June 20, 2023

14 Things to Ask When Hiring a Newborn Photographer

So you’re having a baby! Congratulations! If this is your first, or even if it’s not, there are so many things to do and to think about to prepare for your new bundle of joy. One of those things might be searching for the perfect photographer to document your new baby when he or she arrives. This can be a daunting task considering there are so many options out there. How do you choose? We’ve narrowed down some important questions to ask when hiring a newborn photographer. You will find that there is a wide range of skills, offerings and levels of service. Make sure you find the photographer that fits your needs and above all, puts the safety of your baby first.

1. What is your experience with babies? How long have you been photographing newborns?

First of all, we [photographers] all start somewhere! All newborn photographers will have had their ‘first’ but there can be a big difference in a well-prepared first, and a going-in-blindly first.

I have been photographing newborns since 2010. I started with friends and family that had new babies and gained valuable experience while practicing and learning from other professionals. Over the years and to this day, I am constantly researching, learning, and evaluating best practices when it comes to handling and photographing newborn babies. The physiology of a newborn is different from that of an adult, and even from that of a child. Babies have cues, sometimes subtle, that indicate a need or a want. Understanding physical and behavioural characteristics of a newborn is crucial to ensure safe posing at all times. Above all else, the safety and wellbeing of the newborn is my utmost priority during the photo session.

2. Where does the newborn session take place?

This is a important to ask, because not all photographers work out of a studio. Most common locations would be in a studio, in a home-based studio (i.e. at the photographer’s home) or in your home. In-home sessions might either be studio style (meaning, the photographer will bring all of their props, lights and backdrops to give the look of a studio setting) or instead, the in-home session might be Lifestyle–which means there are no props and formal posing. The Lifestyle session is more of a candid as-it-is capture of your baby and family how it is in the natural environment.

Here at Diamondview Photography we have a 1400 square foot studio in Kanata. The studio is a fully dedicated space for our clients to come in, relax and bring your vision to life. See more of the studio here.

3. Can I see the studio beforehand?

Absolutely, yes! About six weeks before your due date (if you have pre-booked) we will schedule a Style & Concept Consultation where you come to visit the studio, tour the space and look at all of our props and baby & mama apparel. If you are booking last minute or have booked after baby’s arrival, we are happy to set up a tour if you like! We feel it is so important to see the space ahead of time so you know where you’ll be spending some precious time in those early days with a new baby.

4. What age is best to photograph newborns?

I’m sure if you’ve been doing your research, you will see a lot of photographers say something like newborns are best photographed within the first 10 days, or the first two weeks. We’ve even known some photographers to not take a newborn if they are older than that!

Here at Diamondview Photography, there is no age that is ‘too old’ for a newborn. We have an optimal age, which for me personally is 1-3 weeks old, but that is definitely not to say we can’t do the session sooner or later. Typically though, I will not photograph a newborn in the studio any earlier than 4 days old. The first few days baby is recovering from delivery and initial feeding is being established. Babies older than 3 weeks may become more alert as they get older and at this point they are starting to stretch out as they are no longer confined to the cozy space of the womb. Traditional newborn portraits are taken while baby is sleeping soundly, so the older the baby gets, the more of a challenge it may be, however I truly need to stress the fact that babies who are several weeks old can still achieve that sleepy, curly state with more patience and soothing with the right techniques.

The other factor that I consider is delivery recovery for mom. Sometimes more time is needed for healing and this is totally ok! Once mom and baby are home and healthy we are ready for photo day.

5. How do we schedule the session date if I don’t know when baby will arrive?

We get this question a lot! Please make sure you ask this question when hiring a newborn photographer. Because the timeframe for newborn portraits is somewhat of time sensitive one, it is important to know how your photographer will be able to accommodate you for when the time comes.

As a full time photographer, I only pre-reserve two due dates per week. This ensures that I am able to schedule all newborns in within that optional timeframe. Some babies arrive early and some arrive late (with some arriving right on time!) so based on the 2 due dates per week means that it will all balance out when the time comes. I do from time to time fit in last minute bookings because of this.

6. Can siblings be included in the session?

We run a full service studio here, and believe that having a newborn is a family celebration! We are happy to include siblings, grandparents and canine fur babies as well. We have a family room that is separate from our camera room so we assure our clients that young siblings will not disrupt the sleeping baby while he or she is being photographed.

Grandparents are also welcome to join the newborn session. We know that grandparents are often an integral part of the family in the first few weeks with a new baby, not to mention the pride and joy that comes with them.

We do invite canine fur babies to participate in the session as well, and we will discuss each case on an individual basis, pertaining to the dog’s temperament and if they are fully housebroken.

