Newborn Photographer’s Q&A: Common Questions Answered

As part of my “meaningful blogging” effort, I am launching a “Common Questions Answered” series, which will address some of the common questions I get from prospective newborn photography clients (and, of course, I will still continue showcase ll the sweet babies I work with!). Hopefully, this will help out both new mamas/mommies-to-be as well as newborn photographers seeking opinions on some of these questions. So, here we go, an inquiry I received last week from somebody interested in newborn pictures:

“I just want to come in and get one picture with my  newborn baby taken. I only want one, and I don’t need a long session or any prints. It will only take 5 minutes. Do you offer something like that?”

My Answer: Unfortunately, in case of this inquiry, I suggested that I may not be the best fit for what this client was looking for. Whereas I offer a couple of different types of newborn photography sessions (depending on what clients are looking for), they all involve a session lasting from 1 to 3 hours, session preparation, and a gallery of proofs for clients to choose from and place their order. Sessions are structured so as to create a set of visually consistent, yet varied, images to capture Baby’s fleeting newborn features and/or Baby with his or her loving parents and siblings. So, unfortunately, the request for a brief session to take one picture is just not consistent with my style and approach to newborn photography.

The Long Explanation: There is a very practical, meaningful explanation “why” I will not do a “quick 5-minute session” to take “just one picture”.

1. It is a different business model, and not the one I chose for Chasing Moments Photography. There are photography studios (mostly, walk-in chain photography studios) that will do a quick session for a low “sitting fee” where clients (most likely right there and then) can view a couple of pictures and purchase them.  The “short session and a couple of pictures” business model relies on higher client flow, cheaper prices, and an almost instant product delivery, which is exactly what some clients are looking for. (The downside is that  it can also oftentimes results in hurried sessions, photographers not trained to handle and pose/soothe newborns, and sub-par images – think, a quick session during which you have an upset, crying newborn, which results in a couple of pictures where Baby doesn’t look relaxed or peaceful). My business model, in contrast, relies on a personalized, custom approach, and I view each session as a way to create treasured, heirloom images suitable for framing and wall art to be displayed in clients’ homes for generations. The philosophy behind this business model is different: I take time work with each client to understand their likes and priorities and to prepare them for the session; I take time during the session to capture their Baby in the most beautiful way possible (while allowing ample time for feedings, soothing, and clean ups), and I work with each client after the session on retouching and ordering. So, it is a process resulting in a gallery of custom images.

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2. The commitment of time and effort for a “quick session-one image” appointment is still quite considerable, and it’s not really quite as “quick” as one hopes to believe and it does not imply a cheaper session and cheaper images. I would still need to charge a premium session fee and image fee to reflect that. No matter the length of the session, each “newborn” client involves:

(a) time and effort before each session:  studio setup time; clean blanket and prop preparation, selection and setup; client communication and consultations (this is anywhere from 2-3 hours)

(b) at least a 30-60 minute session time even for a single shot. Trust me, it is never (!) just “5 minutes”. Getting a newborn out of the car seat and changed and soothed and fed if necessary and ready for pictures (as in – a happy, peaceful, quiet, relaxed baby) can take anywhere from 20-45 minutes to an hour – so, you do the math! (so, on average, I would need to set aside at least an hour time for each newborn client – just for the session)

(c) time and effort after the session: clean up and laundry (!!!), image editing (even if it’s still a “quick session for 1 image”, clients still want overall retouching and possibly custom blemish/stray hair removal and other custom touch ups, which can be time consuming), client communication and order processing, and then – order placement and delivery.

So, I hope you see now that it takes time and effort on my part to get even a single beautiful image. (As for parents, all they need to do, is follow some simple instructions and get to the studio with their Baby).

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The above images are from a “full newborn session”. Baby Q. came from McLean VA, born in April 2014, and I photographed her at 13 days old.

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