I started this business in 2010 knowing very little and a made a lot of mistakes along the way, and that is OKAY! You cannot expect to get your hands on a baby and nail it all right out of the gate. So I have put together some tips and advice for anyone who is fresh to the newborn photography business. Of course, this will not cover it all, but hopefully you can even take one tidbit from it.
Be Legal -
If you plan to charge or are charging money, get the legalities in place first. It is different in every province/state so do your homework first. Business license, registering business name, liability insurance and equipment insurance need to be in place first. Once you are charging, you start to deal with taxes, both income and sales taxes. If you are not a numbers person, find an accountant. Trust me, this is not something you want to sweep under the rug. If you are charging even close to nothing, you have to claim it as income.
Be prepared to learn -
Start looking for workshops, mentors or online training programs. Posing and handling tiny humans is not easy and safety has to be your priority over "getting images for yourself". Learn, learn and learn some more. Oh, and please do not just ask local photogs to sit in on sessions for two reasons. #1 being that is something you should expect to pay for. #2 clients paying for a session expect the photographers full attention. I know I cannot immerse myself in a shoot and also think about camera settings and explaining why I am doing what I am doing. Find someone who offers these learning programs and be prepared to possibly travel for in person workshops.
Do not compare yourself -
Do not look at your starting line and compare it to someone who has been shooting for years. This will take time! Also, stop following local photographers that you consider competition. Personally I follow photographers from all over the world that I consider to be what I aspire to shoot like. Study them and figure out why you love their images. Is it lighting, posing, props? Do not bog yourself down with what locals are charging or offering. Worry about you. And you will suck at times. We all did!
Be prepared to fail -
Photography is not easy. Newborns are down right hard and unpredictable. You could have the best baby in the world who sleeps 3 hours straight then a string of babies who are not so easy. It is our job to know what to do when baby will not settle, has medical issues, is gassy or just won't sleep. It took me a long time to figure these out.
Be prepared to invest time -
No newborn photographer comes out of the gates amazing. Practice posing with a doll, ask to borrow friends babies or do "model calls" where you provide images for free. Set the expectations of what they will receive though. Be honest and say you are practicing. Take your time and only deliver a few free images. Confidence and skill will come in waves. Even when you think you have mastered something, you probably haven't. Keep practicing and learning.
Be safe -
Always remember, these babies are someones tiny human. They deserve to be safe at all times. If you feel a pose is beyond your skill level, do not do it. I cannot stress this point enough. I have heard too many horror stories involving heaters and posing gone wrong. Need spare hands? Ask parents to spot you or have a friend come along to help. ALSO....Please keep yourself safe. If you are traveling to people's homes and it just doesn't feel right, it is okay to back out. I had this happen once and I do not regret cancelling the session.
Be prepared to invest money -
Everything costs money in this business. Do not expect to start a FB and instagram and for people to magically follow you and book. You will NEED a website and dedicated email. Programs like adobe are not free. Do not go on forums asking for "free alternatives". If you want to have a business....it will cost money! Oh and props. OHHHH if I told you how much I spend on props you might quit now. Expect to invest and it doesn't ever really end. Props wear out, break, go missing, get pooped on and also there are trends like anything else. Watch for destash sales from locals and online sales when you can. Pretty much most newborn photographers have to hoard so many things.
Be proud of yourself -
If there is one thing that drives me nuts about people starting off is the terms we use like "I am just a newbie" or "I just do this on the side". To me it belittles what we do and the power we have to capture peoples most cherished moments in life.
This journey is a marathon and not a sprint.
PS...I love getting messages on my social media so hit me up if you have questions.