Misconceptions on running a newborn photography business
I’ve had a lot of people ask me, what does it take to become a newborn photographer? The answer is, well it’s a long answer! I will break it all down for you, so that if you decide you want to take this journey than you can make an educated decision! So many people jump right into Newborn Photography without thinking about the true impact of their decision. Many also misunderstand the amount of investment that is necessary to make this career choice a viable one, assuming that it’s just taking pictures of a baby on a blanket. Another common misconception is that they can charge whatever they want to in order to make their clients happy and get lots of bookings, thinking at the end of the day it will all work out. Unfortunately these misconceptions end up with thousands of burnt out newborn photographers EVERY YEAR. It’s an overly saturated industry because of these misconceptions. I have been photographing newborn babies for 12 years now. I have seen dozens of newborn photographers pull the plug on their businesses because they weren’t making any money, they were burning the candle at both ends, and they were tired of feeling used and abused by people that expected them to work for pennies. I can’t tell you how discouraging it is, to see this cycle of new photographers, joining this niche, thinking that they can make a quick buck by undercutting their competitors, and then ending up in over their heads. Initially it’ll start that way. Maybe you think it’s the side hustle that you’ve been waiting for.
And if you do it right, it can be an amazing side hustle! In fact, you can make a really great living doing newborn photography. I don’t want to discourage anyone from becoming a newborn photographer. In fact I want to help you do it. By accepting my help, you’ll start out in this industry with the proper mindset, the correct tools, and the right pricing structure to actually launch a long lasting and thriving career. I know from previous experience, that this road can be a hard and lonely one if you don’t have the right support network to lean on. You can feel very frustrated and downhearted if you only have the basic knowledge and are left trying to figure everything else on your own. That’s why I created the “Beginner Steps to Newborn Photography” Mentoring program. You can find it at www.momtoglessons.com It’s an investment worth saving for, trust me! It gives my students a complete roadmap on how to begin a Newborn Photography business from A-Z.
If you are anything like me when I first started, I found there was too many options out there. I gravitated to a bunch of “cheaper” courses because I felt like, if I spend a little, I’ll get a lot for minimal investment. But I wasn’t looking at the bigger picture. Those little courses would leave me with a million questions. I was still overwhelmed, and had no where to turn to in order to get the right feedback. I still needed guidance and I was feeling self conscious on my work, not sure on what I was doing right, or what I was doing wrong. And if I did get something right, I wasn’t sure how I got it right. This prevented me from having a real plan on recreating that for the next session. I also was unsure on a posing workflow. I felt like I had to do every pose that every client wanted, or that I saw others doing. I thought even the harder complicated ones were necessary to do at every newborn session. I thought in order for me to be a professional newborn photographer, I had to know every single pose every made by someone. I also found that I’d buy things that I thought I needed, and then would find out later that I should have saved my money for something different because I couldn’t even use what I ended up buying. At the end of the day, it took a lot of wasted money, and trial and error. Lots of blood, sweat and tears were apart of my journey in the beginning.
So lets spin this around and list some of the most essential steps in starting a newborn photography business the right way! If you follow these steps, or write them down, this will help you make sure that you don’t waste money and focus on things that actually matter!
Computers and accessories needed for becoming a newborn photographer
Lets talk facts for just a second. Speaking from experience, and a lot of dead computers later – I finally broke down and bought a Mac. YES. I am not sponsored by Apple.. even though I wish I was 😂😂😂 But I made a big mistake. Even though my computer was awesome, and everything was big and beautiful (the huge massive iMac) the mistake I made, was uploading all my pictures directly onto my computer. I didn’t know that running Lightroom, Photoshop, and a million gigs of images later and my computer was slugging along. No it wasn’t crashing like all the PC computers that I had previously, but it was brutal to run any photoshop actions or edit any images on. At that point I realized my mistake. I actually DID NOT KNOW that I could run my editing programs with my images ONLY on my external hard drive. But that’s what you have to do!
So I bought a used Macbook Pro and a brand new LaCie external hard drive, and ran with it for another 5 years. This used Macbook is still working but I upgraded and bought a new Macbook Pro with a larger screen with more specs.
Camera and Lenses
Technically anyone that has a DSLR can do newborn photography. But not all DSLR cameras are made equal. DSLR cameras will give you complete control over the settings in your camera, that will allow you to adjust for low light, or too much light. It will also allow you to use different apertures that gives that “creamy” Bokeh look. The shutter speeds can change as well. Another great reason that you want to have a DSLR or MIRRORLESS will give you that ability to shoot your images in RAW. This is crucial for professional photographers. You want to shoot in raw, so that you can have full control over your images in case anything needs to be fixed in post. But having the ability to use different lenses such as fixed prime lenses is also a great way to manipulate the lighting situation to your advantage!
