over the past few years,  i have had the incredible honor of photographing almost 100 newborn babies.

i still remember my first baby girl- i had two blankets, one basket, and asked her mom to bring her own headbands.

i had watched video tutorials online and my own children’s newborn sessions, but really… i had no idea what i was doing.first last behind the scenes of newborn photography

i also had no idea how i would fall in love with these precious little lives and capturing their first real portraits.

as much as i adore photographing families and hanging out in fields at sunset…

there really is nothing i love more than my newborn babies.

over the past 2 1/2 years, i have learned a LOT.

through many online workshops, a lot of practice,  and even a trip to nebraska this past april to mentor with my favorite newborn photographer, nicole smith, i am proud of how far my images have come.

newborn photography is so much more than putting a baby in a basket and taking a picture- it involves styling, safely posing baby,  knowledge of light and how it hits your subject, the best angles for capturing the baby, editing naturally yet artfully, and of course, how to soothe and care for a tiny life while they are in your care.  newborn photography is an art!  i have had so many moms in my studio tell me how they thought they could take their own photos with their first baby,and what a disaster it was.  they are always amazed at the technique and patience it takes to successfully capture these sweet little ones.

beyond the technical, newborn photography is a very expensive genre.  first- the equipment.  in order to capture portraits that are crisp and high quality, it requires professional level cameras and lenses, all of which cost thousands of dollars each.  can you take a great photo with a canon rebel and a 50mm 1.8 lens?  of course!  that’s what i started out with and i love so many images i captured with that equipment.  but as i’ve upgraded my camera and lenses i see a vast difference in the quality of my images, and that is the level i want to provide for my clients.  i am constantly saving to upgrade and add to my equipment in order to provide more options for my portraits.  i recently purchased a 100mmL macro lens that allows me to capture those super-up-close detail shots that mommies love.  it was so worth every penny!

orange county baby photographer olivia blog007 behind the scenes of newborn photographyorange county baby photographer kate blog behind the scenes of newborn photography

one of my favorite things about newborn photography (other than the babies, of course!) is the creativity and styling involved.  i try to make every set-up unique, never repeating so that each session is special for that baby.  doing that requires that i have an extensive selection of props to choose from.  blanket drops, buckets, cradles, hats, headbands, wraps, tiny beds… i have hundreds and hundreds of items that i have purchased especially for these babies.  i try to purchase a few new items for every baby that comes to my studio!  there is an entire industry of newborn photography prop vendors (things i never knew before i started!)  who specialize in creating items especially for this.  and just like fashion, there are trends in the industry that i am always trying to keep up with so my clients have the most current looks.  the average price of a newborn hat is between $30-40.  a headband averages $18.  blankets are $30-80 and the baskets/buckets/crates can go anywhere from $20-150….and i have a  studio and garage FULL of items!  studio items behind the scenes of newborn photography

 the typical baby will have approximately 6 different set-ups including props and blankets.  here are a few breakdowns of how much a typical prop set-up can cost.cost of photos behind the scenes of newborn photography cost of photos1 behind the scenes of newborn photographyof course things like wood backdrops and flokatis are items that i re-use all the time, but the headbands and props i try to spread out in order to keep them special.  while it is expensive, i feel that it is worth it to create images that are so beautiful and special for your baby.

on average, i spend 20 hours on each newborn session.  starting with correspondence with a parent, then setting up for the session (which takes me several hours to create all the looks), the actual 2-3 hour session, and then uploading, sorting, editing, blogging, and uploading galleries.  while i attempt to do as little editing as possible, the reality is that newborn babies usually need a bit more- their skin is frequently red and sometimes they have acne or scratches.  i also want to make my images more than what mom is going to be able to take with her camera… my goal is to turn your portraits into art.

here is a SOOC (straight-out-of-the-camera) and final edit from my last newborn session:

before and after 768x1024 behind the scenes of newborn photography

after equipment and props, there are taxes, my website fees, logos and branding, editing software, gallery hosting, studio decor…. all the things that you never think about but really add up.

i’m frequently asked why newborn photography is so expensive.  i spend thousands and thousands (and thousands) of dollars every year.  my photography business is not a hobby- this is my profession-my job, which i have to support and provide for my family.  and i am SOOOO grateful to get to do something that i absolutely love!! but it is also a lot of work.  up until now, i have been gradually raising my prices but have remained FAR below the average price of a good orange county newborn photographer.  and because of that, almost every penny i have earned has gone straight back into my business.  as of this friday, june 6th, the price of my newborn sessions will be going up to $850 for your session and 30 custom-edited, high-resolution digital images.  i want to continue giving my clients beautiful, custom portraits, but also provide for and contribute to my family who has given up  a lot for me to pursue my dream.  i realize that this jump will mean that some clients who have been with me from the beginning will no longer be able to afford me, and that absolutely breaks my heart.  so many of you have become so much more than clients- i think of you as my friends.  because of that, i will be giving all my returning clients $100 off of their newborn sessions at this new pricing. there are no words to describe the gratitude i have that you have trusted me with your most precious possessions and have stuck by me as i have grown. i love you and i love your babies!!!

i recognize that having custom portraits done is a big expense for a family, whether that is for newborn portraits, wedding portraits, or annual family portraits.  but it is an investment in your family.  these are moments you can never get back… your baby will never be this tiny again…. it is so worth it to capture these portraits so you can always have these precious memories!

orange county baby photographer kate blog012 behind the scenes of newborn photography orange county newborn photographer lincoln blog006 behind the scenes of newborn photography orange county newborn baby photographer paisley blog014 behind the scenes of newborn photography orange county baby photographer olivia blog005 behind the scenes of newborn photography