I often get enquiries to photograph older children, larger families, and weddings. Recently I was asked whether I would take a photo of a parrot and a baby together. Don’t get me wrong, I have nothing against parrots, but here’s the thing..
Taking photos of newborns is a complex thing. We are talking about a complete stranger handling your tiny, fragile baby. Parents put a tremendous amount of trust in my hands, not just the sheer hope that the photos will turn out great, but first and foremost, that their baby is in safe hands from the moment they pass them over. They trust me to know how to handle a newborn with confidence, what to do to provide them with the highest level of comfort throughout the session. They expect me to be thoroughly trained in handling and posing babies under one month old, and aware of any potential dangers of certain positions. They want the best for their child from the start, not only when it comes to artistic vision, but also when it comes to their babies safety. They are absolutely right in expecting all this, and they should never settle for less. They spend time looking for a newborn photographer for their newest family addition, and that’s who they expect to meet when they arrive for their session.
I come from Poland and in Poland, when one suffers with back pain, they go to chiropractor. When your feet give you pain, you go to podiatrist. When your ears ache an otolaryngologist is who you are after. When you are have a problem with your kidneys, nephrologist is your specialist of choice. You get the idea. By offering a specialised service, you are always in hands of someone, who is up to date in new developments in their chosen field, someone who is extremely knowledgable in their line of work and who has got very defined interests. Someone who knows a lot about something specific, rather than a bit about everything. We do have the equivalent of a family doctor of course, for anyone who is not quite sure what is wrong with them.
This comparison translates quite well into other fields, like let’s say: home improvements. We can always find a “Mr fix it” kind of guy, and for most things, they will do just fine, but what if our taps leak, or our house wiring needs checking, as we found some live wires in the attic? Would we not be better off with someone specialising in plumbing or an electrician, rather than someone who builds wooden bird houses or fixes bikes as their main source of income?
This leads me to the field of photography that is quite often a side business for many photographers: newborn photography. It’s a recently evolved genre of photography, hence why we are still in a transitional period for many professionals, who have dipped their toes in the subject, and may or may not have found their calling in taking photos of gorgeous, dinky people. Some still believe newborn photography is a fad, that will pass. Back when we were kids, no one ever thought of spending 4 hours watching someone positioning their tiny baby in crazy looking poses, and sweating over whether their fingers are straight or not. Today we have parents booking their newborn photo shoot before they even know whether they are expecting a boy or a girl!
In the day and age of Facebook and social media, newborn photos are something that is almost expected of every new parent. But of course that should never be the main reason for booking your newborn photographer. In the first instance you should think of doing it to capture their early days, those moments that are so brief and special. Why would you ask someone, who is not a specialist in the matter of newborn photography, to take photos of this little, fragile human, who already became the most important person in your life? Are they trained to deal specifically with newborns? Have they got enough experience in this specific genre of photography? One size most certainly does not fit all and this saying extends to photography as much as any other field of work. The sheer fact someone can set their white balance flawlessly, does not make them an automatic choice for a niche type of photography. It does help, of course.
There are of course exemptions to this rule. Plenty of great photographers have managed to split their exceptional talents to become absolutely fabulous photographers in fields of fashion, portraiture, newborn photography and more. One such example is Sue Bryce, who excels at everything she puts her mind into. Another one of my favourites, Alicia D’Amico , is equally fabulous as an underwater photographer as she is in the field of newborn and maternity photography. Calling those two ladies photographers wouldn’t do them justice, as they are true artists in every sense of this word. This level of extraordinary talent though is very rare.
I chose to work in the newborn photography field exclusively as photographing dinky, gorgeous people is my passion. I could make more money taking any odd photography job, but this is not what I want to do. I want to offer my clients very targeted, specialised service.
Is newborn photography here to stay? I cannot give you the answer to this question. What I can promise you though: having beautiful photos of your baby is going to be something you will cherish forever. Make sure they are as good as they can be, taken by someone who lives and breathes newborn photography, not only does it as a side business outside of a wedding season, when they don’t get any bookings for pet photos or other odd jobs.