I’m asked so often so many questions about starting out, will I train people, what equipment do I use. I also frequently have people send me images of something unsafe that someone new to the world of newborn photography is doing, so I decided to compile a list of things that I wish I had known when I started! Not everything works for everyone and we are all different however but if it helps someone else just starting out then hopefully it’s a good thing.

  • Buying things! Unless you are a lifestyle or documentary photographer, there are countless things you can spend thousands and thousands of pounds on! (Been there got the t-shirt). From outfits, headbands, hats, floral halos, tutus, actions to use in Photoshop, presets for Lightroom. Honestly it’s endless, an average start up for a photography business is over £10,000. Which seems a ludicrous amount but there are so many costs involved! So what are the MOST important things you need?
Training! I know the established photographers bang on about it incessantly and to new photographers it must seem like a ploy from us to make you all look incapable. And yes it does cost money. In no other business do you become a professional just because you have a bit of equipment. Scissors don’t make you a hairdresser, a sharp knife doesn’t make you a surgeon, a spanner doesn’t make you a mechanic. Some people are naturally amazing at taking photos. But the art of posing delicate newborn babies, propped up on things or in poses is really something you should have training with. You wouldn’t take your child to someone who wants to be a Doctor but has never trained so why should babies because they can’t complain really, be practiced upon? If you can’t afford training – don’t pose newborns and don’t try to learn, you can try asking to help out a photographer. Often the answer will be no. I choose not to train people as I have worked really hard to develop my own style and don’t feel training someone locally to produce work like me is actually a good thing as most new photographers drastically undercut established photographers to get bookings in. What I will say is if you are buying props, hats, headbands then you’ve probably spent the same amount that you would have on training! And training will pay for itself. Honestly I don’t know any good photographer that doesn’t shudder at something they took a year ago, all of us are permanently growing, nailing lighting, posing and being safe surely is the priority – something you would learn through training, you can undertake good training for £200-£400 roughly – shop around, check the trainer can teach you with the lighting you will be using i.e. natural light or studio, do they teach frog pose if that’s what you love! 
I am in no way paid to endorse safe trainers nor receive benefits but good UK trainers are The Newborn Workshops – https://www.newbornworkshops.co.uk/
Ellie Cassidy – http://www.minimemories.co.uk/courses/
Jodie Leigh Drake – http://jodieleighphotography.co.uk/newborn-training-11-mentoring-grimsby-cleethorpes-lincolnshire/


Insurance is a massive must! What if someone got injured? The very first thing anyone seriously wanting to run a business should invest in as soon as they are charging money. It proves to clients you care about their safety. And god forbid something happened, and someone takes you to court, you will be covered. I have professional indemnity insurance and public liability and also the luxury of equipment insurance too now. As my camera equipment cost so much money if a child picks my camera up and drops it, or I drop it, I know I will be able to have it fixed or replaced.

Equipment:-   There are amazing photographers who snap stuff on iphones! However a good camera body that can cope in low light and one or two prime lenses that produce beautiful bokeh, and crisp sharp images where you want it to be sharp really should be an aim above all the hats and props in the world. There’s no point having a cute outfit and your image is unintentionally grainy, out of focus, underexposed. Capturing peoples memories is an art, investing as much as you can afford in the right equipment will make your processing less work. And in the case of newborns often you can’t reshoot, a camera with dual memory card slots is priceless in case a card fails or your drive wipes out. Online storage too is a wonderful backup in case your hardrive fails – believe me the amount you may spend in salvaging a corrupt SD/CF card it’s worth having a backup plan.

