Choosing a Newborn Photographer

Choosing a Newborn Photographer, 5 things to consider when finding the photographer perfect for you title, with image of Dad holding baby under chin

If you are imagining beautiful photos of your sweet little baby but are feeling a tad overwhelmed with the sheer number of newborn photographers available, I am here to help. These are 5 points to consider when choosing a newborn photographer that’s perfect for you.

First up, and the biggest consideration…

What style of newborn photography session do you prefer?

Are you drawn to these images…

Or these?

This style…

Or this?

Posed Newborn Photography

Option One is a posed studio session, featuring my oldest daughter. That’s me in the bright orange shirt, having dressed that day not realising I would be in a couple of the photos too.

This session is a good example of what not to do when booking a newborn photographer! This was before I became a photographer and I didn’t ask enough questions. I didn’t know what I wanted from a newborn session, I didn’t know what the session included or how long it would take. I found a local photographer and booked, not considering anything beyond that. Oops.

Posed newborn photography is often the style people imagine when talking baby photos. It’s the sleeping baby curled up on the adorable little pose with the perfectly smooth skin. If there are props involved, such as baby being in a basket or hanging from a swing, it falls into this posed newborn style.

There are a range of photography styles – and abilities – that fall within this category, from minimal white backdrops and wraps through to elaborately themed setups and floral crowns.

Posed newborn photographers generally have a particular flow to their session, moving through a set list of poses in a particular order. Their portfolio is very consistent across different sessions. A sleeping baby is required to create most of the images, so holding the session when the baby is around 10 days old is preferable.

Lifestyle Newborn Photography

Option Two is an in-home lifestyle newborn session, photographed by me.

Lifestyle newborn photography is generally held in the family’s own home. Although your adorable baby is the star, the photography session includes the whole family. There is much stronger focus on capturing connection and love – on trying to document the feelings and memories of this time with your newborn baby. You’re capturing a snippet of your life together right now.

Lifestyle newborn photographers will often have favourite poses – I love to photograph babies with parents as the background and touch features heavily in my work – but directions are more likely to be ‘snuggle up all together on the couch’ than the very precise positions of a posed newborn photographer.

Baby doesn’t need to be asleep to achieve particular poses in this style of newborn photography – I actually adore the images with eye contact! – and therefore the age of your baby when the session is held is not as important.

Posed vs Lifestyle

Do you prefer posed or lifestyle newborn photography? There isn’t a right or wrong answer. Ask yourself, what type of images are going to have the most value to you, to elicit the strongest emotions from you, in years to come?

Obviously I have my favourite. In fact, I became a photographer after hiring 3 different photographers within 6 months when my oldest was born, and none of them being quite what I wanted, but that’s a story for another day.

choosing a newborn photographer, studio versus lifestyle newborn images

This is me with my two girls, taken during each of their newborn photography sessions. Guess which photo is printed and displayed in my bedroom for me to enjoy everyday?

A Google image search is a really great way to see which style and photographers you are drawn to. Pinterest works in the same way. Enter your search term – eg. newborn photography and your location, posed newborn photography, in-home newborn photographer, lifestyle newborn photography – and scroll to find some favourites. Click through to the photographers’ websites, check out their portfolio ánd also look at some blog posts of newborn sessions. Their portfolio is a highlight reel of the very best images while blog posts will give a greater idea of what a session encompasses.

Moving on though, because style isn’t the only consideration when choosing a newborn photographer…

Do you have a preference for an in-home or studio newborn session?

As a general rule, lifestyle sessions are held in clients’ homes while posed sessions are conducted in the photographer’s studio. There are exceptions to this though. Some posed photographers will come to you, while I’m a lifestyle photographer who does have her own studio as an option.

This might be an important consideration for you, or it might not.

I love photographing people in their home, a place that has so much meaning to them. In-home sessions provide the opportunity to take some photos in the nursery and include sentimental items. A handmade blanket? Something handed down through generations? Yes, please!

