I recently watched a behind the scenes video of Anne Geddes photographing one of her iconic newborn images.  Her work inspired the genre of newborn photography and yet in the video I watched there were three newborns dangling from a metal bar wrapped only in a single layer of cheese cloth several feet above the ground.   During the video I couldn’t see anything beneath the babies nor could I see any spotters.

Watching the video left me feeling grateful for how our profession has evolved and how many talented female newborn photographers we have that are leading our industry to new and exciting levels of artistry while at the same time keeping newborn safety at the forefront of every discussion, blog post, and workshop.  

Clients come to me for a multitude of reasons but several times a year I hear ‘we want photos like Anne Geddes’ and after watching the video I was left wondering how much new parents understand about what goes on behind the scenes to create the images that they see in a photographer’s portfolio.  It is my mission to educate both my prospective clients and my current clients about the importance of safety but I know I am in the minority.  Watching the Anne Geddies video left me wondering how many parents or amateur photographers would watch the video and think that it was okay to sacrifice safety for art.

My eldest son is in grade 3 and since grade 1 he has spent time each year focusing on media literacy; learning about marketing and the images he sees on TV and in print and not only how they are created but also the fact that they represent only a narrow view of reality.  The photos I take are priceless family memories but they are also a form of art and while I understand that photographers want to protect their artistry and ‘trade secrets’ I feel like we also have a responsibility to ‘open our doors’ and let people see the substantial amount of time, training, and skill that goes into creating these images.

In the past when I have posted a composite image on social media (several images combined into one image), I explained in detail in the description of the photo how the image was created.  For example, for the image below I set my camera up on my tripod and photographed the guitar alone on the grey flokati.  Then I had dad sit behind the guitar with both hands on his little guy.  I sat next to him and triggered the camera using my remote.  The photo is a combination of three images: one of the guitar alone, one of dad with his hands on his little guys bum and back, and another with dad’s hands on his head and shoulders.   The guitar was supported with dad’s body, weights, and at no point was the baby without his dad’s hands firmly on him.

In the future I will share not only how I created the image but also share the series of images I took to create the final product.

Ottawa Newborn Photographer

Newborn photography is expensive because it is a form of art created by a trained professional.

I want you to see what goes on behind the scenes when I create these images but I also want you to understand what goes on behind the scenes of a newborn session.  Before every session there is at least an hour of administrative work that goes into responding to my clients emails, sending out my welcome package and contract, and preparing all the files for their session.   I spend 30-45 minutes setting up my studio and then 2-3 hours with my clients on the day of the session.  Then there is laundry, cleaning the studio, downloading the images, and finally the bulk of my time is spent in front of my computer turning the photos into art.  My clients have access to over 100 props in my fully equipped studio and I am constantly improving my skills by taking workshops and courses.

What you see on the day of a newborn session represents only a fraction of the time and talent we dedicate to our craft

Whenever a potential client contacts me I respond with all the details about my sessions as well as a list of questions that are important to ask the photographer’s they are considering working with.  Even if you don’t choose me as your photographer it’s important to me that you choose another professional who will handle your little one with the utmost care.  

  1. What experience does the photographer have working with newborns?  How long have they been in business and is the focus of their business newborn photography?
  2. How many newborn sessions do they photograph each year?  Are those sessions represented on their Facebook page, blog or website?  It’s easy for someone to say they have photographed X number of babies but its important to determine whether that is indeed the case.
  3. Ask the photographer about safety during the session. What poses are they comfortable executing?  How do they photograph babies in props (e.g., on the ground, with/without a spotter)?
  4. Do you know anyone who has used the photographer? What did they have to say about their session?  Is the photographer well-known in your community?
  5. Is the photographer experienced in post-production (editing / retouching)?  Are they able to create composite images?
  6. Is the photographer willing to collaborate with you to create images that are unique to your family?
  7. Do you like the style of the photos in the photographer’s portfolio?
  8. Ask the photographer what they will do if the baby is fussy or doesn’t want to sleep during the sessions. Professional photographers are able to lull babies off to sleep and take beautiful photos despite many challenges that come with the unpredictable nature of new babies.
  9. Does the photographer provide you with a contract, prepare you for the session (e.g., what to bring, what to expect), and provide clear expectations about the editing and image selection process?
  10. Is the photographer’s session fees and pricing structure clear?  Does the session fee include any digital files or prints?  Is there an additional cost for parents or siblings to participate in the session?  Ensure that you understand exactly what is included with the fee that you pay.

Newborn photography is a form of art.  From my perspective it’s a form of art that can be executed with a great deal of creativity and, first and foremost, a focus on safety.  I am always excited to learn and grow as a photographer and going forward I am eager to share more behind the scenes images from my sessions in hopes that these photos will help inspire creativity but also educate others about how these images are created.

Remember that anyone with a camera can call themselves a professional photographer.  A newborn photography session with a qualified professional is no more expensive than a top of the line stroller or nursery furniture  and unlike the baby gear, a lot of which will sit unused, newborn photographs and the memories from that time with your brand new baby last a lifetime.