Newborn Photography is an incredibly niche and difficult market. One of the main questions I get asked is “How did you become a newborn photographer ?” It’s a weighted question because I did not wake up one day and say, “I want to be a newborn photographer” more that I gradually waded my way into it. If you’re reading this post, you too probably have had thoughts of becoming a newborn photographer. So I’m going to share some tips on how to become a newborn photographer from start to finish. I’m sure there is so much more that I’m missing but these are top on my list.
1. Know thy camera.
If you’ve never picked up a camera before this is important and I put this first because you cannot start newborn photography, or any photography for that matter unless you learn manual mode in your camera. You cannot shoot in auto because lighting, posing, and even putting a baby in a prop changes the way you need to focus. Are you shooting at a low aperture of 1.8 or are you taking parent and sibling images and need to shoot an aperture of 4 or 5. I highly suggest taking classes at your local camera shop or online. I learned through both. When I first got my Nikon I took classes at a locally owned store in downtown Orlando. I also took online classes through clickinmoms.com and creativelive.com These are both amazing starting points for learning not only your camera but getting into your own style and groove.
2. Start Studying
Newborn photography is hard and you are working with the most precious of subjects. In the newborn community safety is key, and being safe means knowing how to safely place babies in these cute poses you see on social media. I’ve taken in-person workshops, online workshops, and safety workshops. The amount of learning can only ensure that parents trust you with their most precious little one even more. My go-to online courses are Hello Little Education Group which only allows new members a few times a year. Charlotte Gamache, has in-person workshops and an amazing online app that discusses, poses, lighting, and maternity. Kelly Brown and Ana Brandt both are amazing photographers who teach posing, safety, and editing in their online courses. I highly suggest taking an in-person newborn workshop to not only get your hands on some babies but also to help you build your portfolio.
3. Find models and practice
Once you feel comfortable with your setup, lighting, and manual mode, ask a friend or a family member if you can do some model newborn sessions. This is where you practice what you’ve learned and start taking those pictures. Some model calls can be specific to one or 2 poses you want to try or an entire workflow. It’s up to you. Once you feel comfortable with posing, lighting, and swaddling newborns then you’re ready for clients!
4. Make sure you are licensed and insured.
But before that, make sure you have licensed your newborn photography business and have insurance. This is not only important if anything should happen during a session but also if you drop your camera or lens. You want to make sure not only you are covered but your equipment as well. You can sign your business up online on your states business gov page and then you can apply for your EIN on IRS.gov
5. Don’t go prop crazy!
When you’re first starting a newborn photography business all the props and backdrops seem like a must. But, you don’t really need them until you’re more secure. During the first 2 years of photographing newborns, I did mostly whites, pink or blue pastels. That’s it. Buying all the props when you’re not yet super comfortable with posing in them could be a waste of money. I would get a bowl, a bucket, and a crate and learn those. Then start adding more. Many of those can be found on Hello Little Props site.
6. Please Price Yourself Correctly
Finally, you feel comfortable with charging a living wage. You’ve paid for a website, lighting, props, newborn outfits, safety courses, and more. But how do you price yourself? Newborn photography and all photography should be priced not by cheapest, but by how you plan to make a living wage yourself. If you charge 150.00 you’d have to work 5 days a week or more to make a living wage. Don’t be the photographer who undervalues herself and her time. You’ve put a lot into your business. Calculate your cost of doing business (which can be found on multiple sites) and price yourself accordingly.
7. Have Fun!
Last but not least have fun! You are creating precious memories for these families and they will last them a lifetime. That’s one of my favorite things about photography. Making these beautiful moments for families and loved ones.
Check out my work at Van Epps Photography