7. What do I need to bring to my session?

We have everything here at the studio that you could possibly need–except for a way to feed your baby! We have props, linens, diapers & wipes, a bottle warmer, new individually packaged pacifiers, change table and feeding pillow. You are welcome to bring any comfort items with you, but know that we’re prepared for just about anything here.

8. What sort of props do you have? Do I need to bring props?

We have all sorts of apparel for newborns, including swaddle wraps (of all colours), headbands, hats, bonnets, baby rompers, diaper covers and tiny blankets and lovies (small stuffed animals). We have several fabrics and furs to create a cozy backdrop for newborns. We also have several different kinds of hard props, including bowls, buckets, baskets, crate, etc. These hard props are all organic-type and neutral. Our style at Diamondview Photography is that the props should compliment the baby and not take the centre of attention. All of our props have been prequalified for baby safety. This means that anything that touches your baby will be soft and/or safe.

We do not use props made of glass (i.e. glass jars or bowls), nor do we use any props where baby would be suspended (i.e. like hanging from a tree branch). All images where baby appears to be suspended are done as multiple images and created as a composite.

All soft props are washed in the washing machine following the session, and any hard props are wiped down and sanitized. Any props that cannot be properly sanitized are quarantined.

9. What measures do you take to keep baby safe and comfortable?

I have an experienced newborn assistant at the studio for all newborn sessions that will be within arms reach of your baby at all times. When I am not able to have my hands on baby, the assistant will be spotting baby.

We do not use any props that are unsafe, and we will create images as a composite using several images put together for certain poses that have the potential to put baby in danger if we were to leave them unspotted.

I am a firm believer in swaddling, especially in the first few weeks of life. Babies feel safe and comfortable when their arms and legs are held close to their body while not allowing the startle reflex to wake them. We also use a pacifier (with parent permission) to help baby drift off to dreamland.

All studio staff will wear a mask covering nose and mouth when working with your newborn.

This image below was taken pre-COVID before our masking with babies policy was put into place. 

10. What if my baby won’t settle? What if my baby won’t sleep?

There will always be a wakeful period at the studio and sometimes babies become more alert with the new sounds and smells of a new environment. We have many soothing techniques to help a newborn settle, and this includes the Five S:

  • Swaddle – We will wrap baby securely so they feel safe and cozy
  • Sway – Rocking and swaying with baby gives them the same feeling they had floating in the womb
  • Suck – Pacifier can be used
  • Side-lay – Lay baby on his or her side or tummy to help them feel more secure
  • Shush – We use a white noise machine in the studio

With many years of experience in reading newborn cues, we will always hand baby back to a parent for feeding if the cues indicate hunger. We watch for rooting and listen for the specific cries. If hunger isn’t indicated, we go through our 5 S techniques and baby will always eventually settle.

Some babies though will not sleep, and this is ok! For babies that are a little older or for babies that have a serious case of FOMO (fear of missing out!) we will swaddle and go through a series of alternative poses that are safe for the awake baby. In all of the years and hundreds of newborns, we have never had a session that did not result in beautiful, calm newborn portraits.

11. How long does the session take?

We have a no-rush policy here at Diamondview Photography. Typically though, our newborn sessions last about three hours when family poses are included. That said, we only schedule one newborn session in a day so we are not bound by a hard stop time. We will take the time we need so your baby has all of the time he or she needs for feeding, all the time they need for soothing, and all of the time to carefully and safely go through our workflow of posing. We will ensure that your vision is met and we can only do this if we don’t cap the session time.

This may seem like a long time to be away from home for one of the first trips out of the house with a new baby, but we can assure you that you’ll have a comfy spot to relax in our family room while you can still see all of the action in the camera room. Some parents even take the opportunity for a nap, and we love this!

12. Will I get to choose my photos?

Yes! A couple weeks after the photo session we will invite you back to the studio to see all of the photos here on the big screen! It’s a lot of fun and will be the highlight of the experience. We want you to be completely satisfied with the images you go home with, so you only need to buy what you love!

13. Will the photos be retouched?

All images and printed artwork are fully edited and retouched to my quality standards. This also includes things like evening newborn skin tone (some newborns can have blotchy skin, or uneven skin tone like jaundice), and removing blemishes, scratches and bruises etc on all individuals. Your final portraits will be perfect.

14. What sort of products do you offer?

While most people want digital files these days, all of our clients will be able to experience the beauty of tangible art products. From framed prints, archival gallery canvas and heirloom albums, we have something for everyone so you can proudly display your portraits. During the consultation you will be able to touch and feel all of the printed products that we have to offer. In addition to tangible printed art products, we do also offer digital images.