For my first real blog post, I just wanted to share something I wrote a while back on a photography Facebook group I was a part of. I have been told that it has resonated so much with other photographers so I wanted to share it again for others to read. I hope that it inspires more people on their journey of newborn photography!
Long Post but I Promise it's worth reading!
I've seen a lot of people asking to get into newborn photography but they don't know how or have never done it before and what do they do? First I want to say that Newborn Photography is one of the best jobs in the entire world if you love babies and photography. It is a niche job and you either love it or hate it. It is ok NOT to be a newborn photographer if your heart is not in it because 1. you're going to spend money, and time, and energy, and body pain learning and working and 2. Posing, editing, and post processing is ever changing and you will be working a lot on these things. The last thing you want to do is dread editing a session or dread going to a session. That is the key indicator that you may want to focus on something other than that type of photography. If you do want to be a newborn photographer, I can tell you it is the most amazing and wonderful career to be in and I love it with every piece of my heart.
1. Are you familiar with babies? Handling them, holding them, feeding them, burping them, changing diapers, babysitting, their abilities? If so you are already a step ahead and should start to look for online resources about newborn photography safety as that should be your number one priority first and foremost. If you are not familiar with babies it is time to find some friends and family where you can play with their babies, or just ask them how to hold them asap (usually someone close they will not mind at all helping you out) Read up on newborns (TONS of books out there on amazon about a newborn and what to expect, not just for moms!) See if you can shadow a photographer who handles babies, or take a workshop or mentoring or absorb yourself in videos of people handling babies safely. Sometimes there are even new parent classes you can take for free locally at community centers etc.
2. Once you have done the above, join Facebook or other photography groups with a community of peers and be open to a bunch of CC, harsh or otherwise. You will get better faster if you toughen up and not need someone to sugar coat stuff for you. Browse images, find ones you love, ask "how did you do this" or "where did you learn this pose" make a post that says "what are your favorite newborn photography resources"
3. Do NOT focus on props and fancy things you don't need right away, its easy to get carried away with pretty stuff and your money goes to that instead of education and let me tell ya, props don't make a photo, technical lighting, posing, and know how make the photo.
4. Get a good bean bag. I mean seriously This is essential to good posing. If you start off with a cheap bean bag from target (I did) You're not going to be able to do a damn thing that looks decent. Trust me On this one...
5. Assuming you already know how to light a subject properly, newborns are a little different. Natural light and studio light have similar rules but each have their own way of doing things so figure out what you want to do and again research lighting newborns (there are amazing free blogs that show you things like this)
6. It's time to do a butt ton of model calls. I don't mean 2 or 3 I mean like 20 in a few months span of time. Start simple and never try anything you don't know 100% about (talking about technical aspects of poses; composites etc) Never be afraid to ask mom or dad to assist you in any way and practice practice and practice more.
7. After every session edit and post your favorite images or your crappy ones in a group and say "tell me what I need to do differently or what did I do wrong" and LISTEN. It may be hard to hear that your photo isn't amazing but take that CC and apply it to your next model and keep doing that until you start to have knowledge under your belt.
8. Are you able to produce a full gallery of images (15 or more) consistently? Start charging if you haven't already. Up your prices every 6 months because you should be getting better everyday.
9. Are you charging people? Set aside that money to improve your business. In person workshops with photographers you admire and follow will make you a better photographer and you will have a mentor for life. Find one that fits your style and go from there
10. Now you can buy props, pretties, outfits, and other stuff to enhance your session. You should have a wealth of knowledge.
11. Market, Market, Market your butt off everywhere you can. There are also groups to help with this (seriously there's groups for every damn thing)
12. Set a one year goal for yourself, then a 5 year, then a 10 year. My one year goal was to be better at posing, my 5 year goal was to have my own studio and make at least $7k a month and my 10 year goal is to be a mentor, teacher, and make 6 figures with a full service amazing studio. I made my 5 year goal in 3 years. I met my 10 year goal in 6 years!!
1 3. Know that you will have days you want to die, you will cry, stress out, question life, want to throw your computer, yell at your loved ones because they just don't understand, and editing will probably take over your life. Learn to balance your career
and life (something I am still learning to do) Find some local photographer friends like I did with Vani Line who introduced me to GTG Actions that rocked my world. Drink wine.
14. Never think you know everything. I certainly don't. I don't think I'm the best photographer out there. I don't think that I have reached my full potential. I know there are things out there I can still and will learn. Never think you can get to where you are by yourself. I know I didn't and if you did it would take a long ass time to do so.
15. For the love of God do not post screen shots of client conversations. And if someone gives you CC take it to heart and move on. We all just want to help.
Game Changers: A good lighting system (Einstein and 7 ft PLM umbrella with Stand is mine) a Good bean bag (Rectangle from Newborn Cloud) A good mentor (I would love to be yours!) A Camera and GOOD lens 😂(Canon 6D with Sigma Art 50 1.4 is what I use) An Open mind, Photoshop, Posing and wrapping videos A calibrated monitor/laptop (I use an HP with a high end touchscreen) Learning to not dye your own food grade cheesecloth from Walmart b/c that shit does not work unless as maybe a layer)
Newborn Posing Mini book with a breakdown of all the poses for you :)
If you have gotten this far, thank you and you are awesome! If there's something I forgot to add please let me know because I'm sure a lot of you have wonderful advice from another perspective.