Are Newborn Photos Worth It?
I can remember my first pregnancy, where I eagerly awaited the birth of my first child. I'd prepped everything, my suitcase was ready, and I'd booked a photographer months ago for her special newborn session. I couldn't wait! A week after she was born, I was so excited the day had arrived for her session and I worked with a wonderful newborn photographer who truly seemed to spin magic as she posed my precious baby, added headbands, and positioned her with various props. I was in love with the photos and the experience, and decided then that, one day, I'd take my photography hobby to the next level and become a newborn photographer to provide experiences just like that to future families.
Fast forward to today and I'm now a mom to five kids (yes you read that correctly) and I have followed my dream to become a newborn photographer. In fact, I’m certified with the Association of Professional Newborn Photographers, an award winning member of the National Association of Professional Child Photographers, and am truly living a dream running my own photography studio.
Best of all, I absolutely love sharing my camera whisperer skills to preserve memories for families. Every time I see one of those tiny babies, just a few days old, I am awestruck at their little features and movements. And I am also completely humbled and honored to have been chosen by a family to capture these special moments that pass all too quickly. Yet there is one thing, one question that I've encountered over the years as both a mom and now a professional photographer that I'd never anticipated. I've met numerous expecting parents who ask,
"Why bother with newborn photos?”
Translation: The babies are too young to smile or interact with anyone and they don't even look like 'themselves' as they change so much during the first year. Whoa. I'd never even had those thoughts or questions before! Maybe I've always been a bit biased since I've been passionate about photography for a long time. For me, there is never a question of, "Do I take this photo?" Ask my husband or my kids and they will say I run and grab my camera way too often! For me, it is about remembering a moment for what it is, and the pure enjoyment later that comes with viewing those photos again. But the question, I've learned, does have some merit and deserves an answer. And with the initial question of worth, there is a slew of other questions that accompany it. So here is my two cents on why I see value in newborn photos, and why I strongly believe every family should do them. Let's dig in to these questions!
1. Are newborn photos worth it?
YES! (Again I know I'm biased but hear me out.) That newborn window is so very short and precious. They can only curl up like that and sleep that deeply for a brief time frame after birth. It's an incredible time when they are so tiny they fit in a bucket! Before long they get bigger bellies and chubby legs, and they physically can't curl up like a newborn. They become more aware of their environment and find it difficult to sleep during a session. It's also your family's first days with an additional little blessing. Some of my favorite photos are actually ones with new parents when I ask them to snuggle close to their baby. The expressions are pure joy and awe, something you can't just recreate. Or to watch a parent as I take photos of just the siblings together and see them well up with emotion to see all their kids together for the first time. So, YES, these are important times to preserve memories. I haven't met a family yet who regretted having a newborn session.
2. The baby doesn't even look like "themselves" until they get older so why not just wait for their first birthday?
As a mom of five, I know for a fact how much kids change over a few weeks, months, and years. It's mind-blowing just how much one tiny newborn can morph into a little person with a big personality by only their first birthday. So for me, I strive to capture each stage, including the newborn stage (plus later the sitting stage, walking stage, and dare I say the tantrum stage). And if you truly want more traditional baby photos, I encourage parents to consider milestone packages where a photographer documents a baby's first year. Create a memory book showing their growth and changes that will become a treasured heirloom. Yet personally, I always find value in knowing where a person started, and newborn photos offer great perspective on just how MUCH growth occurred that first year. Plus you can incorporate those images with a baby milestone package so you can fully appreciate each stage.
3. Why do they cost so much? Baby sessions are cheaper...
This one can be tricky to explain, but having been on both sides of newborn photos as a parent (pre-professional) and now the photographer, I hope I can offer honest perspective.
The first part of this question involves the photographer. Professional newborn photographers spend countless hours perfecting their craft and honing this niche skill. There is time invested in:
Practicing posing with models
Learning the intricacies of their camera
Knowledge of lighting
More education if using studio lighting
And on top of it all they must being aware of newborn safety so the infants are never put in a position that could cause harm, lose circulation while in a certain pose, or become over heated. The second part of this involves, you guessed it, the props. I'll admit it, I have a serious weakness when it comes to props. I love new backgrounds, baskets, wraps, etc. and find it hard to stop myself at times for buying something I love in every color of the rainbow. BUT, it's a huge benefit to you, the parent, who books a session with a professional newborn photographer. Why? You just have to show up and bring the baby! Yes, your time is important! I know how amazing it is to walk into a studio and have a photographer be completely ready, providing everything you could need for a session. To have the knowledge to be a true baby whisperer, work quickly and efficiently, and provide a beautiful gallery of images. All this is to say, hiring a true professional may cost more, but the benefits are incredible:
Safety for your child
Expertise in camera and lighting
Professional editing touches
Gorgeous props and outfits
Proven gallery of images
How often do you have the luxury of, dare I say, not worrying about something. When you hire a true professional, you enjoy the experience and end up with gorgeous images. You have someone to guide you through a process and purchase quality products. For me, that’s worth every penny.
4. Why should I pay more for a "professional" when I see so many other photographers offering newborn sessions at a fraction of the cost?
Again, this one is tricky, but goes back to what I mentioned in the last question. A professional photographer has dedicated time, money, and energy to perfecting their craft. They are aware of and have experience in newborn safety. And they offer a professional product, from digital editing to partnering with labs for high quality professional grade prints. For example, did you know we calibrate our computer monitors specifically for photo labs so what you see on the screen is what is actually printed? For me, there is merit in working with someone who values their work enough to charge accordingly and who I can trust with my child and the photography investment. The same is true for any profession, be it doctors, accountants, or contractors. I truly get that it’s hard to compare photographers – diving into each website and comparing price. I just strongly encourage you to view the other intangibles when making final decisions:
Is their work consistent?
Can they provide newborn safety?
How much experience do they have?
Are they available to answer my questions?
Do they share all pricing up front?
How do they value my time?
What do other people say about them?
I hope that delving into these questions has led to a better understanding of why I personally value newborn photos, and increased your awareness of all the nuances that accompany a newborn session. More than that, I hope it encourages you to seek out an experienced newborn photographer who can work his or her "magic" and preserve these incredibly special memories for your family. And if I’m a good fit for your family, I so look forward to scheduling a newborn session with you!
Want to book your newborn photography session? It’s never too early! Newborn sessions are best when they take place within 5-14 days after baby’s birth so request to get on my calendar at the beginning of your second trimester to guarantee time around your estimated due date.
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