The lenses that you want to use for newborn photography specifically, would be a 50mm lens, the middle or top range. Don’t go for the cheapest, they are junk!!! The middle range lenses will be around $300-$500 at least. The other lens is the 35mm lens which is usually more expensive but worth every penny! The 50 mm will prevent distortion. But the 35mm will give you a wider angle, with minimal distortion. This allows you to do a variety of poses while being able to sit right in front of the newborn and act as your own spotter, OR do images like the Froggy pose, without having to use someone else to hold the baby for you.
The 35 mm lens also allows you to stand directly above the baby in a prop, or on the fabric without having to stand on a ladder or be really really tall! Someone who is my size 5’4 or shorter, really enjoys the ability to stand directly above the props without feeling like I have to stand on my tippy toes or stand on a stool. The 35 mm is also bigger then the 50mm, but not so big that its too heavy to use for an entire newborn session. As an Edmonton Newborn Photographer, I would definitely recommend investing in a mirrorless camera and the 50mm and 35mm lenses. You won’t regret it, and you’ll use it for the next 10 years until you need to upgrade your gear! A lot of photographers recommend that you invest in a 24-70mm, but I can speak from previously owning this lens FIRST, because I followed that advice and bought it first! I found it was far too heavy and difficult to make it through an entire newborn session without my wrist and arms being in complete agony and cramping. One more reason to get a fixed focal length lens!
Software that’s necessary for Newborn Photographers
- There are many different programs out there, but I’ll give you the basics. You need Adobe Creative Cloud that includes Photoshop CC, so that you can download Adobe Camera Raw, and Adobe Bridge. This is all included in one membership and you can find that for $12.99 CAD/month. You can’t beat that. It’s a killer deal. Find it here. I only could have dreamed of having access to such an affordable Adobe Photoshop option when I had started. Back when I started 12 years ago, Photoshop was a $700 CAD course! And $200 to pay for updates. You have no idea how fortunate you are to have access to such incredible programs to edit your photography as a professional!
- Next you need Pic-time. This is an excellent service that you can use for sending professional download galleries to your clients. You can also display products for your clients to purchase and it’s such an amazing and professional platform. You can even make slideshows free, that’s included in their paid plan! If you want to upgrade to a paid plan – Please use this code: S6B2WT and we both get a FREE MONTH! Let’s help each other out, and save some money! Not to mention, you can refer your friends as well and gain free months with your own referrals!!
- Book keeping! Or you could invest in a CRM software. What is that? It stands for Customer relationship management. There are many different options such as Honeybooks, Iris Works, Sprout Studio, etc. U Session, you can use a book keeping software and manage your bookings all by yourself. That’s what I do, because I’m in Canada. And I use a free software to manage my books. It’s called Waveapps.com It’s easy to use, and it’s entirely free. They make their money by commissions when you have clients pay their invoices. You get charged merchant fees. Any company that you use, will charge a certain percentage on any invoice paid with credit card. You can accept email money transfer’s and enter the payments in manually.
Lighting is important but it’s not as expensive as you may think!
This is another misconception that many think, when it comes to studio lighting for newborn photography. You really only need a lighting unit that is under $500 and a PLM (parabolic light modifier) which is basically a large umbrella. You can buy this off of amazon or from Paul C buff. You’ll need a revere studio light stand that allows the light to come low to the ground as well.
But if you don’t want to spend any money, you can use natural light! I guess you do need to spend some money though. You will need to diffuse the natural light, and hang up some frosted shower curtains. You’ll also need to block out any other competing light that is coming in from different directions. You don’t want to have multiple light sources and different coloured lighting because it will mess with your white balance. This makes editing very difficult and frustrating to work with. If you want to learn how I create beautiful lighting like in these images, you’ll want to grab my very affordable lighting course here.
This lighting course will include several different lightbulb 💡 moments, that will be sure to show you exactly how to master your lighting at future sessions regardless of whether its a studio lit newborn session or if you are using natural light.
Do you want to learn more about newborn photography? Do you want to learn photography with a mentor? Then you want to jump in and join the waitlist for my next class opening! Only 15 students will be accepted into this very intimate mentoring program! You can find all information here. I will leave the remaining items needed for a newborn photography post for next time! I hope you enjoyed this information and please feel free to join my free education facebook group here.