13 Questions You Need to Ask When Hiring A Newborn Photographer
Finding a newborn photographer is such an exciting task that can also feel daunting at times because you have no idea what you are looking at beyond pretty pictures and pricing. Here are the top questions you need to ask when hiring a newborn photographer for your top contenders to make sure you KNOW they are the best choice for you and your baby.
1. How long have you been photographing newborns?
You want to ask how long they have been working specifically with newborns and babies because this is the key bit of information that tells you how experienced and comfortable they are with handling newborns versus their camera. You want to make sure that you feel confident handing over your precious little one to your photographer for a couple of hours.
My Answer*: I have been working with newborn babies for over 12 years, and photography was a hobby of mine for at least a decade beforehand. Babies are certainly a different kind of portrait work; they require finesse, gentle hands, and a lot of patience. I chose newborns as my specialty because of it, and how happy it makes my clients when they look back upon their portraits I helped them create.
2. Do you have a studio? Where is it? Do you have regular business hours?
It is nice to know what you can anticipate when traveling to the studio, if you are expected to host the photography session at your home, if only outdoor options are available, and whether appointments must be booked on certain days or at specific times. In addition to your consultation call, don’t be afraid to ask for a studio tour prior to your session; most full-service photographers are more than happy to meet you beforehand.
My Answer: I run a full-service studio in Almonte in a dedicated home studio (that means it is a private space always set up as a studio and not considered part of my family home). All types of sessions and administrative appointments can take place in the studio, typically in the morning or afternoons, and evenings are typically reserved for outdoor sessions during golden hour. Of course, special circumstances occur and appointments can be booked outside of regular business hours, if needed.
3. What safety measures do you have in place?
It might seem obvious, but it is absolutely something you want to make sure is top of mind, and not just pandemic protocols. Babies have startle reflexes so it is important that there be someone other than the photographer within arm’s reach at all times to prevent any accidents. It is also important to know that all of the backdrops and accessories get cleaned after each use and that props get inspected for sharp edges or structural defects before each session.
My Answer: Most of the safety measures have been in place long before the pandemic, such as frequent hand-washing and sanitizing, freshly washed studio uniform, the requirement of a spotter, inspection of props before each use, cleaning of props and accessories after each use, and the use of composites for poses that are unsafe for baby to achieve on their own. During the pandemic, everyone wore masks for the duration of the appointment unless explicitly being photographed (babies excluded), and I have chosen to keep wearing one during newborn sessions to further prevent the spread of ANY illness to my littlest clients.
4. What kind of props do you use? Do I need to supply them?
It is very important to ask if you are responsible for providing any or all of the props, backdrops, little outfits or headbands, so that you have time to buy them in advance, or to choose a photographer that has everything available for you to use during the session. Full-service studios will often also have a client closet for womxn to choose from (in many different sizes).
My Answer: The full-service studio has everything you need for the session, including props like buckets and crates, accessories like bonnets and tiebacks, backdrops, and outfits for baby’s first year, womxn (extended sizing) & young children. Heck, I’ve even got spare newborn diapers if you run out! If you want to incorporate a family heirloom, we can absolutely include it in your portraits, but there is no need to go out and buy any outfits or props for the session.
5. What if my baby pees or poops on the props? What if they need to eat?
This one is technically a throw-in because you shouldn’t need to ask this, but it is good to ask for reassurance. Any professional newborn photographer knows that working with babies comes with messes; usually from all three directions! We make sure everything is cleaned and sanitized afterward, and are aware that sometimes there are situations where the item is not salvageable. And with all of that output, input is needed so extra feeding time is factored into the session length.
6. Are sibling and family images included? What about grandparents?
You will want to make sure that you can include other family members such as siblings, especially when booking a posed newborn portrait session. Some have different session types for just baby, and most do not include extended family in newborn sessions. I am proudly one of the few newborn photographers in the Ottawa area that includes grandparents in posed newborn sessions, so be sure to double-check.
My Answer: Absolutely YES! There is even an add-on session to bring sibling(s) and newborn back to the studio for some extra portraits if they were not captured during the standard newborn session (whether you changed your mind or they were having a rough day). Including grandparents is a wonderful option that is available for studio and outdoor sessions. I love capturing multi-generation portraits, especially with newborns.