The flip side is maybe you don’t want someone coming into your house. The thought of needing your house to be presentable might be overwhelming. To that I want to reassure you, most photographers are parents. We get it. I love documenting the newborn clutter – those signs that a baby now lives here – and for everything else, we won’t look if you quickly through everything into a cupboard.

A baby might fall into a lovely deep sleep in the car on the way to their newborn session. On the other hand, going to a studio requires being ready and leaving the house at a set time, while an in-home lifestyle session can begin by capturing whatever is currently happening. Sleeping, feeding, snuggling…

Who do you want included in the newborn photos?

If you are considering a posed newborn session, check with the photographer who is included. Some photographers just capture the newborn while some are happy to include siblings and parents. Some might include siblings for an extra charge, or dependent on which package you purchase. It very much depends on the photographer, so ask.

In-home lifestyle newborn sessions include everyone in the immediate family. I’m going to photograph your newborn with their loving (and not so loving) siblings, but also Mum and the siblings on their own, Dad and the siblings on their own, the siblings in their bedroom… These are all elements of your life right now.

Personally, I am happy to include grandparents in a newborn session. I do want time in a room with just the parents and baby/kids, so they can relax without feeling observed, but if someone important is in the house I want them in some photos too. This isn’t the case with all lifestyle newborn photographers so if you’d like to include more than just the immediate family, ask.

Is the time right?

The Age of Baby

Posed newborn sessions are preferably held when the baby is 10-14 days old, I believe. That’s the ideal time frame for the photographer to be able to move and pose the newborn while they are in a deep sleep. Some photographers will not book a newborn session if it falls far outside this timeframe, while others are more flexible.

For lifestyle newborn sessions, it really doesn’t matter. One of my favourite newborn sessions actually featured a 12 week old baby.

Many photographers do book out in advance, so reserving your session before your baby arrives may be the best option. Different newborn photographers will have different processes so this. Personally, when a newborn client is ready to book we complete the paperwork – a client agreement that sets out expectations for us both, the invoice and a questionnaire that helps me get to know you – and I note down your due date so I keep some session options available. Then when that little bundle of joy arrives, we decide on the actual session date and time.

The Length of a Newborn Session

It’s not uncommon for posed newborn sessions to take 3 to 4 hours. Yep. Getting baby to sleep then into those intricate poses can be a painstaking process.

If you want young siblings included in a posed newborn session, you might want to form a plan in advance. Can they occupy themselves? Do you have snacks? Are snacks allowed in the studio? Can they be photographed at the start or end of a session then leave?

Lifestyle newborn sessions generally range from 1 to 2 hours.

And for my final consideration when choosing a newborn photographer that’s perfect for you…

What do you want to have at the end of your newborn photography session?

Do you want a couple of beautiful framed photos? Do you want a photo album? Do you prefer digital files you can share online? Do you want one or two images, or 30 of them?

Have an intention in mind when booking your photographer. Investigate their packages and their payment process. If there is something you don’t understand, please ask.

There are many different pricing structures and business models that a photographer might use.

Some photographers charge a session fee. That might be the cost of going in and having your photo taken, and you don’t actually own any of the photos afterwards without paying extra. There isn’t anything wrong with operating that way as long as their pricing is transparent. I would make sure I knew what the optional additional costs would be – how much are the photo packages and what is included – before I paid any money. If they weren’t willing to disclose beforehand, that’s a red flag for me.

I operate using more inclusive pricing, with 30 digital images included when booking a newborn session. I do have an upgrade option available if families fall in love with all the photos from the session. (That’s always the goal.) I present them the photos via a private online gallery, where they choose their 30 favourites. They can order prints through me, but they also own and download the full-size high resolution files so they can print and share as wherever they wish.

Look for a newborn photographer that will provide you the photos you are after at a price you are willing to pay. I’m certainly not saying cheap is best, but become informed before paying any money.

Know how much you will need to pay, and when. Know how they will provide the photos to you. Know what they will provide, and how much additional upgrades are. Are they providing digital files, or just prints? If they are digital files, are they high resolution so that you can make prints?

And there you have it. My top 5 things to consider when choosing a newborn photographer who is perfect for you!

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