August 30, 2022
This answer obviously has a wide range of answers depending on the photographer’s experience level, location, packages, etc. I have over a decade of experience photographing newborns, so I will speak from that and give some insight into the cost of a newborn session. My hope is that after reading this you will gain a new appreciation for the education, prep work and time that goes into a newborn session, so you understand newborn photoshoot pricing.
A good newborn photographer is well educated about newborn safety and what’s normal in baby’s first weeks. Certain poses are unsafe if a baby isn’t well supported. We all know that a baby’s neck muscles are weak, so their head must be supported for them to be safe. Babies are born very flexible, and for good reason! The ways they need to move within the womb require it. During those first weeks, that flexibility is still present, but has to be treated with care. There are still limits to how babies can be comfortably positioned. Here are a few posing examples.
The ‘Womb Pose’ –
Baby has to comfortably go into this pose. It is not universally comfortable for all babies, it will depend on their flexibility. An educated photographer can move through poses that are comfortable for baby, and move past poses they don’t easily flow into.
The ‘Bum Up Pose’
Another position some babies love is this one. They have to comfortable be able to extend their spine to curve the other direction, creating that head and bum up effect in the image, as well as be curled towards the front so we get those adorable baby wrinkles. Baby boys provide an additional challenge as you have to position them to keep important bits hidden and not squished!
Props, Accessories & Equipment
Headbands, hats, wraps, backdrops, baskets, bowls, furs, rugs, heaters, noisemakers, posing pillows, lighting, cameras, lenses, computers, editing software, memory cards, the list is extensive when we’re talking about studio essentials. For any given session, we may use 4 headbands like this set for $30, this flokati rug for $175, 3-4 backdrops for another $40, a basket or two ($60), heater ($20), noisemaker ($35), camera body ($2800), lenses ($3k+), computer…you get the picture. The costs associated with having a newborn portrait studio are high.
A full newborn portrait session lasts two to three hours. Setting up involves cleaning the space, getting all props ready so there isn’t time wasted during the session, working with the baby and family, and then the cleanup afterwards. All used blankets are laundered after each session, so that every baby has clean items during their session. Narrowing a gallery down, doing a rough edit on the images before the viewing session, the time during the viewing session, and the final edits of the images are all increments that add up.
When I first started photographing newborns, I didn’t know how to soothe or pose them very well. The extensive of a collection of props or accessories was a pipe dream. My bins of minimal props were brought into client’s homes and I relied on their unpredictable lighting to get well lit images of their baby. Adequate tips weren’t given to parents. Sessions involved me moving around client furniture, bringing bins of props to their home, and the end result? Well let me show you the difference of what education and experience can bring you. You can judge whether you experience should influence the cost of a newborn photoshoot!
Newborn photography is unlike any other genre. The amount of patience and attention to detail required is unique to this specialty. A photographer can have everything perfect, every finger in place, the baby can be sound asleep, and as the camera is raised into position, that beloved startle reflex kicks in and the whole pose has to be started over. For an experienced newborn photographer, this is par for the course! It’s an adorable quirk of this age, as are messy blankets during sessions. Well, maybe that’s less adorable, but equally as common. Find a photographer that is very comfortable holding, positioning, transitioning baby between setups and soothing. An experienced photographer will consistently get high quality final products because of their skills.
Low Cost Versus High Quality
There’s no question that years of experience and education make a difference in the end result. In an area that has dozens of newborn photographers to choose from, choose someone that will give you images that you can enjoy and treasure for a lifetime. Bad quality images, a gallery with little variation, an unhappy baby all can result in a bad overall experience.
Photography is an investment. Hiring a professional the first time around ensures that you have quality memories to look back on year after year. Choose wisely!
Want to see a sample newborn session? Here you go!