Having a baby is one of the most special and memorable times in your life. And newborn photos are some of the most important photos you will have done. They are one of the best investments you will make. I say investment, because that is what they are... an investment, not an expense! Newborn photos will last a lifetime or longer and capture a fleeting moment in your baby's life. Your little one will only be that squishy, bendable, teeny tiny, sleepy baby for a very short time. They change so much in those first few weeks; those first few days are worth documenting professionally. Invest in quality newborn photography... it is a decision you will not regret.
There are a lot of photographers to choose from. But newborn photography is unlike any other kind of photography. Newborn photography is very hands on and you need someone who knows how to carefully handle and safely pose your baby. The safety of your baby is the highest priority. Just because someone lists newborn photography on their website does not make them qualified to do this. Please do not just select any photographer for your newborn photos. Choose a photographer who specializes in or has a lot of experience with them. They may be the best wedding or portrait photographer around, but you want someone who is experienced in posing, caring for and photographing an infant.
You should also select a photographer whose style you like. This is important! Choose someone who's style of newborn photography you love. Do you like posed newborn photos? Or do you prefer a more laid back documentary style? Which do they offer? Neither is better than the other, but they are different. So choose a photographer whose gallery showcases photos you would want to hang on your wall.
With there being a lot of photographers to choose from, and not all them specializing in newborn photography, it goes without saying that there are also a lot of not so great newborn photos out there. I am not trying to be critical here - I look back at my own early work in newborn photography and think how far I have come (and will continue to go). The photos that a photographer puts on their website should represent their best work. You don't want to hire someone who only has a few good photos to show. So here are a few things that you should be looking for...
1) Safety in posing. A photographer should never put a baby in a position where they are unsupported or uncomfortable. You've probably seen the adorable 'head in hands' pose. What you should know is that no newborn can support their own head in their hands. That final image is a composite of two images where the baby is fully supported in each image and with some help from Photoshop, the final image emerges. This is the same for any pose where a baby is lying on something high or hanging from anything (a scale or branch).
Here is an example: in this photo she needed to be supported to keep her head on her hands. Her hands are also purple. In the final edited photography, I was able to remove the mom's finger, even her skin tone and purple fingers and clean up the background.
2) Buried face. A baby's face should always be up and forward, never into the blanket. When laying on their belly and photographed from the side, you should be able to see both of baby's eyes. When their face is into the blanket it looks very suffocating. This is one of the most frequent things I see when looking through galleries.
Here is an example: This is one of the first newborn photos I took - I'm almost embarrassed of how bad a photo it is (but we all have to start somewhere). The baby's face is buried, the shot is way to close, it has an overall magenta/purple hue and her skin tone could use some evening.
3) Nice angles. No one wants a double chin in their photos, even your newborn. They just aren't flattering. Neither are shots up the nose. Look for pleasing angles.
Here is an example: this angle is not flattering up the nose, there are some skin issues that need corrected and this photo is just all around poorly exposed.
4) Good post processing. This is a good place to mention that when you hire a photographer, especially in newborn photography, you aren't just paying them to take the photographs. You are paying them for their time and expertise in editing to perfect the images and create a gallery that has continuity. Almost every image in newborn photography has some level of editing needed. Babies skin tones are often uneven, and tend to be more red or yellow and some have purple hands and feet. They also can have baby acne or scratches and dry, peeling skin. All of this is perfectly normal for newborns, but not something you want to distract from your photos. As your photographer, it is my job to clean those things up in post processing. Additionally, it is my job to ensure that your baby looks the same from image to image and that your final images have a continuity about them that allow them to be displayed together.
Here are some examples: These sweet twins couldn't be more different - look how different their skin tones are. And while I don't want to misrepresent them in the final image, I do think it looks better to have their skin tones more similar. This shot was also too dark, so it was lightened and the white balance adjusted.
This sweet boy's skin tone was a bit yellow from dealing with jaundice, and he had the beginning of baby acne and some scratches. I adjusted the tone and evened his skin.
I hope that this helps you as you choose the newborn photographer that is right for you. While I hope you love my work and want me to photograph your newborn, that's not what this post was about. It is really to inform you that not every photographer is a newborn photographer. Be selective, and remember you get what you pay for. You only get one shot at newborn photographs... make sure you get images you love!