7. When is the best time to book? When is the best time to do the newborn session?
The best time to book is before baby arrives so that everything is taken care of before the chaos of parenthood arrives, but last-minute bookings can absolutely happen if the photographer has availability. The best time to do the session if you want the squishy naked poses is in the first few weeks of baby’s life (under 3 weeks is preferred, up to 9 weeks is totally doable). Just remember, every baby is different and poses will vary.
8. What art products do you offer? Printed? Digital? Both?
When choosing a photographer, be sure to ask what types of products they offer. Especially if you have your heart set on a particular art piece, you want to make sure they have it available before you book, rather than being disappointed after the session has taken place.
My Answer: My specialty is making sure my clients walk away with tangible artwork from their experience, and when it comes to printed artwork, the sky is the limit! There are so many options: canvas and framed portraits for the walls, photo albums and photo boxes, art prints to display as-is, decor items like cubes and accordion books, and so much more! And of course, they all come with the matching digital files so that you can share online with friends and family. Do reach out for an initial phone chat and art consultation so that we can go over all of the different artwork and create your personalized experience.
9. What’s included in the booking fee? How much can I be expected to spend if I want […] ?
While you should not be making a decision on pricing alone, you absolutely do need to know what amount you can expect to pay. Most professional photographers collect a fee to book the session and have art products available for purchase separately, and some only offer a set number of digital files for you to print yourself. Also be sure to ask if there are additional fees for things like rescheduling, advanced retouching, payment plans, etc. so that there are no surprises.
My Answer: Do reach out for an initial phone chat so that we can go over all of the specifics.
10. Do I get to choose the final images? If so, how?
This is a very important question to ask because photographers will often choose the images for you when you book a specific package. Some offer online galleries for you to choose your favourites, and most full-service studios will host you for an ordering appointment with proofs so that you can sort through your ‘yes’ and ‘maybe’ piles and choose the artwork you would like to order and have personalized.
My Answer: Absolutely! I want you to LOVE the artwork you choose to create so you get to pick the images that you want to include in your collection from the portrait presentation of proofs at your ordering appointment.
11. How long until I can see the photos? How long until I receive my order?
Most full-service studios will have you seeing the proofing images within a week to place your print order, which will take a few weeks to be completed, and others retouch everything first and fulfill several weeks later. Especially if you have a deadline in mind, you will want to know the expected turnaround time for your artwork to arrive. Many will prioritize birth announcements and can rush an order if they know ahead of time (ask about any rush fees).
My Answer: For most sessions, the portrait presentation is ready a few days later for your ordering appointment. Once an order is placed, the turnaround time depends on the items being ordered, which can be anywhere from 2 weeks for custom birth announcement cards and up to 6-8 weeks for handmade portrait albums and hand-painted canvases (I promise they are worth the wait!).
12. Are you insured? Are you a registered tax-paying business? Will there be a contract?
While these things don’t affect the quality of the photography or the products, it does say a lot about the way a business is run. Being insured is vital to the protection of both the client and the business. Being registered means they are held accountable to the laws and regulations set in place. Having a contract protects everyone involved because it means that all of the things being agreed upon are in writing and easy to refer back to should there be questions later on. If the answer is no, walk away.
13. What makes you different? Style, offering, experience, personality?
Everyone has something that makes them unique. This question makes the photographer reiterate the things they are the most passionate about, what truly sets them apart from the next newborn photographer, which allows you to get to know them a little better and align yourself with the best fit for YOU and your needs.
My Answer: If you are located near Ottawa, Ontario, I invite you to read through the About section to learn more about me as a person, and what makes the portrait experience with ME different from everyone else. If you are looking for more information on me separate from my photography, go ahead and visit my personal blog to follow along my family adventures and life as a work-from-home boss.
Now that you know what to ask, you also know what to expect from a professional newborn photographer and that it is absolutely okay to shop around to find the right one for YOU.
Don’t forget the important task of looking through a photographer’s portfolio to make sure you love their style, and that they are located within your travel radius (do you want local or are you willing to travel, and if so, how far?). Whether you choose a full-service studio or not, do make sure that all of the specifics and important details are itemized in your contract so that you can reference back to it later.
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*Answers have been updated since the original date of publication to reflect the most accurate information.