Newborn Photography Safety | Rapid City, SD Newborn Photographer | Jennifer Norrick Photography

Well, it’s been a while since we’ve talked about newborn safety during a newborn photoshoot. I’ve written a new blog on this topic at least once a year because I think it’s a topic that deserves repeated attention. There are so many things to talk about when it comes to safety during a newborn session it’s hard to even decide where to start. From researching a photographer and making sure you find someone that actually knows what they are doing, to making sure the photographer is a legit business are both things that should be at the top of the list. However, let’s start with some red flags that show up when you’re on the hunt for a newborn photographer.

You’ve just found out you’re expecting. You’re moving along in your pregnancy and time actually does go by faster than you think. You’ve been preparing everything from the nursery to choosing a pediatrician and picking the best car seat. Only the best car seat will do because you want that brand new little to be the safest it can be when you are on the go!! So, you research all the safety ratings, compare cost; you do your homework! Let me ask you a question: SHOULDN’T YOU DO THE SAME WHEN SEARCHING FOR THE PERSON THAT WILL BE HOLDING AND HANDLING YOUR BABY WHEN THEY TAKE THEIR PICTURES? I mean that’s what we do when we are looking for a child care provider, right?

Most people don’t realize that there are things to look for that should warn you that a particular photographer is probably the wrong fit. So, let’s dig in. Obviously the first thing we look at when on the hunt for the perfect person to capture our moments is: Does their work catch our eye and is it a style that we love enough to look at it forever. But, as important as it is, it’s not what you should be thinking about first when it comes to your baby. Newborn photography has evolved and really is a form of art. It’s very different than 15 or even 5 years ago. After making a list of all the photographers you want to look into, let me give you a few red flags that should put someone in the “definitely NOT” column.

  • You should always ask these questions: Do you have insurance for your business? Do you work with an assistant? How long have you been in business? What is your experience with newborn photography? Do you have any professional training for this type of photography?

  • Major red flag #1: If the price is too good to be true, IT USUALLY IS! Now, pricing is a big deal. I get it! Not everyone can afford a fancy expensive photo session. But, you’ve had 9 months to save up, and most photographers will take a deposit and let you pay over time. We’ll get to the situation with why newborn photography is a little pricier than other sessions later on in the blog.

  • Major red flag #2: You’ve decided to use a certain photographer and they don’t charge you sales tax. Peeps, any legit photographer will be paying their taxes and be a registered and licensed business. This means they are required to charge you sales tax!

  • Major red flag #3: You’ve agreed upon a date and time and you pay them through Venmo or some other app. You don’t receive a contract, a model release, an official invoice that will document their income . . . That contract though, of all three of those things is probably the biggest red flag. It will protect you and them. It’s an agreement that they agree to stick to their own policies for safety and good business practices and you agree to abide by them as well.

So, now that we’ve talked about things that are more of a business issue you should look out for, let’s talk about some stuff that has to do with your actual session and your baby. First, I want to say that EVERYONE STARTS SOMEWHERE! I did. And I can tell you that in the over 10 years I’ve been in business I have learned sooooooo much. And I continue to learn more. This business is an evolving thing and with all the changes happening we should want to continue learning. In the beginning, there weren’t all the educational and professional development opportunities that there are for new photographers now. That being said, safety should always be the first thing we strive to offer clients and learn about when offering newborn photography to the public. So, take the workshop, subscribe to a known and established photographer’s online learning site. I’ll list a few of the ones I’m a part of and would absolutely recommend to anyone interested in starting out in the newborn genre.

Now, posing and handling newborn babies to get those beautiful themed, and simple wrapped shots is hard work. But did you know that babies can be unsafe if you don’t know basic newborn physiology or don’t have a second set of hands to spot you as the photographer when taking your shot?

The photography industry in general is not regulated and when working with newborns it really should be. At the very least to some degree. I mean come on, would you take your baby to a pediatrician that didn’t go to school or wasn’t licensed by the state? Yeah, I know I wouldn’t. So, I mentioned a few peeps I’ve looked to for some education and professional development. Here are a few of my favorites.

