How To: Weed Through A Google Page Of Baby Photographers
Ashley Diamond Siegert, CPP Cr. Photog
So, you are pregnant, and you are trying to figure out all of the things you need to have ready by the time you go into labor. The list is daunting.
“What do you mean what is my birth plan? I plan to…give birth”
“Where do I create my registry?”
“If I get this car seat, the baby will grow out of it in 6 months, but this other one doesn't fit in the stroller.”
“Theme? I need a nursery theme besides…baby?”
It can all be tough to figure out, but one thing I hear over and over is how difficult it can be to pick a baby photographer. With such a low barrier to entry in today’s camera market, it seems that anyone who got a “good camera” as a birthday gift suddenly has a Facebook page and is taking clients. Now, don’t get me wrong, we all had to start somewhere. However, when choosing an artist to capture the priceless images of your new baby, chances are, you want someone with experience, knowledge, and professionalism.
Babies are small and delicate. You want to choose someone who is educated in newborn safety. This is my BIGGEST PET PEVE in photography. Just because you saw it on pinterest does not mean it is safe!! Many of the poses you see online are photoshop composites. Babies can not actually rest their own heads on the heels of their hands, they should not actually be suspended in a scarf from a tree branch and for goodness sake, they should never be placed in glass vases!! If these are poses that you HAVE to have, then please expect to pay top dollar for a trained professional that will create those poses in photoshop out of multiple exposures where the newborn is supported safely.
When looking through a google page of newborn photographers in your area, here are some things to look for:
1. Do you love the images on their website/ Facebook/ Instagram? If you don't love the work they have already created, don’t expect to love the work they will create for you.
2. Do the images they have up look consistent? Meaning, do they all look as though they were created by the same person? Many new photographers don’t have a portfolio yet, and some less than honest folks will occasionally “borrow” someone else’s images. I have actually found my images on other people’s websites before.
3. Are they members of any professional organizations? Being a member does not mean that they are great, but it does show that they are interested in learning about their craft and their industry, and that they are constantly improving.
4. Are they certified? Once again, this should not be a requirement, however the national photographers organizations do have certification programs where the photographer passes a written exam and submits a portfolio review to prove that they are proficient at controlling light. A photographer who has passed through a rigorous process is dedicated to excellence and learning.
5. Do they offer prints and other products? When was the last time someone came into your home and complemented the CD in your desk drawer? Digital media is delicate and can be corrupted in an instant. Also, many computers sold now don’t even have disk drives. How are you doing with that floppy from 1988? Printing your images means that the chance of them surviving for generations is much higher. Also, a photographer that works with a professional lab is a photographer that has taken the extra steps to provide quality for you, the client.
6. Does the photographer offer birth coverage? The growing trend in newborn photography is hiring a professional photographer to be on call and to come document your baby’s first moments. I know, gross right? Not at all. It is not medical photography, rather storytelling photojournalism of your baby’s first day. If you are looking for this, its great to form a relationship with a photographer who will do both your birth and newborn photos and many will also offer a first year package with many portrait sessions included.
7. Does the photographer allow parents and grandparents in the newborn images? Many newborn photographers will only photograph the newborn. Others will only include Mom and Dad. Be sure to find out who is allowed into the photo session so you can be sure to get all of the images you want.
8. Where does the photographer shoot? Will the session be in your home, or in a studio? Will there be a consultation where you meet the photographer before hand to ask questions?
9. Do they communicate with you? I recently asked my Facebook community what they have struggled with hiring a photographer and the overwhelming response was “crickets.” They just couldn't get the photographer to respond. So start sending emails out early and see what kind of response you get. This will tell you a lot.
10. Last but not least, ask friends (that you trust) and look at reviews. I will tell you that ALL photographers struggle with website optimization, so your best choice may not be #1 on the google search, but generally the google and facebook reviews will tell you a lot. Scroll down and maybe even over a page or two before you decide.
The newborn phase will pass in what feels like a split second. The images you have of this precious time are so important. Be prepared to invest in hiring a professional to do it right.
And get updates on The Ultimate Birth Photography Resource