**Special thanks to newborn photographer Alecia Silva (The Portrait Place), for giving her valuable insight on this article. Go check out her work – she’s amazing!**
Q. Isn’t newborn photography a relatively new concept? Is it just a fad that will go away in time?
A. Yes, newborn portraiture is a fairly new art form (within the past 5 years or so) in the photography world. In the past, parents would most often choose to have their baby’s first portrait session take place around 2-3 months of age. Now, newborn photographers, like myself, photograph newborns under 2 weeks of age.
Although having a newborn session done just days after birth is a fairly new concept for many people, I strongly believe it isn’t just a fad. Fads are things that come and go because people get tired of them and move on to something else. The concept of newborn photography is similar to the concept of wedding photography. Your newborn baby will only be this tiny once in their life, and only for a matter of days. You have one chance to capture that moment before it passes you by.
Q. The first week or two after birth is such a hard adjustment time for parents. Why does newborn photography have to be in these 1st two weeks?
A. With three young children of my own, I absolutely know how difficult those first few weeks can be! But, ironically, it’s because that time is so difficult that newborn portraits are so important to many people. As families are struggling to adjust, that fleeting newborn stage is so easily forgotten.
Newborns change dramatically in the first weeks of life. When they are first born, they are able to bend and curl into these sweet little poses, mimicking how they lived inside the womb. They sleep in such a deep sleep that sometimes it is impossible to wake them up. And, they have that precious, brand-new “newborn look” that reminds us of the miracle of birth. All these amazing characteristics will begin to disappear forever after just a few short weeks. The goal of newborn photography is to capture this extremely fleeting stage in your baby’s life. It is a session centered around capturing the beauty and newness of this tiny little miracle that you have brought into the world.
Q. My friend just has some great Christmas pictures done of her family. She said the photographer does newborns too. Would she be a good choice?
A. Maybe. Maybe not. The fact that your friend had a positive experience with this photographer is definitely a plus! However, newborn photography is its own special breed of photography. And it’s not for every photographer. I’ve done every other kind of portraits – kids, families, seniors, weddings – and I can say that, in comparison, newborn photography requires a completely different learning curve and skill set than the other types of photography. The most important thing you can do as a consumer is to look specifically at their newborn portfolio. Just because someone is an awesome photographer, doesn’t mean they are an awesome newborn photographer.
Q. There seem to be a lot of photographers who say they “specialize” in newborns. Should I just look for the one with the best prices?
A. Price is always at the forefront of any consumers mind, but you have to remember the old saying, “You get what you pay for.” Going with the least expensive photographer is not a good way to determine who will take your baby’s portraits. Most often the least expensive photographer is also the least experienced photographer. You have to remember, this photographer will be handling, posing, and soothing your baby. It’s not just about taking the pictures, it’s making sure you are working with someone who a) knows how to appropriately handle newborns in general, b) considers the safety of your baby first and c) will provide you with a beautiful final product.
Usually new and inexpensive photographers do not meet the above criteria.
Q. What should I look for in a newborn photographer?
A. The most important thing is for you to look through their portfolio for certain criteria.
1. The pictures should be classic and timeless in nature.
These portraits will hopefully be an heirloom you will pass on to future generations. Pictures that show off the latest fads such as vignetting, textured backgrounds, and selective coloring (when all of the picture is black and white except for one small part that remains in color) – will look dated in a few years.
2. The baby should be the focus of the portraits.
When you look through the pictures, ask yourself “What is the first thing I notice?” Are you marveling at how precious the baby is, or finding yourself distracted amidst scenes of fake flowers, huge headbands, tutus, stuffed animals etc.?
Often, the less “stuff” or props that are in the pictures, the better the photographer is. They have the ability to skillfully pose your baby so that he is the sole focus of your portraits.
3. The baby should look comfortable, relaxed, and peaceful in the portraits.
As in all portraits, the facial expression is very important. Newborns are so pliable and can be put into all kinds of amazing positions in their first couple weeks of life. They are positions that might look uncomfortable to us, but actually are quite comfortable to the baby as they mimic how they were positioned in the womb. A skilled photographer will be able to pose the baby tucked with their feet up by their chin, accompanied by a peaceful, sleepy – even sometimes smiling face.
Q. Is there anything else that is helpful for me to know?
A. Some photographers do sessions at your home, while some have you come to their studio. These things are usually just a personal preference of the photographer, and if the photographer is good at what she does, one of these isn’t better than another.
Q. I’m pregnant now – when should I schedule my newborn session?
A. Most photographers will tell you it’s best to schedule your newborn session while you are still pregnant! The more notice they have, the better for both of you. Because your baby’s due date is generally unpredictable, photographers will reserve a time-frame for you. They know they can then only schedule a limited number of sessions around that time. If you wait until after the baby is born to contact a photographer, they might not have room in their schedules on such short notice. Additionally, when you contact a photographer when you are still pregnant, it is one less thing you have to worry about doing after your baby is born. And, you have the ability to get to know the photographer more, and share any ideas you have for your portrait session.
You have created a special miracle, a beautiful baby unlike any other. Contact a newborn photographer to capture this precious stage in your baby’s life so that you will never forget it. They will be pictures you will cherish forever; portraits that will become heirlooms.