Choosing a photographer can be a bit of a minefield, especially when it comes to choosing one to photograph your precious newborn baby.
No doubt you'll have seen many beautiful images of sleeping babies curled up in various props and wearing adorable little outfits. It may seem like they've just been plopped into a bucket or a basket but the truth is, there is a huge amount of time and skill that goes into creating these images. So how do you go about finding a photographer to create these images for you?
When you are looking for a baby photographer, there are several things to look out for.
•Style - Take a look at the photographer's portfolio to see the kind of images they produce. All photographers have a different style so try to pick someone who produces work that you like.
•Quality - Does the photographer produce consistently good images? Are they will lit and in focus?
•Posing - How are the babies posed? Do they look comfortable? If a baby's arms or head are resting on the edge of the prop, there should be plenty of padding, they should never, ever be directly on the edge of a bucket, basket, crate etc. Are their arms and legs inside the prop? Having arms or legs can be uncomfortable and leave the baby unbalanced and certain positions can affect their circulation.
•Insurance - This is huge point! Please don't ever hand your baby over to a photographer who isn't insured.
•Professional memberships - Are they a member of a professional body specifically for newborn photographers? Choosing a photographer who is a member of BANPAS (Baby and Newborn Photographers Association) means you can be certain that the photographer is insured and has also demonstrated the ability to work safely and competently.
•Safety - Does the photographer work safely? There is a saying that the camera never lies but I know that Photoshop is a prolific fibber. Many of the images you see will be composites, ie photos made up from more than one image that are clever combined in post production to make it look like one image. This is typically used for the lovely head in hands shot and babies in hammocks (babies shouldn't ever actually be suspended). If a baby is placed in a prop, such as a bucket or a basket, there should be a spotter next to the baby at all times.
A final thing to look out for when looking at the work of newborn photographers is the baby's skin. Babies need to be kept very warm during their shoot in order to help them sleep (and let's face it, no one particularly likes to be cold). If a baby has mottled skin it means they are cold so if you see this in a newborn image, it's very possible that the photographer doesn't understand the need for the baby to be warm.
This great blog post by BANPAS explains a few more things in greater detail http://banpasparents.blogspot.co.uk/p/are-you-working-safely.html
In the image below, baby's mum is to the right of the image with one hand on the back of the basket and her other hand next to his head. Her hands were edited out in Photoshop.
In this image, it appears that little Sophie is being held in the air. In reality, she is lying safely on a beanbag with her dad's hands around her.