.
You will easily find cheap photographers. Someone offering very cheap shoots in order to expand their portfolio might seem a really good deal. And you might be pleased with the results. But you need to be completely confident that they know how to handle your baby safely, and just “being a mum myself” isn’t enough. Don’t risk it – experience counts, so check how many shoots they’ve got under their belt. And if you’ve got siblings to be included, make sure your photographer has experience with sibling shots – they are hard.
2. Style. Newborn photographers tend to develop a distinct style, and what they offer might not suit you. Some are fantastic at natural, candid, “lifestyle” newborn photography, but they might not be so suitable if you want very posed, elaborate styles. The opposite is also true. I’m a studio photographer, so although I prefer more simple poses, I still use props like baskets and buckets, rather than candid lifestyle shots in cots or on sofas. Some photographers like bright, clean, white images. Others, like me, prefer a splash of colour and richness.
Don’t choose a photographer based on price or recommendation if their style doesn’t appeal to you. They won’t suddenly be able to work in a different style, or attempt a different type of photography, and everyone will end up disappointed. Take your time in looking through their website and social media accounts. How much of their work appeals to you on an instinctive, emotional level? If their style leaves you a bit cold, or if you can’t image their images up on your walls, they aren’t the right fit for you.
3. Price. Yes, it’s a factor, and a big one. This is one area where you do get what you pay for, though. The cheapest photographers are unlikely to be the best, simply because achieving a professional, polished image takes an enormous financial investment. Cameras, lenses, lights, props, training, insurance, editing software and so on… it’s endless. You can’t run a photography business cheaply (believe me, I’ve tried) and a photographer’s fee reflects their investment, experience and talent.
Having said that, there’s no point in paying hundreds of pounds for a wall art collection when all you really want is digital images and some good quality prints to gift to your family. So rather than just thinking about “How much can I spend?” try to think, “What do I want from these images?” and see which photographers offer you the packages and products you want, in a price that fits your budget.
4. Communication. We all get a “feel” for a business as soon as we start communicating with them. Some photographers are amazing behind the lens, but not so much with the people skills. If that doesn’t bother you, then no worries! But personally I judge a business by how willing they are to communicate with me. How friendly they are, and whether they make me feel like my questions are annoying, or silly. If you get a bad vibe from a baby photographer, or if you don’t feel like they are fully committed to understanding what you want (and doing their very best to provide it) then move on. They’re not the right fit for you.
I tend to be very chatty and friendly with my clients, and I firmly believe in giving them as much information and communication as possible – but I hope I still maintain a professional approach. I’ll never be pushy or “salesy”, because personally I detest that – nothing will make me walk away faster than someone who is trying to push me into buying something!
5. Professionalism. This point really covers points 1-4 above, but it’s a good summary to end up on. There’s a lot of photographers out there who, in the nicest possible way, have decided to give photography a go because it seems like an easy way to make money. (It’s not.) Being a newborn photographer isn’t just buying a nice camera and being able to take a decent photograph. It’s about having invested in training (especially in safety) and having insurance in place. We learn how to light and to edit. There’s investment in good equipment and a professional, easy to use website. We choose good quality products for clients, and learn how to advise clients on the best product choices for them.
Bottom line – If a baby photographer has invested their time, money and energy into creating a professional and trustworthy business, then you can feel safe to invest your time, money and energy in a shoot with them. Anything less than that trust is an enormous risk that you just don’t want to take.
So it might be a bit of a drag to wade through those 60-70 recommendations on your Facebook post, but take your time. Do your research and you’ll end up with a family photographer for life!