  • Props!
  • You note I don’t include props, there are many d.i.y tutorials, buying cheap from China is not really an option, rarely do the hats off Ebay from China look like a gorgeous hand crocheted item. Prop shopping is great fun and addictive! Any basket should be weighed down with a newborn in so it doesn’t tip, baby should be spotted hand in place and photoshopped out. Another thing to consider – where is your hat maker obtaining their angora for their hats. I choose to shop with vendors that source ethical angora. i.e. the rabbit owner brushes the rabbit gently to remove the loose fur as opposed to maybe China where the animal is brutally treated. I obtain my hats from Mary who makes delightful hats that are cruelty free. Shop in charity shops for scarves, and TK Maxx and Sainsburys do some amazing well priced throws. Trends change so much and it’s impossible to keep up, it’s better to have the odd gorgeous item (don’t forget makers are all small businesses, and paying a little more is worth it for a gorgeous, soft well made item. 
  • I use Kitty’s Boutique – http://kittys-boutique.com/
  • http://makewithlove.bigcartel.com/
  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/1510752569241454/
  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/202113990132282/
  • https://www.facebook.com/groups/202113990132282/
  • https://www.etsy.com/uk/shop/PBphotoprops
  • Photographer Etiquette!
  • I will happily answer questions, but frequently I do get frustrated that a photographer follows my page, never likes a thing, but will happily ask where I got something from, as a new photographer you are more likely to make a friend by liking someones posts and photos and just being a little enthusiastic. I actually do think there should be different pricing out there, relative to experience, e.t.c. What is really rude is implying by saying you are reasonably priced and affordable is that actually you are calling more established photographers greedy! Local photographers to me, are friendly and we help each other out. We don’t try to copy each other but rather set ourselves apart. I refer to other photographers if someone can’t afford me, or I am full, and it works with my photographer friends too. It does pay to be friendly. Photography is a hard business to succeed in. Some people see it as a luxury, so will leave paying for months if they can or ask for discount, friending a local photographer can help guide you as we’ve all been at that starting point and most of us will help out with bits and pieces. Advice lending a prop maybe here and there. If you are trying to help yourself by having insurance and training then we tend to respect that! 
  • Value Yourself!
  • Portfolio building is fine, I used to photograph so many people for free, I worked another job in photography, and would spend my family time (almost all of it) editing free things for other people. When your hobby becomes your business. When maybe you can’t pay bills, or put food on the table there comes a time when you have to charge maybe you choose to offer a discount, it is eye opening the amount of people who choose not to then have photos! We all love photography, heck it’s why we do it! However being able to enjoy your family and afford to pay your bills should be your priority, my ethos is that I will continually learn and progress, I will carry on buying sweet props and providing my clients with an outstanding service, and in doing so I deserve to earn what I charge. An important question when you evaluate what you are doing – all the people you work for free or peanuts for – would they go to work for a day for free for you? It’s different if you have friends that help out with childcare, but running a business you learn to face sometimes brutal truth about friends, and clients at times. If you don’t value yourself other people won’t value you. Even portfolio building you can take the most beautiful photograph, but it doesn’t mean someone will value it, or write an amazing review.
  • Be True to Yourself!
  • Honestly, it’s good to Google and look at work, but follow your heart, so what if everyone is shooting babies on plain white blankets or with no props. Trends come and go, the easiest way to lose interest in something you love is to keep trying to replicate other photographers work, sure trying to excel in skin tones, or emotion is a good thing, but keep to the style your heart loves, there will always be more expensive photographers, cheaper photographers, work out what you need to earn, how often you need to shoot (shooting is easily less than 30% of a photography business, blogging, website, social media responding to enquiries sucks up so much time). Editing something that came from your creativity is far more rewarding than perfecting something another photographer does. Especially if you are asked repeatedly to replicate that pose! And without a doubt, if you love something, and someone books you on that image. You can guarantee you speak to that clients heart.
  • Dog Eared Determination!
  • If you’ve clicked on photographer posts shared on The Daily Mail or other sites you will see trolls! Sooner or later someone will say something horrible. Call you a perv for showing a baby butt cheek or say posing newborns is freaky! Protect your client by watermarking your images, and take them down if you need to. If we all had the same taste it would be a very boring world. The thing you must have in bucket loads is determination! As an artist you will hit a point where you feel incapable. You don’t have the same equipment as the photographer up the road, they have more bookings, and you’re fed up struggling. I think with photography it is an art form. And as such you put your heart and soul into it, and will also have days where you feel rubbish or you’re faking it! And at those times when you feel your worst, are the times you sink your teeth in and go for it. This is a cut throat market, and you honestly could be the best photographer in the world. But having that grit to just carry on plodding. That’s the thing that will serve you well. Photography is something that makes your heart sing (sometimes) it can be the best job in the world, is perceived as easy but it isn’t. And that thing that fills your heart with joy. Recording memories, events, love, life, and loss sometimes, will pull your emotions through a rollercoaster! In the words of Dory! Keep on swimming and you’ll find your way. Make friends. Be enthusiastic. Support those around you fighting the same battle as you. And you will prevail.