As we’ve already discussed here How to choose a newborn photographer – where to start the newborn photography industry in the UK is currently unregulated and literally anyone could set up business as one. That’s a scary thought, but you don’t need to let it scare you as with a bit of savvy sleuthing and a few clever questions you’ll know straight away if you’re on the right track. So lets dive in…..
There aren’t any traditional qualifications available, so what could this look like? Well, I’ve trained with Kelly Brown, one of the worlds best newborn photographers and champion of newborn safety. It cost a fortune, but as far as I’m concerned your babies safety is way more important than money and I wanted to learn from the best.
Any photographer worth their salt will tell you that they never stop honing their craft, but the comfort and safety of your baby is a different story – this isn’t a “learn on the job” type situation. Newborns are vulnerable and fragile and should only ever be posed by experienced hands. So what can you ask?
How did you train to be a newborn photographer?
Listen out for 1:1 training with an expert and hands-on workshops. Both are expensive and time-consuming so demonstrate that your photographer is taking this seriously and is prioritising the safety of your baby.
How many babies have you photographed?
Many new and inexperienced photographers run “portfolio building” “model calls”. This is industry standard and completely correct. They are hopefully practicing one or two poses and offering you some kind of product for your time. This is a great way for everyone to learn and as long as you know that you aren’t booking in with a professional and are OK with unpredictable results (the consistency comes from having worked with many many babies) then this could work for you if you don’t have much budget to spend.
If you are looking for a ‘guarantee’ of how your images will look, you will need to look at the photographers portfolio to check for this. Experienced professionals will have numerous images on their website, on social media and in their studios as samples for you to assess this aspect, so don’t be afraid of having a thorough look!
Who are you insured with?
A frightening number of photographers are uninsured. Many cheap photographers starting out think they don’t need it as they don’t have their own studio. The insurance is there for your protection and is also an indicator of how professional they are, so do ask. If you are at all unsure, just ask to see the policy. I wouldn’t mind at all if anyone asked me this and I’d be happy to oblige.
Which professional bodies do you belong to?
BANPAS is the safety organisation in the UK, although at the time of writing they ceased accepting new members, so that isn’t necessarily a deal breaker!
MPA – they have launched a newborn certification which requires full disclosure of health and safety practices, session workflow, behind the scenes photographs of various poses with written instructions on how they were created etc. This is the closest we have in the UK to a “rubber stamp” and I am in the process of obtaining mine as we write this. It is a vast body of work with a mentor and assessment panel – it’s not for the feint hearted, but nor is taking responsibility for the wellbeing of your new baby!
If they aren’t readily available, ask where their reviews and testimonials are. Read what past clients have to say about their experience working with them. See how the photographer responds – does this seem like the sort of person you’d like to work with?
I hope that’s helped de-mystify how to identify a professional newborn photographer. Now that you know what to look for in terms of training, competence, safety and legalities all you need to do is find someone who fulfils your brief, here’s what to look for what to ask your newborn photographer – aligning your end goal with the right person