  • The Milky Way Newborn Retreat. Guys! This is a fabulous way to get some training on all kinds of different things newborn and business. I’ve purchased this workshop a few years in a row and they put out a new one at the beginning of every year with new videos. You get to watch the videos from the comfort of your own home and have direct support for any questions from the photographers that are a part of the retreat. And there’s a fabulous FB group that you can get more support from as well. It’s not crazy expensive and so worth looking into!

  • The Rachel Vanoven Collective. This might be the most fun and educational experience you can join. Every month she releases two new videos. The Facebook group is such an amazing place to meet other newborn photographers, seasoned and new. Everyone is learning. And you can get advice and even have Rachel critique your work. She offers a bunch of other workshops too that are worth checking out. And safety is her number one most important thing to teach! I absolutely love how accessible she makes herself to all of her students.

  • APNPI. So I want to mention one other organization. I received a certification in newborn safety and a qualified newborn photographer certification from APNPI (Accredited Professional Newborn Photographers International). It’s not anything legally official. But you learn about what things to look for if the baby is uncomfortable or in an unsafe position for breathing. You learn about the littles’ physiology and things that are unsafe. This organization also offers some educational opportunities with a membership, the APNPI Academy. Now the nice thing about this organization is that they also have a directory. You can search for newborn photographers in your area that might be a good fit for you.

Now obviously nothing I’ve listed above for you is something that is a requirement to be a newborn photographer. There is nothing that HAS to be done to be a newborn photographer. However, if you want to do it right, and for the sake of clients, present and future, I hope people do want to do it right; I feel like there is plenty of opportunity to get yourself some training. At the very least on safe handling and posing. And that leads us to then next safety item on the list. Posing.

So one of the main things to make sure your photographer offers when working with you, is to have an assistant. A spotter. A mind reader. A person that can tell what you need before you even ask for it. Now, I’ve found myself in a situation where my assistant/photographer friend was unavailable the morning of our shoot. In that case, the parents get a little crash course in spotting for me. I really want for them to just sit back and relax and not have to worry about a thing. However, if I’m short my person for the day, I rather they stand beside me to be ready if their little moves or startles.

Well, now that we’ve covered some of the main points that are important to helping you find a photographer to capture what will probably be your littles very first “official” pictures, I do want to offer a few little tidbits about what we as photographers do and give you a little insight about why we charge what we charge (what may seem too expensive for some people).

First, I want people to understand that we don’t just put a price point out there for sessions. We take our cost of doing business into consideration. If you are working with a legit photography business, they pay a big chunk out of what they charge you to taxes (to include self employment tax, a person that works a normal job does not have that expense). After the taxes they may have rent and utilities and other overhead to run a studio. We buy insurance. The amount of money our gear costs is ridiculous and then there is the cost for marketing and websites, and props, and all other kinds of things.

But all that aside, a newborn session will usually last between 2-3 hours. We charge for our time. Now, all kinds of time needs to be considered, not just the session time. We spend time communicating with you before and after the shoot. I send out a PDF prep guide for my newborn clients. It helps them to understand how I run my sessions, so they know what to expect. We spend sooooooo much time editing your images to make them as perfect as we possibly can. I don’t want to go off on a tangent and rant about the topic of pricing. We could be here all day. But I just want people to have a little insight about WHY we charge what we do. And, if you come across a photographer that is willing to give you a deal with a $200 flat rate newborn session with all images, you’ll probably find that they are not investing what a real photographer does to safely give you the customer service that you deserve. And to be completely honest they are hurting themselves and the whole industry. That is just a personal opinion.

THE BEST EXPERIENCE! That is what you deserve. And that is what I intend to give all my clients. And I hope I have.

OK peeps! I’ll be done with my annual soapbox! LOL!!! I figured I have some time to get this blog out now and we can go into the new year fresh and full of knowledge about what you can do to find the right photographer for you! LOL!!!

I wish you all a very Merry Christmas and the best 2024!